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You CAN be held liable for workplace bullying! Read here to see how to prevent it

by , 08 February 2016
Bullying isn't just something that's found among children on the playground. It's also unfortunately found in the workplace among employees and managers.

It's often a pattern flowing from the top down. In other words, from a position of perceived power.

Now, bullying in the workplace should be taken VERY seriously, and dealt with swiftly, because YOU can end up being liable for it having ever occurred.

Take note of these 3 ways in which you could be held liable for bullying in the workplace and see what you can do to prevent it...

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Way#1: Vicarious Liability

If your employees, in the normal course of their work for you, cause any harm to someone else through their fault, including negligence, then you may be held liable.

This is known as 'vicarious liability'.

Way#2: The Employment Equity Act

The EE Act says that you're liable for your employees' acts of discrimination in the workplace.

This includes harassment and bullying.

Way#3: Supreme Court of Appeal

The Supreme Court of Appeal has held that you are owe your employees care and protection in the workplace.

And this doesn't just include a safe physical working environment, but also a working environment that is free from bullying.
 
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So what can you do to avoid liability?

You must take reasonable steps to prevent any bullying in the workplace, AND you should be able to prove this. 

These 'reasonable steps' shouldn't just include a suitable policy in place, but also the fact that you thoroughly investigate every incident of bullying and take necessary action against bullies.

Include an internal process for your employees when it comes to reporting incidents of bullying in the workplace. This can be included in your grievance procedure.

The employee can only go to the courts after he has gone through your company's internal process, and so this internal process can also show that you have taken reasonable steps to try and deal with bullying in the workplace as much as possible before the employee resorted to the courts.
 
*To learn more important information on dealing with bullying in the workplace, go to chapter B03: Bullying in the Workplace in your Practical Guide to Human Resources Management handbook today.

If you don't have it already, click here. 


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