In a recent decision from Windsor, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered an employer to pay almost $60,000 in damages for the way in which a female employee was repeatedly harassed, insulted and humiliated by senior management.
VW lawyer Paul Willetts authored an article in the May 2016 edition of HR Update entitled, "Human Rights Law Today: Guidance for Individuals and Employers." The article discusses steps that employers can take to limit liability in the workplace and provides some practical reminders to employees about their entitlements at work around accommodation and protection from harassment.
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and the Courts have broken new ground in recent months, both in terms of the reach of anti-discrimination laws and the consequences for those who are found in breach. While the vast majority of employers provide respectful and inclusive workplaces, there are exceptions to this rule and sometimes, despite all best efforts, issues still arise.
On May 22, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario awarded what is one of its largest damages awards to date. The facts that precipitated this result are both atrocious and a poignant reminder that sexual violence and harassment still persists in the workplace.
The case in question, O.P.T. v. Presteve Foods Ltd., involved O.P.T & M.P.T. - two sisters who came to Ontario from Mexico as temporary foreign workers to labour at a fish processing plant in Wheatley. In addition to bringing an application against the company, the sisters also named Mr. Jose Pratas, the owner of Presteve, as a personal respondent.
In early 2015, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Partridge v. Botony Dental Corporation. This decision is a useful reminder both for employees as to their rights and employers as to their workplace obligations.
Ms. Partridge began work with Botony as a Dental Hygienist in March 2004 and was promoted to Office Manager in 2007. She was employed with the company for just over seven years prior to dismissal on July 19, 2011. During the tenure of her employment, Ms. Partridge twice took maternity leave: from June 2007 – July 2008; and again from June 2010 – July 2011.