Executive Summary

But was it really harassment?

This is a question to be determined objectively rather than, as many believe, based on the feelings of the alleged victim. Many false allegations of harassment in the workplace are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the core components of harassment – the main one being intent. A finding of harassment hinges on establishing the harasser intended to cause offence. Simply being offended is not enough. The perpetrator must have “known or ought reasonably to have known” that their conduct was unwelcome, unless the conduct was so clearly offensive that establishing intent is not necessary.

Unfortunately, allegations of harassment have become increasingly common. They are now a weapon in the arsenal of those partaking in office politics. This inevitably waters down the complaints of those who have suffered true harassment in the eyes of the law. It is the responsibility of both employees and employers to curb unwarranted allegations to maintain the validity of more serious complaints.

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