Workplace harassment survivor receives maximum damages in grievance case

Marilyn Doro, a member of PSAC, is a single mom who has worked for over thirty years at Canada Revenue Agency. In 2010, a nightmare began when a new supervisor moved into her workplace who, shortly after, began to sexually harass her. The daily harassment included the supervisor making advances on her at work and through text and email, touching her inappropriately, and suggesting he was watching her at her home.

Doro reported the harassment to CRA management. Rather than taking the appropriate action, the employer’s response was to move her to another cubicle that was still near her supervisor. In fact, he continued to leer at Doro as she came and went from her cubicle, which caused her considerable fear and stress. Unbelievably, the employer further suggested that she could change workplaces instead of requiring him to be removed from the equation. Doro was forced to file a grievance for the employer’s failure to provide her with a harassment-free workplace.

In response the employer hired an independent investigator who took two years to complete a report. The report found that there were 13 incidents of sexual harassment.

Decision slams CRA for failing to act

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) found that the employer’s response to the sexual harassment was woefully ineffective and insensitive, stating that the “the CRA viewed Ms. Doro’s desire for a safe workplace as a burden that she needed to solve herself.” The Board also found that the employer’s failure to respond “caused real and ongoing harm” to her.

As a result, the Board awarded Doro the maximum damages allowable under the Canadian Human Rights Act: $20,000 for the pain and suffering she experienced and another $20,000 for CRA’s reckless mishandling of her case. The award also included an additional $22,955 for reimbursement of costs for treating the depression and anxiety that resulted from the harassment.

The Board stated: “…the CRA must be better prepared to act quickly and to provide meaningful physical separation so that a person claiming to have been sexually harassed will not be expected to remain in the same building or physical location as their harasser if there is any credible evidence upon initial review that could substantiate the sexual harassment allegation.” The decision also recommends that the CRA put in place a “comprehensive anti-sexual harassment program.”

Speak up

For her part, Marilyn Doro is relieved that her ordeal is over. “One of the things I was looking for throughout all this is closure,” says Doro. “To me, closure would be to see changes in the workplace with regard to sexual harassment. It’s fortunate that, while the employer doesn’t seem to take harassment very seriously, the union is there trying to change that.” 

When asked what she would say to others who are experiencing harassment at work, Doro says: “Speak up and don’t give up until the appropriate action takes place. Only this will promote change.”

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April 10, 2019