Sharing Knowledge - What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual Harassment: A form of sexual violence prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Sexual harassment is defined as:

  • Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct based on an individual's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that is known or ought to be known as unwelcome; and
  • Making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker, and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

Gender-based harassment is a subset of sexual harassment prohibited by the Code and OHSA. It refers to behaviours that regulate and reinforce traditional heterosexual gender norms or are otherwise directed at a person because of their gender.

Examples of behaviours of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • any deliberate and unsolicited sexual comment, suggestion or physical contact that creates an uncomfortable learning, working and living environment for the recipient and is made by a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that such action is unwelcome;
  • unwelcome remarks, jokes, sexual innuendoes or taunting about a person's body, attire, sex, personal or social life;
  • practical jokes of a sexual nature which cause awkwardness or embarrassment;
  • displaying and/or distributing pornographic pictures or other offensive material of a sexual nature, either in print or electronic form;
  • leering (suggestive staring) or other gestures;
  • unnecessary physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching;
  • expressions of gender bias which may include remarks that are discriminatory, degrading or derogatory and create a poisoned work environment;
  • requests for sexual favours; and/or
  • repeatedly using the wrong gender pronoun;
  • repeatedly referring to a trans person by their legal name rather than their chosen name;
  • sex-specific derogatory names;
  • bragging about sexual prowess;
  • sexual assault.

Additionally, the Code and the OHSA provide protections from reprisal or threats of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance.

For additional information, please review Humber’s Human Rights Policy.

Please note: The behaviours and actions described above are not an exhaustive list of examples of sexual harassment.

If you would like to make a formal report of having experienced sexual assault and sexual violence, please contact: