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The cost of violating employee rights

Sexual harassment on the job is a pervasive issue in workplaces the world over. Sadly, this includes here in Ontario, where some employers do not always take the issue of employee rights seriously. However, it is important for these employers to understand what a sexual harassment lawsuit could potentially end up costing the business. 

The first important distinction to make is between a sexual harassment lawsuit and a lesser suit like wrongful dismissal. In Canada, a wrongful dismissal suit takes into consideration the seniority, age and tenure of the employee when determining how to compensate for lost wages. Sexual harassment lawsuits tend to ignore these issues in favour of awarding damages for all lost wages that would have resulted if not for the inappropriate behaviour. Such costs can rise dramatically, depending on the case. 

In Canada, compensation for emotional distress or trauma is not as common as it is in the United States. However, in sexual harassment cases, distress is taken into consideration and could also influence the bottom line with respect to damages awarded in a successful claim. A human rights tribunal may choose to award damages based on distress, which can increase the cost to the employer. 

Ontario residents would likely agree that, regardless of the potential cost of violating employee rights, employers should protect their employees because it is the right thing to do. However, it is a grim reality for those businesses that choose not to do so. Individuals who feel their rights are being violated in the workplace could benefit from seeking the advice of an experienced employment law attorney, who can help to navigate the litigation process. 

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