Sexual harassment




The « Help and Information Centre » defines sexual harassment as :


« Sexual harassment is a sexually oriented attention experienced in the workplace that creates discomfort or threatens one’s well-being or functioning.


It can range from leering, patting, touching, verbal comments, jokes, the display of pornographic material as well as any form of sexual violence. The harasser may be your employer, employee, supervisor, co-worker, client or customer.


Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, an abuse of power and constitutes violence against workers ».


Although sexual harassment is not explicitly defined in the Labour Standards Act, it is known that the definition of psychological harassment under section 81.18 of the law includes sexual harassment.


An Act Respecting Labour Standards, CQLR, c N-1.1, s 81.



Examples of gestures of sexual harassment :


Non-verbal sexual harassment

  • Exposure of degrading or pornographic material

  • Glances/stares that create discomfort

  • Whistling

  • Licking one's lips


Verbal sexual harassment

  • Sexist or degrading jokes

  • Comments on a person’s physical appearance

  • Small « affectionate » nicknames

  • Questions regarding an individual’s personnal life


Physical sexual harassment

  • Rubbing against a person

  • Physical contact of any kind (from friendly pats to forced contact)

  • Sexual agression


What is not sexual harassment at work: friendly flirting and jokes and actions that are consensual.



Strategies to adopt when you think you are being sexually harassed at work :


  • Show your non-consent to the presumed harasser;

  • Speak about it to your colleagues or to a trustworthy person;

  • Write a journal of events (places, dates, times, facts and gestures, witnesses);

  • Contact a support group.


Notice: This page is only informational; its contents should not in any way be interpreted or considered as a full analysis of the law nor an opinion or a legal opinion of the author towards any specific case, or of one or several points of law mentioned above. Contact the appropriate authorities to get more information and to inquire about your eligibility and conditions that may apply.

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