Rock to Road

New Ontario laws for violence and harassment

April 11, 2010
By Andy Bateman

12, 2010 –
Bill 168, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment
in the Workplace)
comes into force on June 15, 2010 and requires all provincially-regulated employers in Ontario to protect workers
against violence and harassment in the workplace.

employment and labour law update by Sherrard Kuzz LLP explains that “Workplace violence” is defined broadly in the Act to

• The exercise of physical force
by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical

• An attempt to exercise
physical force against a worker in a workplace that could cause physical


• A statement or behaviour that
is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force
against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury.

“Workplace harassment” means a course of vexatious comment or conduct
against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known
to be unwelcome. This is the same definition used in the Ontario Human Rights Code. However, the
provisions in the Code prohibit
harassment in employment on the basis of specifically prohibited grounds of
discrimination, namely: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin,
citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status
or disability. The new law against workplace violence and harassment has no
such restriction, and as such offers broader protection for employees than
currently available under the Code.

Employer Obligations

Every employer governed by the Act will be
obliged to:

• Undertake a risk assessment
process to measure the risk of workplace violence.

• Develop a workplace violence
and harassment policy to address the risks identified.

• Develop programs and
procedures to implement the policy.

see the update in full, go to…/Sherrard_Kuzz_-_Workplace_Violence_-_February_2010.pdf