Workplace investigations need to be thorough, unbiased

Flawed investigate could mean hefty damages, legal costs
By Michael Richards and Nicholas Sharratt
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/14/2014

Mary complains that everyone went to lunch and they didn’t invite her — again. Bob complains his supervisor is harassing him and giving him all the worst assignments. Sue tearfully reveals her supervisor has been sexually harassing her. What do all of these incidents have in common?

In each case, the employer likely has a duty to investigate — not just a moral duty, not just an obligation as a good HR practice, but a legal responsibility.

In Morgan v Herman Miller Canada Inc., the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found — despite the fact the employee had not actually been discriminated against or harassed — that the employer had breached its duty to act reasonably in responding to allegations of harassment. The tribunal awarded Morgan more than $70,000 in damages.