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  • Writer's pictureJeff Tudhope

When investigations go wrong

The Ministry of Labour makes it easy for employers to understand their obligations when it comes to corproate policies and investigating misconduct.

When something of concern happens at work, it is likely that some sort of investigation occurs. If you ask the employee(s) invovled what happened, you are doing some sort of investigation. But are you doing enough? Are you doing it right? Does it matter?

Too many businesses have learned the hard way that insufficiently investigating workplace issues just doesn't cut it.

In 2001, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered over $20,000 in damages and compensation to the former employee of a Waterloo, Ontario restaurant due to the failure to conduct a proper investigation and the resulting impact it had on the employee. In 2009, Bell Mobility was ordered by the Ontario Court of Appeal to pay a former employee $45,000 in damages for, among other things, inadequate investigation of workplace issues. In 2013, General Motors was criticised by a former employee for failing to conduct a proper investigation of a complaint of harassment. This case is currently with the Labour Relations Board.

These are just a few of the more publicised examples. There are several reasons why investigations are not conducted appropriately; perhaps the employer applies their best efforts but the investigator simply is not trained, or maybe other work-related pressures may prevent the investigator, who performs a completely differnt role on a daily basis, from applying the required diligence.

Whatever the case, these examples show how important it is to make sure that workplace misconduct is addressed and investigated properly.

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