Sunday, 19 January 2014

Workplace bullying & harassment

Q: I am trying to find some information on laws or policies relating to workplace bullying in Trinidad & Tobago.

A: Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work. Bullying and harassment of any kind are in no-one's interest and should not be tolerated in the workplace.
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Bullying itself isn’t against the law, but harassment is unlawful under the Offences Against the Person(Amendment) (Harassment) Act, (2005).


Examples of bullying or harassing behaviour in the workplace could include:
  • spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour (particularly on the grounds of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief)
  • copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know
  • ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail
  • exclusion or victimisation
  • unfair treatment
  • overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials, asking for sexual favours, making decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected
  • making threats or comments about job security without foundation
  • deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism
  • preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.



What employees should do if they’re bullied or harassed
Employees should see if they can sort out the problem informally first. If they can’t, they should talk to their:
  • manager
  • human resources (HR) department
  • trade union representative
  • Legal action (last resort)


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I firstly want to thank you so much for this site...you are a blessing to everyone who have read and who have asked questions and got answers. God Bless you.

I have a question, My manager has been bullying me for some time now, and because I refused to go to do something out of my scope of work he has been more malicious towards me in the most petty ways. he has been accusing me for things he cannot prove and twisting my words to the directors of the company he also went so low as to record a meeting we had based on the same issue.
HR sent me an email to summons me to a meeting with him, when i asked for an agenda to prepare myself if not i may not attend until they advise me as to the issue. they told me i was being insubordinate and they should not give me an agenda. I was informed that my manager had a meeting with the industrial relations consultant who informed him that he can record the meeting with his cell phone without me knowing...can you tell me if i am wrong.

Trinbago Rights said...

No educated, experienced consultant would tell a manager to record a conversation without the employee's permission because it cannot be used as evidence in any hearing regarding your employment, so if I were you, I'd be happy knowing that my manager was being advised by an idiot.

You need to start recording everything that happens at work. You need to start compiling your evidence in a chronological way in case this goes any further.

Anonymous said...

My issues are similar my boss has been bullying me for a few months now. I was hired by word of mouth, not bound by contract and no definitive job description provided. This was 3.5 years ago, the past few months she has insulted me publicly in front of patients and colleagues alike, puts me down, twists my words and deliberately creates situations to create problems. She demands that I sit down to a performance appraisal but I have only done so once and that merely served as a platform to further degrade me and decimate my performance. I have recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety due to this unrelenting form of abuse I am presently medicated in order to cope, please other than leave my position which I intend to do eventually can you advise me as to how best I can handle this woman. She is a cardiologist and I am her PA. To date I have not been issued a single disciplinary letter nor has she provided opportunities to train me for the skill deficits she regularly identifies

Donna Greene said...

Unfortunately, workplace harassment and bullying is not against the law unless it involves a physical action, racist, sexist or other action which is defined in discrimination laws.

Trinbago Rights said...

A letter. I was hoping you would've contacted me privately a long time ago on this.

mamatt5 said...

Good Morning I need your assistance. Now I have read your Ms. Greene's contribution could you elaborate on this. I am hoping to contact you privately on a matter. But I can give you a synopsis here. My BF's boss is a bully. My BF work in a small office and there is a clique in fact there is a division of workers between one shift and another shift. Therefore he has no one to who will back him up however in the many interactions the manager has had with my BF he has utilized the company's phone to call me. I am involved in industrial relations so I try to advise him as best as possible. However apparently the boss used this information apparently, traced my personal phone number and called me and harassed and threatened me on the phone, I had to call the police. I spoke to the CFO of the company and he was no help not even an apology for what I went through added to this he made sure to state that this is a matter between myself and the manager. I indicated that he was representing the company at the time but he just said send him a report. Nothing to this date has come out of it. I should also add that I am such a threat to the company that the manager in question is seeking for me to be banned from the premises which is not only does not belong to him but not even the company they are renting from another institution. I am hoping that I can contact you personally with this so I can elaborate more on the situation.

Trinbago Rights said...

You can contact me about employment issues only via www.jbemploymentconsulting.com

Anonymous said...

I had a medical procedure done on my eyes because of a torn retina. During an incident at work my boss told me that I will be excused because I am blind and the co-workers present and himself had a good laugh. I walked away humiliated and embarrass. He then called me to return to his office but I did not.

Now I am being charged for disobedience and insubordination for my action. Could his action be harassment?

Trinbago Rights said...

Harassment usually requires ongoing actions, not a one off.

Anonymous said...

Is recording someone with out their consent or knowledge against the law in our country?

Anonymous said...

Good day colleagues, if you are being bullied contact the Equal Opportunity Commission and file a complaint. Trinidad and Tobago has put laws in place to protect you from bullies. My organisation will be running a training program on bullying in the workplace. Call me for more information or if you would like to register 765-7365

Unknown said...

Hi,i am a female and my supervisor has squeezed my butt and make rude comments to me and i am in the construction industry what can i do about it?

Trinbago Rights said...

Just got $66,000 for a worker in a similar matter through our union. Email me privately.

http://trinidadandtobagolegalrights.blogspot.com/2015/10/sexual-harassment-in-trinidad-and-tobago.html

Keri D said...

Does the Offences Against the Person(Amendment) (Harassment) Act, (2005) apply to persons being bullied at school?

Trinbago Rights said...

Yes

Candy R said...

Hi,
My colleague at work is continuously spreading false rumors about me. When I walk into the room he constantly stupes at the sight of me. He recently started a rumor on work that I am distributing pornography on work, which is not true. I know some people in the work place may think that its a joke but this is becoming more serious as time goes by. Are there laws against coworkers seeking to tarnish another coworkers reputation? Please help me.

Candy R said...

Hi,
I have been experiencing workplace bullying by another colleague. He continuously spreading malicious lies about me to other people who work within the organisation. His latest attempt is that I have been circulating pornography to people within my organisation which isn't true. I am so fed up of his lies its not funny...Please advise me accordingly

Anonymous said...

I have been experiencing bullying in my work place from a CO worker, she always insist that I'm gay, and recently posted a video in the work group, with a woman performing oral on a next young lady. And she is saying that ppl who do these things are stink and nasty... I want to floor this girl so bad, but I don't want to lose my job. Please advise me accordingly thank u

Unknown said...

First thing first.. wrong act especially when it comes to the work place.. u should use and read the EQUAL OPPORTUNITY ACT 22:03. also u can read up the COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT which will guide u on your complaint.. also if u are a member of a trade union u can take the matter to your shopstewart present at the work place...