BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE
What is bullying? Historically, employees had very little recourse against their employer if they were subjected to bullying in the workplace. In other words, the best course of action was for the employee to look for a new job. The development in employment law to protect employees’ rights has resulted in a fundamental shift in the perception of what is and what is not acceptable behavior from a “boss”. In fact, there is now legislation that specifically protects employees against bulling in the workplace. On June 15, 2010 new provisions came into force under the Occupational Health and Safety Act which provided statutory protection to employees in the workplace against violence and harassment. These were significant changes to the workplace because the employer now had a statutory duty to ensure that the workplace was free from violence and harassment. The employer now had a positive duty to implement workplace policies with respect to violence and harassment. Further changes have been made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act which further entrench the protection of employees’ safety and well-being in the workplace.
At common law, the employee has remedies in the event he/she is bullied in the workplace. A leading case in the area of bullying in the workplace is Boucher v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp. and Jason Pinnock.
As a result of these statutory changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act coupled with the development in the common law, the employee should no longer feel powerless against the bully in the workplace.