What is Workplace Harassment?

  • Whenever someone is behaving or saying something that made you feel uncomfortable or insecure, this is called harassment. Workplace harassment would involve the above actions that happen to you at work, on the way to and from work, or any office settings.
  • They usually harass on your personal characteristics, including your race, nationality, skin color, sex, sexual preference, face, marital status, etc. Followings are examples of harassing:

    • Defender followed the way you speak English, picking on your English level
    • Defender appeared on your way to and from work
    • Defender talked to you with a different voice or attempting to attract you by saying something like, “You are very pretty today”

  • However, not all the situations above are counting as workplace harassment. For instance, your co-worker made comment on the way you dress today without making you feels uncomfortable. This is a friendly comment and does not count as workplace harassment. On the other hand, if a co-worker who you do not know well whispered to you very closely which making you very uncomfortable, that is workplace harassment. In short, workplace harassment is whenever someone from your work is making you uncomfortable or insecure.

Workplace Harassment is when someone requesting you to have sexual activity with them, making dirty jokes to you, or touching you. The followings are a few examples:

  • defender lean very closely to you with no reason
  • defender has sexual posters sticking around the office
  • defender requested you to go out with him/her or to have sexual activity with him/her, if not, he/she will makes troubles on your work


How to handle workplace harassment?

1. Concentration

a. When someone is making you uncomfortable feelings, you should keep an eye on that person to see whether he/she is repeating the same behaviour to you or to other people as well

b. You also need to know what the defender wants from you in order for you to react correctly

2. Look for Help

a. When you are being a victim, you might be nervous and therefore, you need someone who could understand you and support you to talk to

3. Meet with the defender privately

a. First of all, mark down the defender’s defending time, location, action, and any witness is available

b. Inform to the defender clearly that you do not like the way he/she behaves, for e.g.:

i. “The way you look at me is making me a bit uncomfortable. I’m not suspecting you, but please do not look at me like that anymore”

ii. “I accept jokes, but not harassing. If you do not understand the difference in between, I could show some books to let you understand”

iii. “Canada is a multi-culture community, and would you please respect to my culture/skin color/sex”

c. You may also put some documents that are related to workplace harassment around the office of on the defender’s table/mailbox. Circle the important words to make everyone clear

d. If your co-worker knows your situation, you might want to ask him/her to redirect your thoughts to the defender

e. If all of the above make no different to the defender, you might want to write a letter to the defender by clearly stating the followings:

i. What kinds of behaviour you could accept

ii. What kinds of actions you will take in the future

iii. Do not overwhelming the situation

iv. Do not mention the defender’s feeling or reasons of behaving that way

4. Report

a. If you have tried to speak and to give the defender a written letter with no positive reaction, you can report that to your supervisor or defender’s supervisor, they have the responsibility to manage your report

b. If no supervisor is willing to help you, you can report that to your union representatives

c. If you are not in any union or your union is not willing to help you, you can report that to the Ontario Human Rights within 6 months of the incident

You should not be silent when facing workplace harassment. Defender will keeps on harassing you if you keep silent. The only way to stop that is to take action.