The Tribunal found that the conduct in the workplace included:
- harassment on the grounds of disability and sex, largely through text messages and remarks
- that the harassment and ongoing depression that resulted were partly responsible for the applicant’s involvement in the fight that led to his termination
The Tribunal held that the employer knew of the harassment, but had done nothing to deal with the situation.
The Tribunal awarded Lombardi $20,000 in general damages for pain and suffering, AND compensation for his salary, benefits and vacation pay from October 31, 2009, to August 31, 2010.
The lesson for employees: you should tell your supervisor if you are being harassed. The employer has a duty to investigate the situation and deal with the harasser (and NOT by transferring or demoting you out of the workplace!)
The lesson for employers: harassment between co-workers must be addressed immediately. There must be a zero tolerance policy. And if the employer finds out that one employee is harassing another, the employer must deal with the harasser, not transfer the harassee - otherwise, the harassee is being made to pay for the harassment.
(Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Decision: Lombardi v Walton Enterprises (c.o.b. Midas Auto Services Experts)