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Neglect of Bill 168 forms Basis for Reprisal Complaint

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Arguing that his “termination would not have happened” had his employer complied with Bill 168 and thus addressed his harassment complaint properly, an employee has persuaded the Ontario Labour Relations Board to allow his OHS reprisal complaint to proceed to a full hearing.

Bill 168 amended the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to add requirements dealing with workplace violence and harassment.

After he was fired, the employee filed a reprisal complaint with the OLRB alleging that his employer, the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, dismissed him for complaining about his immediate supervisor’s conduct.  The Carpenters asked the OLRB to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the conduct did not constitute “workplace harassment” and that the complaint did not allege a violation of the OHSA.

The OLRB noted that the harassment and violence provisions were recently added to the OHSA and had not been the subject of many decisions interpreting the interplay between the workplace harassment obligations and the reprisal provisions.  As such, the employee should be permitted to have his reprisal complaint proceed to a full hearing.

Ontario employers should note that non-compliance with Bill 168 – including failing to prepare and post policies on workplace harassment and violence – could result not only in compliance orders from Ministry of Labour inspectors but could also in reprisal complaints to the OLRB.

The decision may be viewed at: http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onlrb/doc/2011/2011canlii71880/2011canlii71880.html