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Employment law protects British Columbia workers against bullying

Bullying is not restricted to schoolyards. Although employees are protected under employment law, the number of British Columbia workers who are victims of workplace bullying is concerning.

Victims typically suffer psychologically, even if they experience no physical harm. Along with feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, they could experience anger, shock, appetite loss, lack of confidence, panic attacks and insomnia. Furthermore, bullying could affect a worker’s morale and cause stress, stomach pains, headaches and depression.

Recognizing workplace bullying

Workplace bullies use different tactics, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, threats and work sabotage. Verbal abuse could include remarks about ethnicity, family, culture, sexuality, gender or education. Shouting, swearing and spreading gossip or rumours can occur, and bullies may enjoy playing practical jokes at others’ expense. Physical bullying includes pushing, shoving, tripping and grabbing, and it could even involve kicking, punching, biting and scratching.

Workplace sabotage

Sabotage involves treating someone differently from others by berating a worker with excessive criticism, allocating unreasonable jobs with impossible deadlines and withholding crucial information. Also, bully victims might endure unjustified blame, changing work patterns or shifts to make work life difficult for them. A bully could reduce the victim’s responsibilities and work hours without valid reasons.

Additional forms of workplace bullying include invasion of privacy, social isolation, tampering or interfering with personal belongings and jeopardizing a worker’s chances of training, leave or promotion.

What can you do?

Bully victims might be wise to keep notes of incidents and report them to their employers. Creating anti-bullying policies for the workplace can help to prevent such behaviour. Still, victims may be entitled to take action under the applicable British Columbia laws if the problem persists.

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