There were two interesting developments in Ontario this month in employment and human rights law, another step forward for Human Rights in Canada.
Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Bill 132 received Royal Assent. Important to our employer clients in Ontario are
the amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Bill 132
now expands the definition of “workplace harassment” in the OHSA to include:
- Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker
in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be
- Workplace sexual harassment
Bill 132 clarifies that reasonable action taken by an employer in managing or directing the workplace and workers is not workplace harassment.
Bill 132 also specifically defines “workplace sexual harassment” as:
- Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, general identify or gender expressed, 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 is in a position 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.
Bill 132 requires employers to develop written programs, which must be reviewed annually, to respond to issues of harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. Further, employers must provide training to their employees on their workplace harassment policy and program.
The changes to the OHSA will come into force on September 8, 2016.
Article by Ritu Mahi ~ published April 14, 2016