Labour & Employment Law Blog

Investigations in an Ontario Workplace

Investigations in an Ontario Workplace

Workplace investigations have become a common feature in employment law.  In fact, in Ontario there is a statutory obligation on employers to conduct an investigation in certain situations such as when there is a complaint of harassment.  However, how the employer conducts a workplace investigation can vary depending on a wide array of factors such as the location or size of the workplace or the type of complaint.  For instance, using a third party investigator may be a lot easier when the workplace is larger or located in a city like Toronto than if the business premises of the employer is located in a small rural town.

However, the investigation always contains two basic parts.   The first is an information-gathering phase and the second is the report.  In the information-gathering phase, the investigator may use a variety of tools in order to obtain information such as in-person interviews of witnesses or the review of documentary evidence.

In the next stage, typically an experienced third-party workplace investigator would then formulate a report to the employer. Sometimes (though not always) a workplace investigator would even present recommendations to the employer (such as whether to discipline a particular employee) at the conclusion of the report. Many workplace investigators, however, refrain from providing recommendations to the employer as such a step could be construed by those involved as providing legal advice, which would not be appropriate.

There are some issues that may occur during the course of the investigation that may “taint” the investigation’s outcome. Employers who deeply care about their business tend to be predisposed towards a certain outcome or result of the investigation without keeping an open mind. This is understandable because they would often have a “hunch” about a particular employee’s misconduct but, in legal and ethical terms, that is not enough.

If you are an employer, you should be aware that a dishonest investigation would do you more harm than good. The purpose of the investigation is look into whether misconduct was committed not to confirm that misconduct was committed. An employee who is under investigation should be entitled to “meet their case,” and in doing so should be presented with particulars and be given a meaningful opportunity to respond to the allegations levelled against them. Failure to do so may render the investigation not only meaningless but, if conducted in bad faith, result in greater liability to your company.

The converse is true: if you are an employee, resist the urge to quit your job simply because you are advised of being the subject matter of an investigation. Attempt to appreciate the employer’s point of view and where the company is coming from. Employers have little reason to disrupt the workplace, involve staff in a quasi-legal and stressful process and spend tens of thousands of dollars on a workplace investigation. Unless the investigation is patently flawed, it is likely better to see it through and, if necessary, obtain legal advice in the course of it in order to try to protect your interests.

Ultimately, both parties should be aware that the outcome of a workplace investigation is not a judicial ruling as it would be if a matter were tried in a court of law. Whatever the result, it is far from certain what bearing a workplace investigation may have in the event of an actual employment law lawsuit. You should rest assured, however, that if the investigation is a material factor in the dispute, the parties’ conduct during the course of the investigation (and its outcome) would be scrutinized by the court if it comes to that.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.