What Can I do if I am Being Bullied and Harassed at Work?

Under the BC Workers Compensation Act, regulations, and policy, it is the obligation of everyone in the workplace, i.e., the employer, supervisors, and employees, to take all reasonable steps to prevent bullying and harassment from taking place.

However, not every unpleasant interaction or disrespectful behaviour will constitute bullying or harassment.

Bullying and harassment are generally found to take place when a person engages in a conduct that they know, or reasonably ought to known, will cause another person to be humiliated, offended, intimidated, or degraded. However, actions taken by management that are reasonable and relate to direction or management of employees typically do not constitute bullying and harassment.

If you believe you are being bullied or harassed, you may be wondering what options are available to you in dealing with the situation.  Below, we have outlined some steps employees can take in order to deal with bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Your Workplace’s Harassment Policy

In BC, employers are legally required to have a policy statement and complaint procedures in place for dealing with allegations of bullying and harassment. You should ask your employer or union representative to provide you with a copy of your workplace’s harassment policy and procedures, review the policy to see whether your situation falls within the definition of harassment included in the policy, and file a complaint in accordance with the procedure outlined in the policy.

If your employer does not have a harassment policy in place, or if you can’t figure out what you need to do, you can contact the WorkSafeBC Prevention Line for help.

File a section 5.1 Mental Disorder Claim with WorkSafeBC

If the bullying and harassment you have experienced in the workplace has resulted in a diagnosable mental health disorder that has caused you to go off on a medical leave of absence, you may be entitled to compensation pursuant to section 5.1 of the Workers Compensation Act.

However, in order to be eligible for section 5.1 benefits, an employee has to be able to establish that:

  1. he or she has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder by a psychologist or psychiatrist;
  2. there were there one or more events, or a stressor or a cumulative series of stressors;
  3. the event was “traumatic” or the work-related stressor(s) were “significant”.

If WorkSafeBC approves your claim, WorkSafeBC will pay a portion of your wages while you are off work until you have fully recovered and are able to return to work. For more information on section 5.1 claims you can visit WorkSafeBC’s website.

Claim Constructive Dismissal

If you work in a non-unionized workplace, you may be able to claim that you have been constructively dismissed as a result of having to endure bullying and harassment by coworkers or management, if the situation has been brought to the employer’s attention and the employer has failed to address it. To learn more about what it means to be constructively dismissed and what type of damages you may be entitled to as a result, please read our other article “Have I been Constructively dismissed?”

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.  To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.

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