How is workplace bullying defined?

Workplace Nirvana currently uses the following definition for workplace bullying:

“Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour directed towards a worker, or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety. It is the legal duty of an employer to protect the mental and physical health of employees. That means protection from harassment, violence and bullying.”

– adapted from the definition used by CMHA Ontario

How can you recognize workplace bullying?

The Public Services Health & Safety Association of Ontario has produced a 44 page document “Bullying in the Workplace: A Handbook for the Workplace” that contains definitions, profiles of the bully and victim, effects of bullying on workers and the organization, tips for preventing workplace bullying and creating a respectful work environment, recognizing and removing risks of workplace bullying, and checklists for helping you to figure out if what you are experiencing can be considered bullying.

How can I cope with stress?

Mindfulness meditation is an evidence-based practice that can help you feel calmer and manage stress more effectively. While there are some good books on mindfulness meditation (such as “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn), you really need to take a course to learn how to develop your own practice. There are several mindfulness meditation courses in Toronto and surrounding areas, a very good one that is also free (covered by OHIP) is located in Oakville (and worth the drive).

If you need something right now and can’t wait for a course, try these free online guided meditations. The UCLA mindfulness awareness research center ones are good, as well as the ones from Mark Williams “Finding Peace in a Frantic World“. If you download these meditations to your phone, you will have them whenever you need them. The 3 minute breathing space is a good one to do at anytime whenever you feel upset or stressed.

How can I find a therapist?

If you’ve experienced abuse in the workplace, you may decide you need support from a qualified person.

Some of our stakeholders indicated they’d like information on how to find a therapist.  A referral network is an organization that has usually done a lot of background work so that they can refer you to a good therapist, since their reputation depends on it.  You may find the right therapist right away but it’s also okay if you need to try more than one before you find the right ‘fit’; it’s really important to find someone you like working with and who you feel you can trust.

In Ontario, you can request a referral for free through the Ontario Psychotherapy & Counseling Referral Network.  Don’t let the name mislead you, there are social workers and psychologists registered on this network not just psychotherapists.  If you have experienced workplace bullying, it might be helpful to let them know that you’d like to be referred to a someone who specializes in treating trauma from workplace bullying.

You can also get a referral to a psychologist by searching on the Ontario Psychological Association website.

There are many counseling and therapy associations across Canada with a lot more information on their individual websites.

What’s the law about workplace bullying in Ontario?

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has information on its website about workplace violence and harassment. There is legislation in Ontario against workplace bullying, including a sample templates for creating a workplace harassment policy and sample workplace harassment program.

How can I find a lawyer?

If you need to find a lawyer to help you personally, or if you need to find someone who can provide a third party evaluation for your organization, a cost-effective option is the not-for-profit organization in York Region called JusticeNet. You can search for a qualified professional on their website or you can phone their call center.

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