BULLIED? NO MORE!
Anyone who has experienced bullying - in the workplace, at school or in the community, knows how it feels to be helpless. The whole point of bullying is to disempower the person being bullied. Even though we know that bullies are weak people, the net effect of bullying is to make the recipient feel invisible. Bullying takes away a person’s voice.
We have a law in Ontario called Bill 168 which came to into force in 2010. It did require specific changes to be made in the workplace, including the posting of policies on bullying but, unfortunately, it did not give those who were bullied their voice. Bill 132 is about to change all of that. We hope.
Let’s talk for a moment about the workplace because that is where you earn the money you need for you and your family to survive. Threatening someone’s livelihood can be as bad as threatening physical harm because, without a job, you can’t pay for lodging, transportation, or even food.
Social assistance is available but it’s not what most people want unless absolutely desperate and people will do almost anything to make their work lives tolerable, including putting up with toxic behaviour from co-workers and supervisors. The ultimate price can be debilitating stress and burnout.
In March of 2015, the government published a report called, “It’s Never Okay: An action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.” This “Plan” is not law, but an attempt to raise awareness and address sexual harassment and violence at work, in our schools and in the community. The Plan recommended a new definition of sexual harassment and detailed how employers should investigate and act on any allegations brought forward. It also put the onus on employers to make every “reasonable effort” to protect employees from harassment.
Enter Bill 132. In March of 2016 the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (the “Act”) will become law on September 8, 2016. It is designed to prevent, or at least deter, sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence. If any of these abuses occurs in the workplace, for example, an employer must take steps to do a number of things, but most importantly, conduct an investigation which complies with Ministry of Labour standards. Ministry inspectors will be empowered to order any investigation be re-done or performed by a competent, independent third party if not done properly or fairly.
Bottom line? While bullying will no doubt continue, soon there will be a law which allows you to say, “No More,” and if it continues, there will be consequences. For those who are experiencing bullying right now, know that soon your voice will be heard.
If it isn’t, call us and we will make it stop.