Part 3

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For a harassment-free workplace

We’re all responsible for preventing harassment in our work environment. However, are we required to report it?

Certain risk factors may be conducive to harassment. How can we prevent harassment?

In this third section, you will learn to:

  • Define employers’ and workers’ obligations

  • Explain the concept of consent

  • Identify risk factors

This section takes about 15 minutes.

Employers’ responsibilities

Employers have a responsibility to create a harassment-free environment for all types of workers they employ.

For example, to prevent harassment, they can:

  • Inform workers of their commitment to harassment prevention and encourage them to maintain a healthy work environment

  • Explain harassment prevention and intervention measures

  • Pay attention to any signs

  • Defuse any problem situations at the first signs of inappropriate behaviour

Harassment prevention policy

Since January 1, 2019, all employers, regardless of the sector, are required to implement a harassment prevention and complaint processing policy. This must include a specific section on unwanted conduct, words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature.

Employers must also put an end to any harassment brought to their attention.

Employers aren’t the only ones in the equation.

The cultural sector employs more than 150 000 workers in Quebec: permanent and contractual employees, self-employed workers, employees of subcontractors (security, catering, etc.), volunteers, trainees, students, etc.

Workers’ responsibilities

Workers are required to adopt professional conduct. What does this mean?

  • Perform the work for which they were hired

  • Carry out the tasks and responsibilities assigned to them

  • Comply with their employers’ policies

  • Comply with norms of civility and respect in their work environment.

In short, workers are required to help create and maintain a harassment-free workplace.

The cultural sector has many self-employed workers.

Self-employed workers are not covered by the Act respecting labour standards. However, this does not mean that nothing can be done if harassment occurs.

Depending on the situation, various recourses may be available:

  • Employer’s or broadcaster’s policy

  • Union

  • Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (in cases of sexual or discriminatory harassment)

  • CNESST, division santé et sécurité au travail

  • Civil remedies

  • Police

Every situation is unique. Ask your employer, board of directors or union.


Consent is the act of agreeing to an action or a project.

In the cultural sector, we may be persuaded to consent to behaviours which, under other circumstances or in other workplaces, could constitute harassment.

Asking for consent is extremely important!

Some notes on consent

Saying yes once doesn’t mean yes forever.

We have the right to change our minds.

Not saying no doesn’t mean we agree.

Inappropriate behaviour doesn’t become more acceptable because consent has been given.

Also, we’re used to thinking that consent only applies to physical contact. However, we must ask for consent for any gesture or behaviour that is different from established norms or that could make someone feel uncomfortable.

Look for signs!

Some conditions may be conducive to harassment. They may be related to the work environment or relationships.

For example :

  • A stressful work environment

  • Tight deadlines

  • A competitive environment

  • Inconsistent demands

  • Conflict among colleagues

  • Abuse of authority

  • A lack of recognition

  • New colleagues who have difficulty integrating

  • Rumours and gossip

  • A worker’s personal problems

  • A high level of tolerance of incivility

The presence of risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean that harassment will occur. It simply means that the conditions are conducive to harassment.

What should you do if you witness or are involved in a risky situation?

Defuse the situations over which you have control. By ignoring risky situations, things often get worse.

  • Initiate dialogue, even if it’s delicate.

  • Stick to the facts: description of gestures, circumstances, comments.

  • Express your own feelings; don’t blame the other person.

  • Ask questions to find out the other person’s intention.

  • Listen to and respect the other person’s feelings.

  • Set boundaries while remaining polite.

Quick question

Do we have a legal obligation to report harassment if we witness it?

If you witness harassment, tell your immediate supervisor.

If they’re involved, talk to their superior, the human resources manager, your union or board of directors, depending on your situation.

“But is it harassment?”

It’s not always easy to determine whether or not it’s harassment. If in doubt, talk about it!
To prevent harassment, it’s important to take action as soon as you identify a risky situation.


Are you an employer?

Implement a prevention policy
(it’s the law!)

Inform your teams about the importance of preventing harassment.

Quickly deal with any harassment situation reported to you.

Are you a worker?

Ask for consent when necessary.

Remain respectful and professional under all circumstances.

Look for signs in your environment.

Defuse problem situations as soon as they occur.


(that’s the key!)

Everyone must help prevent and eliminate harassment in the cultural sector.

We’re all responsible for stopping harassment.

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