Posts in Respect in the Workplace

Podcast with Sheldon Kennedy – The Boiling Point

July 28th, 2020 Respect in the Workplace, Sheldon Kennedy

This podcast features a powerful conversation between Dave Veale, Dr. Bill Howatt and Sheldon Kennedy. Thank you to The Boiling Point for this great opportunity!

PODCAST: TIME TO STOP BULLYING WITH RESPECT IN THE WORKPLACE

“Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player and long time advocate of Respect in the Workplace and Respect in Sport, shares his journey helping to educate people and build awareness.

Having Sheldon Kennedy join us for an episode of Shifting the Employee Experience helped us to solidify a point we’ve been hearing throughout this partnership project, which is that in order to start prioritizing #mentalhealth and #mentalwellbeing in the workplace, we need to start talking.

Sheldon and his work with Respect Group have shown what can happen when we all start speaking out about our experiences and start to have these sometimes difficult conversations. Make sure you listen to his episode to hear even more about steps you can take along your path to Shift the Employee Experience.”

Click here to listen to this amazing podcast.

About The Boiling Point Podcast:

“Hosted by Greg & Dave, these thought-provoking interviews with entrepreneurs, thought leaders and movement makers revolve around the experiences and the moments that shaped their careers. Get inspired by these adventurous business leaders who are doing good, being sustainable, achieving work-life balance, promoting a healthy lifestyle and more. Get great advice on the next steps you can take in your business, career and life. Our show – a “must listen podcast” according to Workopolis and the Dragon’s Den – is meant to inform and spark positive change in business and the world.”

Working from home: Tips from our team!

April 24th, 2020 Respect in the Workplace

For the past weeks we’ve been wondering, how can we help during this crisis? Since our team has been working entirely from home for the past 16 years, we wanted to share our best tips with you!

Whether working from home is new to you or you are trying to adjust to unprecedented changes in your current remote workspace, we hope our tips can provide some support.

 

Working from home: 3 tips for employees

 

1.Take control of the flexibility
Embrace the opportunities of an unstructured day but make sure to stick to a schedule that will keep you accountable and successful.

2. Schedule your breaks and make them count
If you are taking a break make sure it gives you the refresh that you need. Get outside, connect with someone or find whatever it is that gets you re-energized!

3. Create a dedicated workspace
Make a clear transition from homelife to work time to help reduce distractions and create boundaries.

*Don’t forget to be easy on yourself, this transition takes time!

 

Working from home: 3 tips for employers

 

1. TRUST each other
As an employer, it helps if you have trust and that works both ways.

2. Share positive occurrences
Establish an internal communication network where positive occurrences can be shared across the team.

3. Encourage interaction and collaboration
Find what works best for your team to make communication easy and consistent. There are endless options out there (Skype, HangOuts, Go To Meetings, email, phone calls, etc…) and using more than one can be helpful.

Respect Group/Workplace Fairness Institute Action Summit 2020

February 3rd, 2020 Respect in the Workplace

The Action Summit 2020 was a success! 

We had some great conversations exploring the intersection of Psychological Health & Safety and Civility & Respect!

Thanks to our moderator Blaine Donais and experts Dr. Pat Ferris, Cam Mitchell and Wayne McNeil. 

Thanks to all of our brilliant speakers.

Thank you to The GRAND for hosting our Action Summit.

And most of all, we want to thank everyone who participated to the event and made it a success! 

 

Respect Group/Workplace Fairness Institute Action Summit

January 5th, 2020 Respect in the Workplace

Is your organization at a loss as how to address psychological health and safety or challenged with Alberta’s new Occupation Health and Safety code?  We are bringing support.  Join us for the day to get insight into this complex issue and take away real tools you can immediately apply in your workplace.

Our upcoming Action Summit will examine the intersection of Psychological Health and Safety and Civility & Respect.  You won’t want to miss it so join us on January 29th, 2020.

Attention HR professionals: Earn 6 CPD Hours by attending the Action Summit!

Get Your Tickets HERE

Summit Developers

The Workplace Fairness Institute and Respect Group

 

As partners, the Workplace Fairness Institute and Workplace Fairness West believe that psychological health and safety is AS important as physical health and safety.  That is why we support organizations across Canada to create working environments in which employees can thrive. Whether that’s promoting civility and respect, addressing bullying/harassment, managing conflict, training employees, or coaching leaders we have the expertise and knowledge to partner with businesses to create strong and healthy employees.  When employees thrive, businesses succeed.

