Workplace bullying 101

Examples of workplace bullying

  • Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or innuendo.
  • Excluding or isolating someone socially.
  • Intimidating a person.
  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work.
  • Physically abusing or threatening abuse.
  • Removing areas of responsibilities without cause.
  • Constantly changing work guidelines.
  • Establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail.
  • Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information.
  • Making jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’ by spoken word or e-mail.
  • Intruding on a person’s privacy by pestering, spying or stalking.
  • Assigning unreasonable duties or workload which are unfavourable to one person (in a way that creates unnecessary pressure).
  • Underwork – creating a feeling of uselessness.
  • Yelling or using profanity.
  • Criticizing a person persistently or constantly.
  • Belittling a person’s opinions.
  • Unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment.
  • Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion.
  • Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment.

What is not considered bullying:

  • Expressing differences of opinion.
  • Offering constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work related behaviour.
  • Reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment (e.g., managing a worker’s performance, taking reasonable disciplinary actions, assigning work).
  • with good reason, changing work assignments and job duties;
  • scheduling and workloads;
  • inspecting the workplace;
  • implementing health and safety measures;
  • delivering work instructions;
  • assessing and evaluating work performance;
  • disciplinary actions; and/or
  • any other reasonable and lawful exercise of a management function.

If you feel that you are the target of workplace bullying:

  • Firmly tell the person that his or her behaviour is not acceptable and ask them to stop. You can ask a person you trust, such as supervisor or union member to be with you when you approach the person.
  • Keep a factual journal or diary of events. Record:
    • The date, time and what happened in as much detail as possible.
    • The names of witnesses.
    • The outcome of the event.

Remember, it is not just the character of the incidents, but intent of the behaviour and the number, frequency, and especially the pattern that can reveal the bullying or harassment.

  • Keep copies of any letters, memos, e-mails, etc., received from the person.
  • Report the bullying or harassment to the person identified in your workplace policy, your supervisor, or a delegated manager. If your concerns are minimized, proceed to the next level of management.


  • Do not retaliate. You may end up looking like the perpetrator and will most certainly cause confusion for those responsible for evaluating and responding to the situation.

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

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