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The Canadian Association of Workplace Investigators is a professional membership association for attorneys, human resource professionals, private investigators, and many others who conduct, manage, or have a professional interest in impartial workplace investigations.

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Our mission is to promote and enhance the quality of impartial workplace investigations.

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A Trauma-Informed Approach to Violence Investigations

A Presentation by the Canadian Association of Workplace Investigators

Lisa Corrente

Lisa Corrente 

Alana Sharpe

Alana Sharpe

June 28, 2017

9am PDT -  10am MDT - 11am CDT - 12pm EDT

Free for AWI Members
$50 for Non-Members

Register Now

1 hour recertification credit pending from HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute) and 
SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management)

Reported incidents of workplace violence are on the rise. Throughout Canada, provincial legislatures are beginning to require more significant responses to violence in the workplace and on university and college campuses.  However, understanding the effects of trauma on a complainant and the implications for the investigation can be complicated. Therefore, in order to conduct effective investigations into alleged violence, it is crucial that investigators are trained on and employ principles and practices that are trauma-informed. Whether you are an internal or external investigator, this webinar will provide insight on how to incorporate principles of a trauma-informed approach into your investigative practices.

This webinar will give an overview of:

  • The concept of trauma and its effects on complainants;
  • Principles and procedures of a trauma-informed process;
  • Best practices of a trauma-informed intake and investigation, including interviewing parties and witnesses, analyzing evidence and report writing; and
  • How to avoid trauma-inducing practices. 

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Overview of Workplace Investigation Law in Canadian Jurisprudence

Workplace investigation law has been evolving over the past several years and continues to develop and progress in Canadian jurisprudence into a distinct area of employment law.

It is now widely accepted that human rights jurisprudence establishes an employer obligation to investigate allegations of harassment and discrimination based upon a prohibited ground of discrimination.  The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “HRTO”) has awarded damages against an employer for failing to properly respond to and investigate a complaint.  The HRTO will award damages for failing to, or failing to properly investigate a complaint of harassment or discrimination brought by an employee even in circumstances where no violation of the Code has been made out.  

An employer’s obligation to investigate was expanded when the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act ("OHSA") was amended in 2009 to include protections against “workplace harassment” and workplace violence, the definition of which includes bullying and psychological harassment, not specifically tied to a prohibited ground under human rights legislation.  Pursuant to the amended legislation, an employer is required to prepare and implement a policy on how employee complaints will be investigated.

In addition to the legislative framework, there are several wrongful (constructive) dismissal and human rights decisions, which scrutinize the adequacy of a workplace investigation.  Taken together, it seems that an emerging standard is developing by which investigations are measured in order to be “fair”.  Failure to conduct an investigation and/or the failure to conduct a fair investigation may attract an award of damages. 

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Workplace Investigations: Key Reasons for Hiring an External Investigator

Various situations arising in the workplace can trigger the need for an investigation – alleged discrimination or harassment, workplace bullying or abuse, inappropriate use of the internet or social media, theft of company property, fraud, policy breaches, statutory violations, allegations of just cause and so forth.  Often times, employers try to resolve minor issues informally through discussions with the individuals involved.  When the allegations are more serious, employers may rely upon company managers to conduct internal investigations.  However, in many situations, having an employer deal directly with the problem is not the best approach – informal discussions can easily breakdown and basic investigative steps may be overlooked by inexperienced managers, making matters worse. An invaluable skill for any employer is recognizing when a formal investigation by an external investigator is appropriate.

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