For Immediate Release

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories

Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) and the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia (EVA BC) launched a new program today geared to help workers facing sexual harassment on the job. Called SHARP Workplaces, the program provides free legal advice, education and information to address workplace sexual harassment in the province.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a significant problem.

The Canada Labour Code defines sexual harassment as “any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee; or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that employee as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion.”

A 2017 study by Insights West indicated that more than 50 per cent of working women in Canada say they have experienced sexual harassment during their careers. Only about a quarter of those women say they complained or reported the issue.

“This is a serious issue for many British Columbians,” says CLAS Executive Director Jacqui Mendes. “Half of working women say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. This program is for anyone in B.C. who needs support. We know that many vulnerable groups – including Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+, ethnic and cultural minorities, people with disabilities, and seasonal and temporary workers – are particularly vulnerable. With this program, we aim to put more power into the hands of workers to know their rights, know what actions they can take and connect them with support.”

“Sexual harassment occurs in all types of workplaces. No one is immune, and everyone deserves access to information and resources; that is why the Ending Violence Association of BC is developing materials for workplaces and delivering educational workshops to help shift workplace culture and support the building of skills among employees and employers alike,” said Tracy Porteous, Executive Director, EVA BC.

Funded by the Department of Justice Canada, SHARP Workplaces will provide up to five hours of free confidential legal advice to clients needing assistance. The lawyers provide advice on legal options, help with reviewing or drafting documents, coaching to guide clients through a complaint or legal process and referrals to services for additional support, including counseling, peer support and employment services.

SHARP Workplaces legal advice service is available to anyone with a complaint regarding workplace sexual harassment in B.C. Anyone can access SHARP Workplaces legal advice by calling 604-673-3143 or toll-free: 1-888-685-6222, emailing SHARPWorkplaces@clasbc.net or by going to https://clasbc.net/get-legal-help/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace/. Educational materials and workshops may be requested by small businesses, non-profits and Indigenous organizations from Ending Violence Association of BC by calling 604-682-8820 or emailing education@endingviolence.org .

More Information:

The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) is a non-profit society providing legal assistance, information and education in BC, and works to advance the law to address the critical needs of those who are disadvantaged or face discrimination. For further information, please see: www.clasbc.net

The Ending Violence Association of British Columbia (EVA BC) works to coordinate and support the work of victim-serving and other anti-violence programs in British Columbia through the provision of issue-based consultation and analysis, resource development, training, research and education. Our work is guided by respect for difference, human dignity and equality. https://endingviolence.org/

2018 Angus Reid Report: http://angusreid.org/me-too/

2017 Abacus Data Report: https://abacusdata.ca/sexual-harassment-of-women-is-widespread-in-canada/

Media Contact:

For interviews with CLAS Executive Director Jacqui Mendes, or CLAS Lawyer and Project Lead Jennifer Khor, please contact: Carolyn Jack at 604-970-3234 or Nancy McHarg at nancy@mchargcommunications.com.