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8 steps

to follow if you are experiencing, or witness workplace sexual harassment:

01

Identify the Behavior:

Recognize and understand what constitutes sexual harassment. Be aware of inappropriate comments, gestures, advances, or any unwelcome behavior that creates a hostile work environment. Trust your instincts - if something feels uncomfortable or inappropriate, take it seriously.

02

Know Your Rights:

Familiarize yourself with the company's policies on sexual harassment and your legal rights. This knowledge will empower you to advocate for yourself and navigate the situation more effectively. If your employer is part of a union, check your collective bargaining agreement.

03

Tell the harasser to stop:

Clearly communicate your discomfort to the person involved if you feel safe doing so. You can make this request in person, through a co-worker or in writing. Firmly establish your boundaries and make it clear that their behavior is unwelcome.

If you don’t feel safe or comfortable talking to the harasser, you can skip to step 4 or 5. 

04

Document Incidents:

It can sometimes be helpful to keep a detailed record of each incident, including dates, times, locations, and descriptions of what occurred. Document any names of co-workers or other witnesses who overheard or participated in the discussion or event.

05

Report the harassment:

If you have concerns about your working environment, for example you are feeling upset and uncomfortable at work, or the harassment persists after speaking to the harasser, you can report the incidents to your boss, supervisor, manager, or Human Resources department. If you have it, provide them with your documented evidence and be prepared to discuss your concerns. If your workplace does not have a policy and complaint form, you can use this template:

Your employer is required by law to have a harassment policy which includes sexual harassment. If you discover that they do not have a policy, you can contact WorkSafeNB to report this.

06

Explore other options:

If the workplace does not address the issue appropriately, consider reaching out to explore further options. In some cases, legal action may be necessary.

07

Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being

Seek professional support if needed, such as counseling or therapy. Remember, you are not alone, and support is available.

08

Help promote positive workplaces:

If you're comfortable, use your experience to advocate for change. Download this poster and put it up around your school or workplace:

You have the right to a safe and respectful workplace.

Options for employees experiencing sexual harassment at work

Tell the person to stop:

Sometimes people do not realize that they are offending others. If you feel safe doing so, consider telling them that their behaviour is hurtful or inappropriate. It is preferable to do this in front of a witness. Sometimes speaking out might end the harassing behaviour. If you prefer, ask a trusted person such as a supervisor or union representative, to help you communicate your discomfort. Or, send them a registered letter and keep a copy of the receipt.
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Option 1

Report the harassment to your employer:

If your informal steps to end the harassment don't work, consider lodging a formal complaint with your supervisor, boss, Human Resources worker, or department head. Find out about your workplace Sexual Harassment Policy and how to proceed. Ask for a complaint form so you can put your complaint in writing. If your workplace does not have a policy and complaint form, you can download one below.
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Option 2

Report Criminal Behaviour to the Police:

Some unwelcome behaviours, such as grabbing, kissing, fondling or sexual activity are criminal in nature. An employee experiencing these behaviours may choose to report the incident(s) to the police or RCMP. Before deciding on this option, you can access helpful information about your rights as a victim of crime, see the link below.
Option 3

If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, you can make a complaint. Where and how you make a complaint is your choice.

OPTION 1

Make a complaint under your Workplace Harassment Policy.

You can try to resolve the problem through the policies or resolution mechanisms your organization has in place. As of April 1, 2019, all employers in New Brunswick are required to have a policy regarding workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.

Reporting can be done formally, where policies or grievance procedures exist. But you can also take action informally, by seeking support or requesting advice from someone you trust. If other people you know at work have experienced similar behaviour, then you can speak to Human Resources or make a report together. The Safer Places NB Reporting Harassment template will help you:

OPTION 2

Make a complaint under human rights legislation.

You can make a complaint against your employer and/or the perpetrator to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission. The New Brunswick Human Rights Act prohibits workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.

Every employer in New Brunswick must address sexual harassment immediately upon receiving notice of an incident, or when they become aware of harassing behavior, even if it has not been reported.

OPTION 3

Make a complaint to the police.

Sexual harassment can reach the level of a criminal offence. It is a crime if the harassment involves attempted or actual physical assault, including unwanted touching, sexual assault, or threats of an assault. Where sexual harassment includes any of these things, you can contact the police or RCMP. They will investigate and, if they have enough evidence, they will lay charges. It is the police and not you who decides to lay charges.

Are you concerned your employer will retaliate against you for filing a complaint?

If you’re worried your employer will discipline you for complaining about workplace sexual harassment, or if they already have, read this fact sheet for information about your rights and your options.

How to file a complaint to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

If you are experiencing workplace sexual harassment, you can go directly to the Human Rights Commission for advice or to file a complaint. Usually, complaints can only be filed about incidents that happened within the last 12 months. If you need guidance to complete their form, you may contact the Commission by phone 1-888-471-2233 (toll-free) or by e-mail: hrc.cdp@gnb.ca.

Options for Employees Witnessing Sexual Harassment

Speak out.

If you see or hear another employee being sexually harassed, speak out. Talk to the targetted employee and offer support. Ask them if they would like you to talk to the employer. Even if you are not being harassed personally, recognize that witnessing others being harassed can make the working environment uneasy for everyone. It can create a poisoned work environment.
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Option 1

Take Action.

Even if you didn’t speak out when the harassment was happening, it’s not too late. Ask your manager to put up posters that discourage sexual harassment or offer training that includes ways to empower employees to address harassment both directly or indirectly.
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Option 2

Be Aware.

Refuse to listen to sexist jokes or comments. This includes the use of slurs, and microaggressions such as demeaning language that targets people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Option 3

Start the Conversation

Learn more about our resources that address Workplace Sexual Harassment.

Let’s Connect

Ask us about how we can meet the Workplace Sexual Harassment training needs in your organization.

Safer Places NB is a five year collaborative project (2019 – 2024) of the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) and the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission (NBHRC).

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This website and resources do not contain a complete statement of the law in the area of sexual harassment. If you require legal advice, please seek the assistance of a lawyer.

This initiative is funded by:

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