Human rights ruling highlights vulnerability and systemic abuse of temporary foreign workers

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has found two women from Mexico working under the Temporary Foreign Worker program faced sexual harassment and discrimination in their workplace.

One complainant in the case, known by her initials O.P.T., said,

"I want to tell all women that are in a similar situation, that they should not be silent and that there is justice and they should not just accept mistreatment or humiliation. We must not stay silent. [As a migrant] one feels that she/he has to stay there [in the workplace] and there is nowhere to go or no one to talk to. Under the temporary foreign worker program, the boss has all the power - over your money, house, status, everything. They have you tied to their will. It has been 8 years to obtain justice but 8 years and justice is finally here today."

In his ruling, adjudicator Mark Hart repeatedly commented on the vulnerability of O.P.T. as a migrant worker:

"…migrant workers, like OPT live under the ever-present threat of having their designated employer decide to end the employment relations for which they require no reason and for which there is no appeal or review" (paragraph 216).