GLOSSARY OF WORKPLACE TERMS

September 16, 2008 at 11:51 pm | Posted in BULLY | Leave a comment
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GLOSSARY A-J | K-Z

360 review:  A 360 review is a performance appraisal process that gathers input from a number of an employee’s peers and subordinates as well as the employee’s supervisor. Each of these evaluators completes an anonymous questionnaire rating a number of areas of the employee’s performance. A summary report is produced, which is then discussed by the employee and supervisor, and incorporated in the development of a performance improvement plan. Adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle,
Abuse Abusive behaviour humiliates, degrades, or shows disrespect for the dignity and worth of another person. (, Alberta Association of Registered Nurses cited by ILO, 2002)

Abuse of authority:  Abuse of authority happens when someone misuses their power and authority to threaten someone’s livelihood, put someone’s job at risk, make it unnecessarily difficult to do that job, or interfere in any way interfere with someone’s career. It includes intimidation, threats, blackmail, or coercion. Such behaviour serves no good purpose. A reasonable person would be expected to realize that it’s inappropriate. Adapted from the Harassment in the Workplace Policy – New Brunswick Public Service

Advisory committee:  An advisory committee is usually made up of people outside the organization who provide advice on matters of policy, management, program development, or other specifics. They may perceive impacts of an organization’s actions in relation to their own domain and may inform decision making from their perspective. An advisory committee is often an ongoing group.

Alternative dispute resolution/restorative justice Alternative dispute resolution:  is a process undertaken, outside of the formal court system, to bring the parties in a dispute together to face one another. The intent is for them to work out their differences with the help of a structured process and a trained mediator. It can take a variety of forms ranging from mediation to talking circles, corporate circles, or community conferencing (where all of the parties who have been impacted by the conflict, and sometimes representatives of the larger community of interest, are present at the table to participate.)

Appropriate information sharing:  Appropriate information sharing involves determining what can be told to others considering the limits of confidentiality. It is an important aspect of postvention when a negative workplace event has occurred. Employees need to be reassured about what action has been taken, and that they have an opportunity to express any lingering concerns that they wish to see addressed.

Assault:  Assault is any behaviour that makes someone fear for their safety, whether or not a physical or psychological injury actually occurs. Examples of assault include: Kicking, hitting, biting, grabbing, pinching, scratching, or spitting Using an object, such as a chair, cane, or sharps container, or weapon, such as a knife, gun, or blunt instrument, to injure or threaten someone. Verbal hostility and abuse. Adapted from WorkSafe BC, 2000.

Code of conduct:  A code of conduct is a document developed to let employees know what behaviour is expected of them within a workplace and what behaviour is unacceptable. It may also inform employees about the range consequences for inappropriate behaviour

Confidentiality rules:  Confidentiality rules describe what kinds of information can be held private, and what kinds of information must be reported and to whom. Limitations to confidentiality need to be considered in relation to threat assessment, duty to warn, debriefing, and postvention.

Constructive dismissal: Constructive dismissal is the term for a situation in which an employer makes working conditions so awful that an employee feels they have no choice but to quit. Examples include: removing all the enjoyable parts of the job, overloading a worker with unreasonable responsibilities or removing all responsibilities, forcing an employee always to work difficult shift rotations, assigning an employee to an unpleasant, uncomfortable, or unhealthy work space, or assigning humiliating tasks. The employer may also cut back work hours or wages, or change the employee’s job title. All of these things are done without employee consent or agreement. Adapted from Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Corporate circles:  A corporate circle is a process which brings together those affected by a work situation in order to engage in group problem solving. It can be useful in situations of bullying or harassment, abuse of power, ongoing disputes, discrimination, general mistreatment, slow simmering conflict, or damaged work relations. It is appropriate only when the group is ready to have an honest conversation aimed at transforming the conflict. In a corporate circle, everyone affected by the conflict helps to diagnose and solve the problem. People disclose the hidden causes of conflict. It’s safe to talk about emotions. Participants learn how to resolve future conflict. As preparation, a facilitator conducts individual interviews ( roughly an hour long )with each of the people involved in the situation. Then selected participants come together for a group session. They sit facing each other. Each participant is invited to speak openly and candidly about: What has happened, How it has affected them, and What they would like to see happen in the future. The process allows the group to work together to Figure out the hidden causes Come to a shared understanding about what happened Create a solution A corporate circle process is a good choice when people have been punished for behaving badly, but continue to behave in the same way afterward. People are more likely to change their ways when they understand how their behaviour has affected others. Having a chance to repair the hurt they’ve caused makes them more hopeful about the future. When people have helped to come up with a solution, they’re more likely to follow through with it. [Adapted from Fitzgerald, M. F. (2006). Corporate circles: Transforming conflict and building trusting teams. Vancouver, BC: Quinn Publishing. See also  http://www.centerpointinc.com/.]

