Reporting of Sexual Harassment

Many victims of workplace sexual harassment choose not to report their concerns to management, Human Resources, their union, or an external agency. There are many reasons for this under-reporting.

Some people are worried about how reporting their experience of sexual harassment could affect their career, their work relationships, and how they are regarded by co-workers. Because of traditional gender roles, women especially are conditioned not to “rock the boat.”

In some industries and workplaces, victims of sexual harassment may feel like they have no right to complain because sexual harassment is regarded as a part of the job. This includes environments such as bars and restaurants where wait staff are sometimes expected to put up with sexual harassment from customers. This attitude is particularly common in some workplaces in the service industry where women are expected to wear sexualized clothing such as short skirts and form-fitting uniforms.

Sexual harassment is never acceptable in any work environment. It does not matter if you work in an environment where harassment has become normalized. It does not matter if the harassment comes from a co-worker or a customer. You have a right to work in an environment where you are treated with respect and dignity. You do not have to put up with sexual comments and behaviours, and management should have a clear policy and process in place for responding to complaints of sexual harassment by staff, customers, and clients.

Some victims of workplace sexual harassment choose not to report because they have legitimate concerns about their psychological or physical safety. For example, a victim may have to work in close quarters with their harasser and may fear that the behaviour will worsen or escalate to violence if they come forward with their concerns.

If you have immediate concerns about your physical safety and you do not have faith in your employer to take timely and appropriate steps to protect you from someone who could become violent, you may wish to contact the police. Your safety is essential.