Nine Questions To Start A Harassment Investigation
As an independent fact finder/investigator in a harassment/discrimination complaint, some of the first questions I need to answer are:
1) Was the complaint communicated by the complainant to the employer or was the employer aware of the complaint in a manner that should have activated it’s policy?
2) Does the complaint represent a violation of The Human Rights Code, The Occupational Health and Safety Act and/or a company policy?
3) Once the employer became aware of the complaint did they act?
4) When the complaint was filed did the employer take it seriously, did they act or simply ignore or delay dealing with it?
5) Was the staff member who filed the complaint made safe?
This is paramount, did the organization take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of the complainant.
6) Was there a good policy, which meets the legal requirements, in place to address the organization’s position on this matter?
The law requires that all employers have a policy and that it meet the requirements set out in in The Code and the OHSA.
7) Does the employer have a documented procedure in place for dealing with complaints when they arise?
The law requires that an employer also have a documented process in place for dealing with complaints as they arise.
8) Is there documentation that shows the required training was done for all employees?
All staff must be trained on the organization’s policy and the procedure dealing with harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination. Beyond that however there is an expectation that they understand what harassment is and that it is inappropriate.
9) Did the employer follow it’s policy and procedure in an unbiased manner?
It is important to follow the procedures you have set out, not doing so can be viewed negatively by the commission or the courts.
These are a very small part of the questions that are asked in a proper investigation. Above we haven’t even begun to deal with the complaint, the complainant and the accused or the gathering of statements and other evidence.
If you would like additional insight on what you can do before you ever get a complaint have a look at some of the other articles on this site.
As an employer it should highlight the necessity to have a good policy and procedure in place and to have done the training.
Rick Filsinger, CHRL, PI