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First Publicly Reported Workplace Violence and Harassment Case Sets Precedent in Ontario


Employer fined $70K for failure to comply with workplace violence, harassment requirements

An Ontario employer has been fined $70,000 ($87,500 with the surcharge applied) after being convicted of failing to comply with seven Occupational Health and Safety  (OHS) orders issued to bring the company into compliance with workplace violence and harassment requirements. Under the OHS, employers are required to assess the risk of workplace violence, develop policies on workplace violence and harassment, develop, maintain and implement a program to deal with workplace violence and harassment, and train their employees on these policies and programs.  It appears that the employer in this case failed to meet the requirements and then failed to comply with the resulting Ministry of Labour (MOL) order.

An MOL inspector attended at the workplace after a workplace injury and issued 10 orders — seven of which, as noted, related to workplace violence and harassment.  It is not clear how much time the employer was initially given to comply.  However, the inspector followed up with phone calls after the orders became overdue.  Approximately five months after the orders were issued, the inspector returned to the workplace to verify compliance and determined that the employer had not complied with the orders relating to workplace violence and harassment.  The employer was later prosecuted for the failing to comply.  The employer did not attend at the trial, so it was convicted and fined in its absence.

This is the first publicly-reported case in which an Ontario employer has been prosecuted and convicted for failing to comply with orders specifically related to workplace violence and harassment programs.  The case is also notable because it is not clear that there were any incidents or complaints of actual violence or harassment before the orders were issued.



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