Allegations of harassment, violence and discrimination in the workplace can have an explosive impact on the workplace, the individuals who allege misconduct, as well as those accused of having participated in the offending conduct.
The Mann Lawyers employment law team has significant experience in matters involving allegations of discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace.
In creating workplace policies, employers may specify that complaints brought forth by an employee will trigger an investigation. The intention is likely to ensure fairness and due process.
Investigations can play a valuable role, especially in the human rights context, where allegations are serious, or where an employer is considering a dismissal for cause. In these contexts, it is important to show that an employer acted promptly and responsibly and not in a discriminatory or bad faith manner.
On the other hand, investigations aren’t always the most helpful tools from a practical perspective. They can be expensive, time consuming, and damaging to relationships. Additionally, if a matter progresses to an arbitration, hearing, or trial, the decision maker is likely to effectively repeat the process to determine liability. Having an investigation report can help demonstrate that you acted diligently as an employer, but a Court won’t necessarily agree with the Investigator’s analysis or conclusions.
Therefore, it may be most beneficial to have a policy that contemplates alternatives or preliminary steps before a full-fledged investigation is undertaken:
Rigid adherence to one process may not be the best approach to handle workplace disputes. Adding room for flexibility in policies allows an employer and employee to craft a proportionate and appropriate response to concerns raised.
We provide advice to employers on prevention (policies and training); on strategies and options for responding to a harassment complaints; and advice on post investigation resolution options which may include training, mediation or in some cases termination of employment.
We also provide advice to individuals who have experienced harassment, violence or discrimination in the workplace. We likewise work with individuals who have been accused of having engaged in harassment in the workplace. In all cases we assist and provide guidance to our clients as they move through the complaint, interview and resolution stages of the complaint process.