Workplace harassment and bullying include any form of comment or course of conduct that is known or ought to be reasonably known as unwelcome. Harassment and bullying at work can take many different forms, from teasing, spreading rumours, threats, gestures, mobbing, retaliation, criticisms, unjust performance management, offensive jokes and innuendo.
In addition, harassment and bullying can also be a form of discrimination if the behaviour is based in whole or in part on a personal characteristic that is protected under human rights legislation, such as your age, race, religion, place of origin and gender.
How should Employers behave?
Employers have an obligation to provide employees with a harassment free workplace. This extends to ensuring that employees are protected from harassment and, once made aware of it, to take steps to put an end to this behaviour. In some jurisdictions in Canada, including Ontario, employers have to put policies into place that provide employees with a complaints procedure and a right to have such a complaint investigated.
It is important to understand that employers can be held responsible for permitting or creating a poisoned workplace if harassment continues or if it is condoned. Further, once harassment is brought to an employer’s attention, it must not take any steps, or allow any of its employees to take any steps, to act in retaliation against an individual for making a complaint. This is referred to as a reprisal and it is illegal.
What options do I have?
No one should have to work in an environment where there is bullying and harassment. If an employer is made aware of harassment and bullying and does not take steps to remedy the situation, you may be able to leave your job and sue for damages either in court or at a human rights tribunal in your jurisdiction.
In other cases, you may be able to bring a legal claim against the individual or individuals who were harassing you.
How can Whitten & Lublin Employment & Labour Lawyers help?
Sometimes you need a voice to represent you or a lawyer to stand behind your claim. This is where Whitten & Lublin can help. We have successfully represented countless employees who were harassed or bullied at work to put an end to the behaviour or find a way out of their poisoned work environment and seek monetary compensation.
Not all harassment claims end up as messy lawsuits or formal complaints. There are many ways to address harassment and bullying at work. Let us help you find the approach that is best in your particular situation. Contact us for a consultation so you can get help now.