Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on gender. It is offensive, degrading, threatening, and unlawful.
Sexual harassment is defined as:
- Unwelcome sexual conduct, which includes unwanted sexual advances.
- Unwanted requests for sexual favours.
- Other unwanted verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature.
The behaviour need not be intentional in order to be considered sexual harassment.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Some examples of sexually harassing actions and behaviours as outlined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission include:
- unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching.
- derogatory language and sex-specific derogatory names.
- displaying or circulating pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually explicit graffiti, or other sexual images.
- sexual jokes, including circulating written sexual jokes.
- spreading sexual rumours.
- bragging about sexual prowess.
- demanding dates.
- threats to penalize or otherwise punish a person who refuses to comply with sexual advances.
Now that we have defined sexual harassment, let's us hone our skills and address whether or not the following scenarios represent sexual harassment.
What are your options?
Now that we have identified and tested you on what constitutes sexual harassment, let us highlight your options if you fall victim to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Option 1: Self-Help
- If you are comfortable with doing so, you can talk to the person(s) engaged in the conduct and attempt to resolve the issue.
- Tell the person(s) that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop.
Option 2: Management Intervention
- If the behaviour continues, or you are uncomfortable confronting the person(s) directly, you should report the matter to you supervisor, manager, department coordinator, or district manager.
Option 3: Human Resource Manager
- If a member of management is part of the issue, or you are uncomfortable talking with him/her about it, then contact your Human Resource Solutions Manager to report the behaviour.