Workplace Harassment investigation in Tay Valley

December 7, 2017 by

The following is a release from Tay Valley Township concerning a workplace harassment investigation in the township. Details on the allegations are not provided, nor are any  names. Consequences or disciplinary action as a result of the investigation are not listed either. 

From the township:

Tay Valley LogoWorkplace Harassment Investigation

At a Special Council meeting on December 4, 2017, Tay Valley Township Council received a confidential report from solicitor, John Curtis, who was retained to conduct an investigation in response to allegations of workplace harassment.

The investigation stems from incidents that occurred in 2016 and 2017. Allegations of workplace harassment were made against three individuals; two members of the public and one member of Council.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines “workplace harassment” as “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known as unwelcome”.

“As the employer, the Township is obligated to conduct such an investigation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Township’s Code of Conduct and Respect in the Workplace Policy”, explained Tay Valley’s Chief Administrative Officer Larry Donaldson. “These outline employees’ rights to work in an environment free of harassment. The Township is, therefore, acting in accordance with the law and its own policies.”

The investigation was confidential. It was conducted over the past three months and included conducting interviews and reviewing documents, audio and video recordings and various media reports. Each of the three individuals was advised in writing that they were respondents in a workplace harassment investigation and that the investigator would be in contact to arrange an interview.

Prior to interviewing each of the respondents, an individual written summary of the specific allegations against them was provided to each. This clarified the precise nature of the allegations after meeting with the complainants and ensured the respondents had a clear understanding of the allegations against them and an opportunity to provide a meaningful response.

“Since one of the respondents is a Township Councillor, the Councillor Code of Conduct as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Respect in the Workplace Policy have application in this investigation,” Mr. Donaldson said. “Given the inter-related nature of the complaints and partial overlap of the policies, Mr. Curtis was asked to combine the investigations to avoid duplication of process.”

Mr. Curtis’ mandate was to determine if the alleged conduct constituted harassment in the workplace under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Township’s Respect in the Workplace Policy, and in the case of the complaints against the Councillor, whether or not there had been a breach of the Councillor Code of Conduct.
Mr. Curtis has concluded that there were breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Policy and the Code, and that the employees were subject to harassment.

“The Township takes its obligation to ensure a harassment–free workplace very seriously,” said Tay Valley Reeve Keith Kerr. “It deeply regrets the events that have occurred and is taking steps to ensure that there is no repetition of similar behaviour in the future.”

“Now that Township Council has received the Investigator’s Report, the aforementioned information is provided to be as open and transparent as possible while respecting the rights of the individuals involved,” said Donaldson. “The Township will not provide further details as the investigation report is a confidential document containing personal information and accordingly, will not be released to the public.”