Making a complaint of workplace sexual harassment can be daunting. If the actual harassment itself is not bad enough, employees often fear job-based retaliation for speaking out, or that making matters public might undermine their professional reputation.
Harassment in the workplace continues to be the human resources story that dominates the news. While cases like that of Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose often take centre stage, there are plenty of examples here in Canada.
Employees are entitled to work in a respectful environment, free from harassment and discrimination. In circumstances where the work environment deteriorates to such an extent that it may be considered “poisonous” or “toxic”, a court will likely find that the employer’s behaviour in creating and/or condoning this environment amounted to a constructive dismissal of the affected employee.
Since allegations related to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein first became public, the #metoo movement has provided a catalyst for society to confront its handling of sexual harassment. Just this week, the latest public figure to be embroiled in such allegations is Steve Paikin, a prominent journalist employed by the provincially-funded broadcaster TVOntario (“TVO”).
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.
As December arrives, our minds turn to the holidays: turkey, eggnog, and a long-lived tradition — the office christmas party.
The office christmas party is a time for colleagues to relax a little and celebrate the coming season, and an opportunity for management to show their staff appreciation for another year of hard work.