When to launch an investigation

When is the right time to look into possible harassment in the workplace?
By Brian Johnston
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 02/22/2012

Question: When should an employer officially launch an investigation into a harassment issue, particularly if there is no official complaint but it is aware of possible questionable conduct by employees through hearsay?

Answer: The short answer is, “as soon as possible.” An employer has a legal duty to ensure that the workplace is free of harassment, especially in relation to human rights protected characteristics. This is based largely on legislative protections found in human rights legislation in various Canadian jurisdictions.

There are also other statutes that speak to bullying or harassment which need be considered. For example, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act was updated in 2009 to require employers to create a policy as well as an implementation program to prevent workplace harassment.