Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Workplace policies – Episode 4 | Employment and labor | Canada

Well to really frame the question of what
employers are grappling with in the aftermath of the #Metoo, we’re talking about complaints
of a nature of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. And from what I’ve seen in my practice, employers
typically will have the policies and procedures in place, our legal framework has already
established those requirements through the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. We’ve seen a requirement to establish policies
that deal with those procedures definitions of sexual harassment definitions for the procedures
around investigation but I think really what is at issue now is that employers are no longer
likely to maybe sweep complaints under the rug. They want to ensure that the those that are
tasked with dealing with that are dealing with it in a formal way and in a way that
is done properly in accordance with the law. I do think most employers will have policies
and procedures that are sufficient and suitable mainly because the legal framework over the
last number of years has really dictated the content that needs to go into policies and
procedures. Certainly it’s a good idea to look into it
again but where I see the bigger risk is for those individuals conducting the investigations. We’ve seen more traction in the case law about
the manner of investigations and the standard applied. And as a result of that, there’s risk to those
internally within the company as potentially being named in a human rights complaint relating
to the investigation. So as a result I’ve seen more training associated
with those investigation procedures or perhaps even bringing in third parties to do the investigation
and then transferring the liability that way. The business and reputational risk for clients
is quite significant. If a complaint is made internally and then
somehow ends up in social media, the real risk is here is that whatever is being communicated
is assumed to be a reflection of the culture of the organization. So it’s a good idea for the board an organization
generally to have in place a crisis management policy or a public relations strategy in order
to be able to respond and ensure that the right message is being sent out that’s a real
reflection of what the organization is. At the same time of course we have to keep
in mind that the investigation needs to go forward and it needs to proceed in a way that’s
consistent with the investigation procedures for the organization as well as happen in
a manner that’s fair and reasonable for all of the parties involved.

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