Workplace Harassment and Bullying
Legislation and workplace harassment laws, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that all employers have anti-harassment and anti-violence policies in the workplace to protect employees. Despite these measures, workplace harassment, such as workplace sexual harassment still occur.
Unfortunately, however, workplace bullying and harassment are sometimes a matter of perception. Your supervisors and co-workers are allowed to be demanding, tactless and difficult to get along with, and unpleasantness is not necessarily illegal. To result in damages, behaviour has to be extreme or calculated to cause harm or intimidate. It's more than just unpleasantness.
The threshold can be high when pursuing damages in court. The first step is almost always to go through your workplace's internal procedures to deal with the behaviour.
It's Not Always in the Eye of the Beholder
At Vey Willetts LLP, our lawyers will ask you details about your situation at work, including times and places and individual examples of harassment and bullying. We will help you determine what to do about your situation.
Some things we'll discuss:
- Your boss is entitled to try to get a better performance from his or her employees through criticism or disciplinary measures. But if the criticism or measures are so extreme that they are designed to humiliate you, or make you want to quit, they're no longer productive. Insulting language, unreasonable anger, swearing, raised voices — especially in front of fellow co-workers or customers — can all be detrimental and unacceptable.
- If you are being bullied or harassed by a co-worker, your boss has a duty to step in. However, your boss can argue that you went along with the bullying, or that the workplace is such that behaviour like that is part of the environment.
- Threatening to fire employees when it's not justified is also part of bullying and harassment.
- Human rights codes define and prohibit harassment based on a personal characteristic such as gender, race, age or religious beliefs.
- The law protects you against punishment from your employer if you complain about bullying or harassment.
- The Supreme Court states that employers have a duty to treat their employees with dignity and respect at all times, but especially when they are fired. Failure to do so, especially if the treatment you received causes extreme distress or lessens your chances of getting another job, may give you grounds for damages.
If you are thinking of quitting due to bullying, talk to us first. We'll let you know what you should do to protect your future.
Employment and Labour Laws are not always straightforward, but whether you are an employee or an employer, understanding your rights and duties will only stand to benefit you. Reach out to an employment lawyer or labour lawyer today if you have any questions and be sure to get what you deserve and safeguard yourself for the future. The lawyers at Vey Willetts LLP have a proven track record and are happy to assist.
Our employment lawyers and labour lawyers serve clients throughout Ontario.
Call us today at 1-800-296-7989 or fill out our online form.
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