The Bill 168 changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA / the Act”) were lauded as proactive legislation to combat harassment, bullying and violence in the workplace. However, three years after the changes to OHSA, the protections have not gone far enough.
The OHSA amendments require employers to prepare policies to address workplace harassment and violence and create programs to implement those policies. The workplace violence provisions, however, also impose additional duties on employers such as controlling the risk of violence in the workplace. This means that the Act more directly requires an employer provide an environment free of violence than free from harassment.
In a 2011 case the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“the Board”) considered the new provision on harassment as well as the existing anti-reprisal section of OHSA. The Board found that it did not have the authority to enquire into the merits of a harassment complaint because the Act did not impose on an employer the obligation to provide a harassment-free workplace. If an employee was disciplined or terminated for making a complaint, the Board held that it did not have the jurisdiction to intervene. This case has been followed by many others at the Board.
Given the prevalence of bullying in the workplace, which continue despite the changes to OHSA, it appears that more is required. One solution is for the OHSA harassment provisions to mirror the workplace violence provisions. This would give the Board the authority to review the underlying harassment, when a complaint is made.
As a worker, you should ensure that your employer has a policy and a program in place for both workplace violence and harassment.
For more information regarding the law about sexual harassment see here.
If you have been terminated or disciplined for requiring this, or for making a complaint under such a program, and you want to speak with an employment lawyer who understands this area of the law, please contact us at [email protected] or 647-633-9894.
As we have written before, termination clauses may have a significant effect on how much money you receive if you are terminated. If you are fired because of a business decision and not misconduct, it is the without cause termination clause that determines how much...
With the numbers of COVID-19 cases rising again, especially in the GTA, many employees are asking me as a Toronto employment lawyer what happens if they become sick and they are forced to stay home for 14 days. Following the end of the Canada Emergency Response...
Have you experienced workplace bullying or harassment? Did you know that your employer has an obligation to investigate any complaint of bullying or harassment you make regardless of whether or not you file a formal complaint? In fact, simply stating that you are...