In October 2021, my colleague Dana Campbell-Stevens wrote a blog in which she addressed how the law views an individual’s gut feeling about being a victim of discrimination. A recent case from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, Thomas v. Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority Inc., raises issues respecting the potential implications of an individual voicing such a gut feeling.
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.
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.
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.
In August 2020, my colleague Veronica Howard and I published a blog on conducting workplace assessments under Bill C-65. At that time, Bill C-65 and the related Regulations set out the requirements that federally regulated employers were required to meet in order to satisfy their obligations under the Canada Labour Code (CLC)…
Time and again we see a familiar story play out in the media and in our work as workplace investigators: troubling behaviour on the part of one or more employees that many other employees witnessed, but never reported to anyone. This is one of the most vexing problems those of us who care about addressing and preventing workplace harassment and discrimination face: why do so many people see or hear about inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and remain silent? And how can we motivate these witnesses – who we refer to as bystanders – to speak up?
A few weeks ago, I was part of a panel on TVO. The discussion centred on what had changed in the two years since the #Me Too Movement had begun. Much to my surprise, I seemed to be the sole voice on the panel who thought that the needle on the sexual harassment dial had moved at all.
At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, let me explain why I believe things have changed. I do so from the vantage point of someone who leads a large team of lawyers, lawyers who investigate complaints of sexual harassment across the country, in English and in French, and in every conceivable type of workplace.
You hear things. A whisper here and there. An overheard comment about a colleague crossing the line with another colleague. Repeatedly. Or maybe it’s more than a whisper. Maybe it’s more of a resounding chorus. And the voices are all offering alarmingly similar and compelling descriptions of a colleague engaging in a pattern of behaviour that – according to multiple reports – is decidedly unwelcome. The information may even be set out in writing in a formal letter of complaint. But the author of the letter has chosen to remain anonymous.