Ridout Barron


Handling harassment in the workplace

Incidences of inappropriate behaviour in workplaces have been prominent in the news of late. Most notably, Calgary residents might have heard about FOX's Bill O'Reilly being fired for alleged harassment. This brings into stark relief the issue of workplace harassment even north of the border, where it is still a major problem in Alberta businesses. Generally speaking, it is the responsibility of an employer to ensure a safe and secure workplace for all employees.

The most important thing for employers to remember is that, just because harassment is not being reported in their workplaces does not mean it is not happening. A recent Canadian poll suggested that some 25 percent of employees reported having experienced some form of harassment, including unwelcome sexual advances, in their workplaces. The fact is that employees, especially women, often feel uncomfortable coming forward and making a report out of fear of reprisal.

This reprisal can take several forms, but some people have reported fearing being passed over for promotions, an escalation of the harassing behaviour or even getting fired. Women are four times more likely to be harassed at work than men, but both groups have said four out of five times they would not report the behaviour. It is incumbent upon the employer in these instances to foster a culture of open communication to make their employees feel safe about coming forward.

No one deserves to feel unsafe at their workplace, neither here in Calgary or anywhere else. But in order to combat workplace harassment, employers must take responsibility for their workplaces and provide the necessary support to their employees. If they do not, victims have legal recourse available to them in order to escalate the investigation beyond the scope of the business owners. 

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Ridout Barron
1827 14th Street SW
Calgary, AB T2T 3T1

Phone: 587-315-8454
Fax: 403-271-8016
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