Home Arbitration/Labour Relations Mental health nurse at Ontario prison wins sexual harassment grievance

Mental health nurse at Ontario prison wins sexual harassment grievance

by HR Law Canada

A mental health nurse at the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre — a medium/maximum security prison in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. — has won her grievance after alleging that her employer failed to protect her from sexual harassment by an inmate.

Arbitrator Deborah Leighton concluded that the employer neglected its duty to ensure her safety.

The nurse filed a grievance on Sept. 2, 2022, claiming the employer “failed to protect my health and safety as well as my personal dignity when I was subject to sexual harassment in the workplace by an offender and the employer failed to hold the offender accountable for his actions,” contrary to the collective agreement, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Human Rights Act.

She sought an order for training for management on what constitutes sexual harassment and $5,000 in damages.

The employer denied the grievance, maintaining that there had been no breaches of the collective agreement or the Acts.

At the outset of the hearing, both parties agreed that the arbitrator had jurisdiction and requested a decision without precedential value and without written reasons. (For that reason, details in this case are light.)

The ruling found in favour of the nurse.

“I find that the grievor was sexually harassed by the inmate and given the employer has a duty to protect employees from harassment of third parties, in this case inmates, they failed in that obligation,” said Arbitrator Leighton.

Consequently, the employer was ordered to pay the nurse $1,500 in damages.

For more information, see Ontario Public Service Employees Union (Wieja) v Ontario (Solicitor General), 2024 CanLII 62894 (ON GSB).

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