Fictional TV shows such as The Office demonstrate how dysfunctional some work environments can be. However, in reality, tolerating inappropriate behavior such as harassment, bullying, or violence is not only illegal, it is also expensive (losing talent is costly, and lawsuits are even more so!), and very damaging to workplace culture.
On January 22nd, 2020, we had our Legal Update SIG Event: Workplace Violence, Bullying and Harassment: Navigating the Perils of Investigations and Discipline, with a presentation by Damien Buntsma of Miller Thomson, followed by a plant tour hosted by Saand Inc. at their Rexdale facility. During his presentation, Damien provided tips and reviewed the common pitfalls of workplace investigations. Some of our Members shared stories of past incidents in their workplaces, and we were able to discuss how situations were handled, and what could have been done better.
These are some of the key takeaways from the session:
- Review your policies and processes. Be prepared to follow them through.
- Choose the investigator carefully and consider their skills and ability to be impartial, the nature and severity of the allegations, the position of the alleged wrongdoer, potential liability issues, cost.
- Do NOT take shortcuts! As tempting as it is to find a quick-fix solution to HR problems, it is in everyone’s best interest to promptly and thoroughly conduct workplace investigations.
- Collect evidence, have written documentation and maintain confidentiality throughout the process.
As victims are becoming increasingly confident to speak up about harassment and bullying in this age of #MeToo, HR needs to proactively examine how to improve workplace policies to ensure a safe work environment for everyone. Maintaining a safe workplace is not only a legal obligation; an employer’s reputation could be at stake, and so is the future of its workforce.
Sharing and stealing with pride is the mantra of our Members. If you’d like to learn more about how EMC might help to build or improve your current workplace practices, please contact Leah Nacua.