Sexual Harassment Lawyers in Strathmore, AB Helping Clients in Need
A study by the Minister of Employment and the Department of Workforce Development and Labour found that sexual harassment was the most common form of workplace harassment. Not only did sexual harassment reports appear in significant numbers, but those who reported they had been sexually harassed overwhelmingly reported that it had happened on more than one occasion.
Sexual harassment is a form of workplace harassment that is as reprehensible as it is commonplace. Below, we will discuss its many forms and how a sexual harassment lawyer can help you seek reciprocity for the performance against you in the workplace.
What is Considered Sexual Harassment?
When one employee or an employer engages in a vexatious, lurid, or overly personal comment or conduct that has been stated as unwelcome or would be reasonably considered unwelcome by another person in the workplace, sexual harassment has taken place. The Supreme Court of Canada recognizes that sexual harassment can take various forms and is not limited to demands for sexual favors or threats of adverse consequences if said favors are not performed.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of behaviors that the government recognizes as constituting sexual harassment:
- Reprisal: threats of penalization or punishment to a person who refuses to respond positively to sexual provocation or advancements
- Personal space invasion
- Demanding hugs, kisses, or other unwanted physical contacts
- Acting paternally based on gender toward a person, thereby undermining their status or position
- Questions or continued discussion related to sexual activities
- Negative or derogatory gender-based language or calling of sex-specific names
- Requiring specific dress of an employee in a gender-specific or sexualized way
- Leering or staring inappropriately
- Comments or brags about one’s own sexual prowess toward or near a non-consenting audience
- Commenting on a person’s physical appearance, genitalia, or gender-related physical aspects
- Demanding sexual favors or putting another person in a situation where sexual favors may be requested or implied
- Comment or conduct regarding an individual’s perceived non-conformity of gender stereotypes (Ex: “All women should wear makeup” or “Men shouldn’t dress as you do.”)
- Verbal abuse, threats, or taunting relating to a person’s gender, sex, or sexual identity
- Inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature out loud or via written communication, such as email
- Pornographic materials, sexually explicit pictures or drawings, explicit writing, or other images of a sexual nature shown to or displayed near other employees
- Suggestive language or proposals of an intimate nature
- Vulgar or rough language or humor of a sexual nature
- Spreading rumors about another person’s sexual activities or preferences, including via the internet
- Bullying another person via sexual or gender-related comments or language
If I am Being Sexually Harassed, What are My Options?
Several laws are in place to protect Canadians in the case of sexual harassment in the workplace. While sexual harassment can instill feelings of powerlessness (or worse) in a person, it is essential to know that the law is on the victim’s side in these situations.
If a person is involved in sexual harassment, there are steps you may take to alleviate yourself:
- If a person becomes a risk to your safety or sanctity, call the police. Though not every instance of sexual harassment may be a threat to a person’s physical safety, if you feel your health or well-being is threatened, you are well within your right to involve the authorities.
- Record documentation for each instance. Especially if the harassment becomes a regular occurrence, it can be pivotal to have a recording of the experience’s date and time, along with the names of any witnesses. Document each time in as much detail as possible.
- Express to the harasser that you wish for them to stop. While this can be a conversation you have in person, it can be helpful to have a copy of written communication as proof you had expressed a preference against the harassment.
- If you feel you should report the harassment, do so. Your employer may have a designated person or department to report such scenarios. If not, choose a supervisor. The supervisor doesn’t have to be yours if you do not wish. Document that you’ve filed a report.
Every situation of workplace sexual harassment is unique. From what the harasser is doing to how you react to your situation, the scenarios could be infinite. This means there is no “right” way to respond to the ugly situation your coworker or employer is putting you through; you are often tasked to use your best judgment. However, if you have correctly reported the harassment and that does not succeed in stopping it, you may elevate your complaint to a higher authority.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is contactable for complaints within one year of the event of sexual harassment. If you make a complaint in good faith to the AHRC, your employer does not have legal grounds to take legal action against you. Nor can they use your report to affect how they treat you afterward; such action would constitute further harassment.
You can reach the Alberta Human Rights Commission at the following numbers:
- Confidential Inquiry Line: 780-427-7661
- Toll-free within Alberta: 310-000, followed by the area code and phone number
- TTY service for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing: 1-800-232-7215
At What Point Should I Turn to a Lawyer in a Sexual Harassment Case?
As we said before, each situation is unique. How you react and what steps you take depend ultimately depend on you. However, you may be in a position where you feel like you need external help. If your employer is not taking your complaint seriously or is perhaps propagating the sexual harassment themselves, you may want to seek legal counsel.
The lawyers at Getz Collins and Associates will be happy to assess your situation, lay out your options, and help you decide your next steps to stop the harassment from continued occurrences. Call and schedule a consult at (403) 934-2500 today.