Firing too harsh for sexual harasser: Court

Director’s behaviour at party was sexual harassment but it didn’t significantly impact the work environment
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An employee’s sexual harassment of a co-worker was not serious enough to warrant dismissal, according to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.

Sean Hodgins was the director of operations for St. John Ambulance in Alberta. He had been promoted from manager of the Calgary branch and was viewed as an important and valuable asset to the organization.

As a director, Hodgins was given the organization’s policies and procedures relating to dismissal, including a sexual harassment policy which was revised and came into effect in 2003. Senior staff were trained on the new policy at a meeting on Nov. 29, 2003. Coming out of the training, Hodgins believed one was guilty of harassment only if the offender knew his behaviour was harassing.