Legal Q & A - Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Legal Q & A - Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Hi Howard,

I work for a mid size company. When I started eight years ago it was mostly male dominant. During that time there were comments thrown around that  would most likely be considered sexual of nature and not necessarily appropriate. The men for the most part kept jokes or comments to a minimum around the few women that were in the office. I can say with certainty that no one was offended at the time, and it was acceptable.

The company has since been sold to a larger corporation, and with that changes have occurred including the creation of a new position for a financial controller. Since this controller has started, comments of a sexual nature or sexual innuendos are often made by this person to the staff- accompanied by laughter. It is also widely known when this person's "sex" night is among the staff, as this person discusses it with other senior managers. Although this is troublesome and extremely offensive to many staff members nothing has been said to anyone as most people report to this person and we do not have a human resources department. Staff are miserable but due to a lack of resources, we are just hanging on. This person also comes across as very professional to those in senior positions, possibly making it hard for them to believe this is possible.

Is this considered sexual harassment? Is there anything that can be done on an anonymous level? The large corporation we are owned by operates out of another city. The company we work for operates under a different entity and therefore possible HR people aren't known to us.

Any help in the matter would be appreciated. This job is becoming unbearable. 

- Harassed?  


Hi H,

What we have described is called, in human rights parlance, a "poisoned work environment". It is illegal and constitutes most of the complaints received by human rights commissions across the country.

If sexualized comments are made, like those you describe, the human rights commission will prosecute both this employee and the employer (for not putting an immediate stop to it). You can make such a complaint anonymously but first you might want, on an anonymous basis, to write to the company's President. If the company president receives such a letter and does nothing, your case will be even stronger-although writing such a letter first is unnecessary.

If the conduct is noxious enough, it might even provide you with the right to quit your job and sue for constructive dismissal.

So get writing!

- Howard

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