Welcome To
Acadia Broadcasting NewsThe Latest and Greatest ContentYour Trusted Local Source


Amber Chisholm is the associate director at the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick. Image: Zoom video capture

Free Legal Advice For Workplace Sexual Harassment Victims

By Brad Perry Feb 8, 2023 | 4:10 PM

Victims of workplace sexual harassment in New Brunswick now have access to free legal advice.

The Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawyer Referral Program was officially launched on Wednesday.

Clients receive an initial two-hour consultation with a lawyer who will review their situation and explore options for recourse and potential outcomes.

Amber Chisholm, associate director at the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB), said nine lawyers have already been trained, and more than a dozen others have expressed interest.

Chisholm said the hour-long training program covers sexual harassment in general and the different options available to address it, such as civil litigation, criminal options, internal workplace complaints, and human rights applications.

“We’ve also been given access to a training module developed by Sexual Violence New Brunswick on trauma-informed principles for civil litigation lawyers,” she said.

The program is part of a joint initiative of PLEIS-NB and the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission called Safer Places NB.

Funded by Justice Canada, the five-year project is designed to help employers and employees address and prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Chisholm said sexual harassment in the workplace is more common than the numbers show and is underreported.

The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission said that of the 284 complaints filed in 2021-22, 31 involved sexual harassment.

“People don’t always know that they can complain. People aren’t always informed about what is and isn’t appropriate,” she said.

There is still a fundamental misunderstanding of what sexual harassment actually looks like, said Chisholm.

She said the “typical understanding” is the male employer making sexual advances or asking out a female employee, “but there are many more areas where sexual harassment raises its head in the workplace.”

This can include jokes about gay and bisexual employees, inappropriate questions to trans workers about what their bodies look like, and offensive jokes that are sexual in nature but not directed at anyone.

“While we know that something is making us uncomfortable, we don’t always know that we can look at it through this legal lens,” said Chisholm.

The lawyer referral program is slated to run through June 2024, which is when funding for Safer Places NB is expected to run out.

However, Chisholm said they hope to seek further funding if the program is successful.

People can enrol by filling out a form on the Safer Places NB website or calling the referral line at 1-888-236-2444.

Qualifying clients will receive a list of participating lawyers and a voucher to use with the lawyer of their choice.


Leave a Reply