Area of Law: Human Rights
Answer # 838
What is workplace harassment?Region: Ontario Answer # 838
What is workplace harassment?
In human rights and occupational health and safety legislation, workplace harassment is broadly defined. Harassment can take the form of spoken words, gestures, showing offensive pictures, physical contact, or intimidation. It may also include having rumours spread about you at work or online. Harassment generally includes:
- sexual harassment,
- unwelcome, offensive or intimidating phone calls,
- intimidating or offensive jokes and innuendos,
- unwelcome gifts or attention, and
- offensive gestures.
Workplace harassment is usually a pattern of ongoing behaviour, but can arise from one single incident if it has a severe and lasting impact on you.
Who can experience workplace harassment?
Anyone in the workplace can experience workplace harassment, or be the cause of it, such as co-workers, supervisors and customers. In addition, harassment can be experienced by any employee, regardless of whether the harassment was directed at them. For example, this can happen if the discriminatory comments or behaviour of others results in a hostile, or intimidating work environment.
You have many options if you are experiencing harassment at work, including: starting a lawsuit in court, filing a grievance, bringing a complaint to a labour board, or filing a complaint with a human rights commission.
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