What is Harassment?
Harassment is any behaviour that degrades, demeans, humiliates, or embarrasses a person, and that a reasonable person should have known would be unwelcome. It includes actions (e.g. touching, pushing), comments (e.g. jokes, name-calling) or displays (e.g. posters, cartoons). Harassment can also take place electronically (e.g. text messages, email or screen savers).
The Code refers to harassment as a course of abusive & unwelcome conduct or comment made on the basis of any protected characteristic.
You have a right to live and work without being harassed, and if you are harassed, you can do something about it.
Harassment could be…
- verbal behaviour
- gestures and other non-verbal behaviour
- visual forms of harassment
- physical behaviour
- psychological harassment
- electronic harassment
Protected characteristics or grounds under The Code are ancestry (including colour and perceived race); nationality or national origin; religion or creed; ethnic background or origin; age; sex (including gender-determined characteristics such as pregnancy); gender identity; sexual orientation; marital or family status; source of income; political belief; physical or mental disability; and social disadvantage.
Harassment can take place in the workplace itself, or outside of the workplace in a situation that is in some way connected to work (for example, during delivery trips, off-site meetings, business trips). Harassment will not be tolerated in any work-related place or event.
Harassment can also take place within public services such as schools, restaurants or stores or in the area of housing like renting an apartment or living in a condominium.
In Manitoba the alleged harasser is not liable unless he/she is the owner or in charge of an organization, like a board member.
Is bullying harassment under The Code?
Although bullying usually is behaviour associated with children, it can also involve adults. In either case, if the bullying makes reference to religion, sex, disability, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or any of the grounds listed in The Human Rights Code, it is a form of harassment under The Code.
Bullying is behaviour that is threatening or intimidating. It can be verbal or physical, and is generally one-sided. Individuals or groups may be responsible for it. It can take different forms, such as:
- physical attacks and other forms of violence, such as hitting or kicking;
- verbal taunting or threats, name-calling and put-downs;
- refusing to speak to you, or excluding you from your group of friends, perhaps by spreading a nasty rumour.
- sending embarrassing, hurtful and threatening messages using technology such as the Internet or cell phones. This is known as cyberbullying (electronic bullying, online bullying, or cyber harassment).
What isn’t harassment?
Consensual banter where the people involved consent to what is happening is not harassment. Appropriate performance reviews, counselling, or discipline by a supervisor or manager are not harassment.