The purpose of Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015, is to introduce better protection for individuals who experience sexual violence and harassment. With respect to HR law, this bill has introduced amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSO 1990, c O.1 (the “OHSA”). These changes include the following:

The HEART response incorporates these revisions, with explanation and insight, into the HEART Employee Training Module, The HEART Manual and the HEART committee member training program.Participants will not only know what the new definitions are, but also will understand the implications to individual employees and workplaces.
 

 

 

 

 

1.     An expanded definition of “workplace harassment” to include “workplace sexual harassment” so that each reference to “harassment” throughout the legislation now needs to be understood as also incorporating “sexual harassment”.

Workplace sexual harassment is defined as

(a)  engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known as unwelcome; or

(b)   making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

The HEART Program including manual, employee training module and HEART committee member training provides the tools and education to implement these requirements of the legislation.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

2.     Workplaces are now required to, in consultation with the committee or a health and safety representative, if any, develop and maintain a written program to implement the policy with respect to workplace harassment.  This program must include measures and procedures implemented for reporting incidents of workplace harassment as well as outlining how employers will investigate incidents and complaints. 

According to the legislation:

·      Set out how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with;

·      Set out how information obtained during an investigation, including identifying information, will be kept confidential unless disclosure is necessary for the purpose of the investigation or taking corrective action, or is otherwise required by law:

The premise of the HEART Program is founded on the understanding that workplace harassment is committed more than 70% of the time by individuals senior to the victim. The concept of creating an independent team within the organization trained to respond to harassment complaints was developed by Dr. Stephanie Bot to bypass this profound barrier to reporting. 

3.     Workplaces also need to incorporate measures and procedures for reporting incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser.

 

 

The HEART Manual and HEART committee member training provides thorough protocols, procedures and tools to address this requirement.

4.     Workplaces will also need to address how a complainant and an alleged harasser will be informed of the results of the investigation, in writing, and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation; 

The HEART online employee training module fulfils this obligation and inspires employees to contribute to building a culture of respect and psychological safety within their workplace.

5.     Employers need to provide employees with information and instruction that is appropriate for the worker on the contents of the policy and program with respect to workplace harassment; and any other prescribed information.

The HEART Manual includes annual review forms as well as other measures to ensure the company is keeping up to date on its obligations and its commitment to creating a psychologically safe workplace.

6.     Employers are required to review programs addressing harassment as needed but, at a minimum annually.

 

The HEART Manual and Training informs companies of this expansion of the inspectors’ role and discusses the importance of independent third party investigations in certain circumstances.

7.     Inspectors will be given the power under the OHSA to order an employer to hire an independent third-party to conduct a workplace harassment investigation and obtain an investigation report at the employer’s expense.

HEART education trains HEART committee members how to process complaints and engage in decision making to lead to appropriate recommendations to advise employers, HR or relevant supervisors to address harassment violations in a meaningful, productive and effective way.

8.     It is noted in the new legislation that:

A reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is NOT workplace harassment.