The Janzen v Platy Enterprises Ltd. case defines sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and explains that there are clear grounds to fight sexual harassment. It also sends a definite message to employers that sexual harassment won’t be tolerated.
Dianna Janzen and Tracy Govereau, were both servers at Pharos restaurant which was part of Platy Enterprises Ltd. They filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against the corporation, the owner of the restaurant, who was also their manager, and a fellow employee, Tommy, who “acted” as a supervisor.
The adjudicator found that the women had been subjected to persistent and abusive sexual harassment. The adjudicator also found that the women had been victims of sexual discrimination contrary to s. 6(1) of the Human Rights Act. The women were awarded compensation for both personal damages and damages for loss of wages.
Platy appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench and later to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal later determined that the sexual harassment experienced by the two women was not discrimination on the basis of sex because not all of the women employed at the restaurant were harassed by Tommy. The court also held that although the women may have been sexually harassed by Tommy, Platy could not be held responsible for its employee’s behaviour. The women appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
LEAF intervened in the case at the Supreme Court of Canada. LEAF argued that the corporation, Platy Enterprises Ltd., must be held responsible for the action of its employee, Tommy, since the women were led to believe that he had power over them as their supervisor. The manager did not fulfill his responsibility in ensuring that Tommy did not abuse his power over the waitresses even after the complaints from the two women.
LEAF argued that the sexual harassment faced by the two women was also discrimination on the basis of sex since any women employed by the restaurant was at potential risk of being harassed by Tommy whereas any men employed by the restaurant did not face the same risk.
Youth in the Workplace explores this case as a way to discuss workplace rights and safety, stereotypes that lead to discrimination in the workplace and in law, and introduces youth to the existence of legal rights.