Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Ontario Human Rights Code, employers have a legal obligation and responsibility to provide both their employees and the public with safe, comfortable, and healthy environments that are free from discrimination and harassment. Environments are not limited to the physical workspace in this sense. They also include the psychological (i.e., thoughts, behaviours) and socio-psychological environments (i.e., discrimination, harassment, workplace violence, etc.).
Conflicts can arise between co-workers, supervisors, and subordinates, or between employees and external stakeholders (i.e., customers, suppliers, and regulatory bodies). When they do, it is important to manage those conflicts and to do so in a timely manner.
Where allegations of harassment, abusive behaviour, discrimination, theft, workplace violence, fraud, or other types of dishonesty are involved, it is mandatory to conduct workplace investigations in a timely, thorough, and objective manner.
Other situations that may warrant investigations include:
- Performance issues;
- Disciplinary cases such as allegations of misconduct;
- Complaints (by employees, customers, members of the public);
- Human Rights complaints;
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act complaints;
- Occupational Health & Safety Act complaints (harassment, bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment, violence in the workplace); or
- Breaches of internal policy and breaches of law.
Trust All Matters Regarding Workplace Investigations to Us
Conducting workplace investigations is the most unpleasant and difficult task for most HR professionals, especially if it is within their own organization. It becomes even more challenging when you consider the constant changes to applicable legislation and the need for expedience, as well as the possible consequences of reaching the wrong conclusion.
With a team of trained and experienced HR professionals, Pesce & Associates can help you investigate any matter discreetly and thoroughly, through a fair and confidential approach, and reach an impartial conclusion on the issue. Additionally, we can also provide you with all the support and counsel you may need to efficiently prevent and resolve workplace incidents and conflicts in the future.
Our services go beyond conducting a workplace investigation over a particular issue. Through our services, we can:
- Support the employer’s team by providing practical advice, principled solutions and decades of proven expertise conducting workplace investigations;
- Conduct or oversee impartial third-party investigations or assist the employer’s team to do so;
- Provide a comprehensive and detailed written report following an investigation detailing the findings;
- Assist the employer’s team to better manage workplace conflict;
- Assist the employer’s team to identify causes of conflict by conducting workplace assessments in which information is gathered relating to the culture, practices or behaviour in the workplace;
- Develop and deliver customized Respect in the Workplace Training to the employer’s team and employees;
- Conduct investigations in which probing interviews are conducted with identified individuals to determine what subsequent processes are required.
What Is a Workplace Investigation?
A workplace investigation is a process of resolving an event or issue that has occurred in the office between or among employees. Although it is unnecessary in most cases, especially for minor disagreements or issues, sometimes it is the best, if not only, way to resolve a delicate or potentially repercussive situation.
The investigation is initiated by tasking an internal or external HR professional to research the issue or incident and come to a conclusion regarding the events based on facts. The cause that warrants a workplace investigation can be a complaint of an employee for harassment, discrimination, etc., or a suspicion that a staff member is engaging in misconduct.
If the employer determines that an investigation is necessary, it is best to conduct it expediently and impartially by professional investigators.
What Is the Purpose of Workplace Investigations?
The purpose of a workplace investigation is to collect statements and evidence in order to reach an unbiased conclusion regarding a workplace incident. Having proper procedures for resolving delicate situations involving complaints or harassment at the workplace is required by law. In this sense, the investigation must be conducted by trained professionals and in good faith.
Fair workplace investigations are the best way to ensure no employee is unjustly sanctioned based on a claim against them, while also protecting the organization and its staff from any negative effects ongoing misconduct could cause.
Apart from resolving incidents, workplace investigations have another, indirect, purpose. By following procedures and researching any complaints or suspicions thoroughly and impartially, employers ensure that their work environment is safe and that it encourages productivity and mutual respect.