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Amber Chisholm, Associate Director
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB)

Harassment in the Workplace: The Importance of a Clear Policy

Did you know that your New Brunswick business must have a harassment policy that includes sexual harassment? These laws apply regardless of whether your organization is private or public, a proprietorship, a non-profit, or a corporation.

What is sexual harassment?

Are you sure you fully understand how today’s law defines sexual harassment?  It is not limited to unwanted advances and crude comments.  Instead, sexual harassment can include offensive behavior that is based on someone’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.  It can happen once or often.  It can take the form of spoken words, gestures, jokes, pictures, social media posts, or texts. 

Who is liable for workplace sexual harassment?

Under both Human Rights Legislation and Health and Safety Legislation, employers have an obligation to provide their employees with a workplace free of sexual harassment. As an employer, you are responsible for preventing it and addressing it.  A harasser can be liable for financial restitution and, if the incidence is serious, can be subjected to criminal charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.  Some kinds of liability also extend to the company, its directors, managers, and other workers who may be shown responsible for failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect the safety of its workers.

How do workplaces ensure an effective workplace sexual harassment policy?

To ensure your organization has done its due diligence to protect workers, you must have a comprehensive workplace harassment policy.  This policy would include a definition of sexual harassment, an explanation of how it will be handled by the organisation and identify who is responsible for resolving the issue. It should include a robust process for workers to report complaints, without fear of retaliation. This harassment reporting form offers an example of the form that you can adapt and make available to your employees. 

Safer Places Free Workplace Sexual Harassment Training

Having a written policy and reporting procedures in place, however, does not entirely fulfill your responsibility as an employer.  You also need to ensure that all employees are aware of the policy and are educated about how to identify and report any inappropriate behavior.

Safer Places is an online resource providing guidance and training about sexual harassment in the workplace and how to implement an effective policy. The training is free to both employers and employees, and is available as an online workshop or through self-guided e-learning modules.  Training for employees and leadership is crucial to stopping workplace sexual harassment. The introduction of a policy, even a well formulated one, without adequate training sets the organization up for failure. 

Employer/Manager training

The Employers and Managers: Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment course offered by Safer Places NB will help you to develop the necessary knowledge to develop and implement an effective sexual harassment policy for your workplace.    

The next facilitated SaferPlacesNB workshops for employers and managers will be delivered via Zoom on:

November 14, 1 to 4 pm in English

Register for this FREE English online workshop:

November 17, 1 to 4 pm in French

Register for this FREE French online workshop:

This initiative is a joint project of Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) and the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission (NBHRC). It is funded by Justice Canada.

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