In recent weeks, allegations have been raised about actor/comedian Russell Brand regarding various instances of sexual assault, emotional abuse, and bullying from four anonymous women. As outlined below, this story provides several important takeaways for employers and investigators who deal with these issues.
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”),…
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.
November 25, 2021, marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As workplace investigators, we know all too well that gender-based violence and harassment is a live issue, the impacts of which can be devastating on the survivor, their loved ones, and the workplace more broadly.
In a recent Provincial Court of Alberta decision, Dupont v. Ag Growth International Inc. (AGI-Westeel), 2021 ABPC 118, the trial judge ruled that just cause termination was a disproportionate measure following a workplace investigation where the dismissed employee was found to have sexually harassed a female colleague. The employer subsequently appealed this decision to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, who allowed the appeal.