Harassment and discrimination in the workplace are huge workplace stressors. Workers facing harassment and discrimination have increased stress and are more vulnerable to developing mental health issues.

Racialized people, women, members of LGBTQ communities, Indigenous People, people with disabilities, younger and older people, immigrants, migrant workers and refugees generally face more harassment and discrimination in the workplace than others. As a result of this, they are at increased risk of mental health challenges and also face systemic barriers in accessing mental health services and treatment.

The trauma from racism experienced by racialized and Indigenous People is recognized now by the medical community as a cause for PTSD. People with disabilities facing consistent discrimination in the workplace, including fewer employment and advancement opportunities often have more precarious mental health. Young Indigenous People dealing with generations of colonialism and cultural genocide and LGBTQ youth facing regular discrimination have higher rates of suicide than the rest of the population. 

Union representatives need to maintain a consistent awareness of how harassment and discrimination in the workplace can contribute to mental health challenges. Representative need to be sensitive to whether the members they are supporting are experiencing these issues and if further supports or strategies are needed to assist them.

This research paper from CUPE explores these issues in greater detail.

Domestic violence

One in three workers have experienced domestic violence, and for many, the violence follows them to work.

Often abusers will try and prevent victims from getting to work, causing them to be late or to have to miss work. Abusers also may excessively call, email, or text victims while they are at work, come into the workplace, or stalk the victim.

Over 80 percent of domestic violence victims report that their work performance was negatively affected. Absenteeism and poor work performance can leave victims vulnerable to discipline and some even lose their jobs. 

Union representatives need to educate themselves and their members on how domestic violence can affect workers’ mental health and their work life. The CLC has extensive resources for unions on this issue.