The Price of Inaction: Liability for failing to investigate and respond to workplace concerns

Recent high-profile investigations at Rideau Hall and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights have served as a stark reminder that, even in the midst of a pandemic, employers and unions have obligations to act on issues that affect employees’ psychological well-being. As the price of inaction can be significant, workplace parties cannot afford to delay in identifying and addressing legitimate concerns as they arise. In this session, experts will explore the duty of employers and unions to investigate and respond to complaints of misconduct, harassment, and hazards to psychological health and safety.

– What liability do employers incur if they fail to conduct an investigation when one is required or if they conduct an investigation improperly?
– What steps must unions take in investigating employee concerns to satisfy the duty of fair representation? What liability do unions incur if they violate the duty of fair representation?
– What is the extent of an employer’s duty to investigate allegations of employee misconduct prior to imposing discipline? Must an employer investigate whether disability played a role in an employee’s misconduct?
– What legislative requirements apply specifically to investigations concerning harassment and violence?
– Under human rights legislation, what must employers do to satisfy their duty to maintain a discrimination-free workplace? What are the potential consequences of failing to do so?
– What is the scope of an employer’s duty to ensure psychological health and safety in the workplace? When do employee concerns about issues such as stress or workload rise to the level of requiring investigation or other action?
– When do employers or union representatives have a duty to inquire about an employee’s mental health or potential need for accommodation?
– What unique considerations may apply in investigating and responding to concerns arising in a remote work environment?