1 in 2 Canadians have experienced bullying or harassment at least once in the workplace. A Fanshawe student in the police foundations program shares her experience, but we were asked not to share her name for fear of repercussions.
“I was bullied in my last job, which I left. They would make fun of my race and occasionally, call me terrorist. I would joke and laugh it off, but it would sometimes affect me,” she says.
According to the Government of Canada, bullying can be physical or verbal comments that could ‘mentally’ hurt or isolate a person in the workplace.
“It makes me feel that I am not proud to be Muslim because people are calling me terrorist, specially after what happened in 9/11, so it makes me feel ashamed of who I am,” says student.
Jordan Thomas, Mental Health Therapist at Nourish Counselling says in this case bullying can be a workplace culture issue, a real issue and not something people make up in their heads. Here are some of the signs to look out if someone is being bullied,
- poor work performance
- anxiety and stress
- increase sick days
- over compensate by staying late at the office
- withdrawing from peers
- feeling excluded
- insecurity and really low self-stem
In a more complex case, physical side effects can be the increase of chronic pain, headaches, high blood pressure, panic attacks, and immunity can go down resulting as a cold or flu, even hives.
“We cant always leave because things are difficult. Sometimes we have to, sometimes we can get through it, but what I would say it’s not to stay silent. If you are not being victimized, but you know someone is being bullied, you have to speak up,” adds Thomas.
What can we do if I am being bullied at work?
When you feel ready to speak up:
- One – You can FIRMLY tell the person his or her behaviour is not acceptable and ask them to stop.
- Two – KEEP a record of what happens daily with the times, name of witnesses, as much details as possible.
- Three- REPORT the harassment to your workplace supervisor, (in some cases your authority can be the bully) then proceed to the next level of management or even police.
According to the law, people can be suspended or expelled from the workplace if engaged in the act of bullying.
“It can result in a single fine or criminal penalty, including jail time depending on the violation. Workplaces may also face penalties for failure to prevent or punish the offender,” says Wagner Garcia, Licensed Paralegal in Ontario.