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Employers Responsible For Preventing Workplace Violence Under Bill 168

31st March 2011
By iSightSoftware in Employment Law
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No one wants to work in an environment where harassment and discrimination are tolerated. As new laws are created and old ones are amended, protecting your employees needs to become a top priority. In Ontario, Bill 168 was introduced last summer as a way to prevent and combat workplace violence. Companies need to start taking harassment and discrimination complaints seriously, getting to the root of the problem before the employee takes their complaint to an outside agency.

Responsibility to Protect and Prevent

Employers are now more liable than ever before when it comes to providing employees with a safe workplace. Employers need to realize that the time spent creating policies and training employees is an investment in a safe workplace. If your company doesn’t have an effective plan in place to prevent, detect and monitor violence, the consequences can be quite costly – on both the company’s checkbook and reputation. Incoming allegations should never be ignored. Whether you overhear an employee venting to a fellow employee or the employee complains directly to you, their allegations should still be taken seriously.

Start by developing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and training programs. Let employees know how to report an incident and what they can expect once the incident is reported. Investigate incidents internally and follow up to make sure the issue is resolved.

Be open and communicate with your employees about workplace violence. It’s not always going to be an easy discussion, but then again, gaining the courage to make a complaint about harassment or discrimination is no easy feat either.

Ontario’s Bill 168

The Law Times Article “Few Ready for Bill 168,” discusses one of the reasons for passing the Bill:

“The Ontario government introduced the legislation in part in response to the murder of nurse Lori Dupont in 2005. Dupont’s former boyfriend, Dr. Marc Daniel, stabbed her to death at the Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor, Ont. The facility was aware of repeated and escalating harassment by Daniel, an anesthesiologist, but failed to discipline him. The pair were scheduled to work together on the day he killed her.”

Bill 168 has almost been in effect for one year in Ontario, yet many employers are still unaware of the increased responsibilities this law holds them to. This Bill is in use to help prevent workplace harassment and strengthen controls surrounding workplace violence. The Ontario Ministry of Labour has established a resource entitled “Workplace Violence and Harassment: Understanding the Law,” to help employers better understand the definitions of workplace harassment and violence, as well as clarifying employer responsibilities surrounding policies and programs.

An article from CBC News reports that all organizations in Ontario are responsible for:

• Carrying out a risk assessment to identify potential sources of workplace violence and harassment.
• Developing policies to address workplace violence and harassment.
• Training employees about the new policies. Being ready to investigate and deal with incidents or threats of workplace violence or harassment.
• Disclosing an employee’s history of violence to his or her co-workers.
• Preparing to protect employees from domestic violence in the workplace.
• Allowing employees to refuse work if they feel harassed or endangered by a co-worker.

About the Author

Lindsay Walker is the Corporate Journalist at Customer Expressions Corporation, developers of the i-Sight investigative case management software platform, an integrated and customizable solution for corporate investigations. She maintains the company blog at

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