The Department of Justice Canada has provided funding for initiatives to address the persistent issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Project (“SHIW Project”) is one such initiative, with community legal clinics throughout Ontario working to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace and improve access to justice.
Through the SHIW Project, the Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic and the Huron Perth Community Legal Clinic are working together to address sexual harassment in the workplace in the areas covered by both clinics.
The goals of the SHIW Project are to increase awareness, educate, and provide advice on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Elgin-Oxford and Huron Perth clinics have hired a lawyer, Elspeth Graham, to lead the SHIW Project at their clinics. The clinics are also working collaboratively with Neighbourhood Legal Services (London & Middlesex).
The SHIW Project can provide services to both individuals and organizations. For individuals, the SHIW Project can provide advice and legal information regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. All information provided regarding a legal problem is confidential. Unlike with other legal aid services, there is no financial eligibility requirement for an individual to receive advice or legal information through this project.
For organizations, the SHIW Project can provide presentations, workshops, and training regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Presentations can be introductory or general information about sexual harassment in the workplace, or more specific to an organization or industry. The SHIW Project can also assist those looking to create a Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Policy for their organization or workplace.
The availability of free, local sexual harassment services is timely in light of the persistence and prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. Growing public and stakeholder concerns are leading to efforts to create and maintain workplaces that are free of harassment for all.
A range of conduct can be considered sexual harassment. It can include overt sexual behaviour, such as non-consensual sexual touching, and it can also include more subtle conduct, such as gender-based insults or jokes. Sexual harassment includes harassing comments or conduct based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can happen to anyone at anytime. It can also be perpetrated by anyone, whether it is a manager or supervisor, a colleague or peer, or even a client or customer. According to research, the majority of sexual harassment in the workplace that is reported, was committed by a client or customer.
While the world of work has seen some changes recently due to the pandemic, with many people working from home, sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be an issue. For example, what is considered the workplace is not limited to the physical location where someone works. Sexual harassment can also include conduct at an office retreat or party, at a professional training or education workshop, at a customer or client’s office or residence, or even in virtual work communications.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law, and employers are required to ensure that workplaces are safe, including being free from sexual harassment.
If you are an individual seeking legal advice or information, or an organization seeking a workshop or other services for your organization, contact Elspeth Graham at either the Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic or the Huron Perth Community Legal Clinic.
For Elgin-Oxford, Elspeth Graham can be contacted by phone at 519-633-2638 or toll free at 1-866-611-2311. For Huron Perth, Elspeth Graham can be contacted by phone at 519-271-4556 or toll free at 1-866-867-1027. Elspeth Graham can also be contacted by email at email@example.com.
To learn more, visit the SHIW Project online: