Does HR have an obligation to report harassment?

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Does HR have an obligation to report harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace may seem like a modern-day issue, but it’s been prevalent in offices since the corporate world first emerged.

But when does an employer have a legal obligation to do something about abuse in their workplaces? Well, according to Alix P Herber, partner at Fasken LLP – who will be speaking at our upcoming exclusive webinar – ‘How to handle workplace sexual harassment claims’ - bosses turning a blind eye to any harassing conduct simply isn’t good enough.

“First and foremost, it’s a human rights issue,” she told us. “Every jurisdiction here in Canada has their own human rights legislation – and the legislation in Ontario clearly states that every employee should be free from harassment and discrimination in the workplace”.

“So, whether you like it or not as an individual employee, the obligation the employer has is to ensure that their workplace is free from harassment. That’s a legal requirement.”

So, when did Ontario become such a noticeable voice in the fight against harassment? Herber believes it stems from the province’s progressive moral and ethical code.

“In Ontario, we have language in our Occupational Health and Safety Legislation (OSHA) which basically says that as soon as an employer is aware that sexual harassment is happening in the workplace they have an obligation to investigate,” she explained to us.

“What that means is that sexual harassment is now considered a safety issue. This came into play a couple of years ago because of our premier here, Kathleen Wynne. She has a zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace, and she enshrined that in the OSHA.”

Can you really afford not to be up to date with this pressing legal issue?

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