Ontario's Minister Responsible for Women's Issues
introduced Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan
Act, 2015 for First Reading.
On October 27, 2015, Ontario's Minister Responsible for
Women's Issues introduced Bill 132, Sexual Violence and
Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging
Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015 for First Reading. Bill
132 is part of the Ontario Government's March 6, 2015 action
plan to stop sexual violence and harassment. The preamble to Bill
132 summarizes the focus of the legislation: "The Government
will not tolerate sexual violence, sexual harassment or domestic
violence. Protecting all Ontarians from their devastating impact is
a top Government priority and is essential for the achievement of a
fair and equitable society. All Ontarians would benefit from living
without the threat and experience of sexual violence, sexual
harassment, domestic violence and other forms of abuse, and all
Ontarians have a role to play in stopping them."
If passed, Bill 132 would change the limitation periods that
currently apply to criminal sexual assault and impose additional
requirements for universities, colleges and private career colleges
with respect to sexual violence, among other amendments. Of
particular interest to employers in Ontario are the proposed
amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act
("OHSA"), set out in Schedule 4 of Bill 132.
Bill 132 would amend the definition of "workplace
harassment" to specifically include workplace sexual
harassment, and would include a new definition for "workplace
sexual harassment". The amendments would also modify the
existing OHSA provisions requiring employers to have
measures and procedures for: workers to report incidents of
workplace harassment, investigation of complaints, when and what
information can be disclosed in an investigation, and to whom, and
informing a complainant and alleged harasser of the results of the
investigation and of any corrective action. Finally, employers will
have specific duties to protect a worker from workplace harassment,
including ensuring that an investigation is conducted into
incidents and complaints that is appropriate in the circumstances,
informing the complainant of the results and any corrective action,
and a review of the employer's workplace harassment program at
Employers would also be interested in the amendment to the
OHSA that confirms "reasonable action taken by an
employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of
workers or the workplace is not sexual harassment." Statements
of that nature have often been included in workplace harassment
policies as a matter of good practice; however, the amendment would
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.
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.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).