Workplace Bullying: Where Can You Turn To?

Workplace Bullying

If you think you’ve outgrown and left the bully back in the schoolyard, think again. That bully is now wearing a tie and carrying a briefcase. In fact, that schoolyard bully just morphed into something more sinister – he or she is now your boss or co-worker.

Workplace bullying is often called the “silent epidemic.” The helplessness, frustration, and stress often take their toll leading to serious illness, not to mention, mental and emotional trauma. In truth, the effects of workplace bullying are not restricted to the bullied. Management and the company also suffer economically with the loss of a good worker. Productivity suffers as more often than not, the bullied employees are the most productive and knowledgeable about the job.

Unfortunately, countries such as the United States still lack the necessary laws that cover bullying. Unless the bully physically assaults or sexually harasses the employee, in the eyes of the law, there’s nothing that can be done.

If you are being bullied, where can you turn to?

Workplace Bullying Institute (US)

The Workplace Bullying Institute is an advocacy group lobbying to get the Healthy Workplace Bill to pass into law. It’s a bill that addresses “abusive work environment” different from harassment and other existing labour laws. Why do workers and employers need this new law? According to their 2010 national survey, 35% of workers have experienced bullying and bullying is four times more prevalent than harassment. Furthermore, in their 2007 study, it was found that 44% or nearly half of the organizations with incidents of bullying did nothing to address their employees’ grievances while 18% actually retaliated against the employees who reported the incidents.

Employees and employers may visit their website to gather information from preventing bullying to providing solutions to workplace bullying. There is helpful information that includes signs and symptoms of bullying, economic and health impact of bullying, rational action plans to stop bullying, list of professionals who can help, and more.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Even in Canada, known for politeness, 40% of Canadian workers per week experience workplace bullying. This figure comes from the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology published in 2006. The surprisingly high number may have triggered the passing of Bill 168 also called Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), passed in 2009. Bullied Ontario workers now have a better legal ground to stand on in a worst case scenario. The law specifies the responsibilities of the employers with significant consequences for non-compliance.

Workers in Canada may seek the help of CCOHS for information on workplace bullying and other types of workplace health and safety issues. Consult with them via their online inquiries form. According to their website, services are free and confidential.

Other Workplace Bullying ResourcesBullying Stops Here

AlbertaAlberta Learning Information Service

Alberta’s government site includes essential information and a list of services for professionals experiencing workplace bullying and harassment. According to the website, if the bullying is triggered by discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, etc. you may be covered under the Alberta Human Rights Act. You may visit their site at or call their toll-free number, 310-0000 and enter 780-427-7661 for north of Red Deer or 403-297-6571 for Red Deer south.

Ontario Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL)

While the ministry prefers internal resolution of the complaint, the bullied or harassed employee may seek assistance of their nearest MOL office. Visit their site for the complete list of offices and contact information.

British ColumbiaMinistry of Labour Employment Standards Branch

The site offers a Self-Help Kit for employers and employees, who are unable to resolve disputes internally. Complaints such as bullying and harassment may go through the process of investigation, mediation and adjudication depending on the merits of the case and the parties involved.

QuebecCommission des normes du travail

The province headed the fight against workplace bullying with the passing of the ALS legislation or the Act respecting Labour Standards in 2004. In it, the government addressed the issue of psychological harassment. The Commission des normes du travail offers a comprehensive information kit for French-speaking Canadians that would help them fight and prevent bullying.

ManitobaWinnipeg Health Region

The Winnipeg site contains helpful tips and information on how to stop and prevent bullying. Click the link for the Region’s Respectful Workplace Policy to see further resources including contact information of organizations that may help you.

For more information, read our previous post about workplace bullying.



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