You may have seen the news recently about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, following an investigation that concluded that he sexually harassed 11 women from 2013 to 2020. Investigators interviewed 179 people and ultimately found a pattern of unwanted touching and sexually suggestive and inappropriate comments towards staff, State employees and members of the public.
As workplace investigators, we notice time and again how organizations and workplaces feel the ripple effects of bigger societal movements. The power of movements like #MeToo is that they permeate beyond headlines, making individuals rethink encounters…
Despite this opening sentence in her decision, Tribunal Chair Juricevic found that the complainant’s allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination were not substantiated.
As a workplace investigator, I am sensitive to the fact that conversations around #MeToo in the workplace have been an evolution; people are not always sure about “where the line is” when assessing whether conduct in the workplace amounts to sexual harassment. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal recently chimed into this discussion. The decision¹ provides a detailed refresher on the legal test for claims of sexual harassment and draws a line in the sand regarding what is (or is not) considered sexual harassment.
A few weeks ago, I was part of a panel on TVO. The discussion centred on what had changed in the two years since the #Me Too Movement had begun. Much to my surprise, I seemed to be the sole voice on the panel who thought that the needle on the sexual harassment dial had moved at all.
At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, let me explain why I believe things have changed. I do so from the vantage point of someone who leads a large team of lawyers, lawyers who investigate complaints of sexual harassment across the country, in English and in French, and in every conceivable type of workplace.