Harassment provisions not intended to apply to someone outside the workplace: Court
An Ontario judge has rebuffed a small-town mayor’s attempt to use the Occupational Health and Safety Act‘s (OHSA) violence and harassment provisions to obtain a court order stopping a town resident from harassing her.
The mayor claimed that the resident had engaged in workplace harassment and violence, contrary to the OHSA, by sending her numerous "increasingly abrasive" letters and emails in which he made pejorative statements about the mayor and made comments about the “unprofessional conduct” of the town. The resident was apparently “interested in horticulture and town beautification” and had concerns about the management of the town’s affairs.
The court decided that the evidence did not support a finding that workplace violence had occurred. There was just one allegation that the resident had verbally harassed the mayor during an encounter at the town health unit, where the mayor held a full-time job, in 2014. Also, the judge stated that it was doubtful that the harassment policy or the OHSA’s harassment provisions were ever intended to apply to persons who are not part of the “workplace”. The judge decided that in this case, the resident was not a coworker, so the harassment policy did not apply to his actions.
The mayor and the town were therefore not entitled to an “injunction” order from the court prohibiting the resident from communicating with, harassing or publishing any information about the mayor or any other town councillor or employee.
For more information see:
• Rainy River (Town) v. Olsen, 2016 CarswellOnt 21052 (Ont. S.C.J.).
Adrian Miedema is a partner with Dentons Canada LLP in Toronto. He can be reached at (416) 863-4678 or [email protected] Adrian's discussion of this case also appears in the Dentons blog www.occupationalhealthandsafetylaw.com.