What can I do if I’ve been sexually harassed at work?
Question & AnswerWhat can I do if I’ve been sexually harassed at work?
2. Think about talking to your employer
It can be very difficult to talk about sexual harassment. But you may want to talk to your boss or human resources department because they may stop it from happening again.
If you belong to a , talk to your union representative before going to your employer. Your union can give you advice and can often provide a support person to go with you to the meeting with your employer.
You can also contact the Sexual Harassment and Assault Resource Exchange (SHARE). They offer free, confidential legal advice. And they can tell you about other services if you need more help. You might want to speak with a lawyer before talking to your boss. SHARE can help you decide whether to do that or not.
If you decide to speak to your employer, bring copies of your notes and records, including copies of emails, pictures, or screenshots that are important to your complaint. Do not give your employer your original records.
You may want to bring a support person with you to a meeting with your employer. There’s no law that says that your employer has to let you do this. But there’s also no law that stops it. Most employers permit it.
You might ask someone from your Health and Safety Committee, your union, or a friend or family member to support you.
What your employer can and cannot do
It’s helpful to think about what you’d like to happen to solve the problem. Your employer does not have to do what you want. But they may ask for your ideas. For example, you could ask your employer to:
- move your harasser to a different location
- make your harasser go to sexual harassment training
- discipline or fire your harasser
- move you to a different position away from the
- help you pay for therapy
Your employer cannot punish you for reporting harassment. This means that they cannot:
- fire you
- demote you, which means giving you a job with less responsibility or lower pay
- cut your hours
- give you unpleasant duties
- threaten you
Ask for a workplace safety investigation
If your employer learns about harassment in the workplace, the Occupational Health and Safety Act says that they must investigate it. When they do this, they must give you a written report of what they find. They must also tell you what they’re going to do to fix the problem and stop it from happening again.
If your employer does not look into the harassment after you tell them about it, you can use this form to report them to the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry can fine them up to $500,000 for not providing a safe workplace.