Workplace Violence & Harassment: Laws & Governing Legislature

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It is always important have access to a working conditions free of workplace violence, workplace harassment and bullying – things that pose a danger to one’s physical health and mental health. Knowing who your health and safety coordinator is, your human resource representative, as well as reviewing your workplace violence prevention policy can help foster a better sense of safety and sound mind. If your workplace is at risk of violence, and there is no prevention program at present, it is pivotal that your management makes a commitment to incorporating a workplace violence prevention program as soon as possible. There are specific governing legislatures depending on the area and province in which workplace violence has taken place; these governing bodies are put in place to investigate, protect, and prosecute those who are negligent to workplace violence and prevention. In Ontario, the governing body is the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the Human Rights Tribunal. It is your right, as any employee or volunteer, to have access to a safe and healthy work environment that does not pose any ongoing risk to your or your coworkers. If you have encountered workplace violence, workplace harassment or bullying, we highly suggest you speak with a personal injury lawyer. If you have filed an insurance claim for disability leave due to workplace violence, are facing a denied claim or workplace reprisal, contact a disability claim lawyer as soon as possible. TSF Law is a firm that provides legal council specialized in both of these areas; we have successfully represented many individuals who are victims of workplace violence.

Written Policy

As per the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), “the most important component of any workplace violence prevention program is management commitment”. This means that your management should be fully committed to providing and bettering the workplace violence prevention practices, and have a policy that is written and accessible to all employees.

A written policy is important because it will outline and inform all employees about what behaviour management considers inappropriate and thus unacceptable in the workplace, what to do when these incidents occur, as well as provide contacts and methods of reporting such incidents.

Key Points for a Written Policy

  • This policy should apply to all that are employed or have any relationship with the company (management, clients, independent contractors, clients, etc.).

  • The definition of workplace violence should be precise and written in concrete language that is fully accessible by all individuals, providing clear examples of unacceptable scenarios, behaviours and work conditions.

  • A written policy for workplace violence prevention should encourage the reporting of all incidents of violence, harassment and bullying, and outline the consequences one would face if they commit a violent act.

  • The reporting process should be confidential and the policy should outline how and to whom individuals can report incidents to. This is important to support proper reporting of incidences.

  • Support services should be provided to any victims of violence in the workplace, and the policy should describe how information about potential risks of violence will be communicated to all employees.

It is the managements duty to fulfill any violence prevention training needs, as well as to monitor and regularly review the violence prevention written policy. To review the CCOHS’s points on workplace violence preventative measures for workplace design, administrative practices and work practices, please click here.

Please Note: Canada’s Criminal Code deals with matters such as assault (including sexual assault), behaviours such as stalking, and any threats of bodily harm. The police should ALWAYS be contacted immediately when an act of violence has occurred in the workplace or if someone in the workplace is threatened with violence. If your workplace fails to report any of the following, they are breaking the law and held liable for negligence.

Click here for a sample workplace harassment policy provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

Workplace Violence Legislation

All provinces (except for Quebec), territories, and any Canadian federally regulated workplace have specific workplace violence prevention regulations, but all are governed by the Canadian Labour Code for Occupational Health and Safety. Many of these jurisdictions also have their own regulations which may have implications specifically for workplace violence prevention. To review the specific legislature based on your location in Canada, please click here.

Workplaces Under Federal Jurisdiction

Workplaces considered under federal jurisdiction include:

  • Post offices
  • Airlines & airports
  • Banks
  • Some grain elevators
  • Telecommunication Companies
  • Inter-provincial trucking, shipping, railway and bus companies

These workplaces are regulated solely by The Canada Labour Code, which is administered by the federal entity The Human Resources and Skills Development of Canada. Even still, if an act of workplace violence has occurred, area police and emergency services should be contacted as soon as possible.


Given that the majority of workplace violence occurs in Ontario, we will list resources that outline, in detail, the governing laws in this province. The Ontario Ministry of Labour is responsible for overlooking any instances of workplace violence and workplace harassment in Ontario.

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act is the province’s legislation for workplace health and safety and protects workers from health and safety hazards while on the job. The act itself outlines the duties of all workers and their rights when it comes to workplace violence and harassment. Furthermore, the Act establishes procedures for dealing with workplace violence and harassment, as well as how the law will be enforced.

Contacting a Toronto Disability Lawyer

While the Ministry of Labour inspects and enforces the requirements outlined in the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, if you have incurred a physical injury or mental health disability as a result of workplace violence (including harassment or bullying), we urge you to speak with a personal injury lawyer. If your employer has failed to comply with their duties to provide a healthy and safe workplace, a personal-injury lawyer can order compensation or other remedies; this is something the Ministry of Labour cannot do for workplace violence victims.

TSF Law has an expertise in denied disability claims and insurance claim disputes throughout the province. Our firm is familiar with insurance law and how to navigate the claims and internal appeal process when a client is facing a denied disability claim (for both short-term disability and long-term disability). If you are facing a denied claim related to an incident of workplace injury (whether be for a physical disability or mental health disability), speak with one of our lawyers today. We have successfully represented many denied claims and understand the urgency and sensitivity needed to handle workplace injury as a result of workplace violence, harassment or bullying.