Sexual harassment is an affront to a person’s dignity and self-respect. It is also bad for business because harassment can result in lower employee productivity and higher rates of employee absence.
(PRWEB) November 29, 2014
Since the Jian Ghomeshi story broke (see New York Times article published on October 27, 2014: http://nyti.ms/1vj9uWt ), Toronto human rights lawyer, Nicole Simes, acknowledges that there has been much discussion on the prevalence of sexual harassment in Canada. However, she finds that suggestions on how to reduce harassment and increase the reporting rate are missing from the conversation.
As an employment and human rights lawyer, Simes provides her recommendations:
1. Require Employers to Develop and Post a Human Rights Policy, Train All Employees on Human Rights and Implement a Complaint Process
Simes states that “sexual harassment is an affront to a person’s dignity and self-respect. It is also bad for business because harassment can result in lower employee productivity and higher rates of employee absence.” She states that employers in Ontario are already required to implement various workplace policies and workplace training. Simes recommends that the Ontario Human Rights Code be amended to include similar obligations on employers regarding human rights policies and training. She further suggests that there be “a mandatory investigation process which includes requiring the employer to take a complaint of sexual harassment seriously, respond promptly and sensitively, ensure the accused is provided details of the allegations and an opportunity to respond, and provide both the accused and the accuser with the outcome of any investigation and the employer’s proposed remedy.”
2. Changes to the Federal Human Rights Complaint Process
Simes recommends changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act (“the Act”). She states that “removal of the Canadian Human Rights Commission as a mechanism which vets complaints and allowing individual to proceed directly to a hearing, would improve the accessibility of the system.” Simes recommends that the Act also be amended to eliminate the $40,000 cap on general damage awards in connection with sexual harassment and other complaints filed under the Act."
3. Increases on Human Rights Awards
Finally, Simes argues that the awards against employers in sexual harassment cases have been too low. She states that “increasing what an employer pays if they breach an employee’s human rights would encourage employer engagement in preventing sexual harassment and increase the likelihood that employees would report incidents and pursue their legal rights, if necessary.”
Nicole Simes is a lawyer with MacLeod Law Firm, a Canadian Labour and Employment Law Firm. MacLeod Law Firm has represented 1000s of employees over the past 25 years. MacLeod Law Firm's practice includes human rights claims, wrongful dismissal claims, employee terminations, severance packages, employment contract review, employee resignation advice, and workplace safety.