If you work in Ontario, you probably know that the law protects you from workplace harassment. But that law feels pretty meaningless without a sympathetic ear. That’s what workplace harassment does – it isolates you from your co-workers and colleagues. Unfortunately for many employees, supervisors and managers can be the worst offenders.
What can you do to stop it? At the end of the day, it’s up to you to take the initiative. There is no award for suffering in silence.
Here are some steps you can take if you’re being harassed at your job:
1. Report up
Report the workplace harassment up the chain of command. If you don’t, no one will help you. When the harasser is your boss, report it to their boss. If it’s your boss’ boss, report it to the owner. If it’s the owner, report it to Human Resources.
2. Put it in writing
As an old boss of mine once said, “if it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.” Put your complaint in writing. If you complained verbally, follow up with an e-mail. Even if you aren’t ready to report yet, write it down for yourself somewhere. Include the date, time, names, witnesses, and what was said. That’s because legally, notes written while the memory is still fresh hold a lot of weight (even if you wrote them).
3. Demand Action
Don’t stop pushing your employer for action. Your workplace harassment complaint will disappear into a pile of paperwork if you let it. If your employer is not taking your complaint seriously, or not addressing it quickly enough, make it known (preferably, in writing – see #2, above).
4. Be the bigger person
Rise above the harassment. Stay professional, and don’t engage. Remember that if you are struggling with workplace harassment, it’s your employer’s job (not yours) to fix it. If you to laugh it off, if you retaliate in anger, or if you “make a stand”, it’s not only unhelpful, it distracts from the real issue. Worse – you could get yourself in trouble.
5.Talk to an employment lawyer
Unfortunately, employers are not always receptive to complaints of workplace harassment. Your employer might try to excuse or minimize the harassment. Worse, they might threaten to fire you unless you drop the complaint. This is called a reprisal, and it’s illegal in Ontario. If this happens, it’s time to speak to employment lawyer. You may even be able to get your job back.
If you’re struggling with workplace harassment, call Hyde HR Law today for a consultation.
[crossposted from Goldhawk]