What to do about Bullying in the Workplace
Bullying was unacceptable when you were a kid on the playground. It is no different that you are adult in the workplace. Whether it is your co-worker or your boss, it is not allowed. If you experience bullying at work, you can confront the bully. If you are not comfortable doing that (perhaps because your boss is the bully), consider contacting a human resources representative, a member of the company’s joint health and safety committee, or your boss’ boss. It is also important to review any discrimination / harassment / bullying policies and complaint processes that applies in your workplace, as this will help guide your path.
Usually, the complaint should be handled by someone objective (not the person you complained about), and both you and the person you are complaining about will be given an opportunity to explain what happened. Occupational health and safety legislation sets out certain basic requirements for harassment investigations.
Since bullying can often be difficult to prove, do your best to keep track of instances of bullying – keep emails where the bully’s tone was unreasonable, keep doctors notes regarding any impact the bullying has had on you, and create a journal listing the details of every time you felt bullied – details like where it happened, when it happened, who witnessed it, and what exactly what was said. Try to describe the event in a fair and objective way. These steps will help to ensure that your complaint is taken seriously.
If none of those private options work, consider contacting the Ministry of Labour. If the company does not fulfill its basic obligations to investigate, an inspector from the Ministry can appoint an investigator, at the company’s expense, to ensure that your complaint is investigated and that it is done properly.
Of course, you can also seek legal advice at any time. Depending on the nature of the bullying, the company could be liable for, among other things, constructively dismissing you, breaching your human rights, or intentionally inflicting mental distress on you.
Author: Stephen Wolpert, Whitten & Lublin