A hydro worker's sexual harassment of a co-worker, including
an offensive sexual joke, justified his dismissal, the Ontario
Labour Relations Board has held.
The OLRB found that the employee was upset by the fact that his
female co-worker was on the way to being in a supervisory position
to him. The employee set about trying to belittle and isolate the
co-worker. He made disparaging comments about her abilities.
Perhaps most concerning was his telling of "the bulldog
joke" which contained sexual references which were both
objectifying and disparaging of women. The OLRB stated that,
"This joke was qualitatively worse than the usual sexual
humour of the workplace." It was reasonable for the female
co-worker to experience this joke as being directed towards her,
the only female present at the time. The employee ought to have
known that the joke would be extremely offensive to her.
The employee also made a comment about his wife that disparaged
and objectified her and disparaged women in general. In disparaging
women, the employee sent the message to others that his female
co-worker did not belong on the worksite.
Interestingly, the union argued that the fact that the co-worker
had asked to be treated as "one of the guys" was a
"mitigating factor" suggesting that the employee's
conduct was not as serious. The OLRB disagreed, stating that the
female co-worker wanted – and was entitled to –
"fair opportunity, fair treatment and fair
The OLRB held that the employee engaged in a course of conduct
of sexual harassment and bullying behaviour towards his female
co-worker. His actions could not be viewed as a series of isolated
incidents. Further, over his 3 1/2 years with the company, he had
been insubordinate time and again. In conclusion, the OLRB held
that the employer had just cause for immediate dismissal of the
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