Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Work - what employers need to knowTo kick off the start of Pride Month in Ontario, we encourage you to make sure your workplace policies are up to date and address the important values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. While most employers know discrimination in the workplace on any protected ground within the Ontario Human Rights Code is a big no-no, equity, diversity, and inclusion may not always be top of mind in the day-to-day running of a business. Promoting these principles within your company creates a safe and welcoming workspace and promotes different perspectives, innovative ideas, and greater collaboration and is important for the retention of the talent you have.
Continue Reading Happy Pride Month! What Employers Need to Know about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Work

In this webinar, SpringLaw’s Lisa Stam and Danielle Murray will discuss how you can support women leaders in the workplace, common challenges women leaders face, and how employers can ensure equitable exits if needed.

Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register today: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Barriers & Biases – Supporting Women Leaders

Assault at the OscarsIf you missed the Oscars last night, you missed viewing a crime in real-time. The live and at-home viewing audience witnessed an assault. If you haven’t seen it, you can view the clip here.  Chris Rock told a joke about Jada Pinkett, and her husband, Will Smith, then walked onto the stage, hit Chris Rock across the face, and went on to retort with profanity on live television. What’s more shocking than the act itself, is that the Oscars live broadcast continued without acknowledgement of the incident and later gave Will Smith an award.

Let’s talk about the law of assault (at least the Canadian definition). Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada says a person commits assault when: without the consent of another person, they apply force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly. Simply put, it is an assault, if one is making, or attempting to make, contact with another person without their consent. This is sometimes referred to as a common assault or simple assault because it is not aggravated (serious injuries) or with a weapon. 
Continue Reading No Award for Violence

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

Introduction – Part II

During Part I of this blog, we outlined three initial legal options for survivors of sexual assault and/or harassment in the workplace context. These included filing a workplace complaint, filing a grievance if you are in a unionized setting, or submitting an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). Here, we continue to outline the remaining three options for legal redress in this context. 

Asserting a Constructive Dismissal

Per Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, your employer is responsible for ensuring a safe, harassment-free work environment. If you resign from your employment you typically will not be entitled to any compensation from your employer. If you are terminated, you will typically be entitled to notice of termination – colloquially known as a “severance package”. However, the law has carved out an exception in circumstances where the employer’s conduct has been so bad that you essentially have no choice but to quit. This is called a “constructive dismissal.’” Depending on the facts of each case, asserting a successful constructive dismissal claim could result in a damages (compensation) award comparable to what you would have been entitled to had you been terminated. If your constructive dismissal arose out of the context of being sexually harassed or assaulted at work, you may also be entitled to additional forms of compensation including human rights or general damages. 
Continue Reading Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress – Part 2

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

Introduction – Part I

In the wake of the #MeToo era, a burgeoning consciousness has grown around the existence of and need to address sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. Individuals of all genders and orientations have found the courage to come forward, and legislation in Ontario has made it mandatory for employers to sufficiently investigate these allegations in a timely and comprehensive manner. Trauma-informed Workplace Investigations inherently require a sound understanding of power dynamics and nuanced forms of sexual harassment. New hybrid work models pose unique obstacles for enforcing cyber-bullying and anti-discrimination/harassment policies, and have brought to the forefront the importance of building a workforce predicated on respect, plurality, accountability, legal compliance, and employee well-being. As part of this, employees who experience sexual assault and/or harassment in the workplace may have different legal options at their disposal. 

In Part 1, we begin here with a  review of three possible options. 
Continue Reading Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Options for Legal Redress – Part I

ONCA upholds employer for-cause termination for sexual harassment
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Overview

In Hucsko v. A.O. Smith Enterprises Limited, 2021 ONCA 728, the Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) overturned the lower Court’s decision that found an employee had been wrongfully dismissed in relation to sexual harassment allegations and was awarded 20 months’ notice. In its reversal, the ONCA held that the employee had failed to fulfill remedial steps required by his employer; that he did in fact sexually harass his coworker; and that his for-cause termination was justified.  

Background

A senior, 20-year employee made several comments to his younger, female coworker on several occasions, including the following:
Continue Reading ONCA upholds employer for-cause termination for sexual harassment

Background

In a recent decision, EN v Gallagher’s Bar and Lounge, 2021 HRTO 240 (CanLII), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) found that an employer discriminated against three of his employees based on their gender identities, gender expressions, and sex by subjecting them to trans-and homophobic language, intentional outing, and by misgendering them through his refusal to use their preferred pronouns. 

The three Applicants, referred to as EN, JR, and FH, were kitchen employees at a restaurant managed by its owner, Jamie Gallagher; each identified as either gender queer or non-binary, using the chosen pronouns ”they/them.” They openly requested to be addressed with these pronouns. 
Continue Reading HRTO: Employer Liability for Proper Pronoun Use

trauma-informed workplace investigationsJoin us for Part 2 of this webinar series. Dealing with Harassment, Bullying and Sexual Violence in the Workplace, as we do a deep dive into Trauma-Informed Workplace Investigations (TII).  SpringLaw’s Flo Vineberg and Emily Siu will discuss the role of a Trauma-Informed Workplace Investigator and best practices for employers.

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Trauma-Informed Workplace Investigations

Free webinar: Dealing with Harassment, Bullying, and Sexual Violence in the WorkplaceOctober is National Bullying Prevention Month. Harassment, bullying, and sexual violence in the workplace continue to persist. Last month, Western University dealt with several sexual assault allegations. What does this mean for employers?

Join SpringLaw’s Flo Vineberg and Emily Siu as they discuss sexual assault, harassment, and violence in the workplace, as well trauma-informed workplace investigations.

Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Time: 10:30-11:00 am EST
Register: Click here!

Continue Reading Free webinar: Dealing with Harassment, Bullying, and Sexual Violence in the Workplace

Bill 132 - Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Date
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

In response to the provincial government’s March 2015 report entitled  “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment,” the Ontario legislature passed Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan in March 2016, which entered into force in September of that year. This Bill amended Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), establishing specific requirements with respect to sexualized harassment and violence prevention in Ontario’s workplaces. In turn, employers have since had additional responsibilities to understand, address and eliminate workplace sexual harassment and violence beyond previous measures. This requires sound and updated workplace policies, sufficient workplace training, and additional competencies to ensure compliance with the OHSA via, amongst other things, informed and diligent workplace investigations.
Continue Reading Understanding your employer obligations under Bill 132 – Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan