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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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Step 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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Step 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.
Step 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.

Get support

It can feel overwhelming to bring an official complaint against your workplace on your own.  There are a number of organisations that can support you along the way.

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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Step 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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Step 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.
Step 3

Sexual harassment is a serious everyday health and safety issue for many workers in New Brunswick.

Far too often, employers develop policies and procedures that react to a complaint of sexual harassment.   

Reporting Harassment: Template

A template for employees to report harassment to their employer.

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.

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 advise, please seek the assistance of a lawyer.

This initiative is funded by:

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