Workplace harassment, sexual harassment and violence can quickly bring a small business to its knees with employee stress leaves, low morale, lost productivity, inability to attract quality employees and ruined reputations in the marketplace.
Not dealing with the situation is no longer an option.
Sweeping reforms signed into Ontario law in 2016 require provincially-regulated workplaces to become proactive and reactive in respect of workplace harassment. Let’s take a look at the specifics.
When is a Workplace Investigation Required?
Workplace Investigations are needed where there is a complaint or incidence of Workplace Harassment or Workplace Violence. Workplace Harassment is defined as:
A course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Workplace Violence is defined as:
the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker, an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker, a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker. Workplace Investigations are also required in the following circumstances:
Just Cause Investigation. A company is considering terminating an employee’s employment with cause (and therefore without notice and/or
pay in lieu).
Human Rights Investigation. There is an allegation of breach of human rights:
Sexual Assault, Harassment or Violence.
Poisoned Work Environment.
Financial Impropriety and other non-harassment allegations.
Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violent and Harassment) passed in late 2016, requires Ontario workplaces to do the following:
Create anti-harassment policies and complaint procedure which address certain items
Review and update those policies and procedures yearly
Inform their staff of the policies and procedures
Conduct anti-harassment training
Conduct a full investigation where there is a complaint or incident of harassment as defined by the statute ensure that that the investigation
Prepare a report following the investigation meets the requirements of natural justice (no bias, fairness) inform the complainant and the respondent of the results of the investigation and any corrective action to be taken
Failure to conduct an investigation or to improperly conduct an investigation may result in the Ministry of Labor ordering another investigation be conducted by a neutral third-party investigator, as its expense. Recent court decisions in Ontario have awarded very high damages for failure to conduct an investigation or for failing to conduct an investigation improperly.
My Expertise in Workplace Investigations
My experience as a Small Claims Court judge, Employment Lawyer and Mediator makes me your preferred choice in the area of Workplace Investigations. I am highly skilled to perform investigations having performed many including investigations of Moral Failure in the Religious Workplace.
My expertise includes:
Investigating the facts
Knowing how to ask the right questions
Assessing witness credibility
Assessing documentary evidence
Conducting the investigation with procedural fairness and without bias
Knowing how to write a report
Understanding the law
Advising of the results
Advising on appropriate corrective action and how to conduct it without attracting liability
Preparing all documentation where termination of employment is recommended
Advising how to conduct a termination so as to avoid liability
Conducting mediation in-house to resolve a situation before the parties obtain lawyers
My Workplace Investigation Services
To assist your company in meeting its statutory and common law obligations, I
provide the following services:
Anti-workplace harassment education for employees especially managers
Preparation of policy and procedures manual and updating same every year
Staff training on policies, procedures and how to identify and avoid prohibited conduct
Conduct workplace investigations
Provide a full report with recommendations
Manage terminations or discipline that are recommended
Provide workplace mediations to resolve a situation before lawyers are involved
As soon as you either experience workplace harassment of
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Oakville Employment Lawyer subject matter expert in HR consulting, workplace investigations, all employee concerns, mediation. Cost-effective, client-centred, practical legal advice, guidance and representation.