March 9, 2017

While legal definitions of harassment commonly state that reasonable action relating to the management and direction of employees does not amount to harassment, knowing when behaviour crosses the line, and how to respond when it does, is not an easy task. Join experienced advocates for an in-depth review of the latest cases and best practices for dealing with bullying bosses and fostering a respectful workplace.

  • Identifying bullying behaviour: How can you distinguish between bullying on one hand, and an aggressive management style, a difficult personality or simple insensitivity on the other? What kinds of management behaviour have been found to constitute harassment? Foul language? Gossip? Deliberate isolation? Unfair distribution of workload? Denial of privileges? When does a workplace investigation cross the line and become personal harassment?
  • Effective employee and union responses: How should an employee respond to bullying from a supervisor? Is it better to confront the bully or to bypass him or her in favour of informing higher-ups? When can an employee refuse to work on the basis of harassment concerns? How should the union respond to reports of a bullying supervisor? Should the union conduct its own independent investigation into the complaints? How should unions respond when the alleged harasser is a member of the same bargaining unit as the complainant?
  • Management investigations and responses: What employer duties are triggered immediately upon receipt of a complaint? What interim measures should the employer consider taking pending the outcome of the investigation? In what circumstances should the alleged harasser be removed from the workplace as an interim measure? What are best practices for investigating a complaint of bullying by a supervisor or manager? Should an external investigator be retained? What should be done to protect complainants, witnesses, and the alleged harasser from retaliation and reprisal? What is the effect of senior management not dealing with a supervisor’s bullying behaviour quickly and decisively? How should the employer respond if a supervisor’s behaviour is known, or suspected, to be linked to a disability that is contributing to the behaviour? When should the employer terminate the employment of a supervisor for bullying an employee?
  • Promoting respectful workplaces: What type of managerial behaviour is best at motivating employees in a respectful manner? How can employers and unions work together to recognize and prevent the most common sources of bullying? How should policies set out clear expectations for acceptable conduct and processes to follow when problems arise? What are some examples of best practices in promoting respectful workplaces? What is the most effective approach to a worker who won’t respect workplace norms or continually challenges the authority of a supervisor? How should the employer and union address particularly sensitive employees who feel harassed by the manner in which managerial criticism is delivered?
  • Remedies: What options do unionized and non-unionized employees have if they are being bullied or have been forced to leave the workplace because of harassment? What remedies have arbitrators and human rights tribunals awarded to victims of workplace bullying?