In 1998, the West Coast LEAF Association provided a submission to the Royal Commission on Workers’ Compensation on the inclusion of sexual harassment in workers’ compensation legislation, regulations, and policy. LEAF National endorsed the submission.

The submission argued that sexual harassment is a significant workplace issue for women, particularly women who are disadvantaged due to race, culture, physical disability, sexual identity, immigration status, or their isolation within the workplace.

Sexual harassment in the workplace creates a dangerous and unproductive workplace environment for everyone – the victim, her co-workers, and the employer.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace to their employees. Workers’ compensation needs to assist in and enforce this responsibility in the context of sexual harassment.

At the time of the submission, existing human rights and civil remedies for sexual harassment did not adequately meet the needs of all workers facing harassment in their workplaces. Sexual harassment is a workplace issue and workers’ compensation should also be available to deal with compensation claims, prevention and education.

Workers’ compensation legislation in British Columbia failed to provide adequate preventative measures and compensation remedies for dealing with sexual harassment.

In the light of these observations, the submission made a number of recommendations, including:

  1. Multiple statutory remedies should be available for sexual harassment, including remedies under the workers’ compensation system.
  2. Sexual harassment should be explicitly incorporated into the WCB scheme, and a proactive infrastructure for enforcement, prevention, and education should be put into place.
  3. Workers’ compensation training should be amended to expressly include sexual harassment as an improper activity, and further training should be provided to WCB staff.
  4. Complementary regulations should be put into place to set out appropriate preventative actions to be taken by employers.
  5. The Saskatchewan model should be implemented in B.C.’s forthcoming occupational health and safety legislation.
  6. The Worker’s Compensation Act should explicitly include injuries flowing from sexual harassment as a compensable activity.

Download the submission below.