Sexual and Workplace Harassment

For purposes of this policy, sexual and workplace harassment is defined as offensive, degrading, inappropriate, threatening, and potentially illegal behaviour. It is a violation of the Alberta Human Rights Act and a hazard within the Occupational Health and Safety Code. It is also not behaviour in keeping with the Alberta Public Service Values.

The Government of Alberta and its’ Deputy Ministers will not tolerate any form of harassment in the workplace.

This directive is for employees working in the Alberta Public Service and it describes inappropriate behaviors’ between co-workers; peer to peer, supervisor to subordinate or subordinate to supervisor. Situations that may arise involving our clients or members of the public are covered in the directive related to Occupational Health and Safety.


The Supreme Court of Canada defines sexual harassment as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences for the victims of harassment." (Refer to Janzen v. Platy Enterprises Ltd. (1989) 1 S.R.C. 1252)

Workplace harassment is unwelcome conduct based on race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, marital status, age, ancestry, place of origin or sexual orientation. It also includes unwelcome conduct including threats of and/or acts of physical violence.

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Maintaining a Harassment-Free Workplace

Employees may experience harassment in any situation involving the employment relationship, whether at or away from the worksite. The harasser should reasonably have known that the behaviour would be unwelcome or unacceptable to the recipient.

Deputy Ministers must maintain a work environment free from workplace and sexual harassment, and workplace violence by:

  • ensuring managers and employees are aware of these policies and their responsibilities;

  • ensuring that any incidents of threatened or actual physical violence are dealt with immediately;

  • ensuring that all managers promptly resolve harassment complaints referred to them, including telling employees their options in a harassment situation;

  • ensuring that complaints are handled confidentially;

  • ensuring an employee exposed to violence is directed to a health professional of their choice for treatment if required;

  • appointing a person to receive and immediately investigate formal harassment complaints and identifying the person to employees and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees;

  • ensuring that disciplinary action is taken if investigative findings warrant such action;

  • taking steps to prevent the recurrence of harassment;

  • taking steps to protect an employee, who makes a harassment complaint in good faith, from retaliation.

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Related Information

For answers to many of the questions usually asked about this topic, refer to the Corporate Human Resources’ information booklet, Maintaining a Harassment-Free Workplace.

Violence information related to dealings with the public and government clients please refer to Workplace Health Directive Occupational Health and Safety.

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About this Directive

Authority:   Alberta Human Rights Act
Occupational Health and Safety Code
Master Agreement, Article 29.01(c)
Application:   Organizations Under the Public Service Act
Effective Date:   March 1, 2008
Contact:   Labour Relations

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