Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

 

The Supreme Court of Canada dealt with a case of a man who sued the water bottle company who delivered water with flies floating in the water. Even though he didn’t drink the water, he had a very negative reaction to it. While the court accepted this had a very negative impact on him, they said the water company could not have foreseen that a person with “ordinary fortitude” would suffer in the way this man had. While this case is a tort and not employment law, it reminds me of the notion of reasonableness that is in most aspects of the law.

 

 

We are allowed to have different reactions to different things. Some people will be more sensitive to jokes and comments than others. For the most part, we accept that. We will be more careful with our words around certain people and as long as it’s within reason that is acceptable. The problem arises when you’re dealing with a person who is very, very sensitive and can’t handle anything that other reasonable people can handle. Perhaps he thinks every comment is about him. Or maybe she doesn’t like to hear about politics of any kind. It’s not reasonable to ask everyone to change their behaviours when the behaviours are respectful and not hurtful to a person with “ordinary fortitude.”

 

Once you have established that other employees are doing their best to stay away from insensitive and disrespectful subjects, then you need to address the very sensitive person about his behaviour.

 

TRY THIS:

 

Ask the employee why she thinks every conversation is about her, or why, when other employees are laughing that is must be about her? Or ask him why certain conversations are out of bounds. Let this employee know that while it makes sense to stay away from certain disrespectful comments, not everything should be considered out of bounds.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“When I hear employees making fun of defenseless people, or making a racial joke, I’ll step in. However, not all humour is a problem and I don’t want to get rid of all jokes or ribbing in the workplace. Let’s talk about what bothers you.”

 

“I appreciate you don’t want people making fun of your religion. In fact I don’t see our employees doing that. Sure they comment about some aspects of religion in passing, or when something is interesting or provocative in the news, but I don’t think that’s being disrespectful. Perhaps you can tell me why this is a problem for you and why you think people need to stay away from all aspects of this subject.”

 

“I’ve heard what you’ve had to say about your sensitivity around this subject, but I have to tell you I don’t think it’s reasonable. You’re asking all employees to stay away from a subject matter which I think is fair to discuss at work. If it was disrespectful, I would put a stop to it, but I don’t in this case. On this matter, I think you’re asking too much of others at work.”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT