From Laissez-Faire to Fair Play: Workplace Violence & Psychological Harassment

By Gouveia, Carla Goncalves | University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

From Laissez-Faire to Fair Play: Workplace Violence & Psychological Harassment


Gouveia, Carla Goncalves, University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review


I    INTRODUCTION
II   THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS
       Background: The Problem & Prevalence of Workplace Violence
       Reasons and Rationales for a Comprehensive Legislative Response
       Conceptualizing Psychological Harassment
       Theoretical Paradigms: The Basis for Harassment Law
         Anti-Discrimination Paradigm:
         Individual Characteristics & Enumerated Grounds
         Dignity Paradigm: Universal Concepts of Dignity
       Rubric for Legislative Framework & Analysis
III  PSYCHOLOGICAL HARASSMENT & THE LAW
       Prevention & Protection: Occupational Health & Safety Laws
         Protection Against Physical Violence: Alberta & British
           Columbia
         Protection Against Harassment on Enumerated Grounds:
         Saskatchewan
         Full Protection Against Psychological Harassment:
         The Quebec Labour Code
         Legislative Proposals: The Federal Bill & Ontario's Proposed
         Amendment to the OHSA
       Other Areas of Law: Remedies and Recourse
IV   LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS & POLICY CONSIDERATIONS:
     PSYCHOLOGICAL HARASSMENT--A NEW RIGHT FOR PEACE OF MIND
       Theoretical Paradigms & Regulatory Mechanisms:
       A Combined Approach
       The Legislative Framework, Policy Goals & Process
V   Conclusion

ABSTRACT

Violence at work is composed of a multi-faceted and complex set of interactions. Bullying, or psychological harassment, is a pervasive form of violence that threatens the integrity and health of the individual and the workplace structure. Psychological harassment is an emerging concern for both employees and employers'. Bullying creates' a toxic work environment. The workplace becomes an arena of emotional brutality, characterized by injuries of depleted self-esteem, low morale and apathy. Instances of psychological harassment at work also impose direct costs on both employers and public services. Given the negative ramifications of psychological harassment, the law should strive to empower employers' to prevent and respond to bullying and provide relief to employees.

This article explores the phenomenon of workplace bullying, examines' current legislative provisions that attempt to address this issue and considers the potential legal responses to this pervasive problem. It investigates the legal realm of psychological harassment in three parts'. First, it introduces the social problem of psychological harassment, outlines conceptual notions of bullying and reviews theoretical paradigms. Specifically, two theoretical paradigms of harassment are reviewed to situate the issue of workplace bullying in a broader academic and legal context. Second, several Canadian provincial statutes are examined to gain insight into the existing provisions that address workplace violence and harassment. Third, this article explores legislative recommendations and policy considerations. Ultimately, this article argues that a statutory regime should be implemented to protect employees from psychological harassment. It concludes that a comprehensive legal response will act as the main force in preventing workplace bullying, protecting workers and serving the interests of employers.

RESUME

La violence au travail se compose d'ensemble d'interaetions a facette multiple et complexe. L 'intimidation, ou le harcelement psychologique, est une forme largement repandue de violence qui menace l'integrite et la santo de l'individu et la structure du lieu de travail. L'harcelement psychologique est un souci emergent pour les employes et les employeurs. L 'intimidation cree un environnement de travail toxique. Le lieu de travail devient une arene de brutalite emotive, caracterisee par des dommages d'amour-propre, de bas moral et d'apathie. Les exemples du harcelement psychologique au travail imposent egalement des" couts directs aux employeurs et aux services publics. Etant donne les ramifications negatives du harcelement psychologique, la loi devrait tacher d'autoriser les employeurs de prevenir et de repondre a l'intimidation en fournissant de l'aide aux employes. …

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