Failure to file internal harassment complaint: Is the employer off the hook?

Determining the duty to investigate and dealing with potential workplace harassment
By Colin Gibson
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/01/2015

Question: If an employee who has expressed concerns about sexual harassment declines to file a formal complaint under our harassment policy after we have made it clear that she may do so without fear of reprisal, will we be liable if the employee later decides to bring a human rights complaint?

Answer: Under human rights law, an employer has a duty to provide a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment on the grounds protected by the applicable legislation. While it is good practice — and in some jurisdictions mandatory — for an employer to have a policy that provides a mechanism for the filing, investigation and disposition of harassment complaints, an employer may be required to act even if a complaint has not been filed.