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Sexual Harassment – What Does an Apology Mean? 

The Ontario Court of Appeal in Hucsko v. A.O.Smith Enterprises Limited overturned the trial judge’s decision and found that the employer did have just cause to terminate the employee, who was a Senior Product Designer with 20 years of service.

The Complainant filed a complaint against the offender that he had sexually harassed her by making inappropriate comments to her on 4 separate occasions. The company conducted a formal investigation and it was found that he had sexually harassed the employee. The company wanted the offender to undergo sensitivity training and to apologize directly to the complainant. He agreed to the former but would not apologize to the complainant. The company terminated the employee’s employment asserting just cause. 

The offender refused to acknowledge that his conduct constituted sexual harassment and that is why he would not apologize. The offender’s refusal to admit that his behaviour constituted sexual harassment made it impossible for the employer to continue to have him in the workplace because otherwise, he could continue to engage in that conduct.

There was a loss of confidence in the employee. The employer-employee relationship was therefore irrevocably broken thereby justifying dismissal with cause. 

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