An Ontario arbitrator has found that an employer violated Bill
168 which introduced workplace violence provisions into
Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Labourers' International Union of North America, Local
506, referred a workplace violence grievance to the Ontario Labour
Relations Board. For some reason, the employer did not file the
necessary response form with the OLRB. As such, the OLRB proceeded
to hear the grievance without the employer having filed any
On the basis of the facts stated by the union, the OLRB found
that a principal of the employer had assaulted, on a job
site, a labourer employed by the employer, and that the
principal later threatened another worker with physical violence
The OLRB also found that the employer had failed to prepare,
review and post workplace violence and harassment policies or
programs, or to provide information and instruction to workers
regarding workplace harassment, in violation of sections of the
Occupational Health and Safety Act that were introduced in Bill
The OLRB therefore directed the employer to "cease and
desist from violating . . . the provisions of the Occupational
Health and Safety Act."
While the union also asked the OLRB to award damages –
including for mental distress – to the employees who were the
victims of workplace violence, the OLRB said that it did not have
sufficient evidence to do so, but the OLRB scheduled a date to deal
with the assessment of damages.
Although the employer did not participate in this grievance
hearing, the decision is a warning to employers that non-compliance
with the Bill 168 workplace violence and harassment provisions is
not just a technical breach, but may result in legal orders and
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In a society as diverse and multi-cultural as our own, in which individuals are becoming ever more aware of their legal rights, it is no surprise that we are seeing an increase in competing human rights claims.