Treating someone in your workforce unfairly can lead to sever consequences. It is your duty to maintain a healthy and safe work environment for everyone. That’s why you must address unfair treatment at work amongst coworkers.
Employees being treated unfairly can result in harassment complaints or even discrimination lawsuits. Additionally, you can expect lower productivity and morale.
In this guide, we’ll explain what unfair treatment at work is, the law regarding it, and how to deal with it in the workplace.
What is Unfair Treatment at Work?
Unfair treatment at work is inappropriate behaviour where individuals are treated differently from others. It often comes from management but can be committed by anyone in the workplace. For example, a manager continuously micro-managing one employee for no reason.
Some examples of unfair treatment at work include:
- Giving younger employees more opportunity for advancement in the company.
- Criticizing an employee for minuscule mistakes.
- Paying women lower wages for doing the same job, because of their sex.
- Denying the payment of bonuses for unwarranted reasons.
Unfair treatment at work can negatively impact employee morale and productivity. This will ultimately impact your business.
What is the Law Regarding Unfair Treatment at Work?
Unfair treatment at work in Canada can be a result of favouritism which is not illegal. However, showing bias towards a specific employee, or treating someone differently based on a preference that is protected under human rights legislation may be deemed illegal.
Human rights legislation protects individuals from discrimination based on certain grounds which include:
Each province has their own established human rights legislation. For example, human rights protections for provincially regulated employees in Ontario are provided under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Other provinces include:
- Human Rights Code of British Columbia.
- Alberta Human Rights Act.
- The Human Rights Code of Manitoba.
- The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
- New Brunswick Human Rights Act.
- Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.
- Newfoundland & Labrador Human Rights Act.
The Canada Human Rights Act provides human rights protection from discrimination for federally regulated employees. Some examples of federally regulated workplaces are inter-provincial transportation (eg. trucking companies, railways), television, and broadcast workplaces.
What is the Effects of Unfair Treatment at Work?
Unfair treatment at work can have a huge impact on your workforce and workplace culture. It is important that you know and understand the negative impact of unfair treatment at work.
Toxic Work Culture
Employees who are treated unfairly at work may experience a toxic work culture or poisoned work environment. It is the employer’s duty to create a healthy and safe work environment, free from discrimination.
Employees that are treated unfairly are more inclined to resign and experience medical issues such as increased anxiety, depression, and exhaustion. Moreover, employees who are unfairly treated due to discrimination may also bring human rights claims against you for enabling or allowing the unfair treatment at work.
If you receive a resignation letter due to unfair treatment at work, the employee may have a claim for constructive dismissal.
A constructive dismissal claim can occur when an employer unilaterally changes a fundamental term of a worker’s employment. As well as when a work environment is so toxic that an employee has no choice but to resign.
If an employee files a claim for constructive dismissal, the employee may be entitled to termination pay and other entitlements such as continuation of benefits.
Signs of Unfair Treatment at Work
As an employer, you should be able to identify the signs of unfair treatment at work. Unfair treatment can be subtle and difficult to spot, though it can also be overt. Some signs may include:
- Being given an excessive workload.
- Being expected to achieve unrealistic targets.
- Excluding an employee from team activities, meetings, and challenges.
- Being picked on or singled out by managers or colleagues.
- Not being given the opportunity to participate in training or personal development.
Understanding and identifying the signs of unfair treatment can help you handle and prevent it in the future.
How to Handle Unfair Treatment at Work
It is your duty to protect your employees from unfair treatment at work. Here are some steps you can take to prevent it.
- Create a Policy: Implement a workplace policy that discusses the importance of preventing unfair treatment at work. It should cover harassment, bullying, and negative behaviour.
- Train Employees: Training employees and managers about equality in the workplace can help prevent unfair treatment at work. When hiring new employees, implement a course into their onboarding process that goes over the importance of equal treatment in the workplace.
- Monitor Employees: Nobody likes to be monitored 24/7, especially at work. However, it is important that you monitor behaviour that could indicate unfair treatment at work.
- Encourage Reporting: You can get your employees to help reduce unfair treatment at work. They can do this by reporting unfair treatment at work confidentially. This will encourage them to report it; whether the employee is facing unfair treatment themself or are reporting on behalf of other employees around them.
- Investigate Each Complaint: If you receive a complaint about unfair treatment at work, it is your duty to investigate the complaint and implement disciplinary action if needed. Your legal duty to create a safe workplace, free from discrimination, is mandated under health & safety legislation.
Get Advice on Unfair Treatment at Work with BrightHR
Unfair treatment in the workplace is not good for business and bad for your workplace culture. It is important that you treat all your employees equally. Moreover, it is important that you identify unfair treatment in the workplace and implement measures to prevent it.
If you need assistance with an employee being treated unfairly at work or you need to implement policies to address unfair treatment, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.