Experiencing bullying, abuse, harassment, or discrimination (or BAHD behaviours) in the workplace is harmful for both employees and the organization as a whole. It is important for all employees and workplace leaders to know how to address BAHD behaviours and what they can do to support themselves and others. The information below, adapted from our Respect in the Workplace program, outlines key steps for reporting BAHD behaviour in the workplace.
Write an Incident Report:
After witnessing or experiencing an incident of BAHD behaviour, it is especially important to record and document everything you heard, saw, read, or received. These notes and the details within them may not be formal, but may be influential in validating a formal complaint or identifying a pattern of BAHD behaviour. Your organization may have their own reporting form in place, or you can use the Incident Report template included in the Respect in the Workplace program. The report may contain more information than is needed, but will help you to guide your reporting and provide all the information you’ve gathered in a cohesive way.
Submit your Report:
After writing up clear, concise, and detailed notes, file your Incident Report according to your workplace policies and procedures. This may mean reporting the incident to your manager, supervisor, or HR personnel. Confidentiality is critical for everyone involved, so do not discuss the details of the report outside of the confidential boundaries such as a reporting line, employee assistance programs, or counsellors.
Understand the Process:
Every organization will have unique processes for addressing BAHD behaviour in the workplace. This could include disciplinary action, mediation, or an appeal process. You should be able to find these processes in your organization’s policies and procedures, or by requesting them from your manager or HR personnel.
Trust the Process:
Once your report has been filed, don’t be concerned if your organization doesn’t keep you informed of the investigation. Their responsibility for confidentiality will often mean they can’t discuss ongoing details. Trust that for almost all cases of inappropriate behaviour, organizational policies or government legislation exist that hold aggressors accountable. Sometimes, aggressors simply need to be made aware of their behaviours, and some cases may be resolved with an apology. In more serious cases, aggressors may be formally disciplined. In the most severe cases, demotion, suspension, or even termination of employment may be the result. However, if you believe the report isn’t being handled in a timely or thorough manner, you have the right to escalate your concern internally through the different levels of your organization, or if required, to the Human Rights Commission.
Understand the Effects of BAHD:
If you are the target or a witness of BAHD behaviour, or a colleague has disclosed an incident to you, remember to help yourself as well as the person being victimized. Experiencing and witnessing harmful behaviours may have long-term, emotionally significant consequences for everyone involved. When you’re a bystander, while it’s important to assist the victim, you should also seek help for yourself if needed. While maintaining the confidentiality of everyone involved, you can safely seek support from trusted family members, friends or colleagues, or request third-party assistance from your organization or employee assistance program.