Just about anyone can be subjected to harassment and violence at work. But equality-seeking groups including women, workers of colour, Aboriginal workers, workers with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers are far more likely to experience harassment and violence because of the discrimination they face in society.

Harassment is usually based on discrimination. Examples include the sexual harassment of women, racial harassment, and harassment based on disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. CUPE members can experience harassment from management, a co-worker, or a client or user of the services they provide.

CUPE locals have shown a lot of ingenuity in bargaining to combat workplace harassment and violence. That creativity is reflected in many of their collective agreements. For example, locals have bargained language that prohibits harassment and violence in its many forms and language that refers to health and safety legislation.

Many CUPE agreements provide detailed definitions of harassment and violence and step-by-step procedures for resolving grievances and disputes. There are prohibitions against harassment on the basis of union membership and activity, and prohibitions against working alone. There is language that calls for the investigation of violent incidents, support and counselling for victims, the establishment of Employee Assistance Programs, and the establishment of health and safety committees.