Living@Guelph - Choose Your Own Adventure Living
Challenging Harassment
By Jodie McConnell

Changing societal norms in the 1980's brought sexual harassment to our attention. A new era dawned during which it was considered wrong to harass someone based on their sex. In Canada, Sexual Harassment has been found to be a type of discrimination based on sex. In Ontario, the Human Rights Code is the vital piece of legislation that prohibits harassment and discrimination based on sex.

The Ontario Human Rights Code recognizes that harassment also, occurs due to a person's race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship or creed and calls it Racial Harassment. Other grounds of harassment recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code are: sexual orientation, handicap, age, marital status, family status or receipt of public assistance. U of G prohibits harassment on these grounds in work, study and residential life.

Harassment is a violation of the rights of an individual.
Harassment involves ongoing comments or conduct which is unwelcome or which ought to be known to be unwelcome or unwanted. A single incident, if severe enough, can be considered harassment. Harassment may be physical, verbal, written or graphic and can include the use of electronic media.

Examples of harassment include:

  • a person degrading or taunting you because of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or any other listed grounds
  • a person is bothering, threatening, insulting you or treating you unfairly because of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, handicap or any other listed grounds

    Harassment can occur anywhere, anytime, and amongst various people interacting in their daily lives. It can occur between a supervisor and employee, professor and student, teaching assistant and student, student and student, student and staff, employee and employee. The majority of sexual harassment is perpetrated by men against women. However, the majority of men are not sexual harassers.

    What can I do about harassment?

  • challenge harassment
  • support the person who is being harassed
  • be an ally to a person who is being harassed
  • raise my concerns with someone who can help
  • call the Human Rights and Equity Office at ext. 53000.
  • learn my rights and responsibilities
  • To prevent harassment I need to:
  • be aware of my prejudices, language and conduct
  • increase my own awareness on what is harassment
  • help others understand what is harassment
  • talk about he impact of harassment

    As a society we agree the harassment is morally ethically and legally wrong. This belief requires a further commitment on our part to transform this thought into action. Each of us acting in earnest and by our individual effort will bring us closer to our goal of eliminating harassment and towards recognizing the inherent dignity and worth of every person.