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Innocent Fun, or Not? Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
|Posted on 12 December, 2015 at 0:35|
Sexual harassment includes sexual jokes and innuendo, pictures or other materials, sexual advances, among other things. Sexual harassment falls into the categories covered by the Human Rights Code, and may involve discrimination based on sex, gender, and sometimes sexual orientation.
All employees have the right to be free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment poisions the workplace environment, destroys workplace morale, offends the dignity of the person, and makes a workplace impossible to work in. This type of conduct must be taken seriously by an employer, investigated and consequences imposed on the perpetrator.
Complaints about sexual harassment should be made to the employer. If however, nothing is done about the harassment, the employer can be taken to the Human Rights Tribunal. The HRT will award damages to an employee based on the seriousness of the harassment. One incident will be treated less seriously by the tribunal, however multiple incidents, and more serious incidents will lead to higher level of damages from the Tribunal. Sexual harassment is very serious. What seems to be innocent may not be taken innocently, so it is always best to avoid conduct that might be considered sexual harassment. Continuing in harassing conduct can lead to sanctions up to loss of one’s employment. Sexual harassment is not worth it.
Employers should make their expectations that sexual harassment should not be allowed in the workplace to protect themselves from liability and to ensure a positive work environment. A positive workplace culture will go a long way to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. While workplace culture deos not cause sexual harassment, it does encourage improper behaviour. The employer should set a clear and consistent standard.
Greanya Legal Services can provide advice on sexual harassment and the human rights process. Next week I will address the issue of workplace violence. This will be the final week dealing with workplace harassment and violence series.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended as general information, and does not replace the advice of a Licenced Paralegal or Lawyer. For advice on your specific case, contact Greanya Legal Services directly.