That’s also why we work closely with Respect Group and agreed to step up in Alberta to provide a learning opportunity for organizations and employees to address issues focused on psychological health and safety and civility and respect.

Who Should Attend?

Sessions will benefit:

  • Senior HR Professionals
  • Senior Occupational Health and Safety Professionals
  • Union Representatives
  • Municipalities
  • Business Leaders
  • Educational Institutions
  • Non profits

Why Should I Attend?

By attending you will:

  • Understand what your duty is as an employer to address the OHS issues and their impact on psychological health and safety.
  • Walk away with a road map of what your organization needs to do to create or improve upon a psychologically healthy workplace
  • Receive compliance and risk reduction ideas and solutions that can be easily implemented within your organization.
  • Be able to build a business case, determine your organizations return on investment and successfully position the importance and value within your organization
  • Hear from other leading organizations as they share their experiences regarding challenges and successes in creating psychologically healthy workplaces.

 

What’s my Investment?

Your investment will provide on-going value for yourself and your organization.  Ticket prices are deliberately kept low to ensure that we are able to support all participants.

 

Sales are limited so act soon!

Regular – $199

Group Rate – 35% off regular price for groups of 4 or more

 

Purchase your tickets HERE

 

Where will the learning happen?

Join us in Calgary, Alberta on January 29, 2020 at the historic Grand Theater.  An appropriate setting to engage participants to be creative, join in the facilitated discussions of the day and experience new learning.

608 1st St. SW    Calgary Alberta

Conveniently located just off the C-Train Line
Available Parking – James Short Parkade 115 4th Ave SW, Indigo Parkade at Centre Street – North of 7th Ave SW

What does the Day Look Like?

For Detailed Session Information click here.

8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-9:15 Intro & Opening Remarks – Sheldon Kennedy – The Human Cost of Psychological Health and Safety

9:15-10:15 Fireside Chat – Psychological Health and Safety – Where are we now? 

10:15-10:30 Networking Break

10:30-12:00 Morning Breakout Sessions

  1. How can we position our people and organization’s culture to always place RESPECT first in everything we do?
  2. Developing a Roadmap to Create a Psychological Safe Workplace

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:15  ROI and Building the Business Case – Sharing Resources

2:15-2:30 Networking Break

2:30-3:45 Afternoon Breakout Sessions – Sharing the Journey to Psychological Health & Safety

  • Non-Profit: Calgary Drop-In Centre
  • Municipality: City of Lethbridge
  • Union: TBD

3:45-4:00 Wrap-up

4:00-5:00 Join us in the Mezzanine for networking after conference

 

Who will be joining us?

For Speaker Bio’s click here.

Sheldon Kennedy – Internationally known Abuse Prevention Advocate

Dr. Pat Ferris – International Bullying/Harassment Expert, researcher and social worker focused on the treatment of bullying/harassment targets

Wayne McNeil – – Co-founder Respect Group and Canadian Red Cross Caring Award Recipient

Cameron Mitchell – President Kasa Consulting , Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) representative, Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) and certified COR auditor

Blaine Donais – Present and Founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute, workplace conflict management specialist and author of Workplaces that Work, Engaging Unionized Employees and The Art & Science of Workplace Mediation.

Brad Blaisdell – Western Regional Director of the Respect in the Workplace Program at Respect Group

Danica Kelly – Eastern Regional Director of the Respect in the Workplace Program at Respect Group

Michelle Phaneuf – Partner Workplace Fairness West, certified Psychological Health and Safety Adviser and experienced workplace restoration expert.

Sandra Clarkson – Executive Director of the Calgary Drop-In Centre

Barb Neckich – Senior Human Resources Consultant, City of Lethbridge

Sheldon Kennedy stops by RDC to talk advocacy, self-care and openness

Sheldon Kennedy stops by RDC to talk advocacy, self-care and openness

November 21st, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

SOURCE: LACOMBE ONLINE
Published: Wednesday, 20 November 2019 20:09
Written by Kalisha Mendonsa

 

 

Sheldon Kennedy stopped at Red Deer College this afternoon for a fireside-chat style to his vision to eliminate bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination.

Hosted by RDC President Dr. Peter Nunoda, the fireside-style discussion focused on Kennedy’s advocacy work with the Respect Group, as well as his own personal experiences with overcoming and addressing trauma.

