Workplace Bullying Laws in Canada

Labour laws in Canada have evolved throughout the 21st century to protect workers from toxic work environments. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, everyone has the right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, marital status and criminal offences. In addition, many studies recognize that there is a “fine line” between strong management and bullying. Comments that are objective and intended to provide constructive feedback are generally not considered bullying, but are intended to support the employee in their work. Workplace bullying involves verbal comments that could psychologically hurt or isolate someone at work and may even involve physical contact, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Canada`s Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution defines harassment as inappropriate behaviour directed at another person and offended in the workplace, including at any work-related event or location. While there is no legislation specifically addressing bullying, the general mandatory clause to provide a safe and healthy workplace establishes the obligation of employers to protect workers from workplace hazards. These risks can include damage caused by aspects of physical and mental health. Bullying affects the overall “health” of an organization.

An “unhealthy” workplace can have many effects. In general, these effects include: It is important for employers, their human resources managers and managers to understand the laws that affect them. It is equally important to take steps to create and maintain a safe and respectful workplace, free from harassment of any kind. While Ontario does not have specific laws against bullying in the workplace, there are already laws on workplace violence and harassment. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) address this issue from unique perspectives. An employee may also attempt to resolve an incident of harassment or workplace complaint outside of the employer`s internal investigation process. If an employer does not meet the requirements of the OHSA, workers are encouraged to call the ministry`s Provincial Health and Safety Centre at 1-877-202-0008 to file a complaint. Human resources professionals and employers must enforce these laws when misconduct occurs in the workplace, even if it is initiated by high-level employees, said Janet Candido, founder and principal of Candido Consulting Group in Toronto. Training on harassment in the modern workplace can be challenging. EVERFI features small content designed to set the stage for your employees to discuss a positive company culture. Many jurisdictions have defined bullying separately or included it in the definition of conduct related to harassment or violence. For example, Prince Edward Island has defined harassment in its Workplace Harassment Regulations as follows: If employees are victims of threats or actual violence in the workplace, they should contact the police.

Other incidents and complaints should be resolved internally by bringing the issues to the attention of the supervisor or employer or the person identified in the workplace harassment program. Yes, bullying is a problem in the workplace. In Canada, health and safety legislation includes the concept of due diligence. Due diligence means that employers take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to avoid injuries or incidents in the workplace. Everyone should be able to work in a safe and healthy workplace. Your provincial or territorial legislation outlines the roles and responsibilities of workplace parties with respect to workplace harassment and violence, including the development and implementation of policies and programs. Definitions of harassment and violence often formally imply bullying, but may be implicit if not. Unlike in the United States, workplace bullying — harassment in the workplace that is not based on gender or any other ground of discrimination — is illegal in many parts of Canada. Harassment in the workplace can have several negative effects, including lost productivity, low engagement, conflict, absenteeism, turnover, and legal risks. These negative effects can be extremely costly for any employer. To ensure a fair investigation in the workplace, Pau and McFarlane advised HR to use the following practices: Payette`s resignation “should serve as a strong reminder to employers that harassment in the workplace is illegal and that failure to properly respond to and remove harassment can have serious consequences,” Lior Samfiru, a lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin in Toronto, said in a statement.

Employees should also be reminded that they have options instead of being continuously harassed by a colleague or manager. “While the #MeToo movement has focused specifically on sexual harassment, harassment of any form can have significant negative effects in the workplace. Additional resources are available in British Columbia, WorkSafeBC has developed policies and resources specifically related to bullying and harassment in the workplace. The Department of Finance Canada has published “People to People Communication – Preventing and Resolving Harassment for a Healthy Workplace.” This list is included to show some of the ways bullying can happen in the workplace. Also, keep in mind that bullying is generally considered a pattern of behavior where one or more incidents help show that bullying is happening, but it can be an incident, especially one that has a lasting effect. “Toxic levels are reached in the workplace when one or more employees feel intimidated or afraid of another employee,” she added. “This can be exacerbated by a power imbalance. but can also be seen among peers.

It is toxic if the behavior interferes with or hinders the daily work environment and lasts for a period of time. Various industries and workplaces fall under federal, provincial or territorial legislation, so there is no uniform legal definition of “sexual harassment” for all employers and employees in Canada. However, the generally used definition is: “Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex”, which includes “undesirable behaviour of a sexual nature that negatively affects the workplace or results in negative work-related consequences” for the person concerned. (Janzen v. Platy Enterprises.) Each Canadian province has different laws on bullying and harassment in the workplace. Baizley advised HR professionals to ensure their workplace anti-harassment and bullying policies are up-to-date, compliant with the law and reflect the tone of an organization. The guidelines should include examples of workplace misconduct and inform the employer of the grievance process and subsequent investigation, she added. Workplace bullying is generally recognized as physical actions or verbal remarks that “mentally” hurt or isolate an employee. This behavior is often repeated and is intended to humiliate, intimidate, humiliate or offend. If the employer decides to conduct an investigation, a proper investigation in British Columbia is fair to all parties involved, so the information must be collected from the complainant and respondent in a neutral manner,” said Fiona McFarlane, a lawyer with Kent Employment Law in Vancouver, B.C.

“The workplace investigator should not predict the final findings of the investigation until the local investigator has collected and reviewed all the evidence.” How to address recent challenges to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace To date, British Columbia is the only Canadian province to have developed policies specifically targeting workplace bullying. When deciding whether or not to report workplace harassment, employees must clearly indicate what does not constitute harassment. These include the exercise of management rights in the workplace, workplace conflicts, work-related stress, difficult employment conditions, professional constraints, organizational changes, isolated incidents such as inappropriate remarks or abrupt appearance, social relations and/or friendly gestures between employees. Confidentiality is a key aspect of a neutral workplace investigation, McFarlane noted. “A neutral investigator in the workplace should collect information from witnesses and not share information with witnesses.” Workplace bullying and harassment can have significant effects on workers` health and safety, leading to absenteeism, decreased productivity, anxiety and depression, the Workers` Compensation Board of British Columbia or WorkSafeBC reported. In Canada, laws are created at the federal and provincial levels (similar to federal and state laws in the United States). One big difference, however, is that in the United States, most employers fall under both federal and state/municipal labor laws. In Canada, employers are subject to federal or provincial/territorial legislation, depending on the industry in which they operate. It is important that employers are not passive in the face of this serious problem. An organization`s management should communicate its commitment to preventing bullying in the workplace through a detailed written policy.

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