Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to occur in Ontario on a regular basis. I frequently meet women and men who have been sexually harassed at work.
Like them, you may find certain behaviour unwelcome and offensive but may not recognize it as sexual harassment. For example, did you know that the Ontario Human Rights Commission considers the following behaviour to be sexual harassment:
- repeatedly asking for dates, and not taking “no” for an answer
- unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching
- using rude or insulting language or making comments toward women (or men, depending on the circumstances)
- calling people sex-specific derogatory names
- making sex-related comments about a person’s physical characteristics or actions
- posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including online)
- making sexual jokes
- bragging about sexual prowess.
Employees in Ontario can seek damages against supervisors, co-workers and employers if they are sexually harassed at work.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment as work, you should report it to your manager or a designated human resources professional. Keep detailed records of the offending comments or actions.
Your employer should conduct an impartial investigation of your complaints. If it does not, it risks liability under the Ontario Human Rights Code. For example, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found in this decision, that no sexual harassment had taken place, but awarded the applicant $7,500 because her employer had not taken her complaints seriously and had conducted a flawed investigation.
For more information about sexual harassment protection and workplace investigations, see here.
If you believe that you have experienced sexual harassment at work and would like to speak with a lawyer, please contact us at [email protected] or 1-888-640-1728 (toll free) or 647-204-8107 (within the GTA).
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