Some of the themes of Kennedy’s discussion were around encouraging bystanders to act, to create a safe place for communication and to encourage people to practice talking about their issues so that changes can be made.

“A lot of times, it’s just people saying “You know, I’m feeling off today. I don’t know what’s going on” or “Hey, I heard a couple of comments, I saw your body language, it looks like you were really impacted by that” – those are the types of conversations I think are really important,” he said.

Kennedy’s overarching goal to inspire a culture of respect is foundational to the work of the Respect Group, and his message is applicable to all workplaces, schools and sports organizations.

The work done within the Respect Group is based on advocacy, education and encouraging people to be able to have difficult conversations before critical moments of crisis. He said it’s about creating a culture where, in our businesses, our schools, or communities, people are caring about each other and are empowering each other to take a stand when they feel something is wrong.

In Central Alberta, Kennedy is known for his extensive efforts to help bring the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre to life.

“They’re doing great work. I’m still quite involved in getting that work done, and getting that building here. I may not be as forefront and centre as I once was, but I’m still helping behind the scenes. I think that this community continually shows up, and I think that just makes sense,” he said.

“When you look what we’re trying to do, and what they’re trying to do and what they’re doing, it just makes sense. To deal with these issues, we have to be working together. We have to take a community approach to these issues.”

The issues that Kennedy is alluding to include child abuse, sexual abuse, mental health and wellness, trauma and breaking the cycles and societal conditions that allow these issues to continue.

“Basically, the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, what they’ve done is ask who are the organizations that have the legislative mandate to work in the space across our area, let’s bring them together and help them to get the best outcomes for kids – to me, it’s not rocket science.

He said having CACAC and the other agencies in our region working together is the best way to build better outcomes for children in the future. He said it comes down to leadership, and that he sees that in the work of local agencies.

“I think they’re doing a great job. I’m quite confident that the Centre of Excellence, the Child Advocacy Centre and the building will be built on the campus. I think there’s a need and there’s a will. We need the leadership and we need the data and the analytics to support the work around early intervention, prevention and integrated practice throughout the province of Alberta and across the country.”

Kennedy said he’s glad to continue to support the strong work of advocacy groups and organizations but is thankful he decided to take a bit of a step back. He said he’s focused on maintaining his health and well-being so that he can be a strong father, husband and person in his own life.

Psychological safety part of amended occupational health act

October 28th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

SOURCE: Kevin Yarr · CBC News · 

 

Government is giving employers time to prepare for the new rules

 

The P.E.I. government is rolling out a public education campaign over the next several months on new workplace harassment regulations and an Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The changes include a definition of harassment, set out the responsibilities of workers and employers and require employers to have a policy on workplace harassment.

“Employers will have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the workers. And this will include not just physical safety, but their psychological safety as well,” said Danny Miller, director of occupational health and safety.

“It’s our hope that these regulations will go a long way to improve awareness, education and the prevention of workplace harassment.”

The new regulations were prompted by a 2013 incident, in which the Workers Compensation Board found workplace bullying and the related stress was likely the cause of the death of an Island man.

 

The regulations include information on how to make a harassment complaint and how that complaint should be investigated. They will come into effect in July.

Miller said the delay in bringing in the changes will allow employers and workers a reasonable amount of time to understand the legislation and prepare for it.

A guide to the new rules has been developed. In advance of implementation there will be public education sessions as well as workshops for employers.

 

 

Respect Group and Workplace Fairness Action Summit: The Intersection of Psychological Health & Safety and Civility & Respect

October 24th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace, Uncategorised

 

 

 

Is your organization at a loss as how to address psychological health and safety or challenged with Alberta’s new Occupation Health and Safety (OHS) code?  We are bringing support.  Join us for the day to get insight into this complex issue and take away real tools you can immediately apply in your workplace.   This Action Summit will examine the intersection of Psychological Health and Safety and Civility & Respect.

Sessions will benefit Senior HR Professionals, Senior Occupational Health and Safety Professionals, and those leading Municipalities, Businesses, Unions, Educational Institutions and Non profits.

By attending you will:

  • Understand what your duty is as an employer to address the OHS issues and their impact on psychological health and safety.
  • Walk away with a road map of what your organization needs to do to create or improve upon a psychologically healthy workplace
  • Receive compliance and risk reduction ideas and solutions that can be easily implemented within your organization.
  • Be able to build a business case, determine your organizations return on investment and successfully position the importance and value within your organization
  • Hear from other leading organizations as they share their experiences regarding challenges and successes in creating psychologically health workplaces.

