Workplace investigations: The elephant in the room
National Magazine talks to Emma Phillips about workplace investigations
The Canadian Bar Association’s National Magazine takes a look at workplace investigations in its March issue.
Over the past decade or so, courts, arbitrators and human rights tribunals have been developing caselaw that all employers and trade unions should become familiar with. The emerging decisions make it clear that workplace parties have to take complaints of misconduct seriously, and that employers must properly investigate and respond to complaints. Failure to do so may result in substantial damage awards.
The National article looks at the elements of a good investigation. The National spoke to Emma Phillips in connection with the starting point for any good investigation – a protocol that will serve as a roadmap for how the investigation is to be conducted.
Labour lawyer Emma Phillips of Goldblatt Partners LLP says it would be “helpful and constructive” if more employers either developed their own internal investigation protocols or negotiated protocols with unions “to have some clear sense” of what constitutes a fair investigation.
“To have a general protocol that lays out what kind of steps might normally be followed gives employees a greater sense of what the process will look like, what their rights are and makes for a transparent process. It gives employees greater faith in the integrity of the investigation,” says Phillips, who acted as counsel to the External Review on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Armed Forces, and to an independent review commissioned by the UN on sexual abuse by peacekeepers.