To protect a worker from workplace harassment, it is important that an employer ensure that an investigation is conducted into incidents and complaints of workplace harassment. The investigation must be appropriate in the circumstances.
An employer must ensure an investigation is conducted into workplace harassment, whether a worker has formally or informally made a complaint or the employer is otherwise aware of an incident(s) (for example, if a supervisor witnessed it or learned about it from a third party).
The investigation must be objective. The person conducting the investigation, whether internal or external to the workplace, must not be directly involved in the incident or complaint, and must not be under the direct control of the alleged harasser. This person should have knowledge of how to conduct an investigation appropriate in the circumstances.
Some matters will not require a lengthy investigation (for example, where a bar patron is harassing staff or if there is a complaint that does not, on its face, pertain to workplace harassment). Other situations, such as those involving allegations of sexual harassment by a co-worker over a period of time, may be more complex. The parties to the complaint should be updated periodically on the status of the investigation.
An Investigation Template is attached to this Code of Practice as Schedule E.
Occupational Health and Safety Act, s. 32.0.7 (1)(a), (b) and (c)
To comply with this Part of the Code of Practice, the employer must follow all of the requirements listed below.
An employer must ensure an investigation appropriate in the circumstances is conducted when:
An investigation must be completed within 90 calendar days or less unless there are extenuating circumstances warranting a longer investigation (e.g. more than five witnesses, key witness unavailable due to illness).
The supervisor, manager or person conducting the investigation must not be the alleged harasser and must not be under the direct control of the alleged harasser. The person must be able to conduct an objective investigation. The supervisor, manager or designated person conducting the investigation on behalf of the employer must, at a minimum, complete the following seven steps to an investigation:
The employer must ensure that the results of the investigation and any corrective action are provided to the worker who allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if they are a worker of the employer, in writing.
The results of the investigation are not the same as the investigation report. The results of the investigation are a summary of the findings of the investigation. The results must be communicated in writing within ten (10) calendar days of the investigation being concluded to the worker who has experienced the alleged harassment.
The employer must also ensure that any corrective action taken, if any (or to be taken) is communicated to the worker who allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser(s), if the alleged harasser is a worker of the employer. The amount of information provided about the corrective action will depend on the circumstances but must indicate what steps the employer has taken or will take to prevent a similar incident of workplace harassment if workplace harassment was found. The corrective action, if any, must be communicated in writing within ten (10) calendar days of the investigation being concluded.
The employer must ensure its workplace harassment program is reviewed annually or when any gaps or deficiencies in its program are identified as a result of an investigation.
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