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What Alberta Employers Should Know About Workplace Bullying

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Bullying in the workplace is an issue that concerns everyone, especially employers.

According to provincial legislation, employers in Alberta have an obligation to protect their employees from hazards in the workplace, including bullying and other forms of harassment and violence.

Here are a few key considerations about workplace bullying for Alberta employers.

What is considered bullying?

Bullying involves a repeated pattern of negative behavior aimed at a specific person or group. It includes comments and/or behaviour that intend to humiliate, degrade, offend, or intimidate someone.

Bullying can range from teasing to violence, and it can cause emotional and/or physical harm.

However, constructive work-related criticism, respectful disagreement, and reasonable management do not constitute bullying.

What do Alberta laws say regarding bullying in the workplace?

While there is no specific Alberta law on bullying, the Occupational Health and Safety Act(“OHSA”) and the Alberta Human Rights Act (“AHRA”) cover the subject in relation to the workplace.

OHS legislation requires employers to protect employees in the workplace, including protection from hazards like violence and harassment. The AHRA prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of several protected grounds.

What are employer obligations under the law?

Employers are required to comply with these laws by preventing and addressing workplace bullying. If they fail to do so, employers expose  themselves to the risk of law suits from affected employees and may face serious financial penalties. Specifically, the OHSA requires employers to:

  • Define workplace harassment and violence in all forms
  • Investigate incidents of violence and harassment and take corrective action
  • Develop separate violence and harassment prevention policies and plans and review such documents at least once every 3 years
  • Advise employees of treatment options if harmed by violence or harassment

It is crucial for employers to demonstrate that violence, bullying and other forms of harassment are not acceptable in their workplace.

Employers can check such unwanted behaviour in the workplace by setting down clear and strict anti-harassment and violence policies.

Need help addressing bullying in your workplace?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR and health and safety advice you need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.