Holiday season is almost here, and as workplace investigators, we know that during office holiday parties, some employees, managers, or directors who may have had one or two too many drinks sometimes engage in different types of misconduct – including vexatious comments or jokes, and unwelcome sexual advances or physical contact – that negatively impact individuals and that can even poison the work environment. This is borne out by the case law.
Some of the most serious forms of workplace or institutional investigations will involve the investigation of allegations of sexual assault. For post-secondary institutions (“PSIs”), incidents of sexual assault are, unfortunately, not uncommon. As evidenced by recent stories in the media, incidents of sexual assault can also arise in a variety of other workplaces and organizations.
When HR departments become aware of a complaint, they should ask themselves the threshold question: If what is alleged is true, does it breach our policies or statutes? A recent decision of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (“the Tribunal”),…
Si l’année 2022 nous a déjà fourni amples sujets de discussions tels que la gifle de Will Smith aux Oscars, ou encore le procès en diffamation de Johnny Depp, la récente décision de la Cour d’appel de l’Ontario dans l’affaire Render v. ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Canada) Limited, 2022 ONCA 310 (CanLII), rejoint, à mon avis, aisément ce palmarès.
In 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) released its decision in Merrifield v. Canada (Attorney General), reversing a trial court decision and definitively ruling there to be no independent tort of harassment. The plaintiff, an employee of a police force, had made a claim of harassment and bullying which he asserted negatively impacted his career and caused him emotional distress.
During orientation week at the outset of last fall’s semester, reports over social media alleged that up to 30 women may have been drugged and sexually assaulted at one of Western’s campus residences. In response to these allegations, students planned a walkout, police were called to investigate, and Western implemented mandatory sexual violence awareness…
As an investigator at Rubin Thomlinson LLP who specializes in sexual harassment investigations, I understand how challenging these can be. These investigations need to be approached with not only sensitivity and empathy, but with up-to-date knowledge of the law.
Many of us are familiar with the expressions “shop talk” or “workplace banter” in reference to conversations that are presumed to occur in certain predominantly male workplaces, such as a construction site or an industrial worksite, but not in others.