Any type of hostility can have a severe effect on the employees’ morale, productivity and mental health. It is the employers’ responsibility to create a healthy environment where the employees feel safe and are encouraged to speak up. If you have been a victim of workplace bullying or know someone who has been and the employer has not taken any action against the bully, then you should consult an Employment Lawyer Toronto.
What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is a broad concept which includes verbal aggression, name-calling, vandalizing personal belongings, sabotaging work, spreading rumours personal attacks, aggressive gestures and inappropriate cyber communication.
How to prevent workplace bullying?
Occupational Health and Safety Act have mandated employers to take preventive measures and educate the employees about anti-bullying and harassment policies. These policies should explicitly state the types of behaviour that are categorized as workplace bullying. A procedure to investigate and response should be present in case of such an event. If there is a botched investigation or delay in response it could become the foundation of a constructive dismissal action that can create liability for aggravated, punitive and moral damages.
How to carry out an investigation?
If there has been a report of harassment, the following are the best practices of investigations that can be followed.
- Creating a safe environment and having an open door policy, making the employees comfortable to come forward in case of any concerns or complaints. Having a confidential complaint hotline where employees can report events of workplace bullying and harassment anonymously is a great idea.
- In case you receive a complaint, take immediate steps to remove the complainant from the toxic environment. You could assign them to a different desk or team.
- If financially feasible, consider hiring an external professional to carry out the investigation for you. Having a trained human resources department can come handy in such a situation as they would conduct the investigation.
If you are planning on conducting an investigation internally following are a few points to keep in mind:
- Conducting interviews is a crucial step. It is best to start with the complainant first and then the alleged bully, followed by the witnesses if there are any. It should be followed up with the complainant in order to clarify any inconsistencies. It is crucial that each complaint is considered on a case to case basis. As each case is unique and strategies should be developed according to the complaint’s nature.
- There should be a set format and composition of interviews that need to be followed each time. It includes the number of interviewers, the flow of questions should be consistent throughout the investigation.
- Interviews should be recorded verbatim in an unbiased manner
- The outcome of the investigation should be shared without delay.