Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

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Master of Education




Scott, Katreena


Experiences of harassment and violence within the workplace in Canada are an increasingly serious concern. Three-quarters (71.4%) of Canadian workers in a recent survey experienced harassment and/or violence at work in the past year (Berlingieri et al., 2022). Following harassment and violence at work, individuals experience a wide range of negative consequences including mental health issues, physical health issues, and depleted social support networks. Through semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis, this study explored the role that support (including social, familial, and organizational) played following experiences of harassment and violence at work. Work environments are continuously perpetuating unhealthy and harassing behaviours, through a lack of support for victim-survivors. These individuals received support from those both within and outside of the workplace, which aided in feelings of validation and understanding. These supports, however, were not enough to change the toxic workplace cultures that perpetuate feelings of secrecy and continue to allow these harassing and violent behaviours to continue to occur. These participants advocated for a change in policy, reporting procedures, and workplace cultures, to ensure that victim-survivors do not have to continue to live and work with the fallout of the harassment and/or violence that they endured.

Summary for Lay Audience

Three-quarters of Canadian workers experienced workplace harassment within the past year. When they turned to their workplace for support, however, they felt as though nothing good came out of it, leaving them feeling unsupported (Berlingieri et al., 2022). Workplace harassment can have lifelong impacts on individuals who experience it (Couto & Lawoko, 2011; Hsieh, 2018; Panos, 2004), including breakdowns in their personal relationships leaving these individuals to feel like they have no one to turn to for support (Berlingieri et al., 2022). Research that has looked at the role of support from others after experiences of workplace harassment, has found that social support has dramatic, positive impacts on the ways that people are able to deal with the consequences of workplace harassment.

The goal of this research project was to determine how this knowledge can be used to help those experiencing workplace harassment get more support from their workplace and from others, to ultimately stop workplace harassment from occurring in the first place. This project demonstrated that not only does support from friends, family, and co-workers help a person feel understood and validated in their feelings, but also that not having support from one’s workplace can cause further problems for these individuals. Overall, these participants felt that they had to keep their experiences and its impacts on them a secret from others because of the way that their workplaces went about handling reports of workplace harassment. This created more negative consequences for the participants and could only be changed by altering the cultures that workplaces create.