You have every right to work in an environment where you are treated fairly, feel respected, and are free from discrimination and harassment. Employers should have a workplace discrimination policy in place. While each province or territory has its own employment law, most employees will be protected under Workplace Health & Safety programs.
Everyone knows that outright physical or sexual violence, in the workplace, is wrong. People may not realize there are many other behaviours that affect mental health and wellness and may lead to disciplinary action. Ongoing harassment issues can lead to frustration, reduced confidence, physical symptoms like sleep issues or headaches, and increased anxiety.
1. Discriminatory Behaviours
Discriminatory behaviours often relate to specific characteristics of a person, such as skin colour or ethnicity, political or religious beliefs, gender or gender identification, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, or appearance. Discrimination may occur in a variety of ways and can definitely impact your personal well-being and work performance. You should never need to deal with these types of bullying or harassment at work:
2. Verbal Discrimination
Verbal behaviours may include unwanted flirting or offensive comments and jokes about your personal characteristics. People may gossip about your personal life or start and spread rumours. You may even experience threats of violence or threats related to your job security.
3. Written Discrimination
Written communication might include offensive notes, letters, email, or discussions on social media.
4. Visual Discrimination
Distasteful posters on the wall, unwanted images sent on paper or through email, or rude gestures can all be considered harassment, especially when they are of a sexual or threatening nature.
5. Physical Discrimination
Physical harassment includes touch, physical contact or sexual advances that you see as offensive or aggressive, particularly when repeated.
6. Intimidation & Bullying
Constant criticizing or belittling your effort, personality, appearance or beliefs can be very intimidating. Intimidation can also include yelling, swearing and physically or socially isolating a person on purpose. Over-monitoring someone’s work, purposefully assigning unreasonable tasks and making it difficult for employees to receive training, leave or promotion can also be cause for concern.
If you are experiencing bullying or any other behaviour that is meant to intimidate, offend or humiliate you, it is not okay. Keeping it to yourself can not only hurt you but allow the offender to keep hurting others too.
7. Code of Conduct
Do not ignore harassment and discrimination in your workplace. Start by standing up to the person who is victimizing you. Tell them you will not accept their behaviour and ask them to stop. They may not realize they are being offensive and this might be enough to curb their actions. Ask for help from an employment lawyer, a union representative or supervisor if you feel uncomfortable approaching them alone.
Tell your supervisor about undesirable conduct and keep detailed written records about each incident. Remember to include information about the problems you are experiencing, dates and times, frequency, the perpetrator, possible witnesses and attempts to resolve the situation. Keep copies of any written material you receive.
If an investigation is unfruitful or you feel you have been treated unfairly for reporting incidents, you can follow up with the Ministry of Labour. If incidents escalate to criminal offences such as assault, sexual assault, you need to involve the police.
8. Emotional Support
If you are dealing with these issues at work, don’t go it alone. Seek support, if your workplace has an employee assistance program. Working with others can be difficult, at times. Conflicts and misunderstandings are bound to happen at work. Discrimination and harassment, however, are not okay. You have the right to be respected in your workplace.