In this short interview Marcia Rose (Manager, Client Relations at Human Rights Advisory Services) shares her real world advice with Shannon Cox (zavesti.com)
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company – How did you get started in HRAS? Human Rights Advisory Services (HRAS)
IT’S ALL ABOUT DIGNITY, RESPECT AND MAKING THE VICTIM WHOLE AGAIN.
In 2002 the need for harassment free workplace advocacy gave birth to Human Rights Advisory Services (HRAS). We have since represented individuals before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Employment Standards Branch of the Ministry of Labour, etc.
We assist individuals who believe that their rights are violated in the workplace, who feel they have been harassed or who have lost their job unfairly because of one or more of the following grounds:
• Sexual Orientation
• Sex (Gender)
• Marital Status
• Family Status
• Same-sex Partnership Status
• Record of Offences
• Race, Colour and Ancestry,
• Citizenship, Place of Origin or Ethnic Origin
“It is the public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law, and having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and able to contribute fully to the community and well-being of the community and the Province.” (Ontario Human Right s Code)
In employment, the Human Rights Code, the Employment Standards Act, the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, may apply at the same time.
At Human Rights Advisory Services, we provide guidance on knowing which laws apply and why they apply to help employers and employees manage the employer – employee relationship better.
We advocate for a harassment and discrimination-free workplace. Despite the laws to protect workers, harassment and discrimination continue to occur at work. We represent and negotiate on behalf of employees whose rights have been violated, either through human rights mediation or formal hearings at the Human Rights Tribunal or the Ministry of Labour.
Since 2002, HRAS has provided representation services to employees and policy review and human rights training to employers to help make victims of harassment and discrimination whole again, and to help employers understand how to prevent any recurrence.
Can you share with us some successes and challenges HRAS has had in helping people?
HRAS is an avenue for employees who believe that their right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination and freedom from harassment in the workplace has been infringed because of their special characteristics.
Employees who thought they can never return to the workforce because of discrimination and harassment experiences have returned to better situations after using our services. We guide individuals through the claims resolution process to make them whole so they are able to retain their self-esteem after the process regardless of the outcome. Helping individuals deal with discrimination and harassment from the human rights point of view is therapeutic and brings closure to their negative workplace experience. We are successful when individuals after using our services become whole again.
HRAS’ challenges in helping employees who have lost their jobs unfairly through discrimination and harassment includes dealing with the statute of limitation when an individual tries to use our service more than a year after the last discriminatory act. Another challenge for us is if the employee has already signed an Employer’s Full and Final Release. In most cases employees who have lost their jobs unfairly sign a Release with limited knowledge and understanding of impact of the Release. We can still help them if they have signed a Release under duress, but not if more than one year has passed since the last offence.
When an employee is terminated, contacting HRAS is a challenge because of our limited advertisement and the reliance on word of mouth about our services. They also may not realize that the employer has broken the law and violated their rights until they disclose the details to a trained professional at HRAS.
When an employee is terminated how can he judge if he needs to contact you or his company followed the correct rules?
When an employee is terminated, they should reflect on the reason why and how it was carried out. If there is any element of discrimination or harassment or if they were coerced into signing a Release, then they should call us to discuss their situation. Many employees do not fully know or understand their rights in the workplace, so we encourage anyone who has lost their job or who is feeling bullied or harassed at work to contact us for assistance.
Human Rights Advisory Services helps employee understand that discrimination and harassment in the workplace because of one’s special characteristics is a violation of the Human Rights and related laws in Ontario and throughout Canada.
We assist employees who believe that their rights have been violated to prepare a Human Rights or related law-specific claim against their employer. We represent the individual throughout the Application and Resolution processes.
We see the services you offer on your website. Out of these, what are the most helpful services for an employee (both currently employed & those who have been terminated recently)?
For current employees who contact us with workplace issues, we offer one-on-one consultation to determine the right course of action and counselling services.
For individuals who have been terminated, beyond our core representation services, the most helpful services we provide is to help them identify their transferable skills, review their resume, hone their interview skills and encourage their new job search. All these services help make our clients whole again after a traumatic workplace event.
Count on the Human Rights Advisory Services Team if you have lost your job unfairly. Contact HRAS if you are harassed at work or dismissed unfairly and want to do something about it.
IT IS YOUR RIGHT TO BE TREATED WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT IN THE WORKPLACE. SO DO NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.
Please call HRAS today #: 905-366-5005.
MARCIA ROSE is Manager, Client Relations at Human Rights Advisory Services. Marcia has the passion to inform and help you recover from your workplace harassment experience.