Tribunal orders $75,000 in compensation for teen sexually harassed at first job

15-year-old girl was harassed while working for family friend; says 'struggle was worth it'

Tribunal orders $75,000 in compensation for teen sexually harassed at first job

TORONTO (CNW) -- The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario awarded $75,000 to a 15 year old girl who was subjected to sexual harassment from her employer (a tattoo parlour). The Human Rights Legal Support Centre represented the strong young woman at a hearing before the Tribunal. The applicant, known by her initials as G.M, and the respondent are protected under a publication ban.

"For the first time throughout this whole process, I finally feel like the struggle was worth it," said G.M. "This decision not only changed my life and provided me with a sense of justice, but it's empowering to know this has impacted the fate of other victims. I hope it gives others the will to fight the battle that no person should ever have to face in the first place."

Vice-Chair Maureen Doyle of the Human Rights Tribunal found that G.M. "had her dream taken away from her by the respondent's actions. The applicant experienced a sense of victimization. The individual respondent had been a trusted family friend, but his actions were a cruel betrayal of that trust." Doyle added that the applicant, who was 15 at the time of the incidents, was in an extremely vulnerable place while working at her first job, and the respondent was in a position of authority over her. "The individual respondent's conduct was egregious, and the actions toward the applicant constituted serious violations of her rights."

The Tribunal ordered the harasser and the employer to pay $75,000 in general damages to G.M. Survivors of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and in other specific social settings have the right to protection under Ontario's Human Rights Code.

Beth Walden, the applicant's lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre commented, "A workplace must be free of sexual harassment and violence, and it's the employer's responsibility to maintain a safe and respectful working environment, particularly when a vulnerable person is involved. With this decision, hopefully more people who have experienced sexual harassment in their jobs will be encouraged to file a human rights application as a means to seek justice."

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre provides free legal assistance to people across Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code.

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