Office parties are a good way to celebrate the holiday season with your coworkers. But even though fun is in the air, some behaviours are not allowed.
The festive atmosphere is no excuse.
The office party is still a workplace even if it takes place after working hours or outside the office. But the relaxed atmosphere or the presence of alcohol can lead to behaviour that amounts to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment doesn’t always mean touching. It can be words, gestures or behaviour of a sexual nature, such as unwanted comments or physical closeness.
All these things are considered sexual harassment and are not allowed in the workplace, even at office parties.
The employer’s responsibilities
Employers must not tolerate this inappropriate behaviour. They must take steps to prevent it and put a stop to it if it happens. For example, an employer can ask what happened during the party and discipline the harasser.
If you think you’re a victim . . .
Check whether your workplace has a sexual harassment policy. If you belong to a union, you can also speak to your union representative.
You have remedies against the harasser and even against your employer. Learn more about your options by contacting these organizations:
- The Canadian human rights commission
- The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Québec’s human rights commission)
- The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) (French only)