Client wins landmark award of $200,000 for sexual assault

  • March 1, 2018
  • Kimberly Srivastava

9 years ago, our client filed an HRTO application detailing how she had been sexually assaulted, solicited, threatened, and harassed in her workplace and in her home. The assaults were perpetrated by her boss who was also her landlord. It was a long journey, but earlier this year we welcomed the Tribunal’s decision affirming the discrimination and pattern of victimization she experienced.

Our client was a single, immigrant mother whose son had a disability. She needed to live close to work (above the store where she worked) in order to provide the care her son required. The Respondent perpetrated a pattern of physical and mental abuse. He sexually assaulted and harassed her on multiple occasions as well as threatened her job and housing. He told her that she would not be able to get another job or apartment because he would not act as a reference for her. Following a workplace injury which required rehabilitation, our client slowly began to open up about the assaults. She got the help she needed and was able to remove herself from the situation.

The assaults happened years ago and like most sexual assaults, there was little physical evidence. Our client went to the police and charges were laid, but our client was not provided with the supports she needed to enable her to testify at a criminal hearing, and the charges were withdrawn. As such, Mr. Singer was never criminally convicted. Without a criminal conviction and with no physical evidence, our client had to bravely share the details of her victimization with the Tribunal. Because of the trauma our client had experienced, the Tribunal granted our client an accommodation which allowed her to participate in the hearing while in a room separated from the Respondent. This provided her with a safe space in which to tell her story.

Our client’s testimony was made more challenging by the fact that the workplace injury left her with a brain injury which affects her memory but also brought her under the care of a psychologist and a psychiatrist. They treated her for chronic pain, emotional distress and PTSD linked to the sexual assault. Despite this, the Tribunal listened to our client’s evidence and found it to be credible and reliable. It largely rejected the evidence of the Respondents’ sole witness: Paul Singer, who was our client’s boss and landlord.

The Tribunal awarded our client the largest general damages award the Tribunal made to date: $200,000 plus pre-and post-judgment interest and signals that human rights damages are finally moving into line with those awarded in the Superior Court of Justice. This amount is to compensate our client for the pain and suffering she has experienced as a result of Mr. Singer’s conduct.

This decision comes out amongst the backdrop of #metoo and #timesup movements where women are sharing stories of discrimination and sexual misconduct and looking for ways to address these issues. For anyone who’s had a #metoo moment but wonders “now what”, this case is an example of what can come next.

If you’re part of the #metoo movement and have experienced sexual discrimination, harassment and/or assault contact us to discuss what options you have.

Our client refused to give up. Now she hopes her case will inspire other women to stand up for themselves and ensure that justice is done. If you’re worried about having to come forward and share your story, read this case for a wonderful example of what can be done in circumstances which might, in the past, have been perceived as hopeless.

You can read the Tribunal decision here (link).

You can read the Globe and Mail article here (link).

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