Bill 132: Ontario’s New Sexual Violence and Harassment Legislation
From an article* posted on Nov 17th, 2015, by Sabrina Serino:
“The Ontario Government recently introduced Bill 132, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic violence and related matters as a response to the Government’s “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment” policy statement announced earlier this year.
Bill 132 will amend various existing statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. For employers, important changes will stem from Bill 132’s proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”), which include modifying the current definition of “workplace harassment” and imposing additional obligations on employers concerning their workplace harassment policies, programs and investigations.”
This means that folks working in Ontario are going to need to consider new training for their staff members; and not just sensitivity training but specific training in the field of sexual violence and harassment. After all, people get in trouble all the time for crossing boundaries in the workplace. Thus, especially with these new regulations, working individuals and organizations will indeed see the benefit of having access to more awareness and rules surrounding workplace harassment.
There is a lot to learn about harassment, however many details surrounding such sensitive topics often go unknown and untaught. The laws have become more developed and sophisticated over time and are now articulated and exercised in courses around the globe. Breakview Training, for example, is one company addressing these needs of workplaces across North America, providing trainings on general sensitivity in workplace as well as focused trainings on specific, current issues such as gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and religion. These categories I mentioned all fall under a protected class of characteristics according to regional laws, which means they are off limits in terms of jokes, different treatment, and any other form of discrimination.
This change may take some effort to adjust to, since companies will have to amend their own language in their documents that discuss workplace safety. The good news is that training companies can use their knowledge and experience with such issues to consult with organizations and help improve workplace cultures from top to bottom – from HR to the front lines.