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Defining sexual harassment

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) is committed to working with members and employers to end sexual harassment in the workplace.

Please keep your comments and suggestions coming (info@cmg.ca), and look for more details in the coming months about our next steps.

The behaviours associated with sexual harassment can range from subtle to audacious. We are sharing the below list as a helpful guide to assist in outlining the sort of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment.


Defining Sexual Harassment

Human rights law clearly recognizes that sexual harassment is often not about sexual desire or interest at all. In fact, it often involves hostility, rejection, and/or bullying of a sexual nature.

For more information, see the section entitled “Gender-based harassment.” 

The following list is not exhaustive, but it should help to identify what may be sexual and gender-based harassment:

– demanding hugs
– invading personal space
– unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching, etc.
– derogatory language and/or comments toward women (or men, depending on the circumstances), sex-specific derogatory names
– leering or inappropriate staring
– gender-related comment about a person’s physical characteristics or mannerisms
– comments or conduct relating to a person’s perceived non-conformity with a sex-role stereotype
– displaying or circulating pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including online)
– sexual jokes, including circulating written sexual jokes (e.g. by e-mail)
– rough and vulgar humour or language related to gender
– sexual or gender-related comment or conduct used to bully a person
– spreading sexual rumours (including online)
– suggestive or offensive remarks or innuendo about members of a specific gender
– propositions of physical intimacy
– gender-related verbal abuse, threats, or taunting
– bragging about sexual prowess
– demanding dates or sexual favours
– questions or discussions about sexual activities
– requiring an employee to dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way
– paternalistic behaviour based on gender which a person feels undermines their status or position of responsibility
– threats to penalize or otherwise punish a person who refuses to comply with sexual advances (known as reprisal)

The applicable legislation for the CBC is the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The information above was prepared by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to provide a very practical guide on the issue of sexual and gender-based harassment.

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