 

More details on the day including a full agenda can be found here: https://workplacefairnesswest.ca/detailed-session-information/

 

 

Preventing BAHD Behaviours in your Workplace

August 21st, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

In Partnership with the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada (NGCOA)
Source: 
Golf Business Canada Fall 2019

Authors: Brad Blaisdell & Michelle Phaneuf

Brad is the Regional Director – Respect in the Workplace for Respect Group which focuses on the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination. Michelle is a partner with Workplace Fairness West and the Workplace Fairness Institute. Contact Brad at bblaisdell@respectgroupinc.com and Michelle at phaneuf@workplacefairnesswest.ca.

Workplaces are complex, dynamic environments. Like golf, to improve your overall game or operations you need to recognize and adjust your physical game, but also your mental game. Employers today recognize the value of a healthy workplace, and that psychological health and safety is AS important as physical health and safety.

How we work, who we are, our attitudes, and behaviour are diverse and unique. When everyone interacts respectfully this diversity fosters a robust workplace and an inviting operation for staff. However, without that foundation of respect, BAHD (Bullying, Abuse, Harassment & Discrimination) behaviours can creep in. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety these behaviours might look like:

Preventing BAHD Behaviours in your Workplace

  • Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or
  • Excluding or isolating someone
  • Intimidating a
  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s
  • Physically abusing or threatening
  • Making verbal or emails jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’
  • Yelling or using
  • Criticizing a person persistently or
  • Belittling a person

 
If left unchecked, BAHD can turn an otherwise healthy workplace into a toxic environment and the cost of doing nothing adds up quickly.

THE COST OF DOING NOTHING

3 in 10 Canadians say their workplaces are not psychologically safe and healthy1, and nearly half report having experienced one or more acts of workplace harassment at least once a week for the last six months.2 Employees coping with these toxic work environments take twice as much sick time.3 Statistics Canada estimates the cost of employee absence due to bullying and harassment is roughly $19 billion per year.

Toxic workplaces not only affect employee absence but also impact productivity and efficiency. 80% of employees in toxic workplaces spend significant time and energy focused on the BAHD behaviour taking time away from their work and 48% reduce their effort.4 Considering an annual wage of $60,000, an example of 20% reduction in productivity can equate to a $12,000 loss per employee. This can have a significant financial impact on organizations of all sizes.

KPMG’s Diversity and Inclusion Group recently hosted a panel event in Toronto to discuss the issues around workplace bullying and harassment. Their panel included:

Louise Bradley, president and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Pamela Jeffery, president, The Pamela Jeffery Group, Soula Courlas, partner, KPMG, and Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player, abuse survivor and co-founder of the Respect Group.

The panellists noted that ignoring the issue not only affects employee retention, but it hurts productivity and profitability.5 Experiencing bullying and harassment in the workplace can trigger mental health problems and illnesses, which, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, are the leading cause of short – and long – term disability.6 The economic burden in Canada has been estimated at $51 billion per year.

WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

Governments across Canada are recognizing the importance of psychological health and safety, and legislation is in effect to guide organizations to manage these issues. While legislation may differ from province to province, many have clear guidelines and expectations for employers.

Workers Compensation Boards are also accepting claims focused on psychological injuries including wording such as: clear and confirmed harassing behaviour at the workplace where a worker has been subjected to threats of harm, violations of personal privacy, public shaming or baseless threats to his or her employment status. Employers large and small have the duty to ensure their workplaces are harassment free and are exposing themselves to legal and financial risk if they do not address BAHD behaviours.

Sheldon Kennedy indicated in the panel discussion that, “Leaders and operators need to ask the tough questions to determine if this type of behaviour is happening in their organization. They need to be prepared for what they might find and be committed to taking action to address and end it.”

WHAT CAN WE DO?

A shocking 55% of surveyed Canadians reported experiencing bullying in the workplace, including name-calling, physical aggression and online taunts, according to a 2018 poll by Forum Research. Worse still, the study found that only one third of companies took action to stop the perpetrators. While pointing out the risks of not addressing the issue, the panellists noted that many organizations are taking real action to address the issue. “This isn’t just about focusing on the bad individuals,” said Kennedy. “Ninety-eight percent of individuals want to be good, so focus on them and give them the tools to be better.”

