Harassment Policies and Prevention

Workplace harassment remains a prevalent issue, affecting many employees across various industries. Employers must take proactive measures to address and prevent harassment in the workplace. 


If you’ve been subjected to any form of harassment at your workplace, you should seek assistance promptly. 

A Toronto employment lawyer can provide the necessary legal guidance and support to address your concerns effectively.

Workplace Harassment Policies 

Below are 5 key policies that focus on workplace harassment:

Zero Tolerance Policy

This policy unequivocally states that any form of harassment should not be tolerated in the workplace, including:

  • Verbal
  • Physical, or 
  • Online bullying. 

The zero-tolerance policy outlines clear consequences for violators, which may include disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Reporting Procedures

A comprehensive policy should include clear and accessible reporting procedures for employees who experience or witness harassment. This may involve designating specific individuals or departments to receive reports, ensuring confidentiality, and outlining the steps taken once a report is filed.

Investigation Protocol

A workplace harassment policy should detail the process for investigating complaints thoroughly and impartially. This may include assigning trained investigators, conducting interviews with relevant parties, and gathering evidence to determine the validity of the complaint.

Support Resources

To support employees who experience harassment, policies should include information about available resources such as counseling services, employee assistance programs, or external support organizations.

Training and Education

Regular training sessions for employees and management are essential to raise awareness about harassment, its impact, and how to prevent it. This policy should outline the frequency and content of training sessions, ensuring that all staff members understand their rights and responsibilities in maintaining a harassment-free workplace.

Common Forms of Harassment in Workplaces

The common forms of harassment in the workplace include:

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment includes derogatory remarks, insults, or offensive language directed at an employee (s), and it creates a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Physical Harassment

This involves any form of physical contact that is unwelcome and creates discomfort or harm, such as hitting, pushing, or inappropriate touching.


With the rise of technology, harassment can extend into the digital realm through emails, social media, or other online platforms, including spreading rumors or sharing inappropriate content.

Discriminatory Harassment

Targeting employees based on their race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics, leads to unfair treatment or exclusion in the workplace.

Retaliatory Harassment

Punishing or intimidating employees for reporting harassment or participating in an investigation creates a chilling effect that discourages others from speaking up.

Psychological Harassment

Psychological harassment typically involves manipulating, threatening, or intimidating others. This behaviour emotionally distresses and undermines the victim’s mental well-being.


When a group of individuals targets and harasses a coworker, often through exclusion, gossip, or other forms of social manipulation, leading to isolation and psychological harm.


Persistent and unwanted attention or surveillance of an individual, both in and outside of the workplace, causes fear and distress.


Subtle, often unintentional, verbal or nonverbal slights, snubs, or insults that convey derogatory messages or assumptions about an individual’s identity, background, or abilities, contributing to a hostile work environment.

Effective Strategies for Preventing Workplace Harassment

Here are several strategies for preventing workplace harassment:

Education and Training

Providing comprehensive training programs for employees and managers to raise awareness about harassment, its forms, and the company’s policies for reporting and addressing incidents effectively.

Promoting a Culture of Respect

Fostering a workplace culture that values diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect, where harassment is not tolerated and all employees feel empowered to speak up against inappropriate behaviour.

Establishing Clear Policies and Procedures

Establishing and communicating clear policies and procedures for reporting and investigating harassment complaints, ensuring transparency and accountability in the process.

Encouraging Open Communication

Creating channels for open communication where employees feel comfortable discussing concerns or reporting incidents of harassment without fear of retaliation, such as anonymous hotlines or regular feedback sessions.

Leading by Example

Leadership plays a crucial role in setting the tone for the workplace culture. Managers and supervisors should lead by example, demonstrating respectful behavior and promptly addressing any instances of harassment that occur under their supervision.

Regular Reviews and Updates

Conduct regular reviews of harassment prevention policies and procedures to ensure they remain effective and relevant in addressing evolving workplace dynamics and legal requirements. Updating policies as needed based on feedback, changes in legislation, or emerging best practices can help maintain a proactive approach to preventing harassment in the workplace.


Workplace harassment can negatively impact the victims’ mental health, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. Employers must implement robust policies and training programs to prevent and address harassment effectively in the workplace.