Canada’s highest court is hearing a B.C. case Tuesday, that could make it harder for employees to fight workplace harassment.
The Supreme Court of Canada is looking at a B.C. Court of Appeal decision last year.
It took away the ability of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to look at cases where the alleged perpetrator is not in a position of economic authority over the target.
In other words, the Tribunal, often the first stop for employees who feel wronged, won’t deal with cases where the bully is a colleague.
Employee rights groups argue the decision also makes it easier for employers to ignore harassment, because it takes away the incentive for proactively dealing with toxic and unhealthy work environments.
Case raises important questions
Margot Young at UBC’s Allard School of Law says it raises questions about what happens if the alleged perpetrator is not the target’s boss.
“So, you’re on a worksite, there’s someone who is there by virtue of a contracted activity, they’re harassing you, they’re not your employer, but nonetheless, that harassment is happening in your employment context.”
Young says if the ruling stands it would even take away legal ramifications for workplace sexual harassment from a colleague who is not a boss.