5 Important Lessons About Workplace Harassment

We spend the majority of our days at work, so having a good workplace environment is vital. Anyone who has undergone, or is currently experiencing harassment knows the discomfort, anger, and stress it can have. Workplace harassment encompasses many different things. It can be verbal, written, and physical. However, many are unaware of what is legally considered harassing behaviour. With an increase of mediums used for communication, the chances of workplace harassment happening to you have increased.

Badgering based on sex, religion, and race should be taken seriously, and not shrugged off. If you are experiencing any of these, it is important to contact an employment lawyer to determine the best cause of action. We’ve compiled a list of what harassments can look like to better protect yourself in the workplace.


1. Jokes

Do you have an individual in the workplace that sends out offensive messages? Regardless, if is they are sent to you personally, or to the entire team, it may be harassment. If an individual is sharing offensive jokes, photos, or videos, it is a form of harassment. If what they are sending is graphic in nature, deals with race, religion, age, or gender- it is harassment, and should not be tolerated. Though you may feel the urge to delete this offensive material immediately, saving the content, and forwarding it to your lawyer is an important step in building a case.

2. The Office Crush

Having romantic feelings for a person may start off as an innocent crush, but can quickly cross the line and become harassment. Once it crosses the line to harassment, it can have concerning outcomes. If an individual is persistent in requesting a date, or requesting sexual favours of you; this is harassment. This can come in all mediums, so don’t think, if a person is doing it through technology, it doesn’t count. Persistent emails, text messages, and phone calls are all forms of harassment.

3. Prying for Information

Demanding an individual disclose certain personal information about themselves, is behaviour that should not be tolerated in the workplace. This involves requesting information about your family history of illness and disorders. It is not required for you to disclose this, so if your employer is demanding it of you- contact a lawyer immediately.

4. Physical

Unwanted physical contact can be hard to recognize because of how subtle it can be. This behaviour can involve lewd hand gestures, or any other physical gesture meant to relay the message of a curse word. Unwanted touching, such as a co-worker rubbing your back, or touching your clothing, is also a form of harassment. Other forms involve an individual using their body as a method of intimidation. For example, following a person, or standing too close to a them in a threatening manner, can all be forms of physical harassment.

5. Sending a Message

This type of harassment is subtle, but can cause be offensive. This involves such behavior as wearing clothing with offensive language, playing music with derogatory meanings, and putting up posters with similar derogatory messages. Because this form of harassment is so subtle, it may be hard to determine if it is actually considered harassment. This is why it is best to contact a lawyer to help direct you, and determine if you have a case. It is also good to sit back from the situation, and look at it subjectively. If any reasonable person would find these messages offensive- chances are, it is harassment and should be reported.

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