Workplace Harassment & Bullying
Workplace harassment is illegal in Ontario. We introduced legislation under the Ontario Health and Safety Act specifically to address and eradicate it in 2009. You have the right to work in a safe and healthy workplace.
Harassment sometimes escalates to violence if left unchecked. It causes mental and physical health problems and it leads to staff absences. Ultimately, it creates a toxic workplace, ripe for constructive dismissal and wrongful dismissal cases. There is little reason for any employer to stand by and do nothing about it. It benefits nobody.
In September 2016, the Ontario government updated workplace harassment laws requiring all employers to investigate all complaints of harassment, resolve them and implement disciplinary actions, as necessary. The law protects you from harassment at every step of the employment process. This includes the recruiting period, after you are hired and even when you are disciplined or fired.
Bullying & Workplace Harassment
Bullying at work looks just like it did in the school yard. Unfortunately, some individuals never outgrow their aggressive personalities. They continue to inflict the same harm in a professional setting. But this time around it is against the law. Examples include, berating and humiliating you in front of others, isolating and subjecting you to malicious gossip and rumours, etc. Approaching HR sometimes makes thing worse, especially if the perpetrator is a “star employee” or in an executive position. You could be pegged the troublemaker and end up getting fired, instead. Almost always, this situation requires legal intervention. The earlier you bring us in, the better the chances to salvage your job.
This constitutes the most egregious form of workplace harassment. Sexual harassment undermines an individual’s sense of personal dignity. It can prevent them from doing their job effectively and reaching their full potential. Sexual harassment includes behaviors like unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favours. It can present as sexual comments and suggestive jokes. Physically it manifests itself as unwelcome touching or brushing up against a person. Sexual harassment can sometimes escalate to violence and completed sexual assault. Both women and men experience sexual harassment at work. However, women tend to be more vulnerable because they usually hold lower-paying jobs and have less authority compared to men. Regardless, even women in positions of authority can experience sexual harassment.
Harassed After Returning From Sick Leave
You will be most susceptible to workplace harassment and possibly a constructive dismissal after returning to work following a medical leave. This is when some employers start comparing you to the person who filled in for you. Your manager may unnecessarily scrutinize you for not being fully productive and up to speed right away, especially if you returned without a prescribed gradual return or accommodation plan from your doctor. Consequently, your supervisor could demote you, subject you to an unreasonable workload or expose you to underhanded harassment. Your working environment becomes “toxic”. And this forces you to quit. These classic hallmarks of a constructive dismissal play out time and time again. Employers often understand the law. But they count on the fact that many workers do not understand their rights.
Harassed for Being a Parent
Without doubt, pregnancy and parenting affect the productivity of our fast-paced and competitive workplaces. While most women can comfortably work through their pregnancy, they must remain healthy as well as productive on the job. New parents frequently require time off to care for sick infants. And they also fall ill more often from viruses their kids bring home from daycare and school. All these situations require accommodations. However, in an inconsiderate work environment, you could face undue harassment while pregnant, during parental leave or after your return, for simply trying to meet your parental obligations.
We Can Help
Our lawyers will review your case respectfully, without judgment, and in total confidence. Our first concern will be your safety and well being. Secondly, we look at protecting your means of earning a living.
We will coach you on how to document and obtain proof of the harassment. Where necessary, we will educate your employer about the law. And if the situation has escalated to a point of no resolution, we will fiercely represent you to trigger a wrongful dismissal severance package, ensuring it is in line with your pain and suffering. If you have already quit unwillingly due to workplace harassment, we can always pursue a constructive dismissal case.
Workplace harassment is completely against the law. There is no reason why anyone in Ontario should feel victimized by it.
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