Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment: Bill 132
Workplace sexual harassment is a serious problem for many workers in Ontario.
- Your supervisor suggests that you might be eligible for a promotion… in return for a date.
- Your co-worker learns of your sexuality and decides to taunt you about it every chance they get.
- A co-worker makes inappropriate comments about the way that you are dressed.
Employers must have and enforce policies to prevent workplace sexual harassment and address it when it occurs.
On June 15, 2010, Bill 168 came into effect in Ontario. It altered the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) to strengthen protection for employees from workplace violence and harassment. It created new obligations on employers to develop policies and implementation programs to better protect employees.
In Ontario, Bill 132 came into effect on September 8, 2016.
Bill 132 modifies the Act, but this time in regard to sexual harassment in the workplace. It clarifies that the definition of harassment includes sexual harassment and defines what behavior may qualify.
In addition, Bill 132 adds the following requirements for an employer’s policy on harassment and the program that guides the policy’s implementation:
- Changes to reporting procedure: The program must now provide means for an employee to report incidents of harassment to someone other than a supervisor, where the supervisor is involved in the alleged harassment.
- Investigation procedures: The program must set out how the complaint is handled: Employers are required by law to conduct an investigation.
- Protection of Personal Information: The program must provide for protection from identifying information about any party in the complaint being revealed unless necessary for the investigation of the incident, taking corrective actions, or if required by law.
- Information on Investigation Outcome: The program must provide a means by which the complainant can be informed of the results of the investigation and any corrective actions taken. Under Bill 132, the employer must inform the complainant in writing of the outcome.
- Program Review: The program must be reviewed at least annually to ensure adequate implementation of the policy.
If you believe your employer has failed to properly update or implement its harassment policy and/or implementation program, it is important that you raise the issue with your Union Steward or Union Representative.
We all share a responsibility to keep our workplaces free from harassment!