Kathryn Borel issued a scathing statement on how the CBC handled her complaint of sexual assault against her former boss Jian Ghomeshi saying the message she received from the national broadcaster was that “his whims were more important than my humanity.”
“When I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that, yes, he could do this and, yes, it was my job to let him,” Borel told reporters outside a Toronto courthouse.
“The relentless message to me from my celebrity boss and the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity or my dignity.”
Ghomeshi, who admitted no wrongdoing, apologized to Borel Wednesday morning for his “thoughtless and insensitive” behaviour, saying he has spent the last 18 months reflecting on his actions and the damage they have caused.
After he signed a peace bond, the Crown withdrew the charge of sexual assault for which Ghomeshi, 48, was scheduled to stand trial in June. In a prior case, he was found not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking in alleged incidents involving three women.
WATCH: Three options for those sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace
In a statement from spokesperson Chuck Thompson, the CBC apologized to Borel saying that what happened to her “should never have happened.”
“The incidents that came to our attention as it relates to Mr. Ghomeshi’s conduct in our workplace were simply unacceptable,” Thompson said. “We apologized then and we do again today.”
He said the CBC has launched new human resources training for managers and employees and a harassment and bullying helpline.
“We are responding to complaints with renewed discipline and rigour, and learning from the data to improve prevention and early resolution,” Thompson said.
Borel’s case highlights the challenges women face when coming forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace.
How do you report sexual harassment or assault in the workplace?
Bonnie Levine, the executive director of Victim Services Toronto, says that women who experience sexual assault or harassment in the workplace are often reluctant to bring cases forward.
“It is very, very hard for survivors to come forward, especially in a workplace, where their whole livelihood and existence relies on it,” Levine told Global News. “If a woman did decide to bring those allegations forward most of the time they are met with resistance, dismissal, and disbelief.”
While it can be challenging, Toronto employment lawyer Daniel Lublin suggests three ways victims of sexual assault harassment or bullying can get help in the workplace.
“Remove yourself from any dangerous situation,” Lublin told Global News. “If there is an instance of an allegation of sexual assault you want to get yourself into a position of safety especially if the person you are working with is close by.”
If violence has occurred, you should file a police report, speak with a lawyer or with someone at the company, Lublin said.
He added that if the incident involves a case of harassment or bullying, make sure you understand what “your rights are and what the company’s obligations are.”
“That’s what should happen in an ideal world in employment law, but that doesn’t always happen.”
*With files from Mark McAllister