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What to do When Your Dream Job Turns into a Nightmare
You’re in the job you went to school and trained to do.
It’s the job you always thought you wanted, and you’ve done well, rising to a level with significant responsibilities and great pay.
There’s just one problem: you hate it.
It shouldn’t surprise you that realizing that your so-called dream job has become a nightmare can be just as heart-wrenching as ending a relationship with someone you once loved. And, just as with a difficult breakup, you should expect to experience a grieving and recovery process. But, before you can grieve that your current job turned out badly, you’ve got to get out of the bad situation and assess what went wrong.
What can you do when your dream job becomes a nightmare?
While the obvious answer is to quit, it may surprise you to learn that you may have some other options, as well. Your next steps will largely be determined by your answer to why is your job a nightmare? Let’s unpack a few possible reasons:
The Work is Not What You Expected
It does happen from time to time that someone sets their sights on a particular field only to find out when they’re in it that they’d rather be doing something else. The world is full of dentists who dream of being songwriters and accountants who really feel called to teach. If that sounds like you, a career change may indeed be in order.
If you’re in a profession or with a company that isn’t a good fit, you likely have found that the quirks you noticed and found strange or even endearing when you first started your job have slowly become unbearable. But, if you’re on the Advocation website, that’s likely not the case. Indeed, the reasons for your misery probably go far beyond simply not knowing where your passions lie.
Someone is Making You Miserable
Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that you picked the right field for yourself and that you really enjoyed your job for a while, but now find yourself in an untenable situation because of the actions of someone else. Whether the harassment you’re experiencing is general or sexual, having to return to work each day in an environment where you are disrespected or treated with hostility can make you dread getting up each morning. The good news is that you have options for getting out of this bad situation and getting into a better one.
In these circumstances, it may be that what you initially thought were the eccentricities of a co-worker or boss have escalated. You may have once thought these actions were initially just odd or annoying or perhaps the one-off result of the other person’s bad day. Now, however, they have become a regular part of your interactions with that individual. With each day that they persist, you find yourself less and less able to absorb the indignities and maltreatment.
The definition of workplace harassment is necessarily broad, as it would be impossible for a law to be written that could envision all the types of behavior one person might choose to inflict upon another. Canadian laws strictly forbid workplace harassment, and the term includes unwelcome harmful acts or verbal comments, including humiliation, threats, intimidation, or other forms of victimization such as bullying, aggressive behavior, tasteless practical jokes, unreasonable work demands, and inappropriate behavior and comments. Though sexual harassment is a type of workplace harassment, there are specific laws prohibiting sexual harassment.
Federal and provincial laws protect you when someone harasses you because of your sex or gender, particularly when making unwanted sexual advances or asking you for sexual favors. This can include someone making sexual comments in the workplace that make you feel uncomfortable.
The Supreme Court of Canada has defined sexual harassment as conduct that creates a hostile or “poisoned” environment, and sexual harassment is quite common. According to a 2014 poll, 43% of Canadian women say they have been sexually harassed at work.
Though sexual harassment and sexual assault do sometimes go hand-in-hand, they are different offenses. Sexual assault refers to unwanted sexual activity, including touching and attacks, while sexual harassment can encompass discriminatory comments and behavior. Sexual harassment can come in the form of jokes, threats, comments about sex, or discriminatory remarks about someone’s gender.
What Should You Do Next?
Your specific situation will dictate what your next steps should be, but you should know that both provincial and federal laws regulate that you have a right to work in a safe place, free of any form of harassment. You may be able to take legal action against the harasser and your employer, and you may be able to leave the job to start over somewhere else while receiving severance pay or other compensation from your previous employer.
You may even be able to pursue criminal charges against your harasser. Provincial employment laws, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Human Rights Code stipulate that you are entitled to work in an environment free of all forms of harassment; under these provisions, you may be entitled to receive compensation for having to endure a poisoned work environment. Some Ontario workplaces may also fall under federal regulations, such as the Canadian Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, prohibiting harassment, including some banks, government services, and telecommunications offices.
These issues can be quite complicated. That’s why it’s important that you receive advice from someone like Hermie Abraham and her team, who understand employment law in Ontario and can advise you on your next steps. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.