Racial harassment occurs when a person or group repeatedly uses discriminatory remarks, behaviours or practices to show racial intolerance against a co-worker or their colour, descent, culture, language or religion.
Warning! When joining a professional association or union, or when signing a contract, keep a watchful eye on discriminatory measures.
FOR THE VICTIM
The victim of racial harassment feels hurt, outraged and humiliated. He or she feels rejected, unable to function properly, be self-achieving and move forward because of invisible barriers raised against the victim at work.
FOR WITNESSES INSIDE THE ORGANIZATION
Racial harassment can deteriorate the work environment. The victim's colleagues may feel uneasy, tend to lose interest in their work, and do not seem as stimulated about going to work. When caused by a group of aggressors whose main goal is to make life unbearable for their victim, racial harassment may even lead to physical violence, hate and confrontation.
FOR THE ORGANIZATION
An organization faced with racial harassment may have to evaluate and review the corporate values that define its very identity. The company may have to examine its policies and procedures, especially for recruitment, contracts and promotions. It may suffer losses in human resources (dismissals, resignations, medical leaves), productivity and revenue. Corporations or organizations that are partially responsible for such situations may also be subject to lawsuits, and their image and credibility may become tarnished.
Because it undermines a person’s dignity and integrity through discrimination, racial harassment contravenes Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms and the charters of provinces protected by the law.
Here is an example taken from the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (R.S.Q., c. C-12).
10. Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.
Discrimination exists where such a distinction, exclusion or preference has the effect of nullifying or impairing such right.
10.1. No one may harass a person on the basis of any ground mentioned in section 10.
In more extreme cases, racial harassment may lead to lawsuits under the Criminal Code of Canada.
A conviction under the law or the Criminal Code can affect a person’s right to practice a trade or profession.