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Definition of Harassment

Workplace harassment and workplace violence are defined by occupational health and safety laws in Saskatchewan. Sexual harassment is specifically included in the definition of workplace harassment.

Workplace sexual harassment almost always negatively impacts those who experience it. A Statistics Canada Study about workplace sexual harassment found that those who have experienced it were more likely to feel that life was stressful, more likely not to be in good mental and physical health, and less likely to have an optimistic view of the future.

Definition of Harassment

The Saskatchewan Employment Act defines sexual harassment as:

Any conduct, comment, display, action or gesture of a sexual nature that the harasser knew or should have reasonably known was unwelcome.

The fact that the harasser knew or should have known that the behaviour was unwanted is enough to establish sexual harassment. Unlike other types of harassment, it is not necessary to show that it has had a negative effect on the person being sexually harassed or that it is threat to that person's health or safety.

For those working in a federally regulated business, the Canada Labour Code has one definition for both harassment and violence: Any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act also includes two other definitions of harassment.

  • Any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action or gesture that is directed at a person because of things such as their race, disability, physical size, weight, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action or gesture that negatively affects a worker’s psychological or physical wellbeing and that the harasser knows or ought to have known would cause the worker to feel humiliated or intimidated. In this case the behaviour must be repeated or ongoing or serious enough that it has a lasting, harmful effect on the worker.

In either of these cases, unlike when there is sexual harassment, it must be shown that the behaviour constitutes a threat to the health or safety of the worker.

Definition of Workplace Violence

Under The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations of The Saskatchewan Employment Act workplace violence means:

Any attempted, threatened or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause injury, and includes any threatening statement or behaviour that gives a worker reasonable cause to believe that the worker is at risk of injury.

Workplace violence includes things like threats, physically intimidating actions such as getting in your face, throwing things, brandishing a weapon, causing physical harm, assaults and sexual assaults.

Workplace violence includes psychological violence through behaviours such as teasing and bullying.

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This site provides general information about workplace sexual harassment only. It is not a substitute for receiving legal advice about your situation. Apply now to receive 4 hours of free legal advice.

The Shift Project is funded by the Department of Justice and delivered by the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA).

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