A condominium corporation is an employer for the purpose of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and therefore is required to adhere to the obligations under the OHSA relating to prevention of workplace violence and harassment. Such obligations include having workplace violence and harassment policies and programs, which must be tailored to the condominium corporation’s workplace.
Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016, introduced amendments to various laws to address issues including sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence. Effective September 8, 2016, the bill amends the OHSA by updating the definition of Workplace Harassment to include “workplace sexual harassment”.
Under the OHSA, workplace sexual harassment now means:
- 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 to be unwelcome, or
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 amendments to the OHSA by the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act also include steps that an employer must take in an effort to address workplace harassment, including:
- Having a written program that must, amongst other things, include explanations as to how incidents and complaints will be investigated;
- Ensuring that an investigation, appropriate in the circumstances, is conducted into incidents and complaints of workplace harassment;
- Informing the complainant and the alleged harasser in writing of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation;
- Reviewing the workplace harassment program as often as necessary, but at least annually, to ensure that it adequately implements the workplace harassment policy.
It is important to review your corporation’s workplace violence and harassment policies and programs so that any changes required as a result of the amendments can be made, to ensure that the corporation is complying with these provisions of the OHSA.
We always recommend that the corporation’s policies and programs be in writing, even though the OHSA allows policies to not be in writing if there are fewer than six employees.
Employers have an obligation to take the issues of workplace violence and workplace harassment seriously, and to act in accordance with its obligations if a complaint is received, or an incident occurred.
If you have any questions about workplace violence and harassment policies and programs for your corporation, or questions about the amendments to the OHSA, please contact us.