Ana Kraljevic Law Firm

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment is similar to other forms of workplace harassment in that it refers to a course of vexatious comment or conduct, that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, but it is specific to Code- protected grounds that are sexual in nature (i.e., sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression).

Section 7(2) of the Ontario Human Rights Code states the following:

Every person who is an employee has a right to freedom from harassment in the workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression by his or her employer or agent of the employer or by another employee.  

Section 7(3)(a) of the Code also prohibits unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favours by a person in a position of authority in the workplace, such as a supervisor.  Section 7(3)(b) prohibits any retaliation and adverse job-related consequences against an employee if they reject the sexual solicitation, such as the denial of a promotion or even the termination of the employee for reporting the misconduct.

Some examples of sexual harassment are:

  • asking for sexual favours in exchange for a work-related benefit (i.e., to get preferred shifts, a promotion, or salary increases)
  • repeatedly asking to spend time outside of normal working hours and not taking “no” for an answer
  • making unnecessary physical contact, such as back rubs or hugs
  • demanding unwanted physical contact
  • using crude or insulting language directed specifically towards males and females (i.e., calling people sex-specific derogatory names)
  • making sexually suggestive comments about a person’s physical characteristics or actions
  • directing comments towards a person who does not conform to gender stereotypes
  • posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, or creating sexually explicit graffiti on company property
  • making sexually explicit jokes
  • discussing and bragging about sexual activity
  • bullying and intimidation based on sex or gender
  • spreading sexual rumours or gossip (including cyber-bullying)

What can you do?

    1. Speak to the harasser directly and make sure they know their behaviour is unwanted.
    2. If speaking to the harasser is not feasible then complain to the employer. It is their responsibility to take action against the harassment once they become aware of it.
    3. If the above does not work, consult a sexual harassment lawyer to effectively put a stop to it.
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