What to do if you’re touched inappropriately at work – National

by BBG Hub

Two women have now come forward to accuse former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriately touching them — something the politician denies.

Lucy Flores, a Nevada politician, recently wrote an essay in the Cut about the time she said Biden approached her from behind before a speech, smelled her hair and then kissed her on the head.

Following Flores’ allegation, a Connecticut woman named Amy Lappos told The Courant that Biden touched her inappropriately and rubbed noses with her during a 2009 political fundraiser.

WATCH BELOW: ‘He rubbed noses with me’ — Second woman accuses Joe Biden of inappropriate conduct

Both Flores and Lappos said that even if Biden’s actions were not sexual, they were inappropriate, disrespectful and made them feel uncomfortable.

“It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny,” Lappos said.

“He made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused,” wrote Flores.

The allegations against Biden have prompted a discussion about what behaviour “crosses the line,” and what people can do if they’ve been touched inappropriately in a professional setting.

What is inappropriate touching in the workplace?

According to Sherri Rabinovitch, a human resources expert and founder of The People Guru, inappropriate touching is behaviour that makes someone feel uncomfortable. It falls under the umbrella of sexual harassment, she said.

READ MORE: ‘My stomach was in knots’ — How to tell if you’re being bullied at work

“If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s unwanted,” she told Global News. “Unless you have a long history of a close relationship with a person in the workplace, there’s never a reason to touch them.”

While certain actions may make someone feel uncomfortable, inappropriate touching isn’t always clear-cut in the eyes of the law.

David J. Doorey, a professor of labour law at York University, told Global News that workplace sexual harassment is defined as conduct that’s sexual in nature, and behaviour that the harasser “knew or ought reasonably to have known is unwelcome.”

“The requirement that the perpetrator ‘ought reasonably to know the conduct is unwelcome’ means that whether or not conduct is unlawful is not always straightforward,” he explained.

WATCH BELOW: Nancy Pelosi weighs in on Joe Biden inappropriate touching allegations

“Some misconduct is so egregious that anyone would know it’s unwanted, [like] physically groping someone without their consent, for example. But something like a hug or a touch on the shoulder is less clear, because the accused may not be aware that their behaviour is unwelcome.

“The legal test asks whether a reasonable person seeing what happened would conclude that the behaviour was unwelcome.”

What should you do if you experience unwanted touching?

From a legal perspective, Doorey says making it clear that behaviour is unwanted is important. He suggests telling the person who touched you their behaviour is inappropriate.

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“This eliminates the ability of the toucher to argue later that they were unaware that the behaviour was unwelcome,” he explained.

Rabinovitch echoes this, and suggests saying, “That made me uncomfortable. I’d rather you not do it again.”

There may be times, however, that you don’t feel comfortable addressing the behaviour with the person directly.

In these cases, Phanikiran Radhakrishnan, an associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management at the University of Toronto, says you should talk to management so they can confront the person.

WATCH BELOW: Empowering women in the workplace

“It can put too much of a burden on the victim to tell whoever is touching not to touch, because they’re already often in a very vulnerable position,” she said to Global News. “The organization needs to take steps to make sure these kinds of behaviours are not occurring.”

If the unwanted touching is being done by your boss, it may be even harder to navigate.

“If the toucher is a superior, then it may not be easy to forcefully object,” Doorey said. “But employees should figure out a way to signal their concerns in some manner or report the behaviour to a person in authority.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s not one size fits all’ — Why open office plans don’t work for everyone

Rabinovitch suggests documenting the unwanted touching — when it happened, where it happened and who was around — and present that information to management or human resources. When presenting the information, remain calm, she said.

“Stick with the facts and say, ‘This is what happened, this is the person involved, this is the time and date it occurred, and I do not want it [to happen] again,” she said.

Do you have any legal rights?

If the unwanted touching does not get resolved — or gets worse — you may want to take legal action.

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“Sexual harassment can be a violation of human rights legislation, a breach of an employment contract, and a tort of infliction of mental suffering,” Doorey said.

“If the harasser is a member of management or the employer has learned of harassment by a co-worker but fails to take any action to redress it, then the employee may be entitled to damages from the employer and the harasser.”

