What is and What Isn't Workplace Harassment?

What is Workplace Harassment?

Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber (hereafter referred to as "Humber") is committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive culture in which all members of the Humber community study, work and live free from discrimination and harassment. Humber has the right and the legal and moral responsibility to ensure that all Humber community members are treated fairly, equitably, and respectfully and to provide a learning, working and living environment free from discrimination and harassment.

Harassment is a form of discrimination and a breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) and Humber's Human Rights Policy.

What is Harassment?

Harassment in section 10(1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code and workplace harassment (personal/psychological harassment) in section 1(1)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) are defined as "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome." This definition includes any behaviour that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be offensive, embarrassing or humiliating to other individuals. Such conduct may or may not be based on any of the prohibited grounds identified in the Code and includes visual representations, electronic messages including emails and social media posts, written messages, and verbal and/or physical conduct.

Examples of harassment include but are not limited to:

  • unwelcome remarks, jokes, slurs, innuendoes or taunting;
  • hazing, stalking or shunning;
  • the repeated mistreatment of one employee or student, targeted by one or more employees or students with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation and sabotage of performance (bullying);
  • displaying derogatory or offensive pictures, graffiti or materials either through printed copy or personal computer;
  • verbal abuse;
  • insulting gestures or practical jokes which cause embarrassment or awkwardness;
  • unauthorized and/or unnecessary physical contact;
  • an impassioned, collective campaign by co-workers to exclude, punish and humiliate a targeted worker.

What isn't harassment?

Harassment or workplace harassment does not occur when a supervisor/manager gives legitimate direction or instructions to an employee in the course of their employment. It also does not occur when performance reviews are conducted in accordance with the College's Faculty Evaluation Procedure, or its equivalent.

Incivility is generally defined as an instance of behaviour such as rudeness, discourteousness, or impoliteness. Incivility, while inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, on its own, would not meet the threshold of harassment.

For more information, please see Humber's Human Rights Policy at humber.ca/policies/human-rights-policy.

For questions pertaining to Humber's Human Rights Policy and Complaint Resolution Procedure, please contact humanrightseducation@humber.ca.

Thank you for your continued commitment to fostering an inclusive working, learning and living environment at Humber.