Perhaps not surprisingly given all the media attention on the issue of sexual harassment in recent months, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recently issued a statement regarding sexual harassment and Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
The Commission reiterates that employers have a legal duty to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. The Commission states that employers can prevent many cases of sexual harassment by:
Having a clear, comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy in place;
Ensuring all employees have the policy and are aware of both their rights and their responsibility not to engage in harassment; and
Training individuals in positions of responsibility on the policy and their related human rights obligations.
The Commission’s statement also sets out a non-exhaustive list of factors human rights tribunals will look at in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment. These include:
The procedures in place at the time to deal with discrimination and harassment;
How quickly the organization responded to the complaint;
How seriously the complaint was treated;
The resources made available to deal with the complaint;
If the organization provided a healthy environment for the person who complained; and
How well the person who complained was kept informed about the status of the complaint, actions taken, etc.