June 2018 saw the Alberta government introduce sweeping new changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A link to the Legislation can be found here: Occupational Health and Safety Act, SA 2017, c O-2.1
A link to workplace harassment and violence in the updated Act can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/workplace-harassment-violence.aspx#toc-0
The Act defines harassment as:
…a single or repeated incident of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group. It’s a serious issue and creates an unhealthy work environment resulting in psychological harm to workers.
It does not include any reasonable conduct of an employer or supervisor related to the normal management of workers or a work site. Differences of opinion or minor disagreements between coworkers are also not generally considered to be workplace harassment if steps are taken to resolve the conflict.
The Act addresses workplace violence as a worksite hazard. Workplace violence is defined as:
…the threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological injury or harm. It can include:
- physical attack or aggression
- threatening behaviour
- verbal or written threats
- domestic violence
- sexual violence
Domestic violence becomes a workplace hazard when it occurs or spills over into the workplace. It may put the targeted worker at risk and may pose a threat to coworkers.
Employers must take reasonable precautions to protect affected workers if they are likely to be exposed to domestic violence at a work site.
Sexual violence as a workplace hazard refers to any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a worker’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in a workplace or work-related setting.
Sexual violence exists on a continuum from obscene name-calling to sexual assault and/or homicide. It includes online form of sexual violence, such as internet threats and harassment, and sexual exploitation.
The Act requires employers to:
- investigate any incident of harassment or violence
- take action to address the incident
- prevent it from happening again
- prepare an investigation report outlining the circumstances of the incident and the corrective action
- retain the investigation report for at least 2 years after the incident, keep it readily available and provide a copy to Alberta OHS on request
This is where the LMAR Group comes in. The LMAR Group has been retained by employers and leading Alberta Employment law firms to conduct worksite investigations under the Legislation. We have a proven track record investigating workplace incidents and have significant experience working with the harassment/violence components.