The BC Human Rights Tribunal recently ruled that explicit sex talk at work may breach the Human Rights Code prohibition against discrimination in employment on the basis of sex.
The complainant, a finisher for a furniture manufacturer, alleged that a male co-worker constantly described his sexual exploits in her presence and subjected her to highly explicit sexual language and innuendo. The complainant repeatedly raised her co-worker’s behaviour with her supervisor but the employer did nothing to address the problem. The employer eventually terminated the complainant, claiming that it had too many employees. However, the Tribunal determined that the employer subsequently hired a number of employees with less experience.
The Tribunal found that the co-worker’s behaviour amounted to sexual harassment. Employers have an obligation to ensure workplaces are free from sexual harassment. The Employer breached that obligation when it failed to stop the sex talk after the employee’s complaints to her supervisor. The Tribunal also concluded that the complainant’s reports about the harassment were a factor in her termination.
In addition to damages for lost wages, the Tribunal awarded the complainant $4000.00 for injury to her dignity and self-respect.
(Click here for copy of Decision)