Doorey explains that damages depend on various factors, including the extent of the harm suffered. It’s best to seek advice from a lawyer who specializes in workplace harassment and discrimination.

What should workplaces do to combat unwanted touching?

Radhakrishnan said workplaces need to make it clear to employees what is appropriate behaviour. Employers should have clear policies around workplace harassment, and state inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated.

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“Leaders who actively discourage unwanted behaviour … and are actively committed to preventing this, that’s where we see the positive effects,” she said.

To make sure you are never crossing the line, Rabinovitch said don’t touch people at work — period.

“It’s very important that in the workplace, there is no space for touching.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘It has made me a better person’: What it’s like to raise a child with autism – National

by BBG Hub

Miles Clayton was two years old when his mom, Christine, started to notice subtle behavioural differences between him and his twin brother, Benjamin.

“He wasn’t using his language as much… he wasn’t responding to his name very often… [and] he would do a 300-piece puzzle in 40 minutes. That’s amazing, but it’s not normal for a two-year-old,” Clayton told Global News.

Miles was diagnosed with autism shortly before his third birthday, and that’s when everything changed for his family.

READ MORE: Canadian autism group calls on federal government for national strategy

“The diagnosis opened up the doors to get into the Ontario Autism Program. That’s where you get [financial] support, but to get that support, there was a wait list for three years,” said Clayton, who lives in Ottawa with her family.

In the meantime, Miles required around-the-clock care. He needed therapy to teach him basic life skills like looking somebody in the eye or laughing appropriately. He also needed speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

While the Claytons waited to reach the end of the wait list, they were faced with a decision: place Miles in the public education system or pay for private care.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Mother of child with severe autism says Ford government’s ‘enhanced’ plan leads to ‘generation of lost children’

“If you go into the public school system, you’re not paying for anything because they’ll give you an educational assistant,” said Clayton. “The challenge is that an educational assistant is not a therapist, and, unless you have a very severe child, usually the assistant is looking after your child and maybe three others.”

For these reasons, the Claytons paid for Miles’ private care out of pocket for three years.

“We were fortunate. We had the financial resources that we were able to pay for things privately… but [it] was really expensive. It was about $85,000 a year,” said Clayton. “Most people are in a different financial position. I recognize how fortunate we are.”

READ MORE: Infection during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of autism, but not by much: study

“Like many parents, we remortgaged our house, we took out our RRSPs and we borrowed from family. You do what you have to do for your kids.”

Clayton says the costs are so high because Miles is on the severe end of the spectrum, but it’s different for everybody.

“Some kids need a lot less, but Miles [needs] a one-on-one, dedicated teacher all day, every day,” Clayton said.

As with anything, there are positive and negative aspects to having a child with autism. At present, parents across the country are most concerned about the quality and cost of care provided to children on the spectrum.

The same kind of therapy doesn’t work for every child

While Miles was on the wait list for the Ontario Autism Program, he underwent Floortime therapy.

“Floortime… is based on the premise that kids with autism do certain things, like not look you in the eye, because they have sensory needs that aren’t being met. And Miles certainly had a lot of that,” said Clayton.

“Imagine there’s an editor in your brain, and that editor in your brain filters out all the noise.”

For a lot of kids with autism, says Clayton, there is no editor. Suddenly, the footsteps of the person walking past you are just as loud as the person you’re talking to.

During Floortime, a parent or therapist gets down on the floor with the child to play and interact with them at their level in an effort to reduce distractions and let the child control his or her surroundings.

READ MORE: Understanding ABA therapy for children with autism

However, Floortime isn’t funded by the Ontario Autism Program. Once accepted, the Claytons were given direct funding for Miles to do applied behaviour analysis (ABA), which he does now.

ABA is one of the most common types of autism therapy, and it’s based on the principle that if you do a certain behaviour, you get a reward.

“[It’s] learning life skills through behaviour modification,” Clayton said.

Floortime helped Miles manage his sensory needs so that when he was accepted into the Ontario Autism Program, he was ready to advance to ABA — but Clayton isn’t sure he would be where he is today without what he learned in Floortime.

