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Have you experienced (or witnessed) sexual harassment at work?

 

Yes. How do I report it? I'm not sure.

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What is sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is unwarranted sexual conduct that interferes with your dignity and equality, as guaranteed by The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. Sexual harassment may be verbal, physical or visual, and may be one incident or a series of incidents. It is always unsolicited and unwelcome, but can take many forms.

Sexual harassment includes (but is not limited to)

  • Sexual remarks
  • “Jokes” with sexual overtones
  • A sexual advance or invitation
  • Displaying offensive pictures or photographs
  • Threats
  • Leering
  • Physical contact like touching, patting, pinching or brushing against
  • Sexual and physical assault

Sexual harassment may also include

  • Asking for sex in exchange for a benefit or a favour
  • Repeatedly asking for dates and not taking “no” for an answer
  • Demanding hugs
  • Making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching
  • Using rude or insulting language or making comments towards one gender over another
  • Calling people sex-specific derogatory names
  • Making sex-related comments about a person’s physical characteristics or actions
  • Saying or doing something because you think a person does not conform to sex-role stereotypes
  • Posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons or other sexual images (including online)
  • Bragging about sexual prowess

Sexual harassment does not include

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code’s provisions against sexual harassment do not rule out office romance, flirtation or good-natured jesting that is accepted by both parties. Sexual harassment is unwelcome behaviour that the harasser knows or should have known would be inappropriate.

Intent

It is important to note that the intentions of the harasser are irrelevant. It is the perception of the person being sexually harassed that matters. Harassers don’t have to be coworkers, supervisors or employers. Workplace sexual harassment also includes harassment by clients, contractors or members of the public that arises during the course of employment.

Work hours

Sexual harassment covers incidents that occur at work and during work hours. However, sexual harassment can also occur outside the usual workplace or work hours at work sponsored social events, conferences or other occasions that are connected to employment.

I have witnessed sexual harassment I have experienced sexual harassment

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Document what happened

If you witness what you believe is sexual harassment, document what happened. Write down each remark or action. Try to remember the exact words used. Record dates, times, places and the names of witnesses as soon as possible after the event so the details are fresh in your memory. Be as clear as possible. Sign and date it.

Talk to the person who was harassed

As a bystander, it’s important to talk to the person who’s been targeted by sexual harassment. Those who experience harassment often feel isolated. As an observer, you might not know if they thought the interaction was consensual or amusing.

An example of something you could say after witnessing harassment is: “I noticed that (specify behaviour in objective terms) happened. Are you okay with that?” If they say no, you could offer to accompany the victim to the human resources department.

Report the incident (if the person who was harassed gives consent)

Ideally, the person who was harassed should file the report. If they have not, you must get the consent of that person. It is important for you to first consult your workplace harassment policy, which should detail a reporting process.

It is important to figure out if what you witnessed was sexual harassment or discrimination.

Discrimination

Discrimination means being treated either unjustly or prejudicially based on any of the following:

    • Disability
    • Age
    • Religion or religious creed
    • Family/marital status
    • Gender/sexual orientation
    • Race/nationality/ancestry
    • Income/social status

If you witness discrimination, you can find out more and file a report with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Learn more

 

Sexual Harassment

If you witness sexual harassment, where you file a report may change based on your situation:

    • If you believe what you’ve witnessed was sexual harassment, but your situation has not been directly covered above, then consult your workplace sexual harassment policy. This could include filing a report with a Human Resource representative or department, or it may involve talking to a supervisor. Many workplaces have infrastructure in place to resolve your situation internally. However, if you do not feel comfortable following this process, contact provincial Occupational Health and Safety
    • If you’re part of a union, consult your collective bargaining agreement before you file a report. Your agreement should tell you who to file a complaint with. Reach out to your union representative.
    • If you’re an employee of either a provincially or federally regulated workplace (for example a Crown Corporation or the RCMP), you should file a complaint with Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S).

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Experienced sexual harassment? We’re here to help.

Enough Already offers a number of programs and resources to support you.

  • You may be eligible for free legal advice through The Shift Project.
  • You can access free Employment Coaching.
  • You can use any other type of services, programs and outreach we may have available.

Discrimination

Discrimination means being treated either unjustly or prejudicially based on any of the following:

  • Disability
  • Age
  • Religion or religious creed
  • Family/marital status
  • Gender/sexual orientation
  • Race/nationality/ancestry
  • Income/social status

If you’ve been the subject of discrimination, you can find out more and file a report with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Learn more

 

Sexual Harassment

If you’ve been sexually harassed, where you file a report may change based on your situation:

  • If you believe you’ve been sexually harassed, but your situation has not been directly covered above, then consult your workplace sexual harassment policy. This could include filing a report with a Human Resource representative or department, or it may involve talking to a supervisor. Many workplaces have infrastructure in place to resolve your situation internally. However, if you do not feel comfortable following this process, contact provincial Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S)
  • If you’re part of a union, consult your collective bargaining agreement before you file a report. Your agreement should tell you who to file a complaint with. Reach out to your union representative.
  • If you’re an employee of either a provincially or federally regulated workplace (for example a Crown corporation or the RCMP), you should file a complaint with Occupational Health and Safety.

Should you go to the police?

There are three situations when sexual harassment may lead to police involvement.

Sexual Assault Sexual Abuse Criminal Harassment

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Sexual Assault

Sexual harassment may escalate to sexual assault. Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual act or behaviour that is threatening, violent, forced, or coercive, and where consent was not obtained or maintained.

