Examining the Exception: Dealing with bad faith allegations of bullying, harassment, and misconduct

While most employees and employers raise workplace issues in good faith, complaints procedures and investigation processes are occasionally abused by those with ulterior motives. Employers and unions must be able to distinguish between false accusations levied with malicious intent and complaints that simply cannot be substantiated. In this session, experts will provide practical guidance on recognizing and responding effectively to bad faith allegations of bullying, harassment, or misconduct with a view to preventing disruption and protecting individuals who are falsely accused.

What is the definition of bad faith? What evidence is required to establish that allegations of bullying, harassment, or misconduct have been made in bad faith?
What is the difference between bad faith allegations and unsubstantiated allegations, and why is this difference important?
How should employers respond to allegations of bullying, harassment, or misconduct that they strongly suspect have been made in bad faith? To what extent are employers required to investigate such allegations and disclose the results thereof?
What steps should employees take if they feel they have been falsely accused of bullying, harassment, or misconduct by a co-worker or the employer? What is the role of the union in this situation?
In what circumstances do adjudicators have jurisdiction to award damages for bad faith allegations of misconduct? Are employers liable for malicious claims levelled by their employees?
If an investigation reveals bad faith allegations by an employee, what factors should employers consider in assessing discipline? When are employers entitled to dismiss employees for making bad faith allegations?
Aside from discipline, what other actions can employers and unions take in response to bad faith allegations? What obligations do employers and unions have to employees who have been the target of bad faith allegations?
In dealing with bad faith allegations of bullying or harassment, what precautions can employers and unions take to avoid creating a chilling effect on legitimate complaints? How can employers structure their harassment policies and procedures to minimize the probability of abuse?