Pornography as Sexual Harassment in Canada
DIRECTIONS IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAW, pp. 417-436, Reva B. Siegel, Catharine A. MacKinnon, eds., New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004
Posted: 13 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2004
The display or use of pornography in the workplace is recognized as a form of sexual harassment by provincial human rights tribunals in Canada. Although few decisions have considered this issue, tribunals have held that the presence of pornography in the workplace creates an unequal working environment for women. Unlike the situation in the United States where certain kinds of sexual harassment, including workplace pornography, are protected speech under the First Amendment, there have been no serious free speech arguments in Canadian sexual harassment cases. This essay considers why this is so, and suggests that the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Ross v. School District No. 15 (upholding the disciplining of a teacher for off-duty racist speech, against his freedom of expression claim) makes the success of a similar challenge to sexual harassment laws unlikely.
Keywords: Pornography, Sexual Harassment, Charter rights, Freedom of speech
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