Somewhere between going on an ill-advised “fishing expedition” and commencing a clearly defined investigation of a formal complaint, lies a grey area rife with uncertain legal obligations and sticky situations.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the role of investigations within HR and employment law. It is well-established that employers have a duty to investigate allegations of misconduct prior to taking disciplinary action. There is also a duty to investigate allegations of harassment or discrimination. There has been much emphasis on the manner of investigating such matters, and the need to be fair and impartial while also acting expeditiously. In the HR Law for HR Professionals course that I created for Osgoode Professional Development several years ago, investigations used to be a small part of one module. They now fill an entire day of the five day course. That is a clear indication of their growing importance.
Amendments to Part II of the Canada Labour Code (Code) are set to take effect as of October 31, 2014. These changes include redefining "danger"' under the Code for the purposes of work refusals and putting in place a new system for enforcing Part II. These changes will have an impact on federally regulated employers.