There is no question that workplace investigations are disruptive and difficult for the parties involved. Sometimes parties are removed from the workplace or their duties are modified. Complainants and respondents are often concerned about damage to their reputations and their careers once it is known that a complaint has been made, and that an investigation is being conducted. Can an investigation ever be shut down in anticipation of this disruption?
complaints of harassment
Under the common law, and specifically under Sections 25(2)(h) and 32.0.5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario), every employer has a duty to conduct a workplace investigation after an incident of workplace violence has allegedly occurred. In other words, if an employer gets a complaint about violence at work, or if the employer witnesses violence at work, it must conduct an investigation.
Although a similar CSI-style wall is unlikely to be recreated in a typical workplace, other examples of pervasive, non-specific harassment may arise. It is incumbent upon leaders at all levels in an organization not just to recognize harassment and potentially, a poisoned work environment, but to take steps to remedy the issues.