What is workplace bullying?
Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could “mentally” hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can involve negative physical contact as well. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate a particular person or group of people.
Why is bullying in the workplace an issue?
It is hard to know why bullying is happening in the workplace, but it is a very big issue. Workplace bullying can be a traumatic experience for those who are targeted. The pain, distress, and victimization that targets experience impacts almost every aspect of their lives leaving them feeling isolated, depressed lonely and anxious.
Are there any laws addressing bullying in Canada?
To date, few Canadian jurisdictions have occupational health and safety legislation that is specific to bullying. In British Columbia, WorkSafe BC has developed policies and resources related specifically to workplace bullying and harassment. The treasury board of Canada has published “People to People Communication- Preventing and Resolving Harassment for a Healthy Workplace”.
Federal and provincial human rights laws prohibit harassment related to race, nation or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, marital status, family status, disability, pardoned conviction, or sexual orientation. In certain situations, these laws apply to bullying.
However, almost all jurisdictions have legislation specific to workplace violence and/or harassment that may or may not address bullying under their harassment legislation. Where there is no legislation that specifically addressed bullying, the general duty clause establishes the duty of employers to protect employees from risks that can include harm from both physical and mental health aspects.