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Question re: Employment/HR workplace conduct policy (Canada)

  1. Nov 11, 2016 #1


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    I'm not sure where to turn for this.

    A thing has come up at my place of employment, to which I object. It has to do with employee conduct and (verbal) abuse. It is not a simple matter, such as would be spelled out if I merely read the employment laws or labour act.

    I do not wish to have the discussion with the general public, so I won't spell it out, at least until there's someone who has some experience in this area.

    Also, I'd like to know where this stands a little sooner than if I went down to the employment office and asked to speak to someone.

    Do you know a little about employment standards, relating to conduct and (verbal) abuse, or about HR practices? Do you know anyone I might pose a question to?
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  3. Nov 12, 2016 #2


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    Harassement and verbal abuse
    That's Ontario

    The Quebec site explains it much better

    It all has to do with respecting the dignity of the individual.
    There are obligations for both employees and the employer so as to prevent and solve a caustic work environment.
    Normally, people are respective of one another.
    I think one can imagine, where, even inadvertently and unknowingly, through gender, culture, health, etc. issues, an individual be made to feel psychologically uncomfortable.
    I would think that company policy should reflect on how to deal with such a situation if it does arise, rather than ad hoc it along the way, or disregard it.

    Federal labour law probably has something similar if you fall under that jurisdiction
  4. Nov 12, 2016 #3


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    Well, as I said, the book doesn't really cover it.

    *sigh* OK, lemme summarize, hypothetically of course.

    In a company of < 20 people, say a Project Manager is hired. PMs manage tasks, handle clients, etc. They are one facet of a team, which includes software developers, QA people, etc. They are colleagues - equal members of a team. Developers do not report to PMs.

    Say this PM calls a meeting with all the developers (the CEO is not present) and tears them collectively a new one. The focus is on hours-in-seats (ignoring an established flex-time policy), threatening to take away privileges, singling out and humiliating individuals by showing videos on his phone of people not working, and other things entirely outside the scope of a PM.

    There is no discussion of whether the work was getting done - which is normally the scope of a PM - and normally how any professional woud handle it.

    This is not a boss giving underlings a dressing-down. This is an equal teammate thinking he is a boss and yelling like we are answerable to him. At least, that is what it is going in.

    What I'm trying to figure out (hypothetically, of course) is
    1. If a random employee were to walk up to another random employee and start yelling at them for some random thing, abuse and conduct would surely apply. So, if the employee that thinks he has the right to yell and dress-down another employee - that's no different. So, can an employee taking colleagues to-task outside his scope technically constitute abuse or harrassment?
    2. This is unofficially sanctioned by the CEO. There wll be little help from above - unless it can be shown that this violates some employment law. Can a CEO decide arbitrarily that employee X is now in charge of everybody else, without a change in title or any kind of notification? Again, the CEO is not present at this meeting and there has been no notice of role promotion. The employees are totally blind-sided. By all rights, they could have simply said "You have no such authority." and walked out.
    3. Hypothetically, one does not need to make this litigious . i.e no desire to actually sic'ing the Employment Act on them. The issue is simply can the employees push back on the company, saying "You actually cannot do this without going through proper procedures."?
  5. Nov 12, 2016 #4
    Human resources? or if part of a union, them?
  6. Nov 12, 2016 #5


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    He's out of bounds right there given the job description for PM....
  7. Nov 12, 2016 #6


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    In a company of 20?

    Let's say the closest thing this place has to an HR department is the CEO's wife.
  8. Nov 12, 2016 #7


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    There's no reason a PM can't call a meeting.

    The agenda of the meeting is a different issue.
    And up until this point, there has been no acrimony; no reason to even suspect they are walking into a barrel of a gun.
  9. Nov 12, 2016 #8
    In that case, I would seek legal advice.
  10. Nov 12, 2016 #9


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    Not sure why the filming of individuals was done, as there were surely other avenues of good faith that should have been pursued.
    A level of privacy is expected in a workplace, and this co-worker has displayed questionable behavior, especially since the monitoring was not disclosed beforehand.
    If not upper management authorized, the employee may have contravened company policy, and/or on the verge of an illegal activity. Where was the filming taking place? Certain areas are considered or should be considered free from monitoring.

    Legally protected areas regarding harassment seem not to be have broken. ie race creed gender etc. as from my first post as reference.
    Nevertheless, a caustic work environment was precipitated, and could continue, which I am sure you are aware, can have an affect upon a companies bottom line.

    Were all employees who were at the meeting of sound mind and body? Someone who is in a fragile state may feel being singled out over what happened, leaving them in a mental state unable to adequately function at work. Some liability to the company could be warranted in that case, either by time off, financial compensation, etc. That may sound like a weak argument, but, ...

    You may want to approach someone in management and discuss with them the motivation for the occurrence, and what was hoped to be achieved that could not have been achieved in a more civil manner.
  11. Nov 12, 2016 #10


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    A very good point.

    Er. Surely, you're not suggesting that harrassment must be motivated by some from of discrimination to be valid.
    "I don't like you" if said sufficiently acrimomiously, is still harrassment.

    There's no ambiguity in that respect. The motivation here was a (poorly-executed) attempt to improve the bottom line, thinking that somehow, employees with zero morale are more productive.

    I'm not sure it matters. If the act is unacceptable in the workplace, then it is not conditional on whether someone actually suffers.

    The overarching story here is that the CEO, while a great guy, self-admittedly does not handle conflict. He hired someone to do what he couldn't do. This also means there's no help from him.

    My desire here is to see if, whether or not the CEO supports it, he is allowed to extend power of authority to someone arbitrarily and without notice.

    As it was, anyone in that room, as far as they were aware, were within their rights to stop the proceedings and clear the room.
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