Sexual assault encompasses many sexually inappropriate acts, including but not limited to:

    • Coerced sexual activity
    • Non-consensual kissing or touching
    • Rape

Sexual harassment can become sexual assault when it escalates to threats or acts of forced or coerced sexual activity. It is up to the survivor if they would like to report the assault to police.

Filing a report

If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault, there are a number of resources to help you cope with and report the incident.

Saskatoon & ArEA

Learn more about reporting an assault to police through the Saskatoon Sexual Assault & Information Centre

Get more information on the reporting process at the Saskatoon Police Services website.

Regina & area

Learn more about sexual assault at the Regina Sexual Assault Centre.

File a report online through the Regina Police Service.

 

Other acts that are considered to be sexually inappropriate, such as non-consensual sharing of nude pictures and voyeurism are also illegal but are classified under section 162.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code. If you experience this, contact the police.

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Sexual Abuse

Police may become involved if sexual harassment escalates to sexual abuse. Sexual abuse involves:

  • ongoing or patterned sexualized behaviour against yourself by someone in a position of power or authority (or perceived power or authority); OR
  • any sexual misconduct that is committed against a child, adolescent, or vulnerable adult by someone in a position of power or perceived authority.

Sexual Abuse is about coercion and control. It can also cover all forms of sexual exploitation.

If you believe that you have experienced sexual abuse, contact the police immediately.

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Criminal Harassment

Sexual harassment may escalate to criminal harassment (also known as stalking). Criminal harassment occurs where someone does any of the following:

  • Follows you or someone you know from one place to the next so that it causes you to reasonably fear for your safety.
  • Tries to communicate with you or someone you know against your wishes. If it causes you to reasonably fear for your safety, they should not email, fax, telephone, talk to you in person, text, mail, leave notes, or use any other method to try and reach you.
  • Watches your home, workplace, or anywhere you may happen to be.
  • At any time acts in a way that threatens you or anyone in your family. No one should be allowed to do anything that intimidates you or causes you to reasonably fear for your safety.

Stalking is when one person knows or should know they are scaring and making someone else feel unsafe with repeated, unwanted contact, communication, or actions.

 

What can you do?

Report it to the police

You can report harassing actions to the police. The police may be able to send a warning to the person stalking you to tell him/her to stop the harassing actions. Consider showing the police your evidence of the person’s actions and let the police know your situation.

Get a protection order

You can get a protection order from a judge or justice of the peace. There are different types of protection orders. Orders are legally binding, which means they have to be followed. Depending on the type of protection order, the person who is harassing you cannot:

  • Go near or contact you or members of your family.
  • Go to certain places, such as your home, workplace or school.
  • Carry a gun.
  • Contact your children.

It’s important to remember that protection orders only work if the abuser follows the order. These orders are not criminal charges, but it is a crime to disobey a protection order. A protection order can be an important piece of a safety plan, but it is not a guarantee that you will be safe.

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Reporting workplace sexual harassment

How you report depends on whether or not you’re an employee of the workplace in which you experienced sexual harassment. Please select one.

I'm a customer/client I'm an employee

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Reporting for customers or clients

As a client or customer who’s experienced sexual harassment in a workplace, when possible, it’s important to let that business know. If you feel comfortable, deal with the sexual harassment directly by talking to a manager or owner.

If you’re not comfortable talking to the manager or owner, you can file a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC).

File a Complaint with SHRC

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Reporting sexual harassment as an employee

First, does your workplace have a formal policy about sexual harassment? If so, it should include instructions on how to file a complaint.

If you are uncomfortable reporting internally or have tried without satisfactory results, you still have options. Make sure you continue to thoroughly document the situation.

Below are some additional considerations before you file a report.

Has the harassment become criminal?

This could include stalking, threats and/or physical contact. If so, contact your local police department.

Does the harassment involve psychological or physical injury?

If you have experienced psychological or physical injury, report this to the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Are you part of a union?

If you belong to a union, make sure to talk to your shop steward and read your Collective Agreement before filing a complaint.

Still not sure of your options?

You can access free legal advice to help you understand your options via The Shift Project.


How you report an incident will depend on whether or not your place of work is:

  • Federally regulated (e.g. federal Crown corporations, the RCMP)
  • Provincially regulated (e.g. private businesses, provincial Crown corporations)
My employer is Federally regulated My employer is Provincially regulated

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Federally regulated workplaces

If you work for a federal Crown corporation, the RCMP, or another federally regulated employer, you can get in touch with federal OHS to file a report, which is operated by Health Canada. 

Send an email
Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709

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If you work for a private business or a provincial Crown corporation, you can file a complaint through Provincial Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) if:

  • there is no formal policy where you work
  • you don’t know who to talk to
  • your employer has failed to take reasonable steps to address the issue
  • you are being disciplined or fired for raising the issue

Workers and witnesses/bystanders are protected from termination and/or discipline when reporting to OHS.


How to file a complaint

  1. Contact the Harassment & Discriminatory Action Prevention Unit with the Occupational Health and Safety Division: 1(800) 567- 7233
  2. An intake coordinator will assess the situation and determine if the complaint is considered an action pursuant to the Saskatchewan Employment Act (discriminatory action, harassment, or review of investigation).
  3. If the complaint falls within the scope of OHS, a questionnaire will be sent to the complainant.
  4. The complainant will complete the questionnaire and return it to the Occupational Health and Safety Division. The supervisor of the unit will review and assign the case to an officer as necessary.
  5. If it is determined that the complaint is not valid or does not fall within the legislation, the supervisor will give written notice to the complainant that OHS will not proceed; however, an inspection will be conducted.

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