In the building where I pay a lot of money to live, a plumber came in my suite just to turn off a faucet, and then called me "babe" upon leaving.

I wasn't sending any signals, in fact I was annoyed he came in just to do that (when I could have) and I felt I was obviously showing this.

Do I have good right to say something to management or not?

My problem is that he's coming back tomorrow.

  • 3
    From a legal point of view, I suppose it's hard to answer whether it is sexual harrassment since there may be disagreement about whether it's appropriate to call somone "babe." However, he made you uncomfortable by saying that, so you should definitely tell management. They should not force you to be alone in your apartment with him if you don't want to be.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 19:21
  • 1
    @phoog Thank-you. I did so and management was happy I told them saying it was unprofessional (they were probably just exercising good management techniques, but still). If you make your comment into an answer I can accept it.
    – user24362
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 20:16
  • Is it possible that he thinks this is your name?
    – jqning
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


I will assume B.C. as your specific jurisdiction: there could be provincial differences. As phoog says, you certainly may mention this problem to management, who have an interest in keeping you happy. No law against that. As for the "legality" of sexual harassment, the CBA BC branch says that "Sexual harassment, which is discrimination based on sex, is illegal under the BC Human Rights Code". It is interesting to see what the code actually says. Section 8 Discrimination in accommodation, service and facility says

(1) A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification,

(a) deny to a person or class of persons any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public, or

(b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public

because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or class of persons.

The question is whether using the term "babe" constitutes discrimination against a person regarding service because of sex.

This article on the Law Society of BC web site specifically identifies "verbal harassment" as an instance:

  1. Verbal harassment – This comes from anyone within the firm and or other workplace or a person who does business with the firm or company. Some examples are: referring to an adult as a babe, honey, girl or stud; whistling at someone; turning work discussion to sexual topics; asking personal questions of a sexual nature; making sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy or looks; or asking someone repeatedly for dates and refusing to take no for an answer.

(emphasis added). In case you're thinking that maybe there's a difference in what the code says regarding services and what it says regarding employment, section 13 Discrimination in Employment says:

(1) A person must not

(a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person, or

(b) discriminate against a person regarding employment or any term or condition of employment

because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

In other words, it is defined simply in terms of "discrimination", which means "making a distinction".

It is known that unwanted sexual advances constitute illegal discrimination, see Janzen v. Platy Enterprises Ltd. [1989] 1 SCR 1252. The court found that

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job‑related consequences for the victims of the harassment.

They did not, however, find that this is the only form of sexual discrimination (obviously, since it isn't). I can't point to case law indicating whether gender-biased expression are actionable, but that would be consistent with the letter of the law and "babe" is indeed an example cited in the Law Society article.


Possibly but probably not.

Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.

If the word "babe" was used as a direct substitute for the word "Miss" without any sexual connotation then it is not sexual harassment. It was inappropriate and unprofessional and shows, perhaps, a level of sexual discrimination on the part of the speaker and, perhaps, a generation gap.

If it makes you feel uncomfortable then a quick "Please don't call me 'babe'; my name is X" (where X may or may not be your real name) should resolve the issue.

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