Introduction
Home page
Français
Internal External  workplace violence

Type: verbal

Verbal Abuse

What is verbal abuse?
What are the consequences of verbal abuse at work?
What are the legal consequences of verbal abuse?

What is verbal abuse?

Abuse is defined as improper or excessive use of a privilege. Verbal abuse is the excessive use of language to undermine someone's dignity and security through insults or humiliation, in a sudden or repeated manner.

The following are a few examples:

abuse
crude remarks
hooting
inappropriate jokes
innuendoes
insinuations
insolence
insults
invectives
irony
mockery
obscenities
quips
reprimands
reproaches
rumours
sarcasm
scolding
screaming
swearing
teasing
threats
whispering
yelling

What are the consequences of verbal abuse at work?

FOR THE VICTIM
Verbal abuse may cause profound and serious psychological injury. Especially when workers deal with the public, and are generally careful of the way they behave, damage from verbal abuse often remains hidden while affecting the victim psychologically. The victim will strive to not respond even though his or her dignity is attacked. This may result in stress, lack of concentration, lack of motivation and even depression.

FOR WITNESSES INSIDE THE ORGANIZATION
Verbal abuse may destroy good working relations and deteriorate the work environment. In more extreme cases, it may lead to physical violence and confrontation.

FOR THE ORGANIZATION
Absenteeism, resignation, lack of motivation, and lower quality and productivity are some of the consequences of a deteriorating work environment in which people raise their voices, use insults and invectives, and blow off steam verbally. Such abuse can be costly in terms of wasted time and resources.

What are the legal consequences of verbal abuse?

Verbal abuse is an infringement on an individual’s sense of security and their physical and psychological integrity, which are protected under federal and provincial charters of rights and freedoms as well as under the law. Serious verbal threats may constitute a violation of the Criminal Code.

A conviction under the law or the Criminal Code can affect a person’s right to practice a trade or profession.

 

Haut de page