Bullying and Harassment Don’t Belong Anywhere

Today, February 27, is Pink Shirt Day across Canada.

Pink Shirt Day focuses on the impact bullying has on kids at school and it is an important initiative – 1 in 5 kids are affected by bullying. This year’s focus is on the growing issue of cyber bullying. But did you know that bullying doesn’t just happen in schools and online? It happens everywhere, to people of every age.

Take some time today to consider if you have witnessed bullying or harassment in your school, home, workplace or elsewhere. Did you speak up, either to the bully or to encourage the person who was targeted?

It us also important to think about our own behaviours and words. Before you say or post something, THINK. Is it: True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind?

Check out www.pinkshirtday.ca to learn more about how to handle being a target of bullying and what you can do as a bystander to stop it happening to others.

Violence and Harassment at Work

Just as bullying is not acceptable at school, we don’t accept it at work either.

Harassment and violence can take place on any work site and may range from disrespectful comments to physical assault. When acts of bullying and harassment are addressed early on this can prevent them from progressing to acts of violence, but the best approach is to prevent these things from occurring at all by fostering a respectful workplace culture supported by a management team that employees feel comfortable speaking to about their concerns.

In Alberta, The OHS Act defines harassment as any single incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action by a person that the person knows or ought reasonably to know will or would cause offence or humiliation to a worker, or adversely affects the worker’s health and safety, and includes:

  • conduct, comments, bullying or actions because of race, religious beliefs, colour, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status, gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, and
  • a sexual solicitation or advance,

but excludes any reasonable conduct of an employer or supervisor related to the normal management of workers or a work site.

Harassment and violence are defined as workplace hazards in Alberta’s updated Occupational Health and Safety Act.

These new rules:

  • define workplace harassment and violence in all forms, including domestic and sexual violence
  • require employers to investigate incidents of violence and harassment and take corrective action
  • require employers to develop separate violence and harassment prevention plans
  • require review of plans at least one every 3 years
  • require employers to advise workers of treatment options if harmed by violence or harassment; workers are entitled to wages and benefits while attending treatment programs

It is important to differentiate between appropriate workplace actions and harassment. Reasonable actions taken by an employer or supervisor while managing and directing workers are not considered harassment.

Take the quiz below to see how well you know the difference.

[qsm quiz=3]