ARTICLE: Same-Sex Sexual Harassment: Is it Sex Discrimination? A Review of Canadian and American Law Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2000 The Manitoba Law Journal
The Manitoba Law Journal

ARTICLE: Same-Sex Sexual Harassment: Is it Sex Discrimination? A Review of Canadian and American Law


27 Man. L.J. 333


Dr. Arjun P. Aggarwal* and Madhu M. Gupta**



It IS WIDELY RECOGNISED THAT sexual harassment in the workplace is commonplace in both Canada and the United States. Most Canadian jurisdictions have developed specific prohibitions in their human rights legislation against sexual harassment although some still rely on the general prohibition against sex discrimination--which, as our Supreme Court confirmed in Janzen v. Platy Enterprises Ltd., 1 includes a prescription against sexual harassment. In the United States, the general prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the vehicle for similar restrictions as was finally confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. 2 The leading cases in the evolution of the law all dealt with conduct between men and women.

The issue of whether same-gender sexual harassment amounts to sex discrimination under human rights legislation arose in Canada for the first time in 1984. Thereafter, same-sex sexual harassment cases have been few and far between. The lack of same-sex sexual harassment cases should not be seen as an indication that same-sex sexual harassment is not widespread or does not exist in Canada. This phenomenon is more likely due to the fact that victims of same-sex sexual harassment are reluctant to report their ordeal, or choose to use other redress mechanisms rather than the human rights tribunal. 3

Sexual harassment, particularly same-sex sexual harassment, has been widespread in areas other than the workplace, for example in the sports industry. ...
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