Legal Q&A - Bullied at Work

Legal Q&A - Bullied at Work

Hello Monster,

My question to you is what is my legal rights to harassment at work regarding obesity and bullying?

Is there a law that protects good employees from this wrongful conduct?

If I am fired, can I start a suit against my bully and her accomplices?

Can my supervisor be held responsible for not taking my complaints of discrimination seriously?

I have been with my current employer since 2007 with full benefits and have had no complaints about my work whatsoever. My manager has actually told me on three separate occasions that my work is excellent and coworkers can and are learning allot from me.

My problem is that I have been bullied, harassed and discriminated against by a former supervisor for several years and the harassment was becoming so obvious that coworkers from all over the company were commenting to me and my friends about it.

For years I had tried to resolve it on my own by avoiding this person or commenting to her that her behavior is unacceptable but, nothing worked. I have complained to my current supervisor about the harassment, and she spoke with our department manager about the situation. The comments and gestures stopped for a short while but then start up again. My supervisor was promoted and left our department and the harassment started again within a month of her leaving.

Recently, in a staff meeting with our department manager who was taking the place of our supervisor, I had told her of the bullying and harassment I was enduring and two of my colleagues came forward on my behalf to say they have witnessed the abuse. We were told that she did not believe us and that we were just picking on this person. The bullying continued and became so obvious that it started to affect me by making me angry and I would comment to her that she didn't need to act the way she was around me. Our manager would do nothing to help the situation and refused to believe that this person was bullying me. I finally had enough and went to our Human Resources Director for help in resolving this problem. Unfortunately, this has only made things worse because my bully has told everyone in our department (and others) and I'm now being targeted by her long-time friends who are making up lies about me and trying to provoke me into a verbal argument and I feel my job is in jeopardy. Even when I am off on vacation, my friends have told me that slanderous comments are said about me and they try to blame me for things that I would need to be at work to do.

Could you please advise if there is any law that protects employees from discrimination and harassment from employers? Actually, coworkers are the problem because my company is very fair with people from all aspects and disabilities. If I am fired, can I start a suit against my bully and the people who disregarded my complaints?

Please any help and advice is most appreciated because I really do like my job and don't want to leave a company I love working for. Thank you in advance for all your help.

- Bullied

Hi Bullied,

If your obesity is a medical condition then you are specifically protected under the Human Rights Code and can take action against the bully for the harassment and the company for not taking action to make it stop. This will include any lost wages if you are fired plus general damages for violation of your human rights and mental stress. Whether it is not a medical condition, if the bullying is intolerable, you can resign on the basis of constructive dismissal and sue the company as if it had fired you. You may also be able to sue the bully for infliction of mental stress and the company for negligence in permitting it.

In short, B, you have a range of options.

Good luck!

- Howard Levitt