The Definition

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The definition of Sexual Harassment in the workplace in Canada comes from the leading case: SCC 1989 Janzen v Platy Enterprises.

Sexual Harassment in broken down into 3 elements:

  • Conduct of a sexual nature which is gender based
  • Conduct that is unwelcome
  • Conduct that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences

Here are some examples of different types of Sexual Harassment:

Threatening - A person is threatened or offered rewards - promotions, raises, etc. - in return for sexual favours. A direct or implied threat often accompanies such a proposition, making it clear that the victim's career will be jeopardized if he or she doesn't comply with the request.

Physical harassment - This occurs when a person is unwillingly touched. Some examples of physical harassment include, but are not limited to: touching a person's clothing, hair or body; hugging, kissing, patting or stroking; massaging a person's neck or shoulders; or standing close to or brushing up against a person.

Verbal harassment - This comes from anyone within the firm and or other workplace or a person who does business with the firm or company. Some examples are: referring to an adult as a babe, honey, girl or stud; whistling at someone; turning work discussion to sexual topics; asking personal questions of a sexual nature; making sexual comments about a person's clothing, anatomy or looks; or asking someone repeatedly for dates and refusing to take no for an answer.

Non-verbal harassment (body language) - Examples of non-verbal harassment include: suggestive looks; prolonged staring; giving unwanted personal gifts; winking and making sexual gestures with the hands or body movements.

Environmental harassment - Sexually suggestive pictures or objects displayed in the workplace may offend people. These items depict women or men as sex objects. It is important to note that, if your office is a place where others have to enter to do work, you must ensure that you are not causing a hostile or offensive environment.