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Serious insight for serious situations.

Serious insight for serious situations.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: Considerations for your workplace

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.

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Sexual assault – a serious form of workplace misconduct

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.

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Revisiting workplace assessments under Bill C-65: What we know now

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)…

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See something, (don’t) say something: New research on witnessing workplace harassment

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?

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#MeToo at two – Has anything changed?

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.

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Starting an investigation when no one asked (or wanted) you to

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.

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Too scared to say #MeToo: Are you the silencer?

I recently attended a talk at Hot Docs on the book ‘Had it Coming: What’s fair in the Age of #MeToo’ authored by journalist Robyn Doolittle. In this book, Doolittle challenges the social attitude around sexual behaviour and sexual assault. She advances the notion that the “laws aren’t the problem,” as Canada has some of the most progressive sexual assault laws.  Instead, the problem is our attitudes, more particularly the negative attitudes of police officers and those in the justice system, and the myths that pervade those institutions. These attitudes have adversely impacted the way sexual assault complaints are handled in Canada. 

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