Workplace Sexual Harassment

Compensatory Damages for Hurt Feelings – Alberta

The principles are again similar to those in Ontario human rights jurisprudence, as reviewed above.

An award of $5,0001 was made to the complainant, living at a job site in northwestern Alberta, who had exited the shower and noticed a male camp maintenance worker watching her. A few days later, the same man was standing beside her bed when she awoke.

A similar award of $4,500 was made to a woman who was subjected to abusive behaviour of shoulder rubbing, being blown a kiss and retaliatory conduct of a dismissal letter and false accusations contained within it2.

Until the decision of the Alberta tribunal awarding $25,000, 3 the rough maximum was $10,000. The Alberta Court of Appeal noted in this case that prior generally damage awards “have been low, arguably nominal”. This was not a case of sexual harassment but it does set the bell weather for the future of such awards.

The sum of $125,000 was awarded in the City of Calgary case but this was a unique case in which the arbitrator was empowered by mutual agreement to consider all remedies, including arbitral, human rights and tort. It is also illustrative of the difference between human rights and common law tort remedies.

The sum of $75,000 was awarded to the complainant in a 2024 case. The allegations proven included unwanted touching, verbal abuse and the employer's demand to medical information. 4 A further award in the same case was made of $30,000 to a second complainant, due to similar behaviour, over a period of one month of her employment. A third complainant, pregnant at the time of the harassment was awarded $50,000 due to parallel conduct in addition to proposals made for sexual intercourse.

Damages for retaliation were also awarded for two such events of reprisal in favour of the first complainant of $25,000 for each occasion. The second complainant was similarly allowed a reprisal damage sum of $25,ooo.

The corporate employer was bankrupt at the time of the hearing.These awards were made against the principal of the company who had acted in his own defence.