The wave of harassment complaints sweeping through the entertainment, media and business communities indicates a cultural shift towards a safer workplace for employees and less tolerance for bad behaviour.
It also shows the need for employers to have a policy and procedure in place for workplace investigations into such complaints, to comply with legal requirements, and to maintain a positive and safe workplace environment.
Some research shows that complaints of workplace harassment have spiked since the introduction of legislation in Ontario two years ago. According to data from Workplace Safety North, since Bill 132: Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan came into effect in 2016, complaints of workplace harassment have increased more than 100 per cent.
The 2016 legislation expanded an earlier definition from 2010, Bill 168, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), of harassment to include sexual harassment. The law requires employers to determine the risk of workplace violence, developing policies to investigate and resolve complaints.
Workplace Investigations are Mandatory
When it comes to various forms of workplace harassment, the law is clear. Section 32.0.7 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires an employer to conduct an investigation into incidents or complaints of harassment.
There are specific steps for an employer to follow, including the length of time for an investigation to be complete, and being objective, confidential, and thorough. The process can be overwhelming and time-consuming, requiring unique and focused skills. Issues related to an investigation can arise not only because the employer neglected to begin the process, but because that investigation was flawed, biased or inadequate.
Under existing Ontario law, employers who fail to comply with legislation designed to prevent workplace harassment can face significant monetary penalties, as well as additional action under the OHSA.
A Team of Professional Investigators Can Help
Workplace investigations are prompted by a range of concerns, from cases of alleged sexual harassment to suspected fraud. They are challenging and getting to the bottom of them is a complex process best handled by professional investigators such the team we have at Investigative Solutions Network Inc. (ISN).
That team is led by business executives and policing specialists, and includes investigators, interviewers, and training and educational professionals who are all skilled in delivering comprehensive private investigation solutions. Indeed, our employees are all recruited based on their ability to deliver quality results. Their unique skills are instrumental in delivering solutions to complex, sensitive and extremely confidential cases.
Understanding existing law and an employer’s responsibility to it is key to navigating the process. It’s a daunting task for those not familiar with this territory. But not to worry, the solution is at hand with the ISN investigation team. Contact us today for more information about how we can help with your workplace investigation.