All Quiet on the Publishing Front

Jul 8, 2010

By: Ellen Low
After a month of speculation, it appears that the salacious details of the supposed affair between Lisa Rundle, the former director of Rights and Contracts at Penguin Canada, and the former president of Penguin Canada, David Davidar, are destined to remain a mystery.
In June, Rundle launched a $500,000.00 lawsuit against Davidar and her former employer claiming she was the victim of 3 years of sexual harassment and was constructively dismissed when she complained about Davidar’s behaviour.
Rundle claimed that Davidar initiated his advances by leering and making suggestive comments, but stated things culminated during a business trip to Frankfurt where he allegedly sexually assaulted her by forcing his way into her hotel room, grabbing her wrists, and forcing his tongue into her mouth.
Not surprisingly, Davidar denied sexually assaulting or harassing anyone and maintained he was “happily married”.  He admitted the two had a “consensual, flirtatious relationship,” and that they kissed twice, but denied that Rundel objected at any time.
On Tuesday, July 7, 2010, the matter was reportedly settled out of court.  The parties have apparently resolved all their issues and promised to stay silent about the terms of settlement.  However, earlier today Penguin confirmed that Rundel will be returning to her old job.
The situation above describes the dilemma between acceptable harmless, at-work flirtation and fraternization, and unjustifiable intimidation in the form of sexual harassment.  It is important to remember that to be harassment, the conduct has to be unwelcome.  This means the victim has to either inform the aggressor that the conduct is unwelcome, or the harasser ought to know the conduct is unwelcome.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue.  In previous discussions we’ve established that sexual harassment in the workplace gives rise to human rights issues as well as a claim for constructive dismissal.

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