Employer Violated Workplace Violence Law: Ontario Arbitrator

An Ontario arbitrator has found that an employer violated Bill 168 which introduced workplace violence provisions into Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Labourers’ International Union of North America, Local 506, referred a workplace violence grievance to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. For some reason, the employer did not file the necessary response form with the OLRB. As such, the OLRB proceeded to hear the grievance without the employer having filed any materials.

On the basis of the facts stated by the union, the OLRB found that a principal of the employer had assaulted, on a job site, a labourer employed by the employer, and that the principal later threatened another worker with physical violence and death.

The OLRB also found that the employer had failed to prepare, review and post workplace violence and harassment policies or programs, or to provide information and instruction to workers regarding workplace harassment, in violation of sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that were introduced in Bill 168.

The OLRB therefore directed the employer to “cease and desist from violating . . . the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

While the union also asked the OLRB to award damages – including for mental distress – to the employees who were the victims of workplace violence, the OLRB said that it did not have sufficient evidence to do so, but the OLRB scheduled a date to deal with the assessment of damages.

Although the employer did not participate in this grievance hearing, the decision is a warning to employers that non-compliance with the Bill 168 workplace violence and harassment provisions is not just a technical breach, but may result in legal orders and damages.

Labourers’ International Union of North America, Local 506 v Pro-Cut Concrete Cutting Ltd, 2013 CanLII 1240 (ON LRB)

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Adrian Miedema

About Adrian Miedema

Adrian is a partner in the Toronto Employment group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts.

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