Retail and restaurant sectors report most sexual harassment on the job

January 11, 2018
Article Source
North Bay Nugget

With several high-profile cases of alleged sexual harassment, from Jian Ghomeshi to Harvey Weinstein, workplace safety culture is undergoing a major change, says Workplace Safety North.

Ministry of Labour complaint statistics regarding workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, have doubled since Bill 132: Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act became law in Ontario Sept. 8, 2016.

Bill 132 expanded the definition of "harassment" from earlier 2010 workplace anti-violence legislation to specifically include sexual harassment.

In order to protect workers, the law requires employers to assess the risk of workplace violence, develop policies and procedures for investigating and handling complaints and incidents, provide information and instruction, and review the program at least annually.

In the first 10 months following Bill 132, from Sept. 8, 2016, to June 30, 2017, the Ministry of Labour received 4,935 calls regarding workplace harassment, including sexual harassment. The calls resulted in 2,133 harassment complaints, including 156 specific to sexual harassment.

Compared to the same time frame the previous year, this is a 136 per cent increase in harassment complaints, (from 903 to 2,133); and a 114 per cent increase in sexual harassment complaints, (from 73 to 156).

Keep in mind, too, that many cases of workplace harassment and sexual harassment are never reported, says Workplace Safety North.

Of the 2,133 complaints, there were 1,539 field visits conducted by specially trained ministry inspectors at 1,041 Ontario workplaces. Inspectors issued 2,168 orders and 35 requirements.

An "order" occurs when the Occupational Health and Safety Act has been contravened: for example, where the employer didn't conduct a harassment investigation, or didn't provide results of the investigation to the complainant.

Types of orders include "forthwith" so the employer fixes the issue before the ministry leaves, a "stop work" to prevent specific work deemed unsafe and a "timed" order to complete specific actions by a certain date.

Read more: Retail and restaurant sectors report most sexual harassment on the job