Sexual harassment in the workplace may have as much to do with as with male testosterone. In the case of law firms, complaints about sexual harassment are still common enough, notwithstanding the legal sanctions that lawyers are fully aware of (we hope).
There are plenty of law tales and tall ones too about female lawyers being harassed in their firms, and some in reverse order as well. But, according to Law Society of Upper Canada ‘discrimination and harassment counsel’ – yes, they apparently need such an officer – Cynthia Petersen identifies one, common thread:
in 151 sexual harassment complaints Ms. Petersen grappled with in a ten-year period: the alleged aggressor, in all but three cases, was a man.
Of course, Canada has been somewhat transfixed by the firing of Jian Ghomeshi, the CBC radio host who allegedly groped and grappled with unpaid interns and others.
They also identify other issues, as the Business Financial Post reports:
“It’s all about power,” says Marjorie Munroe, a workplace fairness analyst who works as the ombudsman, handling the complaints from 600 employees at the National Energy Board in Calgary. “Where is the power? Employees may have more power than others. Jian Ghomeshi had a high amount of power. There’s the idea that people with power have more control over their outcome than others. And it is not just men.”
The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, in a campaign titled, “It will be our little secret,” asked the women among its 2,500 lawyers to send anonymous postcards “about gender harassment.” One lawyer wrote in, “At our Christmas party, a senior lawyer pulled me onto his lap and told me I had a nice ass in front of other lawyers from our community. Nobody said anything.”
Organizations often overlook the behaviour of their stars. Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor did nothing about the increasingly abusive behaviour of Marc Daniel, an anaesthesiologist, who was in a relationship with a nurse, Lori Dupont. In Nov. 2005, he stabbed Ms. Dupont to death before injecting himself with a lethal dose of anaesthetic. Her death prompted Ontario to rewrite laws protecting employees from workplace violence.