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Are you wondering what your rights are when it comes to harassment in the workplace? Do you want to know what your employer’s obligations are? It’s always recommended that workers know their rights, as well as where to go to get the help they need, should an incident occur. Your employer should provide you with this information during your orientation, but it’s still wise to find out more about your rights and the law outside of work. In the following blog, we’ll explore this topic in detail, so you’ll know everything you need to know.

The Government of Ontario takes workplace violence and harassment very seriously. Both employers and employees have rights and duties when it comes to workplace violence and harassment.

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out both the rights and duties for occupational health and safety for everyone in the workplace. The act provides enforcement of the law in cases where compliance has not been met.

The OHSA defines workplace harassment as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. The definition of workplace harassment includes workplace sexual harassment. This definition of workplace harassment is broad enough to include all types of harassment prohibited under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, including sexual harassment.”

One of the primary purposes of the OHSA is to facilitate a strong Internal Responsibility System (IRS) in the workplace. “The IRS means that everyone in the workplace has a role to play in keeping workplaces safe and healthy. Workers in the workplace who see a health and safety problem such as a hazard or contravention of the Act in the workplace have a duty to report the situation to the employer or a supervisor. Employers and supervisors are, in turn, required to address those situations.”

According to the OHSA, the employer has the biggest responsibility when it comes to health and safety in the workplace. Some of the responsibilities include establishing the IRS system and making sure it’s promoted. They are also responsible for the success of the program.

Part of the success of the OHSA is that employers stay on top of any incidents that occur and act right away to address any unwanted behaviours before they turn into something bigger. It’s thus imperative that employees report any harassing behaviour to their employer. If you keep your employer in the dark about what is going on, they won’t be able to do anything about it.
Canada’s Criminal Code deals with matters such as violent acts, sexual assault, threats and behaviours such as stalking. The police should be contacted in these situations. Harassment may also be a matter that falls under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Getting to know these laws will help you whether you’re starting a new job or just want to brush up on your rights. For more information, you can read the full Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act here.

If you do not have a lawyer and want to speak with one before taking action, the lawyers at Armoured Suits offer a free 30-minute phone consultation. Contact us by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at yourteam@armouredsuits.ca to schedule your meeting.