#MeToo unapologetically brought to light a necessary conversation about sexual harassment, and while a Canadian Survey highlights that 50% of Canadian working woman have endured some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is not the only conversation we need to have about harassment. This section explores various forms of bullying and harassment in the workplace and provides you tips, tools, and educational resources to help you take steps to prevent workplace harassment in all of its forms.

Simple Safety for a New Worker

When you start a new job there is usually a lot of excitement and a lot to learn. Health and safety might not be top of mind for you, but it is important.

So, here 4 simple steps to take

1. Get on Board – understand your role
2. Get in the Know – understand common workplace hazards and how to find safety information
3. Get involved – learn how to participate in workplace safety
4. Get more help – understand who you can go to for help, and how to refuse unsafe work

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Domestic violence at work: Supporting your colleague

Domestic violence constitutes the behavior and actions of one person to gain control and power over someone they are involved with in an intimate or personal relationship. Such behavior includes physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and intellectual abuse and violence. It can be prevalent at work and remain hidden from everyone where a fellow worker can be the victim, or even the abuser. When signs of domestic violence appear at work, it may create a situation where the employees or employer would have to step in to support the victim or handle the abuser. Not only does this create a difficult situation for the worker involved in domestic violence, but it can also be a safety risk for other workers. The question remains, how can you help your fellow worker?

How to help:

Your colleague can be the victim or the abuser, and so there are different ways to approach each situation and help your colleague. The key step is to observe and identify signs of domestic violence at work place such as abuser harassing worker at the workplace, victim showing signs of physical abuse or emotional abuse, or the prolonged absence and mood changes of the victim. Other methods include:

  • If colleague is the victim:
    • Gently initiate the conversation, and give them time to open up
    • Listen patiently, do not judge
    • Encourage sharing with employer or contacting support services
    • DO NOT encourage their confrontation with abuser. Their safety and yours is the most important
  • If colleague is the abuser:
    • Approach your observations when they are calm but do not accuse
    • Inform your employer or support services or the police of your observations
    • DO NOT get involved in a direct confrontation or physical violence with them- Keep yourself safe
    • Share information on support services and resources available for them  
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What can I do if I’m being Harassed or Bullied at Work?

Harassment and bullying at work can have an impact on your health and well-being. In fact harassment and bullying may have a psychological impact including causing stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, fatigue, frequent colds, migraines, high blood pressure, and depression. Speaking up about harassment in the workplace is not easy, but this information is meant to help you identify steps you can take to address harassment and bullying at work.

If you think you are being harassed at work:

1. Tell the person who is harassing you that the behaviour is unwelcome – be specific about the unwanted behaviour
2. If the harassment is threatening to your personal safety (assault, sexual assault, or criminal harassment) you should call the police
3. Write down where the harassment occurred, when it occurred, who engaged in the harassment, what specifically was said or done, if anyone saw it happen and what you did
4. Keep any correspondence you receive that is related to the harassment (i.e. emails that were sent, social media, text correspondence)
5. Find out your workplace policies and procedures and follow the procedures
6. Seek emotional support from family and friends

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Stopping Stigma

It’s a fact… 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental illness. That is why it is important to take steps to stop stigma in the workplace. Here are six tips for creating an open and supportive workplace culture.

Tips for creating an open and supportive workplace culture

  • Educate and Inform
  • Create an environment where everyone can discuss mental health and wellness
  • Talk about mental health using respectful language and positive self-talk
  • Show you care - ask coworkers how they are doing, share your experiences
  • Be discreet – keep conversations confidential.
  • Encourage help seeking behavious
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External Links

Half of Working Women in Canada Have Endured Sexual Harassment

Canada Labour Code defines sexual harassment as “any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee; or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that employee as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion.”

Did you know?

  • 50% of working women in Canada say they have experienced a “significant amount” (5%), a “moderate amount” (12%) or a “small amount” (33%) of sexual harassment over their careers.
  • More than half of working women in Canada (54%) say they have experienced conduct, comments, gestures or contact of a sexual nature that caused them offence or humiliation
  • Three-in-ten (30%) experienced conduct, comments, gestures or contact of a sexual nature that they perceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on their employment or on any opportunity they might have for training or promotion.
  • Only 28% of working women in Canada who endured behaviour that placed a condition on their employment or future career reported it to a superior and/or human resources department.
  • Even fewer (22%) filed a complaint after being offended or humiliated by somebody else’s behaviour.


If you are being harassed at work please read our article What can I do if I’m Being Bullied or Harasses at Work


To learn more read the research article found at the link below.

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Towards a Psychologically Safer Workplace

Dr. Martin Shain S.J.D. created this very informative Employers Guide which focuses on steps an employer can take to help meet the minimum requirements for providing a psychologically safe workplace.  It is a great resource to get you started down the path of creating  a  Psychologically Safe Workplace -  one in which every reasonable effort is made to protect the mental health of employees and to prevent mental injury.

In this resource you will find

  • Guideline for creating a culture where employees feel safe to speak up
  • Information about the key elements of interpersonal competence
  • How to look for early warning signs of conflict and distress, and patterns of negative conduct among employees
  • Sample Policy for Psychological Safety at Work
  • Sample Policy for Workplace Harrassment
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