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Making a Workplace Harassment Complaint

If you have been harassed at work you can make a workplace complaint. Understanding the process for making a complaint can help you as you go through the process and can make it easier to take this step.

Remember that if you make a complaint about workplace harassment your employer is required to investigate.

There may be ways to deal with a situation without triggering the requirement for an investigation. For example, you could ask your employer to provide education about harassment to the workplace as a whole or decide to talk to the person yourself with another party present. What to do is a personal decision and should be based on your needs and what you think is the most effective way to prevent future incidents.

The process for making a complaint must be clearly set out in your workplace's Harassment Prevention Policy. The policy itself must be readily accessible for workers and have information about the complaint process, including who to make a complaint to.

In federally regulated workplaces, incidents of harassment or violence are called occurrences and are reported using a Notice of Occurrence. Federally regulated employers can also have additional procedures, aside from the Notice of Occurrence process, for dealing with harassment or violence. There may be situations when an employee wants to use the additional processes as well. For example, when the Notice of Occurrence process does not result in any disciplinary action against a perpetrator of workplace harassment or violence.

Who to Report to

Generally speaking, complaints are made to your direct supervisor or manager or, if your supervisor or manager is the subject of your complaint, any other supervisor or manager. Your Harassment Prevention Policy can also designate someone to receive complaints.

In federally regulated workplaces complaints can be made to your employer or someone your employer has designated to receive complaints. If it is about your employer it must go to the person designated to receive complaints. The name of the designated person must be in your workplace’s Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy.

Individuals who are designated to receive complaints in the workplace are required to be adequately trained about…

  • workplace harassment
  • your workplace's Harassment Prevention Policy
  • confidentiality requirements
  • their role in the complaint process, including the need to prevent workers from experiencing any kind of retaliation because of the complaint

In federally regulated workplaces employers must ensure that individuals designated to receive complaints have knowledge, training and experience in issues relating to harassment and violence as well as knowledge of relevant legislation.

What to Report

Your employer may have a form that is designed to collect all the needed information.

What to Include

  • what happened – who, what, when, where, how
  • any steps you have taken to stop the behaviour
  • the to impact on you
  • any specific remedies you want your employer to consider
  • any witnesses to the incident

What not to Include

It is best to stick to the facts about the incident and its impact on you. Statements or opinions about the alleged harasser’s character, motivation etc. are not needed and can distract from the issue.

In federally regulated workplaces, a Notice of Occurrence can be filed in writing or made orally. It must include:

  • Your name and the name of the person who harassed you or was violent towards you, if you know it. If you are a witness a Notice of Occurrence can be filed anonymously.
  • The date it happened.
  • A detailed description of what happened.


When a complaint about workplace harassment is made, both the person who made the complaint and the alleged harasser may be concerned about privacy and whether other people will know about it.

An employer must not disclose the names of the complainant or the alleged harasser except when necessary to investigate or take corrective action or where required by law. Anyone who is informed about the complaint should be told to keep any information they receive, including the fact that there was a complaint, confidential.

Although others in the workplace may know about a complaint because, for example they are interviewed as a witness, this does not change the employer’s obligation to respect the privacy of both the person who complained and the alleged harasser. Others in the workplace will typically not be informed of the outcome. If any corrective action is taken this, like any other personnel issue with a worker, is a private matter between the worker and the employer.

In federally regulated workplaces employers must outline in their Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy how they will protect the privacy of anyone who makes a complaint or who is involved in the resolution of a complaint.

Not sure about what options are open to you in your situation or trying to decide on a course of action? Anyone who has experienced workplace sexual harassment is entitled to up to 4 hours of free legal advice. Requesting an appointment is easy and any information you provide will be held in confidence.

Sample Formal Complaint Form

Looking at a sample complaint form can help people understand what is involved in the process.


When a complaint has been made to the employer about workplace harassment there will be an investigation.

After an Investigation

Employers have certain obligations once an investigation is complete.

Reprisals & Retaliation

Workers who make a harassment complaint are protected from reprisals or retaliation whether from the alleged harasser, others or the employer.

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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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