Employee doesn’t report harassment

Is employer liable if harassed employee doesn't come to it first?
By Brian Johnston
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 08/22/2013

Question: Is an employer liable if an employee files a harassment complaint with a human rights commission before bringing the harassment to the attention of the employer, therefore not giving the employer a chance to act on the complaint?

Answer: There is no hard and fast rule that an employee is required to report harassment to her employer before filing a human rights complaint, but if an employee does not report harassment to her employer, a tribunal or board may make unfavourable credibility findings. This was the case in Chaudhary v. Smoother Movers, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision where the tribunal concluded the allegation of harassment could not be sustained. The complainant, an otherwise outspoken individual in the workplace, failed to raise the alleged harassment issue, instead choosing to go directly to the Human Rights Commission:

“I find it difficult to reconcile the complainant’s allegations with the fact that he never raised any of those allegations with his employer. He claims Mr. Bensley is intimidating and not approachable, and he was hesitant to raise the issues in fear that it might affect his employment. Despite this assertion, the complainant was able to confront his alleged harassers about their conduct,” said the tribunal.