Navigating a toxic workplace is a risky and lengthy process, experts say

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TORONTO — In the wake of Julie Payette’s resignation from the role of governor general on Thursday after an investigation into harassment allegations, some Canadian workers may find themselves relating to the rank and file at Rideau Hall.

Ottawa lawyer Yavar Hameed says the pandemic has caused an uptick in complaints of toxic workplaces, leading more employees to seek legal solutions like human rights complaints, health and safety inspections, constructive dismissal damages, or even accommodation for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Human resources consultant Janet Candido says many companies are slow to act on complaints of harassment when a worker is high-ranking, popular or productive.

Candido says workplaces should train managers to intervene in disputes across departments, rather than putting the onus on workers to confront their bosses.

Fredericton employment lawyer Dan Leger says workplaces are required to have harassment policies in place, and many do begin with an informal mediation between the two workers that are clashing.

Leger says employment contracts typically protect workers from retaliation over good faith complaints, adding that good workplace policies should prevent blowups by letting workers lodge complaints with someone other than their boss — or their boss’s friends.

 

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