Notice has been served to employers who have yet to deal with the fast-moving change of attitudes and behaviours around bullying in workplaces, schools and other environments. British Columbia has introduced new legislation requiring training of supervisors and employees on bullying and harassment that will go into effect on November 1.

It is only a matter of time until the BC model becomes a standard for the rest of Canada since governments elsewhere may ultimately absorb some of the liability risks for themselves should they fail to progress.  In due course, a province or territory that fails to provide an appropriate framework for protecting its citizens against predictable harm may face further consequences.

For senior executives, HR management and OHS professionals, this is a call to action. If you operate a workplace of any kind in British Columbia, from law to manufacturing to resource extraction or health care, you really only have until the end of the month to get your company prepared.  There are strong public voices across Canada working to change the status quo and legislators are increasingly aware of how concerned we are as a people. This is a trend, not a fad.

Workplace legislation and worker compensation structures are increasingly being modified to allow for claims and to set the stage for more compliance protocols.  And when in doubt, outside the worker compensation framework, employees are suing and winning.

The same trend is happening in our education systems.  Lawsuits against schools and officials (or anyone with duty of care responsibilities) are becoming a common track for parents and victims to force change and receive compensation for the harmful impacts of bullying.  New legislation is also being passed to allow for this to occur and out-of-court settlements are a regular occurrence.  In short, bullying prevention is not just a major issue in one area or another, but across our entire culture.

Below, I have provided links to cases and events in both Canada and the US that demonstrate in snapshot form the undeniable progression of increased liability faced by employers and school systems.

The new BC legislation is far-reaching and goes well beyond the typical compliance requirements of putting bullying information and policy into writing.  What makes it truly unique is that it mandates training as a requirement of every employer, just as it would for some other kind of risk or hazard that requires certification.

For any employer (remember – schools are employers too) that wants to get ahead of the curve can begin by not only assessing policy and procedure but also the most cost-effective and impactful organization-wide training solution available. If it can demonstrate that it educated an entire workforce about bullying and what has to happen when it occurs. I predict this will become a basic cornerstone of due diligence.

 

Paul Kells

Workplace Respect and Safety Champion, Culture Change Expert and Inspiring Speaker

Reach new standards for safe and positive workplace cultures

www.paulkells.com

 

Bullying Lawsuits and Legislation- Schools

 

http://safely.yahoo.com/blogs/expert-advice/civil-criminal-consequences-cyberbullying-064931462.html

 

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/3251471-bullying-lawsuits-still-rare-but-believed-on-the-increase/

 

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/3242110-catholic-school-board-faces-bullying-lawsuit/

 

http://www.lawtimesnews.com/20100329742/headline-news/small-claims-rules-prompt-lawsuits-against-local-school-boards

 

http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/14/taking-schools-to-court/

 

http://globalnews.ca/news/766451/first-in-canada-law-allows-ns-cyberbullying-victims-to-sue/

 

Bullying Lawsuits and Legislation – Workplaces

 

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2012/10/12/walmart-case-could-help-all-bullied-workers-professor/

 

http://www.workplacebullying.org/tag/lawsuit/

 

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/03/04/283420.htm

 

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/harassment/qt/How-To-File-A-Harassment-Claim.htm

 

http://alis.alberta.ca/ep/eps/tips/tips.html?EK=11594

 

http://www.cwilson.com/resource/newsletters/article/1016-workers-compensation-act-to-address-bullying-in-the-workplace.html

 

http://www.bcemployerlaw.com/2013/07/23/bullying-and-harassment-policy/

 

http://www2.worksafebc.com/Topics/BullyingAndHarassment/Home.asp

 

http://www.kelownacapnews.com/opinion/227440861.html