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Psychological or sexual harassment in the workplace

What is psychological or sexual harassment? It is vexatious (abusive, humiliating, hurtful) conduct in the form of comments, gestures or behaviour that: 

  • are repeated 
  • are hostile (aggressive, threatening) or unwelcome 
  • adversely affect the person’s dignity (that is, self-respect, self-esteem) or integrity (physical, psychological or emotional balance) 
  • make the workplace harmful for the person. 

A single serious incident of such behaviour could also be considered harassment if it has a lasting negative impact on the person. 

Discriminatory harassment is also considered psychological or sexual harassment if it is based on any of the grounds set out in the Charter of human rights and freedoms (s. 10)

  • race, colour, ethnic or national origin  
  • age, language, sex, pregnancy, civil status  
  • gender identity or expression, sexual orientation 
  • religion, social condition, political convictions 
  • a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap 

Psychological or sexual harassment can occur at all levels in the hierarchy of a company: between managerial staff, between coworkers, between a manager and a member of staff. Harassment may also come from clients, a supplier, etc. 

Are you going through a difficult situation at work? Do you think that you or someone else is being psychologically or sexually harassed? Do not hesitate to consult the page “What to do if you think you are being harassed” to find out more about the steps you can take.  

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