Workplace bullying addressed in BC law

Why do we need more clout against bullies? Just ask this friend of mine who works in the office of a parts department in BC.

no bullies

“Our boss here treats the guys that work outside like his own personal slaves. He yells at them – SCREAMS at them – degrades them, calls them ‘stupid’ and ‘idiots,'” she said.

“Once I was talking quietly with a coworker – and next thing i know, I feel a book whiz over the top of my head. Later, he comes up, puts his arm around me, and starts talking all nicey-nice, so I pull away and ask him if he is going to apologize for throwing a book at my head. He says no he will not apologize because he was on the phone… I said ‘It’s still no reason to throw things at people. You can’t treat your employees like that.'”

But clearly this guy does treat his employees like that, which is why I’m happy to see some new legislation in place as of November 2013. That’s when three new sections will be added to the Workers Compensation Act – and they cover responsibilities of workers, employers, and supervisors with respect to bullying and harassment.

By definition…

“Bullying and harassment includes 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 but, excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment,” reads WorkSafeBC’s Fact Sheet – Workplace bullying and harassment.

Name-calling and throwing things at people are definitely in this category and it really sickens me to think of anyone behaving that way. The effects of this treatment can be far-reaching and I hope people are called on it!

“Not only can bullying and harassment impair work performance and lead to increased absenteeism, it can lead to depression, anxiety, and post‑traumatic stress disorder,” reads the WSBC backgrounder.

Since May 2012, with the passing of Bill 14, workers can be compensated for such mental health disorders when they are caused by “…a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment,” reads this information from WorkSafeBC on Mental health disorders. A new Bullying and Harassment resource tool kit is available online to help address this serious workplace issue.

I’ve been bullied at work – which I wrote about in my post Confronting my workplace bully – and I’m glad to see there is more recourse for people who experience it.


3 thoughts on “Workplace bullying addressed in BC law

  1. Steve

    While I absolutely agree that harassment, bullying and belittling have no place in a professional, well-managed workplace, I worry that this new legislation will provide an attractive avenue for worker claims against employers that will be hard to validate. You think back injuries are hard to verify; how about “stress” caused by worksite harassment?

    Isn’t this concern more of a Human Rights issue rather than a compensable injury under WorkSafeBC insurance? I can only imagine that rates will have to go up to deal with the additional claims that could drag on for months, involving lost time compensation, $100/hour psychiatric treatments, etc. I’m all for worker health and safety, and employers do have a responsibility to provide a safe, healthy and bully-free workplace; but I don’t think that this is the solution.

  2. Ghostgirl

    I was recently in the boardroom of an international steel fabrication shop where the plant Manager announced new plans at the plant – she announced that she could “do this” because she had a “v_g_na” to a room full of 10 male Supervsiors.
    …she was a ridiculer, an emasculator, an intimidator, a tyrant, and a “if I don’t like that person” – a firer – that employee that the dislike was taken to – they were gone. She called herself fair. I was appalled and reported the behaviour – Work Safe BC – did nothing. This company & compnay manager also had a disciplinary meeting of two conflicting personalities where two “Dave’s” could not get along. One Dave threatened the other and was reprimanded – everyone that encountered this “Dave” avoided him due to threatening comments – like “touch my locker & you are dead!”
    Several weeks later the same reprimanded “Dave”” punched out a co-worker that kept the maintenance co-worker off work for one week. This same international manufacturer of steel – promoted the threatening, punching “Dave” to an elite “machinist” position with increased pay and on-the-job-training. I am no longer with this compnay that has also logged 5 deaths at their manufacturing facility and have posted a plaque on the front entrance door naming the employees who lost their lives on this site.

  3. Jay M

    We have a mentally unstable manager with a borderline personality disorder. He has been with this company for 13 years. They moved him to this division 2 years ago. He devalues everyone and becomes enraged when annoyed. Constant invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding. Goes from elation to depression in minutes. He has created a quarrelsome, conflicting work atmosphere. His main focus is to distort or fabricate underperformance. Backstabbing everyone and creating rumors that lead to others being in conflict. He is absolutely unable to manage – blames everyone else for not submitting his reports and finishing projects. Work schedules are changed, roles are changed, career progression paths are blocked or terminated, etc – and all of this is without consultation with Head Office. This once productive division is now dysfunctional and inefficient due to staff turnover, sickness, stress, and unwarranted dismissals. Our vendors and consultants hate dealing with him. He has expressed racial prejudice and sexual discrimination. Regular reports and complaints to the CEO only got him “demoted”. This appears to not have affected him or improve his behaviour.
    I gave my two weeks notice and they have the audacity to ask me why?


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