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New Law Requires Employers to Investigate Sexual Harassment Complaints. Has Your Organization Complied with This Law?

By , March 22, 2016 9:39 am

By September 8, 2016 – less than 6 months from now – Ontario employers must comply with Schedule 4 of the recently proclaimed Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015, which imposes new requirements on how employers deal with sexual harassment complaints.

Schedule 4, among other things, requires an employer to prepare a written program to implement the organization’s workplace harassment policy which includes a process for investigating incidents or complaints of workplace harassment including sexual harassment complaints. Failure to do so can result in the Ministry of Labour ordering an expensive investigation of a complaint by a third party investigator at your expense.

In our experience, most employers have NOT prepared a written program to implement its workplace harassment policy. Has your organization done so?

The MacLeod Law Firm is offering a two-step, fixed fee service to help employers comply with these obligations.

Step 1 is for one of our lawyers to speak to you to determine whether or not you have complied with the following obligations:

  1. Included a definition of “workplace sexual harassment” in your written workplace harassment policy (for employers with 6 or more employees).
  1. In consultation with the joint health and safety committee, or health and safety representative (if applicable), amended the written program you have developed to implement your workplace harassment policy to include (i) a reporting mechanism for workplace harassment if the alleged harasser is the employer or a supervisor; (ii) a process for investigating incidents or complaints of workplace harassment (iii) an explanation of how information obtained in an investigation will be kept confidential; (iv) an explanation of how the person who makes an allegation and the alleged harasser will be informed of the results of the investigation; and (v) a commitment to review the program at least annually.
  1. Provided workers with information and instruction on the contents of the workplace harassment policy and program.

Step 2 is to provide you with a written report. This report tells you what you need to do to comply with these obligations and includes a written investigation procedure and suggestions on how to obtain low cost training.

If you are interested in finding out more information about our Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act compliance program, please call Doug MacLeod at 416-317-9894 or email him at doug@macleodlawfirm.ca.

For over 25 years, Doug MacLeod of the MacLeod Law Firm has been advising employers on Ontario’s employment laws. If you have any questions, you can contact him at 416-317-9894 or at doug@macleodlawfirm.ca

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