Commonly referred to as stalking, criminal harassment is defined as repeatedly following a person, or repeatedly communicating with a person, in a way that could have that person fearing for his or her security or someone else’s. Offences commonly associated with criminal harassment include uttering threats, threatening or harassing phone calls, common assault and mischief (Statistics Canada).
Criminal harassment is a direct attempt at a person’s dignity and security, including physical and psychological integrity.
ON THE VICTIM
A victim of criminal harassment at work may live in constant fear and lose all sense of reality. The victim may suffer from depression and carry deep emotional scars: fear, alienation, confusion, vulnerability, despair, mental anguish, anger, indifference, loss of control, insecurity, mistrust and low self-esteem.
ON WITNESSES INSIDE THE ORGANIZATION
Employees who become involuntary witnesses of criminal harassment, alike the victim, may live in fear. In extreme cases, they can suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, lose enthusiasm in their work and suffer from low self-esteem.
On the other hand, depending on how much they knew the victim and how much they could have intervene, some witnesses could be prosecuted for failing to assist a person in danger or for criminal conspiracy or incitement.
ON THE ORGANIZATION
Criminal harassment can easily deteriorate into violence and put an organization and its employees in danger. It is important to be able to identify repeated attempts of control and intimidation in the workplace and to intervene accordingly.
Criminal harassment is an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years according to section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada.:
A conviction according to the Law or under the Criminal Code can affect a person’s right to practice a trade or profession.