As set out by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code), everyone has a right to work in a safe and healthy workplace. An employer in Ontario has responsibilities as set out by the OHSA, including the development and implementation of policies and programs for Workplace Harassment Prevention.
Any form of harassment can be a harrowing experience for the victim. Sexual harassment in the workplace is of particular concern because it can inhibit an individual from making a living by affecting their performance and comfort. Anyone is vulnerable to sexual harassment regardless of his or her authority, gender, creed, or ethnicity – so it is an issue that can affect any of us.
Concerning sexual harassment, the Code also places the responsibility on the employer to maintain an environment free from sexual harassment. An effective sexual harassment policy will be able to limit harm and reduce liability. An employer violates the Code where he directly, indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally infringes on the Human Rights, or by authorizing, condoning, or adopting behaviour contrary to the Code.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is defined as comments or conducts against an employee due to that employee’s sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and/or gender expression. In the case of sexual harassment, the comments or conduct is known or reasonably ought to be known as unwelcome.
It will also constitute sexual harassment in the workplace where a person makes a sexual solicitation or advance and that person is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the employee and ought to reasonably know or knows that the solicitation or advance is unwelcomed.
In both instances, it should be reasonably known that the sexual conduct, comments or advance is unwelcomed. It is the employer’s responsibility to investigate the incident, as failing to conduct an adequate investigation could have potential consequences.
Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the work environment is free from sexual harassment. This includes annually preparing and reviewing a clear, comprehensive policy on workplace harassment, as is minimally required by the provisions of the OHSA.
In a situation where there is alleged sexual harassment, having a policy in place informs the parties of their rights, roles, and responsibilities, in addition to stating how the sexual harassment will be dealt with promptly and efficiently. This policy is required to be implemented through a workplace harassment program. The program would include information such as the procedure to report incidents, particularly where the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser, and the investigation process, among other things.
How Law Wise Can Help EMPLOYERS?
We understand the importance of implementing policies and programs for Workplace Harassment Prevention. Our lawyers can help draft policies and programs that comply with the various legal requirements expected of employers in Ontario.
We also assist our client through the difficult process of managing workplace disputes and with defending company’s reputation in the course of a legal proceeding all the way to trial and appeal, if necessary.
Call us at +1 647 948 7819 today!
How Law Wise Can Help EMPLOYEES?
Employees that have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace have multiple options available including a human rights claim, lawsuit and so on. If you need legal counselling regarding sexual harassment in employment as an employee, please contact LAW WISE employment lawyer to set up a consultation and discuss your concerns.
Call us at +1 647 948 7819 today!