Ask the ExpertIgnoring harassment complaint
hri_Admin Staff asked 1 year ago

Hi,  My question is around harassment. If a supervisor ignored an harassment complaint, is there legislation that will hold the supervisor personally responsible, if something were to happen to the victim and the employer came to know after the fact that a complaint had been lodged? As is the case with safety violations and Alberta OHS?

1 Answers
hri_Admin Staff answered 1 year ago

The starting point would be Section 4(a)(iii) of the Alberta OHS Act.

Every supervisor shall

(a)    as far as it is reasonably practicable for the supervisor to do so,
(iii)    ensure that none of the workers under the supervisor’s supervision are subjected to or participate in harassment or violence at the work site,
That means the supervisor could be cited and prosecuted for an OHS violation; that would NOT give employers, victims or other individuals the right to sue the supervisor for money damages. However, violation  of Sec. 4(a)(iii), if that’s indeed what the supervisor did, would be evidence of negligence or other forms of tortious conduct. Employees seeking to sue, though, would be subject to the workers comp bar on negligence lawsuits for work injuries.
Bottom Line: Supervisors who ignore harassment complaints can be liable for OHS and other offences, especially when the conduct results in actual damage. However, how you go about actually enforcing all this is tricky. Hope that helps and I’ll be happy to continue the conversation at glennd@bongarde.com