The Ontario Government recently introduced Bill 132, An Act
to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual
harassment, domestic violence and related matters as a
response to the Government's "It's Never Okay: An
Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment" policy
statement announced earlier this year.
Bill 132 will amend various existing statutes with respect to
sexual violence, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. For
employers, important changes will stem from Bill 132's proposed
amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the
"OHSA"), which include modifying the
current definition of "workplace harassment" and imposing
additional obligations on employers concerning their workplace
harassment policies, programs and investigations.
Under Bill 132, the OHSA's definition of "workplace
harassment" will be expanded to include "workplace sexual
harassment", which is defined as:
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;
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
Notably, Bill 132 also clarifies that a reasonable action taken
by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and
direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace
Bill 132 will require an employer's program to implement a
workplace harassment policy under section 32.06(2) of the OHSA to
further set out:
Measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of
workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or
supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged
How incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be
investigated and dealt with;
That information obtained about an incident or complaint of
workplace harassment, including identifying information about any
individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless the disclosure
is necessary for the investigation or corrective action, or is
required by law; and
How a worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment
and the alleged harasser (if he or she is a worker of the employer)
will be informed of the results of the investigation and of any
corrective action taken.
An employer will be required to renew its program at least
annually and provide its workers with appropriate information and
instruction on the contents of both the policy and program.
When faced with a "workplace harassment" incident or
complaint, under Bill 132 an employer will be required to ensure
that an appropriate investigation is conducted and that both the
worker who has allegedly experienced harassment and the alleged
harasser (if s/he is a worker of the employer) are informed of the
results and of any corrective action that has been, or will be,
taken. Notably, Bill 132 will allow an inspector to order an
employer to have an investigation and report completed by an
impartial third-party, at the employer's expense.
Bill 132 passed first reading on October 27, 2015. If passed,
the provisions of Bill 132 relating to the OHSA will come into
force either six months after receiving Royal Assent or on July 1,
2016, whichever is the later date.
The Bill can be found here. A press release from the Ontario
Government announcing Bill 132 can be found here
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