There are a number of situations where you may decide to involve Occupational Health & Safety (OHS). Anytime you are dealing with harassment you can decide to contact OHS for help.
You cannot make a complaint under occupational health and safety laws if you decide to leave your job. The protections under these laws can help you stay in your job safely but staying may not always be right for you. If you decide to leave your job you may have other options under human rights, criminal or civil law. However, it is important to remember that an employer cannot fire you for pursuing your rights under occupational health and safety laws. In this situation the employer could be ordered to reinstate you.
Below are some examples of when you may decide to involve OHS, but you are not limited to contacting OHS only in those situations.
You may decide to go directly to OHS because in your situation going to your employer is not a good option. This could be because your employer is the person who is sexually harassing you or because your employer has made it clear that they are okay with what is happening to you.
You may decide to go to OHS because your employer has failed to address the problem after you told them what was happening.
You may decide to go to OHS because after you reported being sexually harassed your employer took action against you for making a report or your employer did not protect you from retaliation by the harasser.
OHS can assist the parties in resolving the situation with or without help from a mediator, whether a complaint is filed or not. Mediators are provided through Labour Relations and Mediation.
If you choose to do so you can file a complaint with the Harassment & Discriminatory Action Prevention Unit of OHS. A complaint cannot be anonymous.
If the complaint is something that OHS can deal with they will send you a questionnaire to complete about your situation. If there has been a violation of occupational health and safety laws OHS can take action. If they decide there has been no violation of these laws you will be given written notice that OHS is not going to take action.
OHS can have employers or others enter into a Compliance Undertaking or a Notice of Contravention. it is also an offence to not comply with occupational health and safety laws.
It is important to remember that OHS cannot order an employer or anyone else to pay you monetary compensation because you have been sexually harassed at work. They can only order compensation for lost wages if you were wrongfully terminated because you made a complaint. There may be other ways to pursue compensation. If you are eligible for Workers' Compensation you can be reimbursed for medial costs and provided with paid time off work to recover. A human rights complaint could also result in you receiving monetary compensation, depending on the situation. In some cases a civil law suit for damages may also be an option.
Trying to make a decision about your employment future? Anyone who has experienced, witnessed, or been affected by workplace sexual harassment can receive up to 4 hours of free employment coaching. Click here for more information.
This site provides general information about workplace sexual harassment only. It is not a substitute for receiving legal advice about your situation. Apply now to receive 4 hours of free legal advice.
The Shift Project is funded by the Department of Justice and delivered by the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA).