Preventing Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

(Originally published March 2014; updated June 2019.)

Responsible business owners know they have a legal obligation to help ensure the health and safety of their workers. They also know that a safe workplace is one where bullying and harassment are not tolerated. Traditionally, however, BC employers may have been unsure about exactly how to recognize and address workplace bullying and harassment and meet their duties under the law. WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policies aim to solve that problem by defining and giving examples of bullying and harassment, and outlining a multi-step process for keeping workers safe.

OHS policy D3-115-2, Employer Duties – Workplace Bullying and Harassment defines bullying and harassment to include any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated. A person includes an employer, supervisor, co-worker, client, member of the public, or anyone a worker comes into contact with at the workplace.

Examples of bullying or harassment include:

  • verbal aggression
  • insults
  • calling someone derogatory names
  • harmful hazing or initiation practices
  • vandalizing personal belongings
  • spreading malicious rumours

So, what can – and should – you do to prevent and address bullying and harassment in your workplace? The OHS policy outlines nine steps all BC employers are expected to follow:

  1. Develop a policy statement on bullying and harassment
  2. Take steps to prevent or minimize bullying and harassment
  3. Develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents or complaints
  4. Develop and implement procedures for dealing with incidents or complaints
  5. Inform workers of the policy statement and steps taken to prevent bullying and harassment
  6. Train supervisors and workers
  7. Conduct an annual review of policies and procedures
  8. Not engage in bullying and harassment
  9. Apply and comply with policies and procedures

Of course, business owners aren’t expected to solve the problem of workplace bullying and harassment alone. WorkSafeBC has created a resource tool kit to help employers and workers understand their legal duties and prevent and address bullying and harassment in the workplace.

For more information about your duties as an employer, see the WorkSafeBC Small Business Guide on Workplace Bullying and Harassment.

Have more questions about job harassment, discrimination or other employment law issues? Contact us:

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