What Workers Need to Know about Workplace Bullying and Harassment

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This section deals with the duties that workers have under the BC Workers Compensation Act, and what workers can do if they experience or witness workplace bullying and harassment.

Duty of workers

It is the duty of every worker to take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety and the health and safety of others. The responsibilities of workers in relation to workplace bullying and harassment are the following:

  • Avoid taking part in bullying and harassment of anyone you come into contact with at the workplace. This includes coworkers, supervisors and employers. It also includes anyone else who happens to be at the workplace, such as a client, a member of the public, or someone acting on the employer’s behalf.
  • Report bullying and harassment if you experience or see it happening.
  • Know what the employer’s policies are on workplace bullying and harassment, and follow those policies.

WorkSafeBC has a toolkit of resources that provide practical tips and information about how to deal with bullying and harassment in the workplace.

You may wish to start with the toolkit's handbook, Toward a Respectful Workplace. It has more information about what you can do if you are the target of workplace bullying and harassment or if you witness it.

What can I do if I am the target or witness of bullying and harassment?

If you experience workplace bullying and harassment you must report it. Look at the worker checklist in the resources section of WorkSafeBC’s website on bullying and harassment.

Here are some steps you can take.

Find out about your workplace’s policy and complaint procedures

Employers in BC are required by law to have a policy statement and complaint procedures on bullying and harassment. Find out about the policy and procedures in your workplace. Ask your employer, the human resources manager or your union representative.

Look at the workplace policy statement to see if the behaviour meets the definition of bullying and harassment. Review the procedures. These should include the name of the person to contact to make a report. If you cannot find out what to do about the bullying and harassment, call the WorkSafeBC Prevention information line for help. The prevention information line accepts anonymous calls.

WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line
Lower Mainland: 604-276-3100
Toll-free within BC: 1-888-621-7233

Make a record of what happened

As soon as you can, write down what happened and record the following: who was involved, the date, time and place of the bullying and harassment, who if anyone saw it, and what was said and done. This information may be useful during an investigation. If you experience cyberbullying, keep hard copies of tweets, posts or emails for use in investigations.

Get some advice

You can get advice about what to do from the contact person named in the workplace bullying and harassment procedures. As well your human resources manager or union representative can provide advice.

If you feel safe and comfortable, talk to the bully

If you feel safe and comfortable, you could approach the bully and make it clear the behaviour is not appropriate at the workplace.

For suggestions about what to say, see WorkSafeBC’s resources for an animated clip on Worker-to-Worker Bullying and Harassment.

Report the incident

Report the incident to the contact person named in the procedures. Include as much information as possible. For example:

  • the names of everyone involved,
  • the names of anyone who saw what happened,
  • the location, date and time of the incident or incidents,
  • details of what was said and what was done, and
  • any other evidence you have such as emails, handwritten notes, photographs or damaged property.

Report all criminal activity to the police, including physical threats, assaults, and criminal harassment such as stalking.

What if the bullying and harassment continues?

If the bullying and harassment continues after the employer has investigated and addressed it, contact the person identified in your workplace’s bullying and harassment procedures.

If you feel that your concerns were not addressed, talk to the next level of management, the union or your professional association. Phone the WorkSafeBC prevention information line for help.

WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line
Lower Mainland: 604-276-3100
Toll-free within BC: 1-888-621-7233

Where can I get more information?

WorkSafeBC’s website on bullying and harassment has a toolkit of resources that provide practical tips and information.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence Workplace Bullying and Harassment © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.