Workplace investigations and workplace accommodations are two distinct procedures. The former is a fact-finding process that occurs in response to a complaint or incident of harassment. The latter is a procedure by which an employer and an employee work together to accommodate an employee’s limitations as a result of an injury, illness or disability. But when the accommodation relates to an illness that has an impact on an employee’s interpersonal behaviour, such as a mental illness, these two distinct procedures may intersect.
The hostile respondent. The complainant who answers every question with dripping sarcasm. The witness who, for whatever reason, is getting on your last nerve. Almost every workplace investigation has a difficult personality (or two, or three). Learning to handle difficult people with professionalism is a critical skill for any investigator.
Do you remember that story about the emperor who ordered some new clothes from a pair of weavers? The new suit will be really special, said the weavers, invisible, in fact, to fools and the incompetent. When the emperor and his noblemen saw the weavers working on their empty looms, they had their doubts. Am I a fool? Are these guys for real? But, they did not dare to say anything.
In putting together our submission on what changes to the policy would help the Senate identify and address harassment in the workplace, we had to turn our minds to what makes working on Parliament Hill unique. This is a workplace that lends itself to extreme power imbalances between Senators and staffers; it is a space where harassment allegations can be both public and political; and it is an environment in which many staff members are skeptical that bad behaviour will result in real consequences for the perpetrator.
Now that we are one year into the #MeToo movement and (in Ontario) quickly approaching the two year anniversary of Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016 taking effect, we thought that it would be a good opportunity for a bit of a check-in.
When an employer receives a complaint or becomes aware of an incident of workplace harassment, it must be investigated. But what happens when the complaint is made against a member of the employer’s family, who just so happens to be a co-worker?
Special note to BC readers: If this subject is of interest to you, you may wish attend our related workshop. Some spots are still open for the following session – we recommend registering soon. We hope to see you there. Conducting Sexual Harassment and Violence Investigations November 27-28, 2018 in Vancouver, BC This advanced-level training is
n employer’s recent application to dismiss a complaint at the BC Human Rights Tribunal—which the tribunal rejected—reminds us of the importance of training and policies to arm employees with the tools to respond appropriately to incidents of workplace sexual harassment.