Sexual Harassment Federal Law

Regarding sexual harassment, federal law is found in the Canada Labour Code (CLC). If you allege that you have, or are experiencing sexual harassment at work, and the company that you work for in Canada falls under federal jurisdiction, then that sexual harassment is covered under Division XV.1 of Part III (Labour Standards) of the Canada Labour Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. L-2).

Although all provincial and territorial jurisdictions have passed legislation regarding sexual harassment and sex discrimination, they are covered under Human Rights legislation and not under the individual labour codes or acts.

Sexual Harassment Federal Law Definition

In federal jurisdictions, sexual harassment is defined as:

"any conduct, comment, gesture or contact of a sexual nature that:
(a) is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee; or
(b) might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that employee as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion". {R.S., 1985, c. 9 (1st Supp.), s. 17.}

In addition:

The Canada Labour Code (CLC) also protects the rights of employees by stipulating that "every employee is entitled to employment free of sexual harassment" {R.S., 1985, c. 9 (1st Supp.), s. 17}.

The CLC also requires every employer to make every reasonable effort to ensure that no employee is subjected to sexual harassment {Employers Responsibility, R.S., 1985, c. 9 (1st Supp.), s. 17}.

Every employer must also issue a policy statement concerning sexual harassment, listing the following:

  • CLC's definition of sexual harassment;
  • All employees are entitled to employment free of sexual harassment;
  • The employer will make every reasonable effort to ensure that employees are not subjected to sexual harassment;
  • The employer will take such disciplinary measures as the employer deems appropriate against any person under the employer's direction who subjects any employee to sexual harassment;
  • Steps on how to file complaints of sexual harassment with the employer.
  • Confidentiality, in that the employer will not disclose the name of a complainant or the circumstances related to the sexual harassment, except when required in the investigation, or in carrying out disciplinary measures.
  • Also, the employer must inform employees of the discriminatory practices provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act that pertains to their right to seek redress under the Human Rights Act in respect of sexual harassment.
  • The employer is also required to make all employees aware of the company's sexual harassment policy statement.

Who is covered under the CLC?

All employees (part-time and casual workers included) who are employed in the following industries and companies:

  • airlines and related infrastructure operations
  • banks
  • railways
  • highway transport (trucking)
  • pipelines
  • shipping
  • preservation of fisheries
  • telecommunications
  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • ferries, tunnels, and bridges
  • most grain elevators
  • some grain related operations
  • uranium mining operations
  • undertakings such as Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, and
  • Federal Crown corporations, e.g. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporations, and Canada Post Corporation.