Everybody has the right to work in an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. This right is guaranteed through both the Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Despite these reassurances, employees throughout Ontario’s workforce regularly experience hostility and harassment on the job.
When your rights are being violated, you are entitled to protection and support. Taking the time to know and understand how to navigate workplace harassment issues can go a long way in keeping you safe.
What Constitutes Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is defined as engaging in conduct against a person in a workplace that is known or should be reasonably known to be unwelcome. Examples of workplace harassment can include:
- Aggressive behaviour
- Offensive jokes or comments
- Unwelcome comments relating to gender identity
- Rude, insulting language
- Unwanted physical contact
- Sexual harassment
What Can You Do If You Are Being Harassed?
If you are experiencing harassment in the workplace, it is important to keep detailed records of each occurrence. Employers must keep an updated workplace harassment policy and to have a program that outlines the steps to take when a complaint is made.
The first thing to do if you are being harassed at work is to meet with your manager, supervisor, or human resources representative to let them know what’s happening. At that point, they should begin the investigative process into the reported incident.
When To Escalate a Complaint
In cases where an employer does not take the appropriate measures in response to your complaint, it is critical that you escalate the situation. If you have been the victim of a criminal offence, call the police. In situations where you feel as if though your workplace is not providing you with the right support, you should contact an employment lawyer who is skilled in workplace harassment issues as soon as possible.
Regardless of where you work, you have the right to feel safe. Recognizing workplace harassment and knowing how to proceed if you have been victimized is an important part of protecting yourself.