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Bullying & Harassment

For Employers

If you’re an employer, it’s essential to create a secure work atmosphere for your employees. However, workplace harassment and bullying in BC are unfortunately all too common in the workplace. This behaviour can negatively impact employees’ mental health, productivity, and even legal action against the employer.

The definition of workplace harassment in BC has expanded in recent years. Harassment and abuse can include verbal, physical, or psychological abuse, and it can happen between employees, between management and employees or come from third parties such as suppliers or customers. It’s important for employers to know exactly what bullying and harassment looks like and to develop ways to address it internally

Types of Workplace Bullying and Harassment in BC

Workplace bullying and harassment can take various forms. Sometimes, people engage in bullying-like behaviour without even realizing it. Here are some of the most common types:


Hazing is the act of subjecting an individual to humiliating or abusive behavior as part of an initiation ritual. This type of harassment can include poking fun at new hires or making them do extra and/or unnecessary work.


Intimidation at work can be direct or subtle. It can also come from both a superior or a co-worker. Intimidation can encompass anything from using aggressive language and tone to displaying threatening body language. It’s a practice that over time will have negative effects on the individual on the wrong end of it.

Racist and Discriminatory Jokes

Not all jokes are welcome by others. Jokes that target a particular race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion are considered racist and discriminatory. Such jokes can create a hostile work environment and lead to discrimination and harassment.

Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that creates a hostile work environment. This type of harassment can include unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate comments or gestures, or physical contact. Individuals in management or supervisory roles can also use this as a tool for intimidation.

Overworking Individuals

Overworking individuals can be a form of harassment, especially if it is done intentionally to create an unmanageable workload. This can lead to burnout, stress, and mental health issues.

Guilt Tripping

Guilt tripping is a type of subtle harassment that makes an individual guilty about his/her actions. This type of harassment can include blaming someone for mistakes they did not make, or using guilt to manipulate their behavior.

Subtle Workplace Bullying

Subtle workplace bullying refers to any behavior that is indirect, covert, or hidden. This type of harassment can include gossiping, intrusion, deceit, spreading rumors, or undermining an individual’s credibility or reputation.

How to Address Workplace Harassment and Bullying

Employers are legally required to address all incidents of workplace bullying and/or harassment. Here are some steps you can take to address it effectively:

  1. Have a clear policy in place that outlines what constitutes workplace harassment and bullying, and how employees can report it. This policy is a legal requirement for all BC employers.
  2. Train your employees on how to recognize and report workplace harassment and bullying.
  3. Investigate all reports of workplace harassment and bullying promptly and thoroughly.
  4. Take appropriate action to address the harassment or bullying, which may include disciplinary action against the perpetrator.
  5. Follow up with the victim to ensure that the harassment or bullying has stopped, and that they feel safe and comfortable in the workplace.
  6. Monitor the workplace to ensure that the harassment or bullying does not continue.

Responsibility of Employers (protect your company from lawsuits).

  1. Review the policy annually and revise and retrain on it as necessary. This is also a legal    requirement!

As an employer, it’s essential to take appropriate legal measures internally to prevent and address any harassment or bullying that may occur in your workplace.

Keep an Open Line of Communication

Supervisors or management should create an environment where employees can freely communicate without fear of consequences. Employers should be encouraging employees to speak up if they experience or witness harassment or bullying, and taking their concerns seriously.

Encourage Employees to Come Forward

It’s essential to create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns. Many employees won’t come forward because of the risk of being “black-balled” and shunned. Encouraging employees to speak up when they experience or witness harassment or bullying is crucial in preventing future incidents from occurring.

Report workplace harassment

As an employer, you should take every workplace violation seriously. Every incident must be reported internally. Then, as the employer you must take appropriate steps to investigate the matter and discipline the perpetrator.

Create a Positive Working Environment Safe from Harassment

Creating a positive and respectful workplace culture is essential in preventing workplace harassment and bullying. This means setting clear expectations for behavior, providing anti-harassment and anti-bullying training, and ensuring that all employees feel valued and respected.

How an Employment Lawyer can Help

Dealing with workplace harassment and bullying can be challenging for employers. That’s why it’s essential to have an experienced employment lawyer on your side. An employment lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal landscape of employment law in British Columbia, ensure that all legal requirements are checked off, and help you set up the right processes in place.

Investigating Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

An employment lawyer can assist you in conducting an investigation into claims of workplace harassment or bullying. They can provide guidance on how to handle the investigation, interview witnesses, and gather evidence to support your case.

Conflict Resolution

An employment lawyer can also help you resolve conflicts between employees or between management and employees. They can provide mediation services, negotiate settlements, and ensure that all parties are treated fairly and with respect.

Workplace Harassment Lawyers BC

At Ascent Employment Law, we only practice workplace law. We are a BC firm and we understand BC business. We offer comprehensive workplace legal services to employers. Our expert lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of employment issues, human rights concerns, and conflicts between employees, enabling you to run a successful business while minimizing legal risks. With our legal counsel, you can rest assured that your company is in compliance with all legal requirements, and your employees are well-protected. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in safeguarding your business and employees.

The right team, dedicated to your success