Ridout Barron


Important changes re harassment in the workplace

Even in the modern era, not every Canadian workplace is welcoming to its employees. Here in Alberta, workplace harassment continues to be a significant issue in a variety of different industries. However, legislators are now paying closer attention not only to how harassment is handled internally, but also how employers choose to handle third-party harassment. 

A recent case in Ontario involved transit workers who were the targets of racist and sexist tweets from customers. The Toronto Transit Commission took action by replying to the tweets and clarifying that such harassment was not condoned, asking the tweeter to refrain from hostile language, or simply ignoring the tweet entirely. The ruling of an arbitrator said this is simply not enough action on the part of the Commission. 

Instead, it was suggested that the TTC's Twitter feed should have responded more strongly, asked that the post be deleted and blocked the offending account if those requests were not met. To do otherwise might have opened the Commission up to a lawsuit filed by the targeted employees, who were not being adequately supported in their workplace against harassment. This represents a new way of thinking about harassment in the workplace that could have repercussions across the nation for years to come. 

Every Alberta resident deserves a workplace free from harassment, discrimination and hostility. However, such workplaces are still a "work in progress" for many people. In the meantime, legal support exists for employees who feel they have been targeted in their workplaces. The support of an experienced employment law attorney can be instrumental in improving conditions for all working Canadians. 

Source: theprovince.com, "Employers told to pay attention as sexist, racist, discrimination cases increasing", Jenny Lee, Jan. 27, 2017

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