Recently I was at a café , having a “What do you do?” conversation at an outdoor table. It was a sunny autumn day – a rare and precious thing in Vancouver – and I sipped my delicious Americano coffee as we chatted. I told people I’ve been working on a workplace safety blog.
“Well, I’ve got a story for you!” exclaimed a 33-year-old named Jimmy, who was at the cafe with a notebook and pen, working on a screenplay of his life story. “My buddy and I were working for a construction guy and, when I asked him to hire a safety guy, he punched me in the face!”
Jimmy pulled down his bottom lip and showed me a missing tooth. He said he’ll go to the dentist soon. I asked what happened after the assault. Was he pursuing any sort of legal action or being compensated in any way? He said no. He just walked away from his workplace and that was the end of his job.
“I’m just glad to have him out of my life,” Jimmy said about his former employer. “He was an addict who quit drugs, but started smoking cigarettes again and got really freaked out. He had severe anger management problems.”
I asked if he knew he could call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line to report unsafe conditions or situations in the workplace, but I don’t think he knew about this option. He said he didn’t have a chance to call anyone about it. As soon as he brought up the topic, his boss punched him. Now he just wanted to move on, and put the incident in the past.
So many people (like me) would be justifiably outraged and take every legal recourse possible, but Jimmy just let it go. I wonder how often that happens.