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Amending the OHSA for "sexual violence and harassment" Bill 132

Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, will amend various Ontario statutes including the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

This Bill is currently working its way through the Ontario Legislator; and if passed (which will be likely noting the Liberal majority) will expand "workplace harassment" under the OHSA section 32.0.6 to include "workplace sexual harassment".

The current language of "workplace sexual harassment" 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, or
  • Making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance 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 unwelcome.

These new amendments, impose certain legal duties on employers to protect workers from workplace harassment.  This includes the ability for Ministry of Labour safety inspectors to order an employer to conduct a written investigation by a third party at the employer's expense. This will likely be ordered if the safety inspector finds that the employer failed to investigate the occurrence at the time of reporting.

Additionally, the new amendments require the harasser and harassee to be informed (in writing) of the results of the investigation and any corrective action required.

Bill 132 passes first reading on October 27th, 2015.  Second and Third reading will follow and once the Bill has received Royal Assent the Bill will likely come into effect six months after. 

A copy of the Bill can be found here A press reslease-Ontario Bill 132 announcement

Will we keep our readers updated.

For further information please contact Greg Sathmary at (613) 260-0600.

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