Windsor-Essex Employment Lawyers for Workplace Harassment Issues
Workplace harassment is not only illegal in Ontario but can also poison the work environment. The mental and physical health effects of harassment on employees often lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and high levels of employee turnover.
Willis Business Law works with businesses to create and implement effective, preventative workplace harassment policies that incorporate best employment practices and comply with all applicable legislation. The firm’s knowledgeable employment law group advises employers at any stage of a complaint or dispute and provides effective remedial solutions to restore a healthy work environment.
What is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is defined under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario as:
- engaging in 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; or
- workplace sexual harassment.
The definition of workplace sexual harassment is similar to that of workplace harassment, with an added sexual element.
Employers’ Duties to Prevent Workplace Harassment
The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out an employer’s duty to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, free from harassment. The Act states that to protect a worker from workplace harassment, employers must ensure that:
- An investigation is conducted into incidents and complaints of workplace harassment that is appropriate in the circumstances;
- The worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if they are a worker of the employer, are informed in writing of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation;
- The workplace’s harassment program is reviewed at least annually to ensure that it adequately implements the workplace’s harassment policy; and
- Such other duties as may be prescribed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act are carried out.
Workplace Harassment Policies & Programs
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are required to prepare a workplace harassment policy and train workers on the policy’s contents. The policy must be in written form.
Employers must also develop a program for implementing and maintaining the workplace harassment policy over time. This program is created in consultation with the workplace’s Joint Health and Safety Committee or a health and safety representative.
Developing a Workplace Harassment Program
While the contents of a workplace harassment program will vary from business to business, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires the program to:
- Include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to the employer or supervisor;
- Include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser;
- Set out how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with;
- Set out how information obtained about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary for investigating or taking corrective action with respect to the incident or complaint or is otherwise required by law;
- Set out how a worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if they are a worker of the employer, will be informed of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation; and
- Include any other elements prescribed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Proactive Measures to Address Workplace Harassment & Reduce Risk
Workplace harassment can cause substantial disruption to an employer’s business operations. Unaddressed, harassment may lead to decreased productivity, staff turnover, and significant mental and physical health issues for workers.
To ensure their business is fully compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements, employers should engage a qualified employment lawyer to review the workplace’s internal policies and procedures. Adopting a forward-thinking approach helps employers proactively address potential workplace harassment issues, reduce liability risks, and protect workers’ health and safety.
When an incident of workplace harassment is alleged, an employment lawyer can provide invaluable assistance with the required investigation. They can also help with remediation efforts to avoid ongoing conflict and preserve workplace relationships as much as possible.
Contact Willis Business Law for Trusted Advice on Workplace Harassment
Willis Business Law provides employers with innovative, forward-thinking legal solutions to workplace harassment issues. The firm’s responsive lawyers assist at any stage, from developing proactive harassment policies to helping with workplace remediation after a problem has arisen. Equipped with a proficiency in Ontario business and employment law, Willis Business Law employs best practices to swiftly resolve issues and reduce the employer’s liability.
The lawyers of Willis Business Law are a team of community-minded professionals that have developed a reputation for quality and integrity. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Windsor-Essex County and the surrounding areas, including Amherstburg, Essex, Kingsville, Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington, Pelee Island, Tecumseh, Chatham-Kent, and Sarnia. To speak with an experienced employment lawyer, please call 519-945-5470 or contact us online.