The Many Forms of Harassment.

AuthorOluleye, Temitope


Reading Time: 3 minutes

Harassment may exist in many forms, including discrimination under human rights laws, a workplace hazard, sexual harassmenl and bullying.

Harassment is the act of treating another person in a way that causes them to feel insulted, demeaned, sad and sometimes unsafe. It can take many forms including bullying, racial harassment, and sexual harassment.

What can harassment look like? It can mean annoying, intimidating, threatening, or bullying another person. It also includes tormenting a person by persistent attacks or criticism, or subjecting that person to uninvited or unwelcome conduct. Oftentimes, harassment involves a power imbalance, such as between a boss and employee.

Harassment may be verbal, non-verbal, or physical. Examples of verbal harassment include derogatory slurs or jokes. Uninvited or unwanted physical contact is an example of physical harassment. Examples of non-verbal harassment include the display of discriminatory images or leering at another person.

Harassment as Discrimination

In Canada, human rights laws prohibit harassment based on discrimination. The Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in five protected areas and on fifteen protected grounds.

The five protected areas are:

  1. employment

  2. goods, services, accommodation, or facilities customarily available to the public

  3. tenancy

  4. representations including statements, publications, notices, signs, symbols, and emblems

  5. membership in trade unions, employers' organizations, or occupational associations

The fifteen protected grounds are:

* race

* gender, gender identity and gender expression

* sexual orientation

* religious beliefs

* colour

* physical and mental disability

* age

* ancestry and place of origin

* marital and family status

* source of income

Discrimination is behaviour that results in an adverse effect on the recipient of the discrimination. It could be a distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference that goes against human rights and fundamental freedoms. Human rights laws prohibit discrimination based on a protected ground and in a protected area.

In the 1990 case of R vAndrews, the Supreme Court of Canada described discrimination as:

... a distinction, whether intentional or not but based on grounds relating to personal characteristics of the individual or group, which has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations, or disadvantages on such individual or group not imposed...

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