Bullying Law in BC

Bullying is sometimes called Personal Harassment

Basics of Bullying Law

If you are being bullied at work you have some options on how to address the issue from a legal standpoint.

The BC Human Rights Code provides protection from bullying at work if you are being bullied because of your:

race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age because of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment

If you are being bullied at work but it is not related to one of the above personal characteristics the Human Rights Code won't help you but you may have a legal remedy by way of employment law. Every employment contract, whether written or oral, has an implied term stating that the employee has a right to work in a workplace free from bullying. The bullied employee may be able to argue that the bullying is a breach of contract that has resulted in a "constructive dismissal." Constructive dismissal occurs when the bullying gets so bad that the law won't expect the employee to continue at work so it's the same as getting fired.

If you are being bullied and are in a union you should contact the union and look at your Collective Agreement as many agreements have language around bullying and harassment.

Bullying is often called personal harassment. There is no single definition but here is one;

Definition of “Harassment”

Personal harassment is defined as any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action, or gesture by a person that adversely affects the worker's psychological or physical well-being or that a reasonable person knows or ought to know would cause a worker to be humiliated or intimidated.

  • Personal harassment is not limited to but also includes the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, intimidation or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation, including ignoring and isolating the person.

To constitute harassment there must be; 

 repeated conduct, comments, displays, actions or gestures; or

  • a single, serious occurrence of conduct, or a single, serious comment, display, action or gesture, that has a lasting, harmful effect on the worker must be established.
  • Personal harassment can exist even where there is no intention to harass or offend.

Bullying and Harassment in Human Rights Law: A Definition (for Educational Purposes Only).

WorkSafe BC and Bullying

In July of 2012 the Workers Compensation Act S.5.1 was amended to allow claims to be made where a person who was bullied at work ends up with a "mental disorder" such as anxiety or depression.

Worksafe link