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  • What is Community Legal Assistance Sarnia?
    Community Legal Assistance Sarnia or CLAS provides free legal services for people with low incomes in Sarnia-Lambton, Aamjiwnaang, Bkejwanong (Walpole Island) and Kettle and Stony Point. CLAS is one of many legal clinics participating in the Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (SHIW) project. Through the SHIW project, CLAS is funded to provide free legal advice to survivors of sexual harassment in the workplace. CLAS also provides free legal services for a number of other areas of law. Check out their website to learn more about the clinic, the team, and the services they provide in Sarnia-Lambton.
  • What is the SHIW Project?
    The Sexual Harassment in the Workplace or SHIW project (prounounced 'shoe') is an initiative funded by the Department of Justice. This initiative aims to raise awareness and provide increased access to public legal education information and resources on sexual harassment in the workplace. CLAS is offering free workshops and educational sessions to any organization in the community interested in learning how to recognize, address, and stop, sexual harassment in the workplace. As part of the initiaitive, CLAS is also offering free legal services to survivors of sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact us today to book a session or receive free legal advice.
  • What is sexual harassment?
    The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines workplace sexual harassment as: engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker, in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making it is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know the solicitation or advance is unwelcome If you, or someone you know, has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, contact Community Legal Assistance Sarnia today to receive free legal advice.
  • Ok....but what IS sexual harassment?
    While the list below is not exhaustive, in real life, sexual harassment in the workplace can look like: asking questions, talking, or writing about sexual activities; rough or vulgar humour or language related to sexuality, sexual orientation or gender; displaying or circulating pornography, sexual images, or offensive sexual jokes in print or electronic form; leering or inappropriate staring; invading personal space; unnecessary physical contact, including inappropriate touching; demanding hugs, dates, or sexual favours; making gender-related comments about someone's physical characteristics, mannerisms, or conformity to sex-role stereotypes; using sexist or homophobic language or any unwantedbehaviour that targets someone’s gender identity or sexuality verbally abusing, threatening or taunting someone based on gender or sexual orientation; or, threatening to penalize or otherwise punish a worker if they refuse a sexual advance.
  • Is sexual harassment at work really that big of a problem?
    In a 2018 Angus Reid study, 52% of female respondents said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace over the lifetime of their career. But only 28% of these same women reported it. 22% of male respondents in this same study reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. While women experience higher rates of sexual harassment at work, women in certain social locations report higher rates of sexual harassment. This includes disabled women, 2SLGBTQ+ women, Indigenous women, racialized women, and young women. Sexual harassment is a big problem. It can happen in any workplace. We need to address it and stop it.
  • What can I do if I am experiencing or have experienced sexual harassment in my workplace?
    It can be scary to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. You have options - but sometimes these options can be confusing and trying to navigate them alone can be overwhelming. Contact Contact Community Legal Assistance Sarnia today to discuss your options under the law. You can get a sense of your rights, and what different options may require of you, and offer you. Additionally, write down everything you experience. This can include instances of sexual harassment, any time you have reported it to your Human Resources Department and/or supervisor/manager. Keep any emails, cards, text messages, etc. that are relevant to your experience. Ideally, you should keep all this documentation outside of your workplace. If you witness sexual harassment, it is also valuable for you to write down information for future internal investigations. You can support a colleague as they go through the process of filing a complaint, and can participate in the investigation as a witness. Most importantly, take care of yourself and prioritize your safety. Consider talking to a professional. The Family Counselling Centre Sarnia services may be free, subsidized, or fee-for-service based on a number of factors. Contact them at 519-336-0120. If you've witnessed sexual harassment at work, it is still valuable to contact Community Legal Assistance Sarnia for advice.
  • My friend/colleague disclosed to me that they experienced sexual harassment at work. How can I support them?
    When someone discloses to you, you may feel stressed or worried. You understand the importance of their decision in sharing this information with you, and you want to properly support them. In a moment like this, it's good to have some tools in your toolkit. First, tell them you believe them, thank them for sharing this information with you, and honor the bravery it took. This can sound like: "I'm really sorry this happened to you. I want you to know I believe you, and I'm here to support you in the way you need." Second, listen carefully and do not ask unnecessary questions. Let them provide the information they feel comfortable sharing when they feel comfortable sharing it. Unnecessary questions and comments can sound like: "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" "Why haven't you told your manager/supervisor yet?" "If that happened to me I would have done ______ " Supportive listening can sound like: "Is there anything else you'd like to share?" "Would you like to sit and talk about this more? I'm happy to just sit here with you, or if you'd like some time to process we can talk again when you're ready." "I believe you." Lastly, do not try to force them to pursue a solution they're not ready for. This can sound like: "You have to report this." "Let's talk to a lawyer right now." "If you don't report this, they're going to do this to someone else." Instead, try this: "I'm here to support you in whatever way you need." "If you're looking for resources or options, I am happy to help you in the process. But you let me know when you're ready."
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