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Queen's University
 

Sexual Harassment

At Queen's, academic and non-academic administrators and supervisors are responsible for creating and maintaining a harassment-free work, learning and living environment, and for ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.

Those in positions of authority are expected to know what is happening in the environment for which they are responsible, to take immediate steps to stop harassment of which they become aware, and to take proactive steps to prevent further harassment from taking place.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is an attempt by one person to assert power over another person.  Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, sexual harassment is "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct of a sexual nature that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome." In some cases, one incident can be serious enough to be sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can include, but is not limited to:

asking for sex in exchange for something, like offering to improve a test score, offering a raise or promotion at work, or withholding something like needed repairs to your apartment  (also known as Quid Pro Quo harassment)asking for dates and not taking "no" for an answer demanding hugs or making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching using rude or insulting language or making comments that stereotype women or men calling people unkind names that relate to their sex or gender making comments about a person's physical appearance (whether or not they are attractive)saying or doing something because you think a person does not fit sex-role stereotypes posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures, cartoons, graffiti or other sexual images (including online)making sexual jokes bragging about sexual ability bullying based on sex or gender spreading sexual rumors or gossip (including online) voyeurism and exhibitionism

Sexual harassment can also develop in the context of dating relationships.  Trying to initiate a relationship when one party is unwilling; or persistently trying to continue a relationship when someone has ended it, can also constitute sexual harassment.  Persistent conduct (text messages, emails, stalking behaviours, etc. that is carried out over a period of time and which causes the recipient to reasonably fear for their safety is criminal harassment and is an offense under the law.

N.B. Behaviors involved in unwanted physical contact may extend up and to and including sexual assault.  Because of the nature and complexities involved in sexual assault, people may want to contact an advisor for confidential advice and assistance.  http://www.edmontonpolice.ca/CommunityPolicing/Personal Property Crimes/Sexual Assault/WhatisSexualAssault.aspx

What the code says

Because of the prevalent nature of sexual harassment, it has been given special attention in the Ontario Human Rights Code, Part I Section 7 (1-3) which can be found at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h19_e.htm#BK9

The impact of sexual harassment

The impacts of sexual harassment are many, including, but not limited to: low employee morale, absenteeism, people feeling compelled to leave classes, jobs or academic programs in addition to loss of dignity, control over their lives, difficulty in concentration at work or in class, at times accompanied by anxiety and depression.

Responsibility of persons in positions of authority

Within an academic environment, both academic and non-academic administrators and supervisors are responsible for creating and maintaining a harassment-free work, learning and living environment, and for ensuring that everyone is treated fairly. Those in positions of authority are expected to know what is happening in the environment for which they are responsible, to take immediate steps to stop harassment of which they become aware, and to take proactive steps to prevent further harassment from taking place.

Human rights legislation is concerned with the effects of harassment and discrimination rather than the intention of the perpetrator. Its goal is to remedy the situation for the targeted individual(s) so as to restore a healthy work, learning, or living environment. If the employer, administrator or supervisor fails to act in accordance with these responsibilities, and the law, they may be found liable, along with the actual perpetrator/s of sexual harassment. This liability extends to remediation and damages to the victim in a human rights complaint, or possibly in a civil law suit for wrongful or constructive dismissal, in which the institution itself may be named as a respondent and be found ultimately responsible.

Contact us

If you would like to ask questions or discuss a concern about sexual harassment, please contact the Queens' Human Rights Office at:
Phone: 613-533-6886
Email:hrights@queensu.ca

On campus resources

Related resources

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000