Good news for those of you who work for the federal government or in a federally regulated industry such as transportation or communications!
The Canada Labour Code has been amended as of January 1, 2020, by Bill C-65 to require employers to conduct third-party investigations into all allegations of sexual harassment and outlines what qualifications the third party conducting the investigation should have.
Federally regulated employers are also now required to conduct a workplace risk assessment of employees to determine whether employees are currently experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. When this was done covertly by a group of female managers at Nike they discovered that there had been many incidents of harassment and top male executives of Nike were forced to step down as a result.
Similarly, employers now have to develop workplace harassment and violence prevention policies and to provide violence and harassment training to employees and management. This can include activities that are geared towards improving the culture in the workplace such as “gratitude training”.
The new safety regulations also require employers to develop clear timelines for dealing with complaints to avoid situations such as in the Doro v. Canada Revenue Agency case where the third party investigation into Doro's multiple allegations of sexual harassment by a supervisor took a full 24 months to complete.
The new regulations emphasize that the confidentiality of all parties involved must be maintained throughout the investigation.
It is especially nice to see that the new regulations make it clear that employers are required to have policies that speak directly to the issue of harassment by third parties such as customers, clients or others who they deal with throughout the workday but are not necessarily employed by the employer. Some studies suggest that as many as 56% of harassment complaints relate to treatment by clients or customers but the prior legislation did not directly address this.
The Legal Clinic offers free virtual training for managers and employees about sexual harassment in the workplace and free advice and referrals for people who are experiencing SHIW. If you would like to find out more information about the training and advice we provide please contact our SHIW project coordinator, Anne-Marie Langan, at 613-264-7153 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.