Understanding Workplace Harassment: Key Steps to Protect Yourself

Nearly half (47%) of women and almost one-third (31%) of men report experiencing harassment or sexual assault in the workplace, according to Statistics Canada.

In Ontario, employers have a legal obligation to maintain a harassment-free workplace by implementing comprehensive policies, providing training, promptly investigating complaints, and taking appropriate corrective actions to protect the well-being and rights of all employees.

If you feel you’re being harassed at work, follow these steps to protect yourself:

1. Know the law: In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act protects workers against workplace harassment, with the Ontario Human Rights Code protecting against harassment on a protected ground such as race, sex or disability. Federally regulated industries follow the Canada Labour Code.

2. Document everything: Keep detailed records of every incident. Use emails, notes, photos, videos, or audio recordings to document harassment as soon as it happens.

3. Report internally: Try to resolve the issue within your company by reporting it to your manager or HR department. It’s the employer’s responsibility to address and prevent harassment.

4. Seek legal recourse: If internal resolution isn’t possible, you have several options:

o File a complaint with Ontario’s Ministry of Labour
o File an application with the Human Rights Tribunal, if the harassment was sexual or related to a protected ground
o Start a lawsuit if the harassment made continued work unbearable, leading to a toxic work enviroment

5. Get support: Don’t face this alone. Seek advice from legal professionals or organizations dedicated to workers’ rights.

Remember, your safety and dignity at work are paramount. Take action and know your rights.

Tap the link to learn more about the Statistics Canada study: