Ridout Barron


The cost of workplace harassment

Sadly, workplace harassment is a problem all over Canada. From the smallest business to the halls of government, Calgary residents are keenly aware that harassment can take place in any employment situation. However, the cost of running a hostile work environment can be steep even for those employers most resistant to change. 

The potential liability associated with a harassment lawsuit can be incredibly damaging to an employer. In a wrongful dismissal claim, a settlement of a claim is often determined by taking into consideration an employee's age, position within the company and tenure. A workplace harassment lawsuit, which is overseen by a human rights tribunal, rarely takes these factors into consideration. Instead, compensation is awarded based on wages lost as a direct result of the harassment. In some cases, particularly in incidents of sexual harassment, these wages can be considerable. 

Distress is another factor that separates workplace harassment suits from other suits of this type. While it is not typical of Canadian lawsuits to award damages for emotional stress or trauma, harassment suits do take this into consideration. How seriously distress is taken is generally up to the presiding justice, but in some cases, harassment can lead to significant financial damages being paid out. 

Of course, Canadian workplaces should address harassment because it is immoral and contributes to a hostile work environment. However, it is worth Calgary business owners being aware of the financial ramifications of allowing such conduct to take place on their job sites. Employees who feel they have been the target of harassment could benefit greatly from securing the advice of experienced employment attorneys in filing harassment suits against their employers. 

Source: The Globe and Mail, "What's the potential cost of a workplace sexual harassment claim?", Daniel Lublin, June 29, 2017

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Ridout Barron
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