Workplace harassment is an issue plaguing nearly every workplace, and that includes condominium corporations. Here are ten things you should know about workplace harassment:
- Workplace harassment is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) as:
“engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome”. The definition of workplace harassment also includes workplace sexual harassment.
However, it may be easier to ask: “would a reasonable person in the complainant’s position find the conduct or comments to be objectionable?”
- Under the OHSA, a “worker” is defined in part as someone who provides a service for monetary compensation. In the context of a condominium corporation, this includes not only the employees of a condominium corporation, but also any agents of a condominium corporation, including independent contractors.
- Directors of a condominium corporation are not considered workers under the OHSA, unless they are being compensated for their services as directors.
- In the event of workplace violence and harassment, a condominium corporation must act. A condominium corporation has a positive statutory duty to ensure the safety and security of the workplace for all workers, and to ensure that the workplace is free from any type of violence and harassment, whether physical or oral.
- Every condominium corporation must establish a workplace harassment policy, and a workplace harassment program to implement that policy.
- Every condominium corporation must review its workplace harassment policy and program at least once annually.
- A condominium corporation has a duty to investigate incidents of workplace harassment. The Government of Ontario suggests that the obligation to investigate arises whenever a supervisor becomes aware of any potential incident of workplace harassment. Therefore, the duty is triggered not only if there is a complaint of workplace harassment, but if there is an “incident” of workplace harassment.
- A condominium corporation’s investigation must be “appropriate in the circumstances”.This means, among other things, that: (1) it must be conducted promptly; (2) it must be objective; (3) it must be thorough; and, (4) confidentiality must be maintained.
- The investigator can be either internal or external to a condominiumcorporation.Driving factors of who should conduct the investigation include: (1) cost; (2) complexity; and, (3) the independence of the investigator.
- Details of the incident should remain confidential, unless disclosure is necessary to investigate, take corrective action or is otherwise required by law. The results of the investigation and any corrective action taken should be summarized and provided to the parties in an executive summary within ten days of the conclusion of the investigation.