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Do you have a Scrooge in your workplace?

Have you ever been bullied at work? Do you work with Mr. or Ms. Scrooge? On June 15, 2010, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Bill 168 came into effect.
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Ontario workers have a right not to be harassed in the workplace, but there are ways of dealing with it, says columnist Lisa Lounsbury. Photo supplied
Have you ever been bullied at work? Do you work with Mr. or Ms. Scrooge?

On June 15, 2010, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Bill 168 came into effect. Under this law, it states that “everyone should be able to work in a safe and healthy workplace.”

It also states that workplace harassment includes bullying and intimidation.

If you have ever experienced workplace bullying or harassment, then you probably remember how it made you feel. There are a variety of ways workers can experience bullying and, unfortunately, this behavior does not get reported as often as it should.

After several months of being bullied by my supervisor, I recall an encounter with her that changed how I deal with this type of behaviour in all other areas of my life. It was during a private meeting with her when I was hit hard with false accusations, very intimidating body language and verbal abuse that I had “had enough.”

I quickly reacted to the situation and told her that “I no longer wanted to be treated this way.” With trepidation, I explained to her how her behavior was unjustified and that I no longer felt that I was working in a safe and healthy workplace. I left the meeting without full closure, but I didn’t regret the conversation.

During a staff meeting a few months later, my supervisor looked at me, took a deep breath and finished the meeting by saying “thank you” to me. She thanked me for “teaching her how to treat people.” Wow! She didn’t realize the impact her abusive behaviour was having on her entire team.

I felt honored to have had such a positive impact on her and learned that often those that bully or harass are dealing with their own struggles and/or insecurities.

With this in mind remember, we are not responsible for the action of others and should take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from violence and harassment in the workplace. Here are a few tips:

1. Confront the individual who is making you feel harassed or uncomfortable (in an appropriate manner) and work to settle the issue immediately, if possible.
2. Under Bill 168 “workplace health and safety complaints should first be brought to the attention of the supervisor or employer, to the Joint Health and Safety Committee, if there is one, or to the health and safety representative if any.”
3. Also under Bill 168 “If an employer is not complying with the workplace violence and workplace harassment requirements in the OHSA, workers should call the ministry's province-wide Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre.”

By not responding or reacting to workplace violence or harassment, it sends a negative message that it’s OK to treat or be treated that way. With the Christmas season in full swing, it’s a great time to spread some cheer and positive behavior amongst your colleagues.

Who knows, you might be inspiring that “Scrooge” who has been struggling to find the motivation to make that positive change in behavior.

Lisa Lounsbury is the founder and president of New Day Wellness.


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