5 Professional Ways to Handle Harassment in the Workplace

No one should ever have to put up with bullying and harassment in the workplace. It causes unnecessary workplace stress, disruption in productivity, and can even cause people to leave the company. This kind of situation is not good for anyone, which is why there are many workplace policies against it and measures to prevent and rectify these conflicts.

When these problems arise in the workplace, it is important that each employee and manager understands their rights and what to do. Here are the steps to handling harassment and bullying in the workplace:

1. Understand your rights as a worker

As a worker in Canada, you have many rights that protect you from an abusive workplace environment, including those enforced by the Canadian Human Rights Act, the duty to accommodate (some people require different treatment to avoid discrimination in the workplace), the Employment Equity Act, workplace safety regulations through the Canada Labour Code, right for foreign workers, as well as the Human Rights Maturity Model.

These rights prevent employees from working in an unsafe environment, regulate against workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying, and ensures equal pay.

2. Document the instance of harassment and compile witnesses

Once the incident happens, try to write down as many details as possible and get a sense of who may have witnessed the harassment. Once you have the details for the incident report together, file it away for future use if it is necessary.

3. Let the individual know that their behaviour is not acceptable

It is important to approach the offending individual first to let them know that their behaviour is not acceptable. It could be an instance that stems from a misunderstanding or perhaps the individual understands what they did was wrong and would like to apologize. If they do not understand the issue with their harassment or if the bullying persists, it is time to take further action and consult an employment lawyer for help.

4. Approach the supervisor or use company resources to end this behaviour

Almost all companies have a human resources department that is very receptive to hearing these issues and finding a solution to them. It is also important to reach out to your immediate supervisor to let them know that this is a problem that has been going on and inform them on your intention to go to human resources.

Usually, the individual will have to undergo some sensitivity training. Depending on the severity of the incident, they may face a temporary  suspension or may even be fired from the company. Do not feel any guilt or discomfort if this is a possibility, this individual has infringed on your rights to work in a safe environment.

5.  Take time for yourself to de-stress after this issue

This can be a very stressful situation, so you may want to take some time to de-stress before getting into the usual swing of things. You should also feel comfortable with reaching out to sympathetic co-workers to express your feelings about the problem.