Editorial: Bill 132 aftermath

In this edition of Law Times, Michael McKiernan has written a feature exploring how small businesses are creating workplace investigation strategies to avoid being overwhelmed by the requirements of new sexual harassment legislation. 

Editorial Obiter: Gabrielle GirodayThe requirements are due to Bill 132, which means employers must conduct investigations after concerns of workplace harassment come to light.

Much discussion centred on the bill, not in the least because of its emergence at a time when the Jian Ghomeshi trial was front and centre. 

The trial itself is no longer in the public eye — but its aftermath has impacted the way labour and employment lawyers will be consulted. It has also impacted how a generation of young Canadians see their employers, and their workplaces, and understand their rights. 

The heightened awareness among all age groups about the issue is heartening.  

Lawyer Jeremy Hann told McKiernan that businesses both large and small have an incentive to do investigations correctly, since provincial Ministry of Labour inspectors will be following up.

“We’re telling smaller clients that they need an action plan for this type of complaint, because they are very time sensitive, and delaying an investigation can cause all sorts of issues,” says Hann.  

And for lawyers who run their own firms or are in leadership positions within a larger firm, it’s not just about advising clients. Law firms themselves are not immune to harassment complaints, which is why Hann’s words of warning should be heeded as wise. Hopefully, the issue never comes to pass — but having an action plan in case it does is prudent.

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