What we plan to cover Definition of harassment Kinds of harassment Racial Based on disability Intersecting grounds Definition of Poisoned environment Scenarios
Definition of harassment “Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”
Kinds of harassment Racial harassment (could include grounds: ancestry, citizenship, creed, colour, ethnic origin, place of origin) Harassment based on disability, family status, creed, marital status, sexual orientation Sexual harassment Harassment based on intersecting grounds
Kinds of harassment – Racial harassment Racial harassment means that someone is bothering you, threatening you or treating you unfairly because of your perceived: Race Colour Ancestry Racial origin Ethnic origin Creed Citizenship
Racial harassment Racial harassment may be based on a combination of any of the above characteristics. It may also be because of things related to them, such as if you wear clothing related to your background, speak with an accent or practice a certain religion. It is against the law for anyone to harass you, insult you, or treat you unfairly for any of these reasons.
Racial harassment The Ontario Human Rights Code protects you from racial harassment: Where you work, live or get a service Services include: places such as restaurants, stores and malls, hotels, hospitals, recreation facilities and schools The Code also protects you from harassment when you sign a contract or are a member of a union, trade or vocational association
Racial harassment Racial harassment can happen when someone where you work, live or get a service: Makes racial slurs or jokes Makes fun of you or insults you based on your racial identity Posts cartoons or pictures, in a workplace, school or housing space, that degrade persons of a particular racial group Calls you names because of your race, etc.
Racial harassment Sometimes racial harassment doesn’t even involve words or actions directly related to your race. It may just be that someone is unfairly singling you out for humiliating treatment because of your background.
What can be done? The person who is harassing you could be: A manager or co-worker Janitor, building manager or landlord Teacher or service provider Another person receiving services
What can be done? If you think you have been harassed, you can try to tel that person to stop. You might feel that saying or doing something might put you, your job or your housing at risk. If this is the case, go to someone else in authority. If it happens at work, you can speak to human resources, tel a manager or contact your union representative. If it happens in your building, you can notify your landlord. If none of these options improve your situation, or you are afraid of taking these steps, you can also file a formal human rights complaint – cal ed an application – with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
What can be done? You may need to take steps to make sure that someone in a position of authority knows you are being harassed – but you are not the one responsible for making it stop. In Ontario, employers, contractors, professional associations, unions and people who provide rental housing accommodation and other services, must make sure that racial harassment does not happen on their property, in their workplace, or in their facilities. They cannot ignore complaints of harassment and should take steps to make sure their environments are safe and comfortable for everyone.
Harassment can lead to violence Silence will not usually make racial harassment go away, and many times if nothing is done, it gets more serious. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, speak to a person in authority about it (a supervisor, the owner of the store, etc.) If harassing behaviour makes you feel in danger or leads to violence, call the police immediately
Reprisal is against the law The Code also protects you from reprisal (or punishment) You have a right to raise issues or complain about racial discrimination or harassment without facing discipline (or the threat of it) or other negative treatment This applies if you speak out about harassment or discrimination in your workplace, in your housing or in services and when making a formal complaint such as by filing an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
Poisoned environment Racial harassment can have a bad effect on, or “poison,” the places where you live, work or receive services Even if the harassment is not directed at you, it can still poison the environment for you and others It can make living and working together very hard
How do you know if the environment is poisoned? One way is to look at the effect of negative comments or actions For instance, if certain racial slurs, actions or “jokes” make you or others feel uncomfortable in the workplace or afraid to go to work, this could show that the work environment is poisoned
Harassment based on disability in employment Employment: unwelcome comments or actions at work by managers or co-workers in response to a person’s disability Comments and conduct may include: Inappropriate jokes, questions or references to people’s disabilities, medications or accommodation needs Inappropriate disclosure of people’s disabilities to other coworkers who do not need to know, or excessive demands for unnecessary medical information Unwelcome remarks, particularly about work that has to be redistributed because of an accommodation
Poisoned environment based on disability in employment Social isolation may also be a form of poisoned environment, where people are repeatedly excluded at work by managers or coworkers The process can have subtle but very negative consequences Mental Health Works, which provides training on mental health and employment issues, applies the concept of workplace “mobbing” to people with psychiatric disabilities, and describes how they may be overtly, covertly or even unintentional y ostracised and excluded over a period of time, causing their self-esteem to erode Mental Health Works described this experience as “long slow, deadly constructive dismissal”
Harassment/poisoned environment based on disability in employment Mental Health Works, “Cubicle bul ies: ’Mobbing’ at work,” online: Mental Health Works www.mentalhealthworks.ca/media/mobbing-at-work Mobbing can affect al employees, regardless of disability; “Mobbing” is “hostile and unethical communication [that] is directed in a systematic way by one or a number of persons mainly toward one individual ... These actions take place often (almost every day) and over a long period of time (at least for six months) and, because of this frequency and duration, result in considerable psychic, psychosomatic and social misery”
Harassment based on disability in services People with mental health disabilities and addictions may experience unprofessional behaviour or inequitable treatment from service providers, including comments or behaviours based on disability that could amount to harassment or a poisoned service environment This can include judgements on the part of service providers that clients with mental health issues or addictions are trying to “take advantage” of systems
Harassment based on disability in services Comments or behaviours may arise from negative or discriminatory attitudes towards people with mental health disabilities Service providers may use “common language that is discriminatory, judgmental, and derogatory, which can impact on a potential service user’s willingness to access service Service providers may not see past the label assigned to a consumer-survivor, minimizing a person’s identity outside of the il ness
Poisoned environment based on disability in housing Saying bad things about other tenants or doing things that make them unhappy because they have a mental health disability or don't lead a “normal” life can create a "poisoned environment" — a place or situation where some people are made to feel unwanted or insulted.
Scenario A client makes insulting racial comments “under her breath” to the receptionist of a mental health agency every time the client accesses services at the agency.
Scenario A woman who has schizophrenia lives in an apartment building on her own. The landlord says "she needs me to keep watch on her." He checks up on her frequently to see if she’s okay. When she tells him that she doesn’t need him to check up on her, he gets angry, but goes away. Later, he turns off the light as she goes down the stairs and over time, he often bangs on her ceiling from upstairs.
Scenario In a work place an employee who identified as Trans was told not to tell anyone because everyone would think that she’s “crazy”. In the lunch room, there was a newspaper article about an upcoming Trans parade. Many employees made negative comments about the event.