I experienced sexual harassment
Victim of sexual harassment in the workplace
Stéphanie’s boss often calls her into his office to talk to her about his personal life. At a work event, he tells her that he finds her pretty. Another time, when he asks her to accompany him to his car to give her some documents, he takes the opportunity to tell her that he loves her, he would like to "have" her and asks her to give him "a little kiss". These behaviours disturb and scare Stéphanie, who eventually resigns.
An employer can be held responsible by their staff or by third parties (clients, suppliers or others) for acts committed in a work context. The employer must therefore act quickly to address the problem.
Victim of sexual harassment at school
Jasmine started her Ph.D. with a well-known female professor whom she greatly admires. The professor always praises her work and often invites Jasmine to her office to talk about it. One day the professor touches Jasmine’s buttocks while suggesting they continue their conversation at the professor’s home. Jasmine refuses. From that point on, the professor is very cold and routinely disparages Jasmine’s work. She blocks Jasmine from applying for a scholarship by refusing to provide her with a letter. Discouraged, Jasmine decides to give up on her doctorate.
Many student victims don’t file complaints out of fear of retaliation by faculty members. Retaliation may take the form of poor grades, unwarranted criticism or hindering access to scholarships, for example.
Victim of sexual harassment in housing
Three months after arriving in Québec with her daughter, Joy found an apartment, but she is still looking for work. The janitor in her building seems to take a liking to her. He helps to carry her groceries or her daughter’s stroller upstairs and also does small house repairs. At first, she was happy to rely on his help, but then he started making sexual advances. As he has the key to her place, he started coming into her home whenever he wanted and without prior notice. Joy no longer feels safe at home, but she doesn’t have the resources to move.
Sexual harassment particularly affects women facing other forms of discrimination: immigrant women, older women, racialized women, women with disabilities, indigeneous women or lesbians.
Victim of sexual harassment in a public place
Lea sees the same man every time she leaves the yoga studio. He sits on a sidewalk bench and stares at her chest when she passes him. One day she realizes he is following her. He whistles to get her attention, says she is pretty and makes crude remarks about her physical appearance. The next time, he also suggests she come to his house. Lea feels demeaned and decides to switch to another yoga studio so she won’t cross paths with him anymore.
Whether it happens on the street, in parks, at a pool or a bus stop, there’s very little research that has been done on sexual harassment in public places. However, a 2017 poll conducted by the Centre d’éducation et d’action des femmes de Montréal (Montreal Women's Education and Action Centre) reveals that 90% of the 240 women surveyed said their right to walk outdoors without being harassed is not respected.
Victim of online sexual harassment
A girl in Peter’s class sends him private messages on Facebook. The girl makes jokes, teases Peter and asks questions about his private and sex life. After a few days, Peter responds by telling him to stop. The girl posts Peter’s response on his Facebook wall and ridicules him in public. Peter isolates himself from his classmates because no one stood up for him.
Online harassment is an increasing occurrence among young people. Communication tools such as e-mail, social media and text messages are extending the boundaries of sexual harassment. It is very important not to erase incoming messages that show sexual harassment so that the victim has proof if they complain.
Victim of sexist harassment
Sara works on a construction site as one of 50 employees, an almost all-male environment. Right from her first day on the job, the foreman managing the site told her she was too pretty to be doing this type of work. The following week, he made it clear that construction sites were for "real men". She told herself that this was just the beginning and that over time, her supervisor would appreciate her work for what it was worth. However, at the end of the third week the foreman told her point-blank that women had no place on a construction site and she should leave her job.
Gender-based harassment is not sexual harassment.
The construction industry is the place where women are most likely to encounter sexism. In Québec, the sector counted 2,174 female workers in 2012. Women working on construction sites are still quite rare, representing only 1.3% of the workforce. Almost twice as many women as men leave the industry: almost 60% of them give up after 5 years because of the barriers they face. (Source : CCQ (French only))
What is harassment?
Harassment means treating someone in a way that harms their dignity or their psychological or physical health.
Harassment is considered discriminatory if it is based on the personal characteristics of the person who is experiencing it (for example, age, origin, sex).
What can you do in cases of harassment?
Do you think you have had repeated insulting behaviour directed at you because of your personal characteristics?
The Commission can help you recognize discriminatory harassment and take action to prevent or put an end to it.