Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Labour Arbitration of Co-Worker Sexual Harassment Cases in Canada

Document type Article
Author Hart, Susan M.
Journal Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences / Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration
Volume 29
Date 2012 September
ISSN 1936-4490
Pages 268-279


Women have the right to a workplace free from sexual harassment under Canadian provincial and federal human rights legislation. Canadian labour laws incorporate the right to a grievance procedure including binding arbitration where arbitrators must interpret and apply human rights legislation. This paper analyzes co-worker sexual harassment cases in order to assess how well arbitrations protect the right of unionized women to a harassment free workplace. Results indicate that women complainants were often subjected to aggressive gendered cross-examinations and the application of gendered jurisprudence that largely ignored the impact of gendered power relations in the workplace. The conclusion is that women's experiences in arbitrations are likely a deterrent to filing formal complaints, effectively undermining rather than protecting their rights.