If You Have Been Subject to Harassment:  A Guide for Employees in Ontario



By law, only a lawyer, paralegal, or union official (for unionized workplaces) may represent an employee in a legal capacity for workplace disputes.  Therefore, my services are provided strictly to employers.  However, the following is some general information on options available to employees who believe that they have been/are subject to harassment in the workplace:

1.  Reporting to management


Employees who believe that they are experiencing harassment in the workplace often find it helpful to report the matter to their supervisor, or the supervisor’s manager.  This provides an opportunity for the organization to address and remedy the situation directly.  Most organizations have a written policy on workplace harassment that outlines the procedures for handling complaints.

2.  Grievance (unionized workplaces)

In unionized workplaces, employees may file a grievance if they believe they are experiencing harassment.  Local union representatives will be able to provide details on how to proceed.


3.  Human rights complaint


Sometimes after reporting to management, the employee may feel that the situation has not been addressed in a satisfactory manner.  If the alleged harassment relates to prohibited grounds under human rights legislation (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion/creed, disability), the employee may choose to file a human rights complaint.  Sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination due to sex/gender.

Employees who work under federal jurisdiction (e.g. banks, airlines, railways, telecommunications companies) would make their complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, 1-888-214-1090, http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca

Other employees in Ontario would make their complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, 1-866-598-0322, http://www.hrto.ca


4.  Legal representation


In certain situations, employees may believe that the harassment they experience is so severe that continued employment is not tolerable.  These employees may consider contacting an employment lawyer to discuss legal options.

The Law Society of Upper Canada can assist in finding a lawyer who specializes in representing employees in workplace disputes.  The Society’s Lawyer Referral Service can be contacted at 1-800-268-8326, http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=654

A Google search may also be helpful in locating a suitable lawyer.