Most human rights commissions gather statistics about human rights complaints; those statistics consistently indicate that an overwhelming majority in most Provinces, and in the federal jurisdiction, are related to employment.
McInnes Cooper’s labour and employment lawyers regularly provide legal advice and representation to employers with respect to workplace human rights matters, including sexual harassment and other forms of harassment and bullying, in all Provinces, and in the federal sphere. Our clients are engaged in a wide range of industries. Human rights issues arise in all industries, and we provide advice to all; in our experience, the industries in which human rights issues most frequently arise include:
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The workplace human rights advice and representation services we provide to our clients include:
Policy Development and Review: We believe in a proactive approach to human rights in the workplace; this means we help our clients both prevent and avoid human rights issues in their workplaces by assisting them to prepare new human rights and harassment and bullying policies and procedures, or by reviewing policies and procedures that are already in place, to ensure they remain in compliance with the applicable laws.
Training: As is always the case, policies and procedures alone are not sufficient to prevent human rights issues, harassment or bullying from arising in a workplace, or to comply with an employer’s legal obligations. We help our clients to implement their policies and procedures, including reviewing, preparing and/or presenting training and information seminars about human rights matters, harassment, and bulling. In addition, we assist clients to design and deliver human rights, harassment or bullying training to employees when they have been ordered to do by a human rights tribunal or other body, or have voluntarily agreed to deliver such training as part of the resolution of a complaint or dispute.
Human Rights Audits: Developing and implementing policies and procedures and delivering the related training is not – and should not – be a one-shot event. Since both employees and the laws about human rights, harassment and bullying change over time, it is a critical aspect of an employer’s legal obligation to exercise due diligence that employers conduct regular audits of such matters to ensure continued compliance with best practices and the law on an ongoing basis.
Addressing Human Rights Issues and Complaints Under Internal Human Rights Policies and Procedures: Employers with a well drafted and implemented policies and procedures about human rights, harassment and bullying can expect to receive “internal” complaints – and thus must be prepared to deal with them. We provide clients with advice and guidance in how to deal with such complaints internally, including appropriate timing, who should investigate and how, the investigation process itself, reaching a decision, determining whether and what discipline or other remedial steps are warranted, and other appropriate steps following the conclusion of the complaint process.
Human Rights, Harassment, Workplace Harassment and Bullying Advice and Representation: Even an employer with a strong policy in place, appropriately implemented and actively enforced, may find itself the defendant in a human rights complaint filed against it by an employee under the applicable human rights legislation. In that case, the employer must be prepared to respond to the complaint, and to do so in a manner that complies with the employer’s legal obligations balanced with minimizing business risks. We provide our clients with timely and accurate advice and, when necessary, with credible and practical legal representation, when faced with a human rights complaint.