Defending Sexual Harassment Claims and Lawsuits
Toronto Defence of Sexual Harassment Complaints, Claims and Counterclaims

Defence of Civil Claims for Sexual Harassment and Assault Alleged Against
Employer, Corporation, Executive, Officer, Director, Partner, Partnership,
Joint Venture, Independent Contractor, Principal, Agent Or Employee
Alleged Breach of Employment Agreement or Code of Conduct

False accusations of sexual harassment may lead to large financial losses and reputational harm from defamatory and libelous accusations, especially within the employment context. At Gilbertson Davis LLP, we understand the need for prompt and efficient representation to protect you and your company’s reputation and interests.

Sexual Harassment Defence

False accusations of sexual harassment may lead to large financial losses and reputational harm from defamatory and libelous accusations, especially within the employment context. These risks are magnified in an age of cyber libel and social media where such allegations can be easily broadcast to a wide audience.  Given the current social climate, the impact of such allegations on business associates, clients and potential clients can have devastating consequences.  At Gilbertson Davis LLP, we understand the need for prompt and efficient representation to protect you and your company’s reputation and interests.

You should be aware that sexual harassment claims can cover a broad range of alleged misconduct. A few examples include:

  • allegedly unwelcome touching of a sexual nature;
  • alleged sexual or gender-related or sexist behavior, intimidation, commentary or propositions, through personal encounters, text, email, or verbal communications;
  • targeting of those who are claimed not to conform to gender norms.

Violent behavior and allegedly discriminatory dismissal or punitive actions in the employment relationship (including actual or constructive dismissal, demotion, and financial harm) can sometimes also be claimed to have occurred as an escalation of such conduct.  On occasion, the circumstances of the false allegations warrant a counterclaim or other action in addition to a defence.

Important Factors to Consider

When faced with a claim for sexual harassment, in addition to the threshold question of whether the alleged conduct occurred, you may need to consider the following:

  • whether proper training was provided;
  • whether the victim is an employee or an independent contractor;
  • whether the alleged event occurred at the workplace;
  • whether an official complaint was made;
  • whether anti-sexual harassment policies exist in the workplace;
  • whether the victim or the accused was dismissed, penalized, demoted from their position or denied a promotion;
  • whether the work environment can be characterized as hostile; and
  • whether and to what extent you should initiate or participate in an internal or independent investigation and on what terms.

Gilbertson Davis LLP can advise as to legal considerations and potential consequences arising from circumstances such as those listed.

The Importance of Keeping Records

As stated in the Limitations Act, there is no limitation period in respect to a proceeding based on sexual assault. This means that those accused of sexual harassment must be aware that in some instances individuals who claim to have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace may bring a claim forward at any time. As such, maintaining detailed and well-documented records is important for defending oneself against such claims.

Remedies

Gilbertson Davis LLP aims to minimize and contain damages, and our firm has lawyers who are prepared to advise you on your rights and entitlements.  Our lawyers understand the importance of taking immediate action to protect your personal and business reputations, particularly on cyber and social media platforms where allegations are widely accessible.  Depending on the circumstances, the following remedies may be available:

  • cease and desist letters or court orders, including:
    • an order directing the person making defamatory allegations to remove the defamatory content, if posted publicly on social media;
    • an order directing the person making defamatory allegations to issue a public retraction of allegation;
    • an order directing the person making defamatory allegations to issue a public apology;
    • urgent equitable remedies such as injunctions (whether interim interim, interim or permanent), including the removal of the posting of defamatory allegations and restricting the republishing of the defamatory allegation;
  • monetary damages for business losses, reputational harm, cyber libel, and breach of confidentiality and privacy rights;
  • costs to compensate for having to defend, claim or counterclaim.

Please visit our related webpages for more information on defamationand urgent equitable remedies. Beyond this, there may be avenues to ensure the claim does not proceed. It may be appropriate to bring a motion under Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedureto strike out a pleading that discloses no reasonable cause of action, or alternatively to strike out the pleadings on the basis that it is scandalous, frivolous, vexatious, or an abuse of the process of the Court.  In some cases, a court may on its own initiative stay or dismiss a proceeding if the proceeding appears on its face to be frivolous or vexatious or otherwise an abuse of process of the Court.

Private alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation or arbitration can help keep the matter from public scrutiny, and provide an efficient and cost-effective resolution. Another possible avenue for avoiding protracted litigation may be   to bring a motion for summary judgment to dismiss all or part of the claim in the statement of claim.  Gilbertson Davis LLP has among its counsel those who have been at the vanguard of legal developments in this new approach, or who have participated in its use, including both in obtaining and responding to summary judgment motions, in widely reported and leading decisions in this field. Please visit our summary judgments webpagefor more information. The lawyers at our firm with experience in this area have previously written on cases involving summary judgments, and its application in the employmentand settlementcontexts.

Why Gilbertson Davis LLP?

Gilbertson Davis LLP has lawyers with experience in related practice areas that can serve your needs. We are ethical, professional, and practical. We strive to resolve our clients’ disputes efficiently through the provision of quality legal services at reasonable rates. Gilbertson Davis LLP has over 35 years of practice in Toronto, Ontario dealing with various related practice areas. Please visit our employment law webpagefor more information.

Please contact Gilbertson Davis LLP to arrange an initial consultation.

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John L. Davis

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