Co-worker harassment:  Co-worker harassment is a situation involving a harassment allegation between two members of the same union. By law, unions have a legal duty to provide fair representation to everyone in the bargaining unit. In a case of co-worker harassment, the union must represent the target, but it may also be asked to represent the alleged harasser. Unions have to make sure that the process is fair to both co-workers. In some cases, the union may be able to resolve the problem informally, but in doing so, it can’t allow anyone’s rights to be compromised. In more serious cases, the employer is usually involved. (Adapted from Equality Branch, CUPE, Stop harassment: A guide for CUPE locals)

Critical incident:  A critical incident is a workplace event — such as an accident, injury, fatality, or robbery — that causes emotional or psychological trauma in people exposed to the incident directly, or even indirectly. It is a sudden, powerful event outside the range of normal experience — and outside workers’ control. A critical incident will often overwhelm a worker’s ability to function in a normal way by causing strong emotional reactions. (WorkSafe BC )
 

Critical incident stress:  Critical incident stress is a normal emotional and physiological reaction to a stressful or abnormal situation. Some common reactions to a highly stressful event are: Feeling jumpy, anxious, moody, or irritable Having difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or thinking clearly Having trouble going near the accident scene or to places that trigger memories of the accident oar incident Having trouble being around people Having difficulty being alone (WorkSafe BC

Critical incident debriefing:  (CID) or critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) Critical incident debriefing or critical incident stress debriefing is an individual or group process in which one or more service providers help the affected worker(s) cope with the continuing effects of a traumatic incident. A CISD should occur within 24 to 72 hours after the event. Participation is voluntary. The purpose of the debriefing is to alleviate the trauma of affected workers and speed up their recovery process. Debriefing focuses on the well-being of the workers; it does not attempt to find the cause of the incident or assign blame. The intent of the debriefing is to address and respond to the emotional and psychological consequences resulting specifically from the workplace incident. Debriefings should be led by trained, qualified professionals who can guide strong emotions such as guilt, sadness, or anger that workers may be experiencing. Defusing and debriefing sessions are not “therapy” and are not a substitute for therapy. Individuals requiring further support should be directed to a mental health professional. (Adapted from WorkSafe BC – 

Cyberbullying:  Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying and harassment of workplace colleagues that involves the use of technology. It can take place via cell phone, e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, Web 2.0 sites, blogs, chatrooms, Websites, and virtual social space (FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, etc.) The basic rule is this: if the behaviour would be inappropriate face-to-face, then it’s equally inappropriate online. (Adapted from “Bullying: Tackling tormentors“, PersonnelToday.com, December 20, 2007) 

Cyberharassment and cyberstalking:  Cyberstalking and cyberharassment are similar abusive behaviours. Most people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a subtle distinction, typically relating to the perpetrator’s intent and the original motivation for their behavior. While the two situations usually involve many of the same online tactics, cyberstalking is almost always characterized by the stalker relentlessly pursuing a victim online and is much more likely to include some form of offline attack, as well. This offline aspect makes it a more serious situation as it can easily lead to dangerous physical contact if the victim’s location is known. [Adapted from Parry Aftab, cited in Information Week – August 23, 2004, ]

