Employees are essential to the running of any business. However, occasionally circumstances can arise that lead to allegations of employee misconduct. Such misconduct allegations may take a number of forms, including bullying and harassment, discrimination under the Human Rights Code, or breaches of the employer’s own internal policies.
Under WorkSafeBC, an employer has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of its workers, which includes guarding against bullying and harassment of all kinds. WorkSafeBC considers the creation of a policy for investigating complaints of bullying or harassment to be a reasonable step by an employer to ensure employee health and safety. Failure to do so could expose the employer to legal action and liability.
If you are a federally regulated employer, you have similar obligations to workers under Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canadian Labour Code (harassment and violence), which came into force on January 1, 2021.
In both situations, procedural fairness is a critical component of any investigation. This includes ensuring that the investigation process is carried out in a manner that is fair and objective. Only once a fair and objective investigation is completed is an employer able to address a complaint and, if warranted, correct the conduct in question.
How We Can Help
The Workplace Investigation team at Ramsay Lampman Rhodes can conduct an investigation that is impartial and confidential. It begins with gathering information relating to the misconduct. The investigator then interviews all parties and witnesses. Given the current conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, information gathering and interviews can be conducted via Zoom.
The investigator concludes by preparing a confidential, and often privileged, report detailing the findings and appropriate recommendations based on the investigation results.
We can also advise internal investigators on the legal requirements of an investigation, as well as advise on any other aspect of an investigation. Additionally, we can conduct mediations to resolve disputes that may arise and that can be resolved internally.
Utilizing the Workplace Investigation team at Ramsay Lampman Rhodes provides many benefits, including the following:
- Having a lawyer conduct the investigation will provide you with confidence that you have full information about what has occurred, an understanding of potential liabilities, and your options to respond;
- A detailed report of our findings and recommendations;
- Assurance that the conduct of interviews of witnesses and review of documents as part of an investigation are impartial and confidential;
- Inclusion of all necessary and relevant information;
- Guidance in creating policies to minimize the likelihood of similar issues arising in the future;
- An Investigation Report that will help you determine what steps to take concerning the alleged misconduct, and may help you mitigate risk and avoid a costly outcome;
- In the event an internal investigation process already exists, we can provide advice to ensure the investigation proceeds in accordance with legislation and necessary standards;
- We can assist in determining whether hiring an external investigator, rather than conducting an internal investigation, is more appropriate in the circumstances; and
- If appropriate, we can provide mediation services as a means of dispute resolution.
If you have questions about workplace investigations, please contact Sheridan King or Michael Wassermann. Both Sheridan and Michael are certified workplace investigators. In addition, Stephen McPhee, Q.C. is a trained mediator, who can assist with dispute resolution if suitable in the circumstances.
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