Join us for a series of conversations exploring how our legal and social structures have changed in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Our second in the series will focus on the hospitality sector and soaring rates of workplace sexual assault.
The #MeToo movement is an outgrowth of long-standing inadequacies in how organizations and legal institutions responded or failed to respond, to claims of sexual harassment. It has been 16 years since the movement’s inception – which was initially created in 2006 by Black feminist Tarana Burke to “[aid] underprivileged women of colour affected by sexual abuse.” In 2017, the #MeToo movement was coopted by the mainstream media when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” – resulting in the hashtag #MeToo to go viral with millions of stories of sexual violence, especially in the workplace.
Workplace sexual violence is a pervasive issue in the Canadian workplace. However, for a long time, the Canadian legislatures were reluctant to recognize that sexual harassment was a serious workplace issue or societal concern. For example, on June 15, 1962, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to formally recognize the moral, social, and economic consequences of discrimination by enacting the Human Rights Code. However, it was not until 1980 – in the decision of Re Bell and Korczak – that workplace sexual harassment constituted a prohibited form of discrimination under human rights law.
Since then, there have been many strides in worker protection, yet it seems like much has remained the same.