Cyberterrorism:  Cyberterrorism can be defined as the use of information technology by terrorist groups and individuals to further their agenda. This can include use of information technology to organize and execute attacks against networks, computer systems and telecommunications infrastructures, or for exchanging information or making threats electronically. Examples are hacking into computer systems, introducing viruses to vulnerable networks, web site defacing, denial-of-service attacks, or terroristic threats made via electronic communication.[National Conference of State Legislatures

Debriefing:  Debriefing is a process of talking with workers who have experienced a negative event to attempt to assist them for a variety of purposes, such as to alleviate stress related to a recent workplace incident, to review what went wrong and to determine how to prevent a recurrence, or to rebuild trust and repair damaged workplace relationships.

Discrimination:   Discrimination means treating people in a negative or hurtful way because they are different. The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on these established grounds: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, pregnancy and childbearing, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability or a pardoned criminal conviction. (Canadian Human Rights Commission: http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/discrimination/discrimination-en.asp) The Human Rights Act of New Brunswick currently protects against discrimination and harassment based on: age, marital status, religion, physical disability (including HIV\AIDS), mental disability, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, national origin, social condition, political belief or activity, sexual orientation, and sex (including pregnancy). (New Brunswick Human Rights Commission )

Discriminatory practices:  According to the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is discrimination to: treat someone differently for any of the reasons noted above; harass anyone for any reason; set up a policy or practice that places a group of people at a disadvantage; and retaliate against someone. Here are some examples: A person cannot be denied a job because of a disability that does not affect job performance or for which reasonable adjustment can be made. In employment applications and advertisements , federally regulated employers cannot include requirements that are not clearly related to the job, such as previous Canadian experience. A job performed mostly by women cannot be paid less than a job of equal value done mostly by men. Examples of jobs that might be of equal value are nursing assistants and electricians, or secretaries and maintenance staff. Where unions have a monopoly on referring job applicants to employers, it is discriminatory for them to exclude candidates from designated groups. A bank cannot ask a married woman for her spouse’s signature when she is applying for a loan. An individual unable to work certain days for religious reasons may not be denied employment unless the employer can demonstrate that it would cause undue hardship. A poster that encourages discrimination is illegal. Internet and pre-recorded telephone hate messages are forbidden. No one is allowed to make demeaning comments because of someone’s colour, ethnic origin, age, disability, sex or any of the other prohibited grounds. An employer cannot fire an employee because he or she has filed a human rights complaint. It is also a criminal offence to threaten, intimidate or discriminate against a person who files a complaint or a person who serves as a witness. (Adapted from Canadian Human Rights Commission: )

Diversity competency or cultural competency:  Diversity competency or cultural competency refers to the insights and skills needed to communicate effectively across cultural diversity and other forms of difference. These would include, for example, awareness of culturally based assumptions about eye contact, social distance, taboo topics of conversation, and attitudes towards time, and factors to be sensitive to in interacting with a person who is visually or hearing impaired or a person who is economically disadvantaged.

Duty of care : Duty of care sets out expectations that every employer must take every reasonable precaution to avoid injury to any person or their property. This includes employees, people providing contracted services, volunteers, clients, patients, students, and members of the general public. Any unintentional but careless act which results in injury or loss is considered to be negligent, and fails to meet the requirement of duty of care. (Adapted from Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Legal Information Service )

Duty to accommodate:  Duty to accommodate is the obligation to meaningfully incorporate diversity into the workplace. The duty to accommodate involves eliminating or changing rules, policies, practices and behaviours that discriminate against persons based on a group characteristic, such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, family status and disability. Sometimes, workplaces have rules, policies, practices and behaviours that apply equally to everyone, but that can create barriers based on a group characteristic. For example, if an employer requires that employees wear a certain uniform, this may create a barrier to someone whose religious practice requires a certain manner of dress. The duty to accommodate requires employers to identify and eliminate rules that have a discriminatory impact. Accommodation means changing the rule or practice to incorporate alternative arrangements that eliminate the discriminatory barriers. (Canadian Human Rights Commission )

