Nobody should be afraid to go to work and do their job, and employers are required by law to provide a safe work environment for their employees.
If you are constantly being ridiculed, demeaned, or otherwise harassed in the workplace, speak with a Toronto employment lawyer right away. They can advise you of your rights and help you navigate a complicated situation.
While they are similar, bullying in the workplace is not the same as workplace sexual harassment or violence and may be harder to distinguish as it can be both obvious and subtle.
Examples of Workplace Bullying
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Saftey has outlined a few examples of what may be considered bullying:
- Spreading rumours, gossip or innuendo.
- Socially excluding or isolating someone.
- Undermining or obstructing a person’s ability to work.
- Threatening abuse and physical abuse.
- Taking away responsibilities without cause.
- Constantly changing work guidelines.
- Setting impossible deadlines.
- Withholding pertinent information or purposefully giving incorrect information.
- Making jokes or sending them by email that a reasonable person would find offensive.
- Not respecting a person’s privacy by pestering, spying or stalking.
- Assigning unreasonable duties or workload.
- Yelling and/or cursing at someone.
- Constantly criticizing someone.
- Demeaning a person’s opinions.
- Unwarranted or undeserved punishment.
- Blocking applications for promotion, training or leave.
- Tampering with someone’s work equipment or personal belongings.
Please keep in mind that these are just examples and are not the law, nor is this an exhaustive list. In general, if a “reasonable person” would not find an action, statement or behaviour acceptable, it may be considered bullying.
Also remember that workplace bullying is usually considered a pattern of behaviour as opposed to sexual harassment or violence, which can be established with a single occurrence.
What to do About Workplace Bullying
Documentation is vital when it comes to issues in the workplace. Keep records of any and all communications sent to you by a bully and take detailed notes of all confrontations as soon afterward as possible.
You should firmly tell this person that their behaviour is unacceptable. You can ask someone at work that you trust to accompany you if you don’t feel comfortable doing so by yourself.
Your workplace should have a process for registering a complaint of harassment or bullying. Include in your notes what happened after you reported the harassment and escalate your complaint if no action is taken.
What Are Your Legal Rights if You are Being Bullied in the Workplace?
If you are being bullied in the workplace, you may be able to make a claim for constructive dismissal or discrimination.
If the harassment at work is too much for you to handle and HR and/or management are doing nothing to stop it, you may have no other choice but to leave the employment. Before you do so, however, you must speak to an employment lawyer first.
A lawyer will tell you if you have a legitimate case and how best to handle you leaving the workplace. In a successful constructive dismissal claim, you would receive compensation as if you had been terminated without cause or notice.
Discrimination is much more serious, and the consequences for an employer who either discriminated against an employee or allowed discrimination to continue in the workplace can be financially severe.
If you experience discrimination based on the following grounds:
- Ancestry, colour, race
- Ethnic origin
- Marital status
- Gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation.
- Record of offences (in employment only)
Or any other prohibited ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code, speak to an employment lawyer right away to help you fight back and get you the damages you deserve.
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