Preventing and addressing workplace harassment and violence is a responsibility that is shared by everyone in the workplace.
Employers, supervisors and workers must all cooperate with anyone who is fulfilling their duties under the occupational health and safety section of The Saskatchewan Employment Act or the Canada Labour Code.
For the purpose of duties in the workplace, a worker includes a student that the employer allows to perform work or who is being trained by the employer.
Employers and supervisors need to perform some duties as far as is reasonably practicable. Practicable means anything that is possible. What is reasonably practicable depends on weighing the cost - in time, trouble and money – against the benefit of the action. If the cost outweighs the benefit by a considerable amount, a prevention activity may not be considered reasonably practicable. If an incident could have serious consequences, more costly steps need to be taken to prevent it from happening.
Employers in federally regulated workplaces must also ensure that the health and safety of their employees is protected. They must take measures to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the workplace, respond to occurrences of harassment and violence in the workplace and offer support to employees affected by harassment and violence in the workplace.
It is important to remember that workplace sexual harassment includes harassment by more than just co-workers or employers – customers, clients, patients, contractors and others can be responsible for workplace harassment. Employers may have limited ability to investigate the conduct of third parties or to control inappropriate behaviour.
However, employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent their workers from being harassed, regardless of who is responsible for the harassment. Steps an employer can take include posting an anti-harassment policy where it can be seen by third parties. They can also authorize workers to refuse service and to ask the harasser to leave the workplace.
In federally regulated workplaces, if the alleged harasser is not an employee or the employer, the assessment of the workplace’s risk factors for harassment or violence must be updated to take into account the circumstances of the incident. This is then used to update the preventative measures that are in place, if needed.
Workers need to keep their responsibilities in mind and make sure they are not passively participating in harassment or violence by going along with the inappropriate behaviour of others in the workplace.
Workers in federally regulated workplaces must also take reasonable care to protect their own and other workers’ health and safety. Workers also have a duty to inform their employer about any situation that is likely to be hazardous to their health or safety or that of others in the workplace.
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.