How to deal with harassment at work

Psychological harassment is a serious workplace epidemic that impedes personal and professional growth and well-being. Here are some ways to deal with harassment at work.

How to deal with harassment at work

Your employer must provide an anti-harassment policy for the workplace and share it with employees, with an outline on the laws and standards that govern health and safety at work. Harassment is defined as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” Learn to protect yourself.

Am I being harassed?

When you become the repeated target of degrading remarks, humiliating and even hostile behaviour from a colleague, customer, supplier or boss, this is harassment. It may vary in severity depending on the violation of the person’s dignity and the psychological toll it takes.

Harassment includes inappropriate or unwanted behaviour. Anything from sending degrading jokes or sexual remarks by email, or playing with a colleague's hair when they have asked you to stop is classified as toxic energy in the workplace.

Can I deal with the situation myself?

The first step is to confront the person, whether an employee or an employer. In the case of an employee, customer or supplier, you should contact your employer to make them aware of the situation. Your boss has an obligation to support you, solve the problem and issue the necessary sanctions.

Start by explaining the situation to your employer if you've faced an issue with them. Sometimes people are not aware when they are behaving inappropriately or abusively. Otherwise, contact your union, human resources or the appropriate authorities.

What’s the solution to workplace harassment?

Employees are covered by, among other things, The Labour Standards Act and by Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Valid complaints go to court and the victim will be represented by an attorney covered by the government.

Employers are obligated to deal with any and all harassment taking place within their business. Obviously, if the problem is directly related to the employer, you must then rely on labour standards to intervene.

If you're afraid for your safety, there's also the option of speaking directly to the police. They will help you if you're being stalked, followed, disturbed at home or physically harmed.

If you're self-employed, you are not covered by labour standards. You may refer to the Canadian Human Rights Commission or to the provincial or territorial human rights agency where you live.

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