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1 in 3 Canadian women and 1 in 6 men will suffer the indignity of a sexual assault or abuse during their lives. The Lerners Sexual Assault and Abuse team is dedicated to helping anyone who has been the survivor of sexual assault or childhood abuse. We can’t take away the pain, but we can work to give you a sense of peace and justice.
Our lawyers have decades of experience ready to be put to work for you. Elizabeth Grace, Anna Matas, Ashley Boyes, and Carly Moore are your compassionate advocates.
Sexual assault and sexual abuse leave long-lasting scars, and are often perpetrated on a vulnerable individual by someone close or someone trusted. This can include someone in a position of authority or control, such as a caregiver, a family member, a guardian, a professional service provider, an employer, a coach, a priest/clergy member, or an educator. Sexual assault and abuse at the hands of an authority figure can be particularly devastating, involving a breach of trust.
The emotional and physical harm caused by sexual assault and abuse can be profound. Your quality of life suffers, your education and work are compromised, your relationships are negatively impacted, and you’re likely to need long-term counseling and therapy to heal. Survivors are entitled to compensation–and the process of obtaining that compensation, when handled with skill and sensitivity, can provide you with vindication, accountability, closure, and assist you in the process of reclaiming your life.
A well-qualified sexual assault and abuse lawyer can determine where you need to go for compensation, provide the representation and protection you need throughout the process, ensure that a settlement offer is reasonable and fair, and if it becomes necessary, represent you in court.
There are many scenarios in which third parties can and should be held accountable for the abuse or assault suffered. These include when a third party has been negligent, or if the conditions for other forms of legal responsibility exist. This is known as vicarious liability.
For example, a third party’s negligence might include the act of doing nothing even though the assault or abuse was known, creating the conditions for that abuse, aiding in it, or simply allowing it to happen by not providing the proper supervision or care for the individual at the time of the abuse.
If your perpetrator was an authority figure in the workplace, your faith community, or another institution, the organization that placed them in a position to assault or abuse you may also be held liable.
Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination based on sex. When someone experiences sexual harassment in their workplace, it can undermine their personal dignity, prevent them from doing their job, and ultimately create a toxic culture, which can have a significant impact on their physical, mental/emotional and social health.
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code harassment is “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” Sexual harassment can include overt sexual behavior, such as unwanted physical contact and persistent propositions. It can also include more subtle conduct, such as gender-based insults, derogatory language related to gender, or inappropriate staring, which may create a negative work environment. In some cases, a single incident could be serious enough to constitute sexual harassment.
You, as an employee, have a right to a workplace free from sexual harassment. Your employer has a legal duty to take steps to prevent and respond to sexual harassment. Your employer must make sure the workplace is a poison-free environment that respects human rights. From a human rights perspective, it is not acceptable to ignore sexual harassment, whether or not someone has formally complained or made a human rights complaint.
If you have been sexually harassed at work, it can be a challenge to figure out where or how you should make a claim. Many employers have internal redress mechanisms; you may be required to bring a claim to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board; you may want to bring a claim at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario; and in some cases, you may wish to sue in the regular civil court system. The terms and conditions of your employment, including whether or not your job is unionized, will impact this important decision. An experienced sexual abuse and harassment lawyer can help you to determine what forum is most appropriate for your claim.
Get the Lerners Sexual Assault and Abuse Legal Team to Help You.
The Lerners Sexual Assault and Abuse Team don’t just provide legal representation – they are advocates and advisors, providing guidance, empathy and education, working hard to effect changes that will have a positive outcome for survivors. Just some of the resources the team has created around filing claims, compensation, who to sue, when to sue, how to sue and other issues to help you and your loved ones can be found below. For a full library of blogs, videos and articles, please visit the resources page.