Xerox team manager says he was paid unfairly because he’s Black

Normand Hector

For 20 years, Normand Hector “absolutely loved” working for Xerox in Saint John. Then he found out he was making less than managers who were white.

“I was paid unfairly and treated unequally,” said Hector, who quit the company in distress in September 2019.

Hector was making $59,000 a year as a sales manager, but says he learned some managers made as much as 15 per cent more.  

“And these were people who were promoted after me and some managed smaller teams than me,” Hector said

In June 2020, Hector filed a complaint with New Brunswick’s Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of race and colour.

The Commission says complaints based on race and related grounds, such as ancestry and place of origin, increased significantly between 2015 and 2020. The increases ranged between 63 and 80 per cent. The Commission assigned him a mediator, who attempted to broker a meeting with Xerox. Hector is still waiting for that meeting.

“That’s all I want,” he said. “I want to sit at the table with a mediator and someone from Xerox, and let’s look at the numbers together. Let’s just have a conversation.”

Last year, Xerox Canada was listed by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which publishes employment-related periodicals, as one of the top 100 employers in the Greater Toronto Area for progressive human resource policies. 

Hector said he joined Xerox in 1999 at its Saint John call centre, selling copiers over the phone.

He later travelled for business and won several trips and awards for being a top sales performer, he said.

In April 2018, he was promoted to sales manager on a trial basis and accepted the salary offered, even though he suspected it was low. 

That’s because he had once accidentally received an email from human resources, with salary information for people in his office.

He also notified the company immediately, he said, and was asked to delete the email and sign a non-disclosure agreement.

When Hector became a full-time manager and his sales team was doubled from eight people to 16, he asked some of his peers what they were making.

“I would say, ‘Look, this is what I’m getting paid,’ and they would look at me in shock and say, ‘Are you kidding me?'”

Hector said he spent months trying to get his supervisors to review his salary and fix what he felt was a serious pay gap.

He says his requests were repeatedly dismissed, and on Aug. 30, 2019, he gave notice that he’d be resigning. 

In a comment Callie Ferrari, director of corporate communications she wrote: “Xerox is committed to upholding the highest diversity, equity and inclusion standards,” she wrote. “However, as a standard practice we do not comment on pending litigation matters.”

In July 2020, Hector threatened to sue Xerox if the company did not respond to a settlement offer.

Hector’s lawyer Kelly VanBuskirk, advised Xerox that Hector felt he had no choice but to resign as a result of systemic and targeted discrimination on the basis of race. He said Hector had been paid at a “serious deficit” compared to white sales managers of similar tenure, and staying with Xerox would have been “tantamount to acceptance of the discriminatory treatment he was being subjected to.”

The letter asked for 18 months’ pay, or $89,700. It also asked for $10,000 in general damages for violating the Human Rights Act, plus $10,000 for the stress, anxiety and humiliation Hector endured.

The settlement offer deadline of July 24, 2020 expired, but Hector did not go ahead with a suit. The idea of a legal battle against a corporate giant was overwhelming, he said.

And since the Human Rights Commission seemed willing to activate his case, he put his faith in reaching a resolution there.

Hector says his mediator told him Xerox would not agree to participate in mediation.

Rather, a lawyer for Xerox sent a letter to the Commission, saying that Hector’s complaint was without merit and should be dismissed.

In December 2020, Hector was informed his case was moving to the investigation stage.

All of this renewed Hector’s hope that there would be some progress on his case. Ten months later, he has yet to receive any updates.

In the meantime, he waits, and hopes his story will help the Commission become “more forceful.”