In federally regulated workplaces the person who files a Notice of Occurrence can require an investigation. They must first make every reasonable effort to resolve the complaint through negotiation with the employer or the person designated to receive complaints.
Employers are required to ensure that all incidents of workplace harassment are investigated. An investigation determines whether there has been harassment as defined in the Harassment Prevention Policy.
Employers can investigate the matter themselves or appoint someone else in the workplace. They can also choose to have someone outside the workplace investigate such as Occupational Health and Safety or another independent third party. You should be provided with information about who will investigate and how the investigation will be conducted. This information might be in your Harassment Policy or be part of a form used to make a complaint.
In federally regulated workplaces, the employer or person designated to receive complaints selects an investigator. They must chose someone from a list of investigators previously created for the workplace. If there is no list then the investigator can be a person that the receiver of the complaint and both parties agree on.
This includes your name, the name of the alleged harasser, and the circumstances of the complaint. Your employer cannot disclose such information except where it is necessary during the course of the investigation or for the purpose of taking corrective action to address the complaint. Here, it is important to note that the alleged harasser is usually entitled to receive a copy of the complaint as part of an investigation and must receive enough information about the complaint to be able to answer the allegations against them. Information may also be disclosed where it is required by law.
In federally regulated workplaces the Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy must include a description of how the employer will protect the privacy of persons involved in an incident of harassment or violence or in the process for resolving a complaint about harassment or violence.
Your workplace's Harassment Prevention Policy should provide you with information about measures that are in place to ensure that the complaint process is fair and unbiased. Generally speaking, this will mean that both parties have an opportunity to tell their side of the story to an impartial person – a neutral party that doesn’t have close ties to the parties or witnesses or a stake in the outcome of the investigation.
This also means making sure that evidence gathered is credible. Practices such as only allowing witnesses to speak about what they personally saw or heard and interviewing witnesses separately can help to ensure this.
In federally regulated workplaces both parties must receive monthly updates on the status of the resolution process.
This can be a lawyer or a union representative.
In federally regulated workplaces people also have the right to be represented when there is an investigation after a Notice of Occurrence has been filed.
The time it takes for an investigation to take place will vary depending on things like the complexity of the complaint, the number of witnesses to be interviewed, the availability of the parties, and whether the investigation will be conducted internally or through an external third party. With that in mind, investigations should not involve any unnecessary delay.
In federally regulated workplaces, employers must ensure that the resolution process is completed within one year a Notice of Occurrence has been filed.
This site provides general information about workplace sexual harassment only. It is not a substitute for receiving legal advice about your situation. Apply now to receive 4 hours of free legal advice.