Bullying at Work

Bullying at work can have a huge impact on an employee’s health, well-being, and performance. This type of behaviour not only effects the employee, but also the employer when these issues are not managed appropriately. When it comes to bullying in the workplace, it’s to your advantage to ask for employer advice if you are unsure about employee issues and employment rights.

As an employer, do you know how workplace bullying differs from harassment or violence?

For employers, it is important to be aware of the legal definitions that differentiate bullying from harassment or violence in the workplace, and to take the appropriate actions. The Occupational Health and Safety Act considers the following definitions:

  • Workplace Harassment: engaging in verbal and non-verbal conduct that is reasonably known to be unwelcome;
  • Workplace Violence: using physical force that could result in physical injury

Whereas, the Human Rights Code defines workplace bullying as repeated or continuous negative behavior directed towards a worker or group of workers, that causes risk to health and safety.

Examples of Bullying Behaviour

Bullying is recognized as offensive, intimidating, or insulting behaviour, whether it’s in the office or outside of work. Examples of bullying behaviour include:

  • Spreading malicious rumours that intend to ridicule or humiliate
  • Exclusion
  • Overbearing supervision and misuse of authority
  • Denying training or promotion opportunities unfairly
  • Insulting colleagues or managers via social media

What are the consequences of bullying at work?

Employees who are bullied are more prone to absence. For employers, this means having to deal with short staffing issues, sick pay, and possible additional temporary or long-term coverage.

Bullying in the workplace affects the health and safety of the employee and the organization as a whole. Employees are at greater risk of accidents or incidents due to stress and anxiety. Other problems point to low morale, poor performance, or little to no engagement with the company. This may result in resignation, leading to the issues outlined above.

What is the law behind bullying in the workplace?

Claims of discrimination, such as harassment or violence, are usually taken to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Bullying is not specifically prohibited in the Code; however, it is the legal duty of an employer to protect the mental and physical well-being of your employees. There is an implied duty of care for employers to ensure their staff a working environment that does not affect their health and safety. Failure to do this, or to address reports of bullying can result in an employee’s resignation, followed by filing a claim for constructive dismissal.

Do you need help addressing employee bullying at work?

Bullying in the workplace is a difficult situation. We can help you reach a solution. Employer Line offers free employment advice. Speak to one of our HR experts from Peninsula, through our complimentary 24/7 advice line – call 1(833) 247-3650. We’re here to answer your questions on employment rights and HR.