Ethics Helpline

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Physical harassment, also often called workplace violence, refers to a type of workplace harassment that involves physical attacks or threats.

In extreme cases, physical harassment may be classified as assault.

Physical gestures such as playful shoving can blur the line between appropriate or not, since it is the person on the receiving end who decides whether the behavior makes them uncomfortable.

In order to more clearly define that line, physical harassment should be taken very seriously in the workplace and explained thoroughly in codes of conduct and policies.


Examples of Physical Harassment

Common behaviors include:

  • Direct threats of intent to inflict harm
  • Physical attacks (hitting, shoving, kicking)
  • Threatening behavior (shaking fists angrily)
  • Destroying property to intimidate


Industries at Risk

Employees in some industries are more at higher risk of workplace violence. These include healthcare workers, police and military officers, social services employees, teachers and educators, retail staff and public transport drivers.



About the POEC

To administer and enforce the Public Officers’ Ethics Act which comprises of the code of conduct and ethics for public officers and declarations of income, assets and liabilities for designated public officers.