“There are a lot of other [therapies] in use that aren’t funded but work very well,” said Clayton.

WATCH (March 21, 2019): Amy Schumer speaks out about husband’s autism

Lisa Palasti, director of RDI Professional Training Canada, can attest to that. She teaches parents and children Relationship Development Intervention, another form of therapy that teaches those with autism the foundations for forming social connections.

“[In RDI], we’re developing the mind. We’re developing the mental tools and the mental habits that are going to help an individual develop dynamic intelligence,” said Palasti. “That’s the ability to flexibly think, to plan, to predict, to widen your perspective, to learn from your experiences and to develop a strong sense of self.”

Although this form of autism therapy could be a good fit for many children across the country, it’s currently only funded in British Columbia and Alberta, said Palasti.

“What a child might need at the age of 10 might be much more involved than what a child might need at the age of four,” Palasti said. Until more kinds of therapy are funded in more places, kids could be missing out on the treatment that fits them best.

READ MORE: ‘Autism Reality Experience’ helps people understand what it’s like to live with autism

Funding continues to be a major issue across Canada

Living in Ontario, Clayton is extremely concerned about what will happen to Miles’ care when the new Ontario Autism Program takes effect.

“Right now, Miles’ therapy is funded, and based on the recent announcement from the minister, that funding will be extended for six months,” said Clayton. “After that, Miles will be allowed access to $5,000 a year, but he needs $80,000 a year. We have no more house to mortgage, we have no RRSP to draw upon.”

For Clayton, this policy change will affect Miles’ health care and his education.

“The last thing we want to do is stop his therapy because right now… it’s working. He’s clearly in this period of having a developmental leap, and I don’t want to take that away from him. His therapy is not just therapy — it’s how he learns.”

WATCH (Feb. 25, 2019): Family with 2 children with autism react to long wait times for ABA therapy

But the concern about funding isn’t limited to Ontario.

Kelly Johnson, who lives in Montreal, has a nine-year-old son on the spectrum. She’s also concerned about her child’s access to services.

“[If a child was] already able to get public services… once they get diagnosed with autism, they go onto a separate wait list, and all of a sudden, the same services that would’ve been applicable (like speech therapy or occupational therapy) disappear,” said Johnson. “It’s almost like you go into a black hole of wait lists.”

READ MORE: Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 66 Canadian children, report says

Johnson’s son goes to a special semi-private school that focuses on children with autism. It’s called Giant Steps, and there are only two in Canada — one in Montreal and one in Toronto.

Giant Steps is partially subsidized so Johnson has to pay for part of her son’s education. She also pays for most of his speech therapy and occupational therapy, too.

“The typical health insurance plan will cover up to $500 a year, and to give you an idea, an average speech or occupational therapy session is between $80 to $150,” said Johnson. Her son needs one session of each per week, which means she maxes out her coverage in the first month of every year.

Autism is only a difference, not a disability

Having a child with autism comes with its challenges, but Clayton says it has many beautiful parts, too.

“[It has] made me a better person,” Clayton said. “I’ve learned that laughter and looking on the bright side of things can really get you through anything. I’ve learned to be much more accepting of others and not to judge people the way I might’ve in the past.”

Miles has brought Clayton’s family closer together, and his autism has taught her more about other people.

“Having a kid with autism has really strengthened the bond in my family. I have a wonderful husband… and I could not imagine going through this journey with anybody else,” said Clayton. “It’s tough to have a sibling with autism, let alone a twin. But at seven, [Benjamin] shows a maturity and a kindness towards his brother that inspires me every day.”

WATCH (Aug. 30, 2018): Lethbridge car wash a soothing experience for five-year-old boy with autism

Miles loves to be hugged, he loves to be cuddled and he loves to be chased, Clayton said.

“Having a back-and-forth verbal conversation with my child — which Miles just had with me for the first time last week — that’s a miracle. A week ago, we put on the song Happy, and he started to dance. That has never happened before. That’s a miracle,” said Clayton.

“When he looks me in the eye… when he tells me he loves me… when he laughs at something funny… for us, those are miracles, and I get to experience those every day.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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