March 21, 2009

Quick question for you aspiring lawyers and/or sex work experts out there: 

Does anyone know if illicit work (like sex work) is covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act? How about the Employment Standards Act? 

I understand that sex workers wouldn't be too keen on exercising their rights under these pieces of legislation for fear of being criminalized, but in theory and with the CCC aside, would they be protected?


rantsalamode said...

Okay, I think it applies, because in theory in Canada sex work is legal, but that everything you have to do to BE a sex worker in reality is illegal, so I doubt most sex workers try to assert rights under this framework. I don't know for sure, though, because I'm sooo not a lawyer. Steph, what do you think? You're our legal expert!!

Steph said...

Hey Lux,
I am doing a 20-page paper on sex work right now, so I will look into this (the Acts you named in particular). I will get back to you in the next few days!

Lux said...

Thanks so much for your help, guys!

From what I've been able to figure out, they would be covered if the activities surrounding their work weren't criminalized and if they were classified as 'employees' of a business, and not as 'independent contractors'.

But yeah, let me know what you come up with!

Also, Steph -- I emailed our old prof who's an expert on all things sex work, and she sent me a ton of great sources. Would you like me to pass them along?

Steph said...

Hey Lux,

That would be great if you could send me your sources. I asked a professor yesterday and she basically gave me the same response as above. Many sex workers do not have "employers" (let's say streetwalkers, and discounting pimps). Also, to try and sue someone under those acts would allow a sex worker to profit off the avails of illegal activity (depending on her exact activities), which is a case in which the courts will deny recovery.

But, as you mentioned, if the sex worker had an identifiable employer (owner of a peep show, strip club, whatever) and were not treated as independent contractors, those acts would indeed apply.

I am going to keep looking into this. One of my friends at Ryerson is actually doing an article (she's in journalism) on why sex workers are considered independent contractors. I should put you guys in touch!