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Precarious work, harassment, and the erosion of employment standards

Precarious work, harassment, and the erosion of employment standards The purpose of this paper is to examine experiences of harassment within the context of precarious work, which in Canada is shaped by subnational legislative frameworks.Design/methodology/approachA narrative inquiry approach to data collection and analysis was adopted. The paper draws from 72 interviews conducted with workers in precarious jobs from various industries in three cities in the Canadian province of Ontario, as well as 52 employment standards officers (ESOs) from 15 local Ministry of Labour offices in every region across the province. Placing workers’ stories in counterpoint to those of ESOs brings them into conversations about the law to which they would normally be left out.FindingsThe main finding of this paper is that harassment and employment standards (ES) violations are interrelated phenomena experienced as abuses of power and as tactics of control occurring within a context that is shaped by legislative frameworks.Originality/valueThis paper demonstrates that for workers in precarious jobs legislative frameworks and labor market practices in Ontario do not provide adequate redress for harassment and ES violations. In so doing, legislative frameworks render invisible the power imbalances within the employment relationship and obscure the interrelatedness of harassment and the wider erosion of workplace norms. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-5648
DOI
10.1108/qrom-02-2019-1735
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine experiences of harassment within the context of precarious work, which in Canada is shaped by subnational legislative frameworks.Design/methodology/approachA narrative inquiry approach to data collection and analysis was adopted. The paper draws from 72 interviews conducted with workers in precarious jobs from various industries in three cities in the Canadian province of Ontario, as well as 52 employment standards officers (ESOs) from 15 local Ministry of Labour offices in every region across the province. Placing workers’ stories in counterpoint to those of ESOs brings them into conversations about the law to which they would normally be left out.FindingsThe main finding of this paper is that harassment and employment standards (ES) violations are interrelated phenomena experienced as abuses of power and as tactics of control occurring within a context that is shaped by legislative frameworks.Originality/valueThis paper demonstrates that for workers in precarious jobs legislative frameworks and labor market practices in Ontario do not provide adequate redress for harassment and ES violations. In so doing, legislative frameworks render invisible the power imbalances within the employment relationship and obscure the interrelatedness of harassment and the wider erosion of workplace norms.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 4, 2020

Keywords: Narrative inquiry; Workplace harassment; Occupational health and safety; Employment standards; Precarious work; Social structural violence

References