For those companies who don’t know where to start, the panellists said the most important step was instituting a culture of respect and zero tolerance for toxic behaviour in their organizations — a tone that needs to come straight from the golf course owner or operator, or general manager. “This will require a willingness from leadership to face the hard truths about what is happening inside their walls,” said Courlas. “Bullying can be subtle. Education is key to helping people recognize it. Leadership has a duty to proactively work towards eradicating this type of behaviour, which will inevitably help unlock the best of their people. Making good people better is the end goal and is completely attainable.”

WorkSafe BC has created guidelines to support employers in responding effectively:

ENCOURAGE everyone at the workplace to act towards others in a respectful and professional manner.

HAVE a workplace policy in place that includes a reporting system.

EDUCATE everyone that bullying is a serious matter.

TRY TO WORK OUT solutions before the situation gets serious or “out of control.”

EDUCATE everyone about what is considered bullying, and whom they can go to for help.

TREAT all complaints seriously, and deal with complaints promptly and confidentially.

TRAIN supervisors and managers in how to deal with complaints and potential situations. Encourage them to address situations promptly whether or not a formal complaint has been filed.

HAVE an impartial third party help with the resolution, if necessary.

They recommend that organizations act as soon as possible, not ignore any potential problems and not delay resolution.

Employers large and small must implement procedures for responding to reports or incidents of bullying and harassment. The procedures must ensure a reasonable response to the report or incident and aim to fully address the incident and ensure that bullying and harassment is prevented or minimized in the future. Investigations into the incident may be required or an impartial third party may be a resource for resolving the situation or restoring the workplace after an investigation has taken place.

In addition to clear policies and procedures, other best practices include a no-reprisals policy, confidential whistleblower lines, a workplace Ombudsman and due diligence on new hires.

HOW CAN WE BE PROACTIVE?

Thankfully, today’s work climate is changing. Top organizations are less reactive and more proactive than ever before. Employee wellness has become a priority because happy, engaged employees are more productive, collaborative, and innovative and will be much more client focused. Meeting and exceeding client expectations is next to impossible if trust between co- workers is broken, they are not engaged, appreciated, or acknowledged for the good work they do.

According to Wayne McNeil, co-founder of Respect Group, “Polices and procedures are necessary, but they typically sit on the shelf until an issue arises. You really do need to have proactive training that creates standards, empowers the bystander and refers to the policies/procedures. Ultimately, your risk mitigation strategy needs to be in sync with your desire to drive a positive culture.”

He indicates that this message needs to come from leadership. It can start with HR professionals saying that they need to be proactive; they can plant the seed. But the tone of the culture, the commitment and the accountability must be set by senior leadership.

Blaine Donais, president and founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute says, “Unresolved conflict is one of the top 5 indicators of bullying and harassment. Organizations need to ensure that employees have options to successfully resolve conflict. We have found that instituting a Workplace Ombudsman Office provides employees with a safe, confidential space to support in the resolution of conflict.”

Bullying, Abuse, Harassment, and Discrimination can be successfully addressed when it appears, and golf course course owners and operators can take steps to be proactive in preventing these behaviours. These steps will help your organization to create an environment in which employees can be successful, thereby ensuring your operation’s success.

 

ENDNOTES:

(1)www.reuters.com/article/us-work-mentalhealth/three-in-10-workers-say-workplace-not-psychologically-safe- idUSBRE82D0LF20120314

(2) www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2018001/article/54982-eng.htm

(3)www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/sites/default/files/february_workplace_webinar.pdf

(4) https://hbr.org/2018/07/do-your-employees-feel-respected

(5 )www.cos-mag.com: Addressing workplace bullying, harassment must be a business priority, Panel January 31st, 2019

(6)www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/sites/default/files/february_workplace_webinar.pdf

 

 

Law firm ordered to pay student nearly $70K for wrongful firing that led to her becoming homeless

August 19th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

A prominent Vancouver law firm has been ordered to pay almost $70,000 for wrongfully dismissing an articling student, who ended up unemployed and homeless for several months after she was fired.

A B.C. Supreme Court justice found that Melissa Ojanen, who graduated from law school in 2016, was mistreated while working at Acumen Law Corporation.

She had been hired as an articling student in what was supposed to be a 12-month placement that included a 10-week professional legal training course.

“She is the victim of unfair, bullying, bad-faith conduct by her former employer and her former principal and has suffered substantial and prolonged emotional distress because of that conduct,” wrote Justice Geoffrey Gomery in the decision.

