Bill 132, Sexual Harassment: An Overview for Employers

As of September 2016, the Ontario’s Bill 132 is in full effect. Also known as the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Actthe legislation made major changes to the:

  • Compensation for Victims of Crime Act
  • Limitations Act, 2002
  • Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Private Career Colleges Act, 2005
  • Residential Tenancies Act, 2006

To start, Bill 132 addresses sexual violence and sexual harassment as they relate to the workplace. Specifically, it makes significant updates to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) regarding the obligations for provincially regulated employers with respect to workplace harassment

As an employer, it is important to know your rights and obligations. We’re here to help you understand the changes and update your workplace policies accordingly.

Revised definition for “Workplace Sexual Harassment”

  1. 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
  2. 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.

What from Bill 132, came into effect as of September 8, 2016?

Investigations

Employers must conduct investigations into complaints of workplace sexual violence and harassment.

Disclosing Results (and Consequences) of Investigations

Employers are obligated to inform – in writing – the employees making allegations of sexual harassment and those who are accused of the investigation’s conclusion and any corrective action required.

Systems for Reporting Workers’ Superiors

Under changes to the OHSA, employers must include procedures for employees to report harassment to someone other than their superior, if their superior is the alleged harasser.

Respecting Privacy

Companies must have a system for how personal information gathered during an investigation will remain confidential. The exception here, is to when it’s needed for the investigation or any actions required to be disclosed by law.

Furthermore, they must also have a policy explaining how to disclose the written conclusion of an investigation to the employees involved in a harassment complaint, including any consequences as a result of the investigation.

Workplace Investigation Enforcement

Ministry of Labour inspectors can order an employer to hire – at the employer’s expense – a third-party investigator to investigate your workplace and produce a report, so it’s important to be proactive and create a compliant policy around workplace sexual harassment.

Unlimited 24-Hour Advice on Workplace Sexual Harassment

Do you feel uncertain about the changes that Bill 132 brings to your business? Call Employer Line at 1(833) 247-3650 to speak with our HR experts. We’re available to help business owners 24/7, to support you with complying with Ontario’s workplace sexual harassment and violence laws.