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What is the legal definition of workplace sexual harassment?

Halifax Law Firm empowers victims who speak truth to power

It’s not okay. It has never been okay.

Sexual Harassment is arguably the most uncomfortable discussion in any workplace.

And yet, it is occurring with alarming consistency in work environments of all sectors.

In a Statistics Canada report released in 2021, “51% of women surveyed who had experienced inappropriate communication in the workplace in the year prior to the pandemic discussed the incident with someone at work, and a supervisor or boss was that person in 46% of these instances”.

Despite the momentum of the #metoo movement, there remains is a very real hesitancy for Canadians to report their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace. The statistics are clear: sexual harassment in Canadian workplaces continues to be under-reported. But this seems to be changing.

Mike Dull is a Halifax lawyer who helps victims of sexual assaults.

“I think that the #metoo movement has given courage and a voice to women who have been sexually victimized in their workplaces to come forward”, said Dull, “I’ve seen firsthand the initial hesitancy of such victims but, too, the empowerment that comes after they come forward and speak truth to power”

Understanding the law is critical to empowering victims.

In addition to the harms that often result from sexual assaults, victims can become bewildered by what is often perceived as a complicated maze of processes or hurdles to addressing the issue. This is why Dull believes that every employee subject to workplace sexual harassment should have a legal ally.

The letter of law is often characterized as black and white while the spectrum of life is largely gray. For that reason, Dull’s law firm, Valent Legal, offers clarity and focus for victims of workplace sexual assault.

Often, it is not clear if a situation would be classified as sexual harassment. Comments and actions may be so subtle, the victim believes it too minimal to even address with their employer. An interaction can leave the employee feeling uncomfortable, disturbed and unsettled and yet, they are hesitant to advocate for themselves. The employee often doesn’t know where to turn or what legal avenues may be available. That is when Valent Legal offers vital perspective and advise.

Employees work because they need money to live and that need makes them vulnerable to thoughtless, if not, predatory behaviour from co-workers or even supervisors. Valent Legal has a well-earned reputation of supporting survivors of sexual assaults in a compassionate way.

Going it alone, or worse, putting up with it is no longer acceptable. With our world still navigating its way through tremendous change, this is an ideal moment in history to command respectful, mindful and inclusive workplace culture. It is not too much to ask for employees to feel safe.

Valent Legal has provided an immensely helpful webpage for Nova Scotians with questions regarding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

***For the Statistics Canada report cited in this article, visit this page.

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