In Ontario, Canada, sexual assault victims at the workplace have the right to file claims against aggressors and employers and receive compensatory damages. The law could hold employers responsible for the sexual assaults your managers, supervisors, and colleagues commit against your consent.
Workplace Sexual Assault Results in Human Rights Violations
Canada’s sexual harassment laws provide for sexual assault policies in the workplace. The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits sexual harassment agaisnt employees. The code states that workers have the right to work without harassment from colleagues, employers, or employers’ agents based on gender identity, sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
Human Rights Code Section 7 (2)
According to the Human Rights Code, sexual assault falls under sexual harassment acts. Sexual harassment comes in many forms including sexual assault, like unwanted physical contact or coerced intercourse, and sexual harassment, like gender-based taunting and insults and persistent sexual advances.
The law considered sexual assault an advanced sexual harassment stage. Due to sexual assault’s degree of seriousness under Ontario law, you are entitled to compensatory damages.
In Ontario, you could file sexual assault claims in civil courts or with the Human Rights Tribunal under the Human Rights Code. You could opt to file with the Human Rights Tribunal because it is a faster and less expensive alternative. On the other hand, in civil courts, you could file multiple claims, including wrongful termination and sexual assault.
For you to receive damages you must show that:
- The wrongdoer was your employer.
- The aggressor sexually assaulted you through physical conduct you consider unwelcome or unwanted.
- The accused sexually assaulted you at work.
- The suspect assaulted you for sex. With this crime element, the sexual assault nature is enough to show that sexual intercourse was the main cause of the assault.
Example 1: In NK v. Botuik, 2020 HRTO 345 (CanLII), the court awarded a worker $170,000 in compensatory damages after her superior forced her to have sex with them against the employee’s wish.
Even though the act did not happen at work, the parties’ forced relationship birthed it due to the defendant’s position over the accuser as her supervisor.
Example 2: In J.D. v. Ultimate Cut Unisex, 2014 HRTO 956 (CanLII), the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal awarded a plaintiff $40,000 for sexual assault, among other workplace discrimination forms.
While Ms. D was working the visitors’ bay, the salon’s co-founder sexually groped her on the shoulders back, and legs. The victim told the wrongdoer that the touches were unwelcome and unwanted, but the accused persisted. The victim resisted him by walking away, but he slapped her behind despite knowing that it was inappropriate. The aggressor laughed and said that he was just joking and he had power.
Time is of the essence. If your employer sexually assaults you at the workplace, consult with a labour lawyer in Ontario because the Human Rights Code statute of limitations is one year.
Civil Court Cases for Sexual Assault in the Workplace
Even though many sexual assault victims at the workplace file claims for violation of human right, there is an alternative. You have a legal right to file a case against the defendant in a civil court for the battery as a tort.
When a suspect makes offensive or harmful contact with you without your consent, they are guilty of a battery crime. Battery offense is considered an intentional tort. Your aggressor must have intended the consequences of his actions. Therefore, it is deemed a battery tort.
Example 1. In Zando v Ali, 2017 ONSC 1289, the court ruled a sexual assault case a victim filed against a colleague who had invited her for dinner at her home. The aggressor tried to force the victim into sexual intercourse and masturbated in her full view and against her wish. The court considered the following factors when calculating the compensation the victim deserved:
- The plaintiff’s circumstances during the incident, such as vulnerability and age.
- The assault nature, for example, the degradingness, invasiveness, degree, and frequency, of violence.
- The defendant’s circumstances, like age and whether the plaintiff trusted them.
- The results of the wrongdoing to the accuser, such as psychological stress.
According to the court, the compensation in similar sexual assault claims was $140,000 to $300,000. Also, the Court of Appeal upheld the factors surrounding the case and the level of damages. In addition, the Court of Appeal agreed that the wrongdoer assaulted the victim. The judge awarded the victim $155,773.97 in pre-judgment interest, $325,000 in costs, $175,000 in general damages, and $25,000 in punitive damages.
Ontario laws consider sexual assault a serious and illegal act that you could be a victim of at the workplace. If a manager or coworker sexually assaults you ai or out of the workplace, you want to seek legal counsel as you are entitled to compensation.