The behaviour makes me uncomfortable, but is it harassment?

In order to take appropriate steps, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the following notions.

Dr Handson’s been making me uncomfortable with weird looks and comments since I began my rotation. The first week, he told me he liked it when I wore tight-fitting clothes. Last week, he asked me to be available around 5 pm to meet a patient. Just before 5 pm, he came up to me and said, “We don’t need to meet the patient after all. Since you’re free, let’s go and have a drink together.” Then he lightly touched my buttocks with his hand. I pushed him away immediately, and told him I wasn’t interested. “You don’t know what you’re missing,” he replied. Then he went on: “Do you know Sabrina, the porn star? She really turns me on. You remind me so much of her!” Each week, he makes comments I’m uncomfortable with. Every time, I tell him to stop, but he keeps on doing it. Now I’m afraid to go to work and I’m having trouble sleeping. 

Sexual harassment, a form of psychological harassment

This scenario clearly shows that Dr Handson’s behaviour is vexatious and repetitive. In fact, the resident doctor has been the subject of her staff physician’s advances since her rotation began, despite her making it clear to him on several occasions that she wasn’t interested. Also, this harmful work environment has an impact on her health.

University policies against sexual violence

In addition to policies against psychological harassment, the universities have more recently adopted policies setting out the rules and procedures concerning analysis of complaints of a sexual nature (LavalMcGillMontrealSherbrooke). These policies prohibit anyone in a position of authority from having an intimate relationship (sentimental or purely sexual) with a person under their responsibility, such as a student or resident doctor.

If, however, such a relationship were to exist, it would have to be disclosed to the competent university authorities, which would have to put in place the necessary accommodations, notably to prevent any bias in the supervision or evaluation of the individual concerned.

In light of what you’ve just read, do you feel you’re the victim of sexual harassment, a form of psychological harassment?



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