Duty to warn:  Duty to warn is a legal concept that expresses the idea that, if people have not been told about serious or hidden dangers and get hurt, those who knew about the dangers can be held responsible, either civilly or criminally. An evaluation of possible violence in the workplace will require a discussion of who needs to be informed under the duty-to-warn concept and what they need to be told. Actual victims or directly named potential victims are the centermost circle. Members of the immediate, physical workgroup on the same floor or in the same building as the victims are in the next circle. Any employees on the same corporate work site are in the next circle. Finally, all employees in the entire company are in the last circle. Depending on the level of risk, visitors to the work site, such as customers, vendors, or subcontractors may need to be considered as part of this process as well. The higher the assessed probability of physical harm, the more important the need to consider notification. The important issues with duty to warn are privacy, confidentiality and defamation, and recognizing that the duty to warn needs to be balanced with the reality that information can increase anxiety in the workplace. Misjudging the balance point may cause more harm, in some cases physical harm, than not saying anything at all. This concept is embedded in every workplace violence-related case. The employer must provide identified victims with information that will allow them to take measures to protect their own safety. [Adapted from Corcoran, M.H. and Cawood, J. S. (2003). Violence assessment and intervention: The practitioner’s handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 201-202)]

Facilitated discussion:  Facilitated discussion is a structured dialogue process led by a person skilled in group processes and dialogue techniques. It can be used at various stages in a conflict to allow for information sharing, clarification, mutual understanding, and rebuilding of working relationships.

Harassment:  Harassment is any unwanted physical or verbal conduct that offends or humiliates a person, or interferes with ability to do a job or obtain a service. Harassing behaviours include such things as: berating someone in front of others making fun of someone’s accent blocking someone’s career advancement withholding information & resources deliberately encouraging inappropriate attire sexist, racist, & homophobic remarks or graphics unpredictable, explosive outbursts inflammatory remarks in e-mail or blogs tampering with someone’s work station imposing unsafe working conditions setting impossible deadlines & expectations hiding someone’s personal belongings constantly changing performance evalution criteria taking credit for someone else’s ideas rudeness & abusive language scapegoating, unfairly blaming micromanaging & constant fault-finding withholding formative feedback abusing personal information discrediting someone’s skills & qualification hounding staff outside of office hours spreading rumours, gossip & innuendo threats & intimidation blatant favouritism unnecessarily harsh & hurtful feedback ridiculing or destroying someone’s work undermining professional or personal reputation taking away a worker’s responsibilities without cause underwork, making someone feel useless scapegoating & constant fault-finding blocking applications for training, leave, or promotion hounding staff outside of office hours rumours, gossip & innuendo threats & intimidation unwelcome comments on personal appearance Harassment can consist of a single incident or several incidents over a period of time. Harassment can create a negative or hostile work environment which can interfere with a person’s job performance and result in being refused a job, a promotion or a training opportunity. The harasser, who could be of the same or opposite sex as the person harassed, may be a supervisor, a co-worker, or someone providing a service, such as a bank officer or a clerk in a government department. If a reasonable person ought to have known that the behaviour was unwelcome, then it is considered to be harassment. (Adapted from the Canadian Human Rights Commission)

In good faith:  In good faith is a term which expresses the intention of all parties involved in a dispute resolution process to participate, motivated by a sincere wish to resolve the matter and a willingness to make a sincere effort to find common ground. Mediators must ensure this intent prior to initiating an alternative dispute resolution process.

Just cause:  Just cause is described as very serious conduct that can be considered grounds for dismissal. It can include theft, serious dishonesty, sexual harassment, conflict of interest and other types of highly inappropriate conduct. It is very difficult in Canada to successfully prove just cause. If an employer’s claim of just cause is disproven, then they may have to pay extra wrongful dismissal damages for making allegations in bad faith. http://www.joblaw.ca/index.php?view=dismissal

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