Employment Law

Coventry Homes in Edmonton hit with $6.2M lawsuits over sexual assault, toxic workplace

press release, media

Five former employees of Coventry Homes, a prominent new-home builder in Edmonton, have filed lawsuits against the company and one of its key shareholders, alleging sexual assault, failure to provide a safe workplace, and retaliation against employees who spoke out against gross misconduct. These individuals have taken a stand against the deeply troubling conduct exhibited within Coventry Homes, seeking justice for the significant harm they have endured.

Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, Canada’s largest employee-focused employment law firm, is representing the former employees in claims and damages totalling $6.2 million.

Coventry Homes is a large-volume home builder involved in numerous sponsorships, including with the Edmonton Oilers, Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity.

The claims centre on Coventry Homes’ failure to create a safe work environment for its employees, and the fact that the company ignored allegations that Robin Nasserdeen, its Director of Sales, allegedly sexually assaulted and harassed two female employees. Three additional female employees who raised concerns about Nasserdeen and the company’s callous response to the sensitive situation were subjected to retaliation, including suspension without pay and outright termination, according to the claims.

“Coventry Homes’ alleged actions and inaction are beyond appalling. Our clients’ rights were blatantly ignored by their employer, perpetuating a toxic work environment in which sexual misconduct was ignored,” said Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, who represents the five claimants. “No individual should endure such deplorable treatment or be pushed out of their job for exercising their rights.”

What happened

One employee, who worked as an Area Sales Manager for close to two years, alleged to have been repeatedly sexually assaulted in a parking lot by Nasserdeen after one of her drinks was allegedly spiked during a work dinner. She filed a police report and completed a rape kit, subsequently taking medical leave following her traumatic experience. However, she was constructively dismissed by the company in June 2021 as a result of the events.

Nasserdeen was arrested and charged with one count of sexual assault in April 2022 after an extensive criminal investigation by the Edmonton Police Service.

The next business day, Coventry Homes’ CEO, Henri Rodier, sent a companywide email defending him, casting doubt on the allegations and expressing unwavering support for Nasserdeen, claiming that “we know Robin well, I know Robin well.” Nasserdeen also defended himself in an email to all staff. After briefly stepping away from his role, he was reinstated to his position without warning, despite earlier assurances from Rodier that he would remain on leave until the conclusion of his criminal trial.

WATCH: Five former Coventry Homes employees spoke to CBC News about their experience and why they are taking legal action against their ex-employer.

Another employee, who had served as an Area Sales Manager for nearly a decade, experienced years of sexual harassment and misconduct by Nasserdeen. This included sexually suggestive remarks, sharing explicit content, and coercion into a sexual encounter. As a result, she developed panic attacks, eventually going on medical leave in late 2021. She alleges constructive dismissal in November 2022.

A Drafter, and victim of past sexual assault herself, was placed on unpaid suspension after voicing concerns about Nasserdeen’s behaviour and the company’s disregard for employee well-being. Following doctor-recommended medical leave, she claims harassment at her home by Coventry Homes representatives, leading to her constructive dismissal in December 2022.

A highly-regarded Estimator at Coventry Homes with over a decade of service alleges being fired without cause in October 2022 in retaliation for expressing fears and concerns about Nasserdeen’s return to the workplace.

A highly successful Area Sales manager with an exemplary track record claims being fired for cause in November 2022 and denied earned commissions in retaliation for speaking up about Nasserdeen’s return and questioning the company’s unwavering support. The manager, who had previously worked at a trauma centre and group homes with sexually abused youth, attempted to share her expertise with Coventry Homes but was ignored.

Employers must investigate

These brave individuals continue to experience enduring physical, emotional and mental distress as a result of their experiences with Coventry Homes and Nasserdeen. Samfiru Tumarkin LLP seeks to hold the company accountable for its alleged failure to address their concerns or conduct proper workplace investigations, as was their duty, and for taking deliberate actions to exacerbate their suffering.

“All companies have an obligation to take these complaints seriously and take proper action to investigate allegations of serious misconduct and sexual harassment as soon as its brought to their attention,” said Aaron Levitin, employment lawyer and Associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, who represents the former employees.

Samfiru Tumarkin LLP’s clients spoke to CBC News about their lawsuits and why they are taking legal action.

For further information: Ryan Bonnar, Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, 416-216-5893

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