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Workplace Harassment: Part II

Posted on 7 November, 2015 at 19:40

 By, Daniel Greanya.

While it is beneficial to have the OHSA provide protection to workers who are suffering workplace harassment, the changes are limited. The Act should be considered a good starting point, but not the best option in terms of dealing with the issue.


Employers should address workplace harassment and deal with it severely, reprimanding the responsible individuals after an investigation. There is not however, anything in the Act that requires them to take this action in relation to an issue of workplace harassment. An employer may have an anti-harassment policy, and a process for investigation. This does not necessarily mean that they will properly hear an employee’s complaints. Unlike other areas of employment law, such as employment standards, there is also no direct appeal if an employer does not act. There is a procedural complaints process, but that is all. If a complaint is made to the Ministry of Labour, they will investigate compliance with the OHSA. What they are not able to do is force employers to take action on an employee’s specific situation.


While the process for general workplace harassment is imperfect and in its infancy, there is a process for some instances of workplace harassment. The most obvious process in place for complaints about workplace harassment is an application to the Human Rights Tribunal. Employment is a protected area for the purpose of the Human Rights Code, and in fact employment is the most common area of human rights complaints. The Human Rights Tribunal is a common forum for complaints about workplace harassment.


The human rights process is also extremely limited, but it gives an automatic right to apply for relief from the harassment. An application can be brought to the Human Rights Tribunal if the complaint falls within one of the prohibited grounds, such as disability, sex, age, creed, race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation etc. There are obviously many instances of workplace harassment that do not fall within these categories. Sexual harassment is a code related phenomenon, related to sex, gender, and sometimes sexual orientation. I will discuss this in more detail next week.


While the Code is an effective process for workplace harassment on code related grounds, it is not an effective process for other instances of harassment. For advice on harassment that may fall under the Human Rights Code, contact Greanya Legal Services. We will provide a free half hour consultation.


DISCLAIMER: This article is intended as general information, and does not replace the advice of a Licenced Paralegal or Lawyer. For advice on your specific case, contact Greanya Legal Services directly.


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