29 Mar Workplace Investigations: How should they be handled by employers?
An employer must participate in a workplace investigation if any form of harassment takes place in the work environment. It is important for the employer to know the steps to follow when beginning an investigation and how that investigation should be handled when legal help is involved. It is the responsibility of the employer, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), that they make sure the investigation is handled properly.
An investigation should respect the following guidelines:
- The investigation should begin as soon as possible or within a 90-day period. There could be excuses as to why the investigation may be delayed, for example, delay due to illness.
- The person or legal team that is handling the investigation should be completely objective to the situation. This means that the person initiating the investigation should not have any personal relationships or involvement with anyone being investigated.
- The information about the investigation must remain confidential. The person investigating should not discuss details with anyone, unless completely necessary. This means that all details of the investigation, even details about the people involved, should not be released. The only time that information may be divulged to other employees is if it is necessary to protect their safety.
- The investigation should be as thorough as possible, anything less would not be appropriate. Initiating a thorough investigation means that witnesses, the alleged victim(s) of harassment, and the alleged harasser(s) should all be interviewed in as much detail as required for a fair assessment.
- The investigator must interview everyone separately. It is important that anyone deemed relevant to the outcome of the investigation is interviewed on their own.
- The harasser(s) should be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint that has been filed against them.
- At the end of the investigation, there must be a written report that documented all steps that were taken during this process. It is important that the investigator includes all relevant information that guided them in determining their decision.
If you have further questions about investigations or require legal help, Kathy Chittley-Young is professionally certified to initiate investigations in the workplace. Please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today!