After sexual harassment and rape allegations against indie movie mogul Harvey Weinstein made headlines last October, social media campaigns like #MeToo were used to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. More recently, allegations of “sexual misconduct” have been made against former Ontario PC leader, Patrick Brown, by two former staff members.
Under the law, Canadians are entitled to work in a safe environment free from sexual harassment. Ontario’s Human Rights Code and Occupational Health and Safety Act, work to protect workers against harassment and discrimination of all kinds.
Recent headlines show employers just how important it is to take an active role in the prevention and protection against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Here are a few steps you can take to protect your business and employees:
- Create a policy against sexual harassment in the workplace. This policy should clearly describe what language and behaviour are not allowed. Make certain all workers know and understand the policy.
- Take all complaints seriously. All claims of sexual harassment should be heard and investigated. If claims are ignored, a business runs the risk of being sued. Involve outside investigators, if necessary, and ensure a report is made on the findings. Employees should know how to make a complaint, what the process will be and how guilty parties will be punished.
- Work to create a safe and inclusive workplace. Instill a set of core values for your company that promotes inclusivity and freedom from harassment of any kind. Employers and managers should lead by example by creating an environment in which all workers feel safe and respected. No one should be above the law and all workers should feel free to make a complaint without fear of reprisal.
If you are an employer and need help with the above, please contact one of our lawyers to discuss your concerns.