Working in a Toxic Environment

Recently, a client asked me what my thoughts were on the RCMP story that broke out recently regarding the culture of bullying and sexism in the RCMP.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/bullying-harassment-thrive-at-rcmp-watchdog-says-1.3413856

Let me begin with a frequent question that I am asked, as I am a veteran who served for Canada proudly. I like to begin by saying those who serve to protect us are amongst the most honorable citizens of our country.

I Often feel that people are let down by organizations and leaders who fail to take the tough steps to stay current with societal norms. As long-standing organizations are often amongst those who take refuge and comfort in maintaining an “old school” approach.

This is the problem with rigid rules that are upheld by ‘traditional’ people. An organization can amalgamate and change into a healthier and more efficient reflection of society while also performing better at such job. It is not enough to use the excuse that the organization is primarily white and male, and because of this such actions are excused.

I took a lot off flack when I sued the military; I received accusations of disloyalty and turncoat. I accepted some of the criticism, and when I was offered the chance I explained to my brothers and sisters that we do not protect our institutions by denying existing problems, or by turning our heads away from injustices that occur within our ranks. It is more important that we serve the group by holding each other accountable and fixing mistakes.

Sometimes the chain of command is very slow to do this on their own accord and produce BS policy statements that don’t address the problems.

Which can be seen in the RCMP example.

As for decades, the RCMP have had policies that broadcast equality yet in practice the environment was openly hostile to women and some minorities.  So on the books, the bureaucrats running the organization can say they are compliant but on the ground the environment it is toxic.

I approach the topic always from the perspective of what if one of my amazing daughters wanted to serve her country and join the military or RCMP, what type of environment would I demand? Many women and minorities are extremely fit for the jobs. As they offer superior capabilities like problem-solving skills.

By limiting people before they begin or have a chance creates a hostile environment underneath the surface, making the life for those who want to serve traumatic.  This issue is universal; it can translate to any workplace where co-workers or executives create toxic environments.

I am asked this question routinely, so I am going to break it down for you in simple steps

1. Suing isn’t the first step, most people are decent and need a hand moving forward

2. Explore your company policies and utilize established procedures for making your concerns known to the chain of command

  • Often in these environments, one will immediately be labeled a complainer for exercising their rights to have a harassment-free workplace
  • But this comes with being a pioneer, there will be turbulence
  • This is why it is important to follow the rules while doing this

3. If the organization is unresponsive or a major part of the problem you can sue

  • In most cases when you follow the rules and channels for complaints the problem is resolved

4. After step 3 you need to get assistance, a competent advocate to make things happen quickly

  • This is an important step because you want to hold guilty parties accountable

 

I am proud to say that I have successfully ripped idiots out of their ivory towers when they thought they were safe, allowing offensive tactics to continue and receiving a check for my client, who else will do this for a new employee trying to serve her country facing institutional prejudice.

You have an obligation to follow the rules, but sometimes, in some places, the establishment doesn’t want to change and someone needs to light a fire. When all else fails a lawsuit can get people’s attention as a matter of a last result.  Just make sure you hire the right attorney who can navigate what will be hostile waters and keep your interests in mind and not their ego or reputation.

Call us today to book a consult if you feel you have been bullied or harassed in the workplace.

519-657-1LAW or info@millarslaw.com