Workplace Violence and Harassment: Understanding the Law
It is the right of an individual to be allowed safe and healthy environment to work in.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act issued by the government of Ontario provides a clear set of workplace duties and responsibilities that all employers, supervisors and even employees must exercise to prevent violence and harassment of any kind in every workplace.
In both the Ontario Human Rights Code and the OHSA, violence is defined as the use of physical force, while harassment is described as any derogatory comment, or conduct, against a worker that is unwelcome or inappropriate. Acts of violence and harassment may originate not only from coworkers in an organization but from executives, supervisors, clients, subcontractors and customers who behave inappropriately in the workplace. An amendment to the OHSA now stipulates that a worker has the right to refuse employment if there is a risk of workplace violence. The employer must keep track of all such incidents and employ stringent corrective measures to ensure safe work environments for all.
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