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Bill 132 Employer Obligations Under the Law

New legislation update – Bill 132 is now the law in Ontario.

The Ontario Government recently introduced Bill 132. Bill 132 is an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”). The Bill amends the definition of “workplace harassment” to include workplace sexual harassment and adds the following obligations on employers:

  • Incident Reporting . There must be a system for people to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser;
  • Disclosure. All information obtained about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment is confidential and cannot be shared unless it is necessary for the investigation, required by law, or to take remedial action;
  • Communication. Both the complainant and the respondent will be informed of the results of the investigation and all actions that will be taken;
  • Annual Obligations. An employer has to conduct an annual risk assessment (which is part of Bill 168), provide all staff with a clear policy on workplace violence and sexual harassment and provide a comprehensive reporting and investigation program that deals with incidences of workplace sexual harassment; and
  • Independent Investigations. All staff have the right to demand an independent, third-party inspector at the organization’s expense to investigate and report.

Under the bill workplace sexual harassment is defined as:

Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; or
Making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

 

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • According to Bill 132, a reasonable action taken by an supervisor/employer relating to the management and direction of the employee or the workplace is not workplace harassment.
  • Bill 132 is meant clarify an employer’s obligations to implement a workplace harassment policy under section 32.06(2) of the OHSA. As such, it may be considered a precedent in other provinces and states.

Click here for more information on the new law.