Sexual Harassment: It Doesn't Go with the Territory

By Thompson, Rachel | Herizons, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Sexual Harassment: It Doesn't Go with the Territory


Thompson, Rachel, Herizons


Patricia Allen heard someone following her during her nightly patrol. She thought an inmate had escaped. Terrified, she informed her supervisors. Their response surprised her: it was just a co-worker playing a `prank.'

Allen wasn't amused. It wasn't the first time her safety had been compromised by co-workers. At a conference of the Law Union of Ontario earlier this year, Allen and other former guards broke their two-decade silence, describing acts of harassment that ranged from pornography strewn around the security office, to having their cars vandalized.

Statistics vary, but between 40 and 70 percent of Canadian women and around five percent of men report that they have experienced sexual harassment, usually from supervisors. All provincial legislatures and Parliament have enacted human rights statutes that prohibit sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. In law, sexual harassment focusses on behaviours: unwanted physical contact, sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, suggestive or offensive comments or gestures emphasizing sexuality, sexual identity or sexual orientation.

Its effects are far reaching. According to Constance Backhouse and Leah Cohen, authors of The Secret Oppression: Sexual Harassment of Working Women, "Sexual harassment can manifest itself physically and psychologically.... It can poison a woman's work environment to the extent that her livelihood is in danger."

Allen says she was told that she would be put into a cell to deal with any trouble with an inmate and that her male co-workers would not help. Another former guard, Julie Blair, told delegates that, "I actually found cells left open from the previous shift." Blair and Allen were hired in 1980 as part of a Corrections Canada project to bring female guards into federal men's prisons. Six years later, both of them quit.

Canadian courts and tribunals have established that employers must provide employees with a harassment-free workplace. If they don't, they can face significant financial penalties. The most common type of compensation is monetary, for lost wages or salary and pain and humiliation. Sexual harassment awards as high as $50,000 have been ordered by human rights commissions. However, the costs of harassment to workplaces go beyond the financial. Harassment also takes a toll on lost productivity, damages the image of the workplace and damages the overall working environment for employees.

Sexual harassment is not restricted to any one field, as a recent Canadian study confirmed. According, to a Conference Board of Canadas June 2001 report, one third of female senior executives left their last job because of sexual harassment.

"We're not talking nervous entry-level graduates. We're talking ambitious, talented women," said Barbara Orser, author of the report. The study involved 350 women with senior posts in the public and private sectors. Respondents were also asked to predict when women would achieve equal representation in 10 key areas. Close to half predicted that discrimination in the workplace will always exist.

"Clearly we have work to do," observed Pamela Jeffrey, founder of the Toronto-based Women's Executive Network that commissioned the poll. Even the most optimistic respondents predicted that it would be more than 30 years before sexual harassment is wiped out.

In 1987, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that employers are liable for the discriminatory acts of their employees in the course of their employment. In doing so, it overturned a Federal Court of Appeal which had ruled earlier that, while Bonnie Robichaud had been sexually harassed by her supervisor at the department of National Defence, the department was not liable for the contravention of her rights. The Court ruled in Robichaud that the purpose of human rights legislation is to remove discrimination. As a result of the ruling, employers covered by the federal act are liable for the conduct of their employees. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Sexual Harassment: It Doesn't Go with the Territory
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.