A Ministry of Labour inspector has ordered an Ontario school
board to revise its workplace violence policy, and the Ontario
Labour Relations Board has suspended that Order, calling it
The inspector attended at a high school after a worker
complained about two incidents at the school. The inspector
concluded that the school had failed to provide workers with
"information and instruction concerning persons with a history
of violent behaviour", as required by section 32.0.5(3) of the
Occupational Health and Safety Act which section was
enacted by Bill 168. The inspector issued an Order under the
Occupational Health and Safety Act requiring the school
board to "develop arrangements to provide information to
workers" regarding the risk of workplace violence from a
person with a history of violent behaviour.
The school board appealed the Order. It argued that the
inspector had not specified the basic facts underlining the
"two examples" that were mentioned in the Order.
The Ontario Labour Relations Board suspended the Order. It held
that the Order essentially required the school board to comply with
the OHSA, which it was already obligated to do. Also, the school
board could be prejudiced if it were required to "comply with
an order that is unclear on its face". Finally, the OLRB
doubted that deference should be given to the Ministry of Labour
inspector when the Order was unclear on its face.
This case demonstrates that where Ministry of Labour inspectors
do not state the facts underlying their compliance Orders, the
employer may have a viable challenge to the Order. Also, the OLRB
will be more likely to suspend an Order when it simply repeats
obligations in the OHSA.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
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