“The consequences for Ms. Ojanen were severe. She was unable to obtain alternate articles and has not been called to the bar.”

‘Unnecessary and psychologically brutal’

Acumen specializes in driving law. According to the judgment, Acumen founder Paul Doroshenko fired Ojanen publicly after discovering a blog about driving prohibitions that he believed she was running.

Doroshenko argued it was too similar to one the firm runs.

“Mr. Doroshenko’s response on discovering the blog was disproportionate and bullying,” Gomery wrote.

“I find that he was determined to protect Acumen’s competitive position by making an example of Ms. Ojanen.”

Paul Doroshenko, founder of Acumen, is a prominent defence lawyer in Vancouver. (CBC News)

Doroshenko accused the student of breach of contract, theft, trespassing and wrongful use of marketing materials belonging to the firm. The judge dismissed the allegations, noting they were “harsh and unwarranted.”

Gomery also noted the firm’s actions — including serving a lawsuit against Ojanen in front of her classmates, rather than mailing it to her — was “unnecessary and psychologically brutal.”

After she was fired, Ojanen struggled to find employment and pay rent, according to the ruling.

She lived out of her car for three months — and when her husband, whom she is separated from, repossessed the vehicle, she briefly lived on the streets before her parents took her in.

“Pending the resolution of this lawsuit, her life has been on hold,” wrote Gomery.

Ojanen was awarded $50,000 for aggravated damages, as well as ordinary damages of $18,934 for lost wages.

Never too busy for investigations If employers can’t find time to investigate harassment, they’ll pay damages later

Never too busy for investigations If employers can’t find time to investigate harassment, they’ll pay damages later

August 15th, 2019 Respect in the Workplace

Source: Occupational Health and Safety 

By: Jeffrey R. Smith

It can be busy to run a company and manage employees. At times, most business owners and managers probably feel it’s almost impossible to juggle all the things being asked of them. However, regardless of how busy things are, they can’t use it as an excuse not to properly investigate allegations of workplace harassment or bullying.

All employers in Canada have a legal obligation to properly and fairly investigate allegations of harassment, bullying and violence in the workplace. After all, they are also legally required to provide a workplace free of such threats, so when the possibility of any of these things occurring is raised, they need to find out if it happened and if it did, take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

It’s a human rights matter, a health and safety matter, and a workplace culture matter.

Unfortunately, proper investigations don’t always happen. This is evident in the numerous employment law cases involving alleged workplace harassment, bullying, and violence that were deemed not to have been properly resolved by the employers involved. And usually this means the employer must pay.

The Ontario Superior Court recently heard a case where an employee made a formal complaint that a co-worker verbally harassed her on multiple occasions, including yelling and screaming at her and calling her an idiot. The president of the company acknowledged her complaint, but said they were currently short-staffed due to illnesses and vacation, so he would pass it along to the HR department.

However, no-one did anything over the ensuing month, and the employee complained again that her co-worker continued to yell at her and insult her, saying she was at her “wit’s end.” Still, nothing was done.

One month after the employee’s second complaint and two months after her initial complaint, the employee claimed the co-worker slapped her across the face three times. She reported this to the employer and filed a police report, but her employment was terminated the same day after 19 years of service.

Not surprisingly, the employee won a claim of wrongful dismissal and the employer was ordered to compensate her for lost pay in lieu of reasonable notice. The court also found the employer was guilty of bad-faith conduct when it failed to investigate the employee’s harassment complaints or discipline her abusive co-worker, terminated her as a reprisal for her complaints, and didn’t provide her with her statutory entitlements upon termination.

This warranted an extra $50,000 in aggravated damages, for a total award of more than $194,000.

It’s likely that when the company president in the above case received the employee’s complaint, it was the last thing he wanted to have to deal with, and he most likely felt he didn’t have time to deal with it. But it doesn’t really matter, because he legally had to deal with it. Failing to prioritize the complaint and not getting around to investigating it spelled trouble in the end for the employer — trouble that was compounded when the employer dismissed the employee rather than deal with her continuing complaints.

The employee already was entitled to a good amount of common law reasonable notice, with 19 years of service, but the aggravated damages just piled on the high cost of the employer’s poor handling of the affair.

It’s not a good idea to push workplace harassment complaints to the side. If a company doesn’t have time to address them, then it’s going to have to make time to write some big cheques later.

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