The Ontario Human Rights Code defines harassment as "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome." Harassment based on race, ancestry, pace of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, martial status, family status, or disability is a violation of the Code.
The courts and tribunals, in Gregory v Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities Inc. (2011) for example, describe that in some circumstances a single, serious incident will meet the definition of harassment.
The Code explicitly addresses harassment in accommodation, harassment in employment, and sexual harassment.
In Granes v 2389193 Ontario Inc. (2016), the applicant experienced sexual harassment when one of the owners of the restaurant where she worked as a server subjected her to a series of inappropriate comments and touching/groping. The Tribunal ordered the respondents to pay $20,000 to the applicant as monetary compensation for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect, and about $9,440 in lost wages. Plus, the personal respondent had to complete Human Rights Training and the employer had to develop a policy for dealing with complaints of harassment and discrimination.
In Prothero v Ontario (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services) (2016), the applicant experienced harassment when his employer sent him an unnecessarily high number of letters immediately upon the commencement of a leave related to disability. The Tribunal ordered the personal respondent in the matter to pay $2,500 and the employer respondent to pay $25,000, in addition to Human Rights training.
Harassment is offensive because it is demeaning and an assault on the dignity of people. Both employers and employees have responsibilities to stop harassment and eliminate it.
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