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Toronto Employment Lawyers Advising Employees on Workplace Violence and Harassment

Most employees spend a large portion of each day in the workplace. Given the number of hours that individuals spend at work, it is important to feel safe and comfortable there. Unfortunately, many employees find themselves subject to bullying, harassment, and in some extreme cases, violence in the workplace. This is never okay.

If you are an employee who has been subject to bullying, harassment, and/or violence at work, including sexual harassment or violence, it is important to take action right away in order to protect your safety and your legal rights. At Sultan Lawyers, our experienced Toronto employment lawyers have many years of experience helping employees with their most stressful workplace issues.

Violence and Harassment at Work 

There is a spectrum of unwanted behaviour that may occur in a workplace, ranging from offensive remarks to outright violence.

Workplace Harassment 

Workplace harassment occurs where someone engages in “a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”. In other words, workplace harassment is any comment, action, or behaviour that can make someone feel uncomfortable at work. Workplace harassment can include:

  • Offensive comments, statements, or jokes;
  • Spreading malicious rumours or gossip;
  • Excluding someone socially or isolating them;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Bullying;
  • Making fun of or isolating an employee.

Workplace harassment is never acceptable, and employees who are subject to such behaviour have several legal options available to them.

Workplace Violence 

Workplace violence is the “exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker”. Workplace violence can also be an attempt to exercise physical force against someone in a workplace, or a statement or behaviour that a person could reasonably interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against them in the workplace.

Workplace violence can include:

  • Leaving threatening notes or sending threatening emails at work;
  • Verbally threatening to attack someone at work;
  • Hitting or attempting to hit someone at work;
  • Throwing something at someone at work;
  • Sexual violence against someone at work;
  • Shaking a fist at someone at work.

Workplace violence can include actions and behaviours that fall under the Criminal Code (which deals with matters such as sexual assault, threats, stalking, and other violent acts). Like workplace harassment, workplace violence is never acceptable, and employees who have been victims of workplace violence should consult with an employment lawyer to learn about what options are available to them in terms of legal recourse.

Employer Obligations 

Employees should be aware that their employer has a positive obligation, under Bill 168 and the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to address workplace harassment and violence.  The employer must address any potential harassment and violence from anyone who employees may deal with in the workplace including colleagues, managers, supervisors, but also clients, patients, customers, volunteers, and others.

Employers must:

  • Have a regularly updated workplace harassment policy in place;
  • Have a workplace harassment program in place that outlines how employees can make complaints or report incidents of workplace harassment and describe how such complaints and incidents will be investigated and addressed;
  • Ensure that policies and programs are maintained in consultation with health and safety representatives;
  • Ensure that appropriate investigations are conducted into any incidents of workplace harassment and any complaints about workplace harassment, including providing results of any investigation and any corrective action taken to the employee who complained as well as the alleged harasser;
  • Provide training and information to employees on the workplace policies and programs in place.

At Sultan Lawyers, we help clients who have been affected by workplace violence or harassment ensure that their employers are taking the steps needed to address the issue. We will advocate for your rights, help ensure that you are safe, and will represent you in court or at tribunal proceedings where necessary.

Contact Our Knowledgeable Toronto Employment Lawyers for Advice on Addressing Workplace Violence and Harassment 

At Sultan Lawyers we understand that being bullied, harassed, or subject to violence at work can be extremely stress-inducing and challenging to deal with. If you find yourself in such a negative situation, our knowledgeable employment lawyers can help you protect your rights.  Contact us online or at 416-214-5111 for a consultation.

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