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Survey confirms that Canadians are exposed to rampant bullying at work

While most employers will agree that harassment and bullying should never be part of our workplaces, survey shows otherwise.

Earlier this week, the Toronto Star published an article about a Forum Survey which sampled more than 1,800 Canadians and found that over half the sample group reported being bullied or witnessed a co-worker be bullied. The survey also revealed that incidents of bullying is considerably higher amongst older workers and people who identified as having a disability. For example, 61 percent of workers between the age of 55 and 64 years and 67 percent of disabled employees reported being bullied at work.

While, bullying is not defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), it is often used interchangeably with workplace harassment. Workplace bullying is a form of abuse that is characterized by the use of power and aggression to control or distress another individual within the context of a work relationship.  In the workplace, bullying can take different forms, such as, physical, non-verbal, verbal, cyber, relational, supervisory, and psychological. Regardless of the form it takes, employers in Ontario are legally required to take concrete steps to address harassment and bullying in the workplace.

The survey also found that only one-third of the employers took action to address bullying at work. Further, 70 percent of LTBTQ and disabled workers said that their employer took no action at all to address the bullying.

Failure to investigate and address workplace bullying is not only a violation of the OHSA, but also the Human Rights Code.  Aside from creating a toxic work environment and low productivity and morale within the team, the employer can also be exposed to claims for intentional infliction of mental suffering, constructive dismissal, tort of harassment, as well as aggravated, punitive and moral damages.  Further, with the recent introductions of WSIB’s chronic mental stress claims, employer may also see a rise in their WSIB premiums if they fail to take appropriate actions to address incidents of workplace harassment, violence and bullying.

To read the Toronto Star’s article in full, see below: