WORKPLACE VIOLENCE, BULLYING AND HARASSMENT
The Business is committed to providing a working environment that is safe, secure, and free from threats, intimidation and violence. We maintain a zero-tolerance approach to workplace violence, bullying and harassment. As such, the Business will not tolerate violent behaviour and will take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent workplace violence and to protect workers.
The objectives of this policy are to:
- Ensure that no worker is exposed to violence, bullying or harassment in the workplace; and
- Ensure that appropriate disciplinary measures, up to and including immediate dismissal for cause, are taken against any worker found to have committed violence against another worker.
This policy applies to all the Business’s workers, including full-time, temporary and contract staff, as well as to any volunteers, students, interns and apprentices. This policy applies to every level of our organization and to every aspect of the workplace environment, including events that occur outside of the physical workplace, such as during business trips and staff events.
Every worker is responsible for taking measures to prevent bullying and harassment and must promptly report any acts of violence that threaten, or are perceived to threaten, a safe working environment. All reported incidents will be taken seriously and investigated in accordance with the investigation procedure.
For the purposes of this policy:
“Bullying & Harassment", whether at a work site or work-related, means the threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological injury or harm, and includes sexual violence. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Expressions of intent to inflict harm;
- Threatening activity, such as waiving a fist;
- Verbal aggression, insults, or calling someone derogatory names
- Vandalizing a worker’s personal belongings
- Sabotaging another person’s work
- Spreading malicious rumours
- Carrying out harmful or offensive initiation practices or hazing
- Making personal attacks based on a worker’s private life or personal traits
- Making aggressive or threatening gestures
Reporting Procedures for Workers
Any worker who believes that they are the victim of workplace bullying, harassment or violence should immediately report the incident to management. In the event that the person alleged to have engaged in this behaviour is the supervisor of the person making the report or a member of management, the incident should be reported to the next level of management, who will determine who is best suited to investigate the allegation.
A report of any bullying or harassment must include details about the alleged incident(s), including the date(s), time(s) and location(s), what happened, who was involved and the names of any witnesses.
If an emergency exists and the situation is one of immediate danger, then it should be reported to the police by dialling “9-1-1” as soon as it is safe to do so. A person in a situation of immediate danger must at the same time take whatever steps are necessary to ensure their own safety and to protect themselves from harm or injury. Once a worker is safe, he or she can then report the matter to management.
Workers must notify management if a restraining order is in effect, or if a potentially violent non-work-related situation, such as domestic violence, exists and could result in violence in the workplace.
What is NOT Workplace Bullying, Harassment or Violence
Not every unpleasant interaction, instance of disrespectful behaviour, or workplace conflict is bullying and harassment. Expressing a difference of opinion, offering constructive feedback or advice about work-related behaviour or performance, and making a legitimate complaint through established procedures about a manager’s or another worker’s conduct are not bullying and harassment.
It’s also important to note that reasonable management action is not considered workplace bullying and harassment. Managers and supervisors have many responsibilities — including directing and supervising how work is performed, monitoring workflow, and providing feedback on performance.
As long as those actions are taken in a respectful manner, they do not constitute bullying and harassment. Reasonable management action might include decisions relating to:
- Job duties and/or work to be performed
- Workloads and deadlines
- Layoffs, transfers, promotions, and reorganizations
- Work instruction, supervision, or feedback
- Performance management, or
- Discipline, suspensions, or terminations
Bullying and harassment is a health and safety issue and has many effects. It can distract someone while they’re performing tasks that require concentration, which can lead to physical injury. And it can also lead to physical illness and psychological injuries, such as anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide.
In the workplace, you might notice lower productivity, lower employee morale, higher rates of unexpected absenteeism, and staff turnover. Studies show that bullying affects co-workers as well as the target, and that co-workers are as likely or even more likely than the target to leave their jobs if they work in a bullying environment. (Reference: Houshmand et al., 2012)
Workplace bullying and harassment might result in:
- Health and safety issues
- Distracting someone who is performing dangerous tasks
- Physical and/or psychological injury
- Lower productivity
- Lower morale
- Higher absenteeism
- Staff turnover — targets of bullying and harassment and their co-workers
Everyone in the workplace has a role to play when it comes to preventing and addressing bullying and harassment. Employers, workers, and supervisors have a number legal duties.
- Listen to the target
- Don’t gossip
- Offer support (i.e. employee assistance program, counsellor)
- Document details of what you see to share in an investigation
- Tell the bully to stop!
- Have a policy statement that workplace bullying is unacceptable and not tolerated
- Take steps to prevent or minimize workplace bullying and harassment
- Have procedures for workers to report if they feel bullied and harassed, including how to report if the employer or supervisor is the alleged bully
- Have procedures that explain how our organization deals with bullying and harassment incidents or complaints, and
- Provide training about bullying and harassment to workers and supervisors
Talking to an Alleged Bully
It’s possible that the person engaging in the bad behaviour was unaware of its effect, and the situation might get better after you talk to them. If you feel it’s safe talking to the alleged bully, be specific about what behaviour was inappropriate. You could even show the person a copy of the workplace bullying and harassment policy and explain why you think the behaviour was inappropriate. Be clear that the behaviour is unwanted and unacceptable. Stay calm and don’t retaliate. You are also required to report any bullying and harassment you witness or experience.
Our workplace takes bullying and harassment seriously and we will follow our procedures for dealing with incidents and complaints. If you are the target of, or witness to, bullying and harassment:
- Tell the bully what behaviour was inappropriate
- Make it clear the behaviour is unwanted and unacceptable
- Stay calm
- Don’t retaliate
- Report it
Duties of Management and Supervisors
Managers and supervisors must act immediately if they observe or are presented with allegations of a potentially dangerous situation, including domestic violence. Managers and supervisors are responsible for addressing potential problems immediately and before they become serious.
If we are aware of circumstances that present a risk of bullying and harassment, our workplace must and will take steps to prevent or minimize the risk. We may provide direction to affected employees, or make alternate employment arrangements in order to properly address the risks and/or concerns.