Workplace Violence and Harrassment

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Why was the topic chosen and why it is relevant

Whether you are an employer or an employee, everyone is responsible for workplace safety. Within Canada, each province, territory, and the federal government, have Occupational Health and Safety legislation establishing rights and responsibilities for employers and employees. However, this legislation has not made workplaces safe and healthy in general. Here are just a few examples of workplace violence, workplace harassment and domestic violence that employers and employees are facing today. 1.“Patrick Clayton a recipient of WCB benefits entered the Edmonton WCB office and held eight people hostage at gun point for 10 hours before surrendering to police” (Edmonton Journal, 2009). 2.“Pierre Lebrun, an Ottawa Transit worker, walked into work, shot four of his co-workers and injured two more before he took his own life. Mr. Lebrun alleged he was harassed because of his speech impediment” (Branswell, 1999). 3.“Lori Dupont, an OR nurse, was romantically involved with colleague Dr. Marc Daniel for 2 years. When the relationship ended, a disgruntled Dr. Daniel viciously stabbed Ms. Dupont 7 times in the chest at work. Minutes later, he self-administered a drug overdose and died 3 days later” (Schmidt, 2006). Almost 1 in 5 violent incidents in Canada occurs at work which amounts to approximately 356,000 incidents of violence each year in the workplace (Statistics Canada, 2007). “Customers, clients, patients, students, workers, intimate partners, or family members may hurt, threaten, or harass workers while they are on the job” (Labour, guide 3, 2010). Harassment has become a growing concern both in the workplace and in society. The norms and values in society have changed. Actions and words that were acceptable or tolerated before, are not anymore. Everyone needs to be aware of their rights and where they can turn for help and support. When a person is feeling victimized they can become withdrawn from their family and friends as well as not attending work. At the same time those doing the harassing need to know that there are consequences to face for their actions. All employees and management need to be made aware of how serious this issue has become and that harassment is not only from internal employees but can also come from customers, outside contractors and any member of the public, in all workplaces. To this end, the government has placed greater onus and responsibility on the employer to act not only on reported events, but also unreported known issues of harassment and violence in the workplace. Relevant Theories and research

On June 15, 2010, the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, specifically Bill 168 required all employers to examine the risks related to workplace violence, workplace harassment and domestic violence, in response to the increasing displays of harassment and violence affecting larger groups of people. Bill 168 required all employers to comply by ordering them to implement a policy and process to address these issues and ensure the health and safety of all their employees (Labour, workplace, 2010). But before companies can even provide support for their employees, there has to be policies and procedures developed and put into place to address the issue of workplace violence and harassment. To do this, employers need to educate themselves on what workplace harassment and violence is. The definitions and scope of what constitutes workplace harassment and violence have changed. Workplace Violence is defined as a physical force or an “attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in the workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker” (Labour, key, 2010). This includes threatening behaviour, verbal or written threats, harassment, verbal abuse and physical attacks. Workplace violence extends beyond the traditional workplace and can include off site work related social or business functions or client...
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