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workplace law

The Question

I work for a retail chain and recently a new employer took over.

From day one, we have worked under the threat of dismissal, unnecessary reprimands, unreasonable demands and we are constantly insulted by our boss. We all fear for our jobs.

Does this conduct run contrary to Bill 168, Ontario's legislation to prevent workplace violence and harassment? What steps should I take to get the Ministry of Labour involved? What will they do?

The Answer

Not all instances of aggressive or unreasonable management by a boss is considered harassment under Bill 168. Harassment is defined as conduct or comment that ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. If you believe that your boss is harassing you, you can contact the Ministry of Labour. However, the ministry will only get involved to determine whether the employer has a workplace harassment policy in place in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Employees may have recourse under the Ontario Human Rights Code if the harassment relates to a prohibited ground of discrimination or the civil courts if the conduct makes employment intolerable.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes. E-mail:

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