Simmer Down: Cool-headed responses to aggressive behaviour in the workplace

While rude, confrontational, and abusive behaviour is not a new challenge for workplace parties, the past year and a half has seen a noticeable uptick in people losing their cool as they deal with frayed nerves and increased frustration. Though it may fall short of violence or harassment, aggressive behaviour is nevertheless a significant workplace hazard that gives rise to responsibilities for both employers and unions. In this session, experts will explore the scope and root causes of workplace aggression, discuss the responsibilities of workplace parties in addressing aggressive behaviour, and provide practical guidance on how to foster a healthy workplace culture.

What types of behaviours are associated with workplace aggression, and how do they differ from behaviours that constitute violence or harassment? What factors are relevant to determining whether conduct is aggressive?
When can employers impose discipline for aggressive behaviour? In what circumstances might dismissal be warranted? Does provocation play a role in this assessment?
Do employers have a duty to inquire into whether a mental health condition might be contributing to objectionable behaviour? Is it possible for employers to accommodate an employee who has behaved aggressively while also fulfilling their obligation to provide a safe and harassment-free workplace? What is the appropriate role for the union in such situations?
To what extent are employers responsible for protecting workers against aggression from third parties such as customers or patients? What response is required from management in such circumstances?
What strategies can workplace parties use to de-escalate tense situations or respond to aggressive behaviour?
What organizational or systemic factors can lead to a higher incidence of workplace aggression? What steps can employers and unions take to address these factors and promote a safer, more positive workplace culture?