Posts Tagged ‘Harassment’

Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act come into force September 8th

September 2nd, 2016 by Lauren Blumas

Workplace sexual harassment has been in the news, a lot. The legislature responded to calls for increased protections for workers by proposing amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) which expand the scope of harassment to include workplace sexual harassment and increase employer obligations to employees.

Those amendments come into force on September 8th. Employers and employees need familiarize themselves with those amendments if they have not already. We blogged about the amendments back in April, here.

So what are the essentials for September 8th? Continue reading “Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act come into force September 8th”

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act protecting tenants from violence and abuse come into force September 6: new tenant rights and landlord responsibilities

August 23rd, 2016 by Claudia Pedrero

On September 6, 2016, changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) will come into force as a result of Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harrassment Action Plan Act.

In short, these amendments will allow tenants concerned for their safety or that of a child to give only 28 days notice to terminate their tenancy. The changes also impose serious responsibilities on landlords to keep information confidential.

These legislative changes come on the heels of the 2015 provincial government campaign “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment”, intended to illustrate the government’s no‑tolerance stance on sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence. Stemming from this, Bill 132, introduced by Ontario’s Minister for Women’s Issues, amends six provincial statutes to make Ontario’s laws more consistent with a zero‑tolerance position.

The changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 are aimed at ensuring the safety of survivors of sexual violence and removing financial barriers to help ensure survivors of harassment and violence can leave unsafe living environments quickly.

A New, Shorter Termination Period

The RTA will soon allow tenants who have concerns for their safety or the safety of a child living in the household, to give 28 days notice to terminate their tenancy. This is down from the current requirement to give 60 days notice for most tenancies. The changes apply to monthly, yearly, and fixed‑term leases.

To end their tenancy on short notice, tenants will have to provide their landlords with a restraining order, access order or peace bond issued within the last 90 days, and a signed statement stating they or their child has experienced domestic or sexual abuse. For a complete list of the types of orders that can accompany a tenant’s statement see s.47.3(1) of the RTA’s new provisions.

Landlord Confidentiality Requirements

Under the new RTA rules, a landlord who receives a notice to terminate a tenancy on the basis described above is obligated to hold that information in strict confidence. A landlord must pay special attention to protecting the privacy of a tenant who reports abuse or violence to ensure the tenant’s safety. For example, when communicating with the tenant regarding move‑out, the landlord must contact the tenant directly, not send correspondence to the unit nor disclose to co‑tenants that notice was given. Also, sharing information about the tenant’s notice or supporting documentation with a superintendent, property manager or agent of the landlord is strictly on a need‑to‑know basis. Violating a landlord’s confidentiality obligations will be an offence under the RTA, which can result in a fine of up to $25,000 for an individual and up to $100,00 for a corporation, and/or an order for damages against the landlord from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

The legislative changes will also restrict a landlord from advertising or showing the unit to prospective tenants until after the tenant who gave the notice vacates.

Do these Changes Apply to Non‑Profit Co‑operative Housing Organizations?

The new, shorter termination notice option that will soon be available to tenants under the RTA, will not be available to members of housing co‑operatives.

The Ontario Co‑operative Corporations Act, 1990 (the CCA), not the RTA, governs the procedure for co‑op members wishing to give up their membership and occupancy rights, a procedure that is usually stated also in the co‑op’s occupancy by‑law.

Under Section 171.8.1 of the CCA, members are required to give at least 60 days written notice to the co‑op of their intention to terminate occupancy rights and membership. If a member vacates their unit before the end of the 60‑day notice period, the co‑op is entitled to re‑possess the unit, but the member who left is obliged to pay housing charges until the end of the notice period.  However, co‑op boards can always consider waiving the notice requirement if they feel it makes sense in the circumstances.

This exemption could result in the unintended outcome of making it more difficult for co‑op members to quickly and safely leave an unsafe living environment when necessary.

Co‑operatives facing a request to withdraw where the board knows or suspects that violence or harassment forms the basis for the withdrawal should likely consult a legal representative.

Tenants & Housing Providers Take Note

These amendments to the RTA will soon affect tenants and landlords across the province. Everyone should be aware of their rights and responsibilities when they come into force.

Ontario Human Rights Tribunal finds co-op failed to address harassment; awards $30,000 to victims

April 12th, 2016 by Shelina Ali

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has released a lengthy 87 page decision in which it found Rouge Valley Co‑operative Homes and its board of directors did not appropriately respond to a campaign of harassment against 10 of its members. It awarded $3,000 to each of the 10 members/applicants in the case as “compensation for the infringement of their right to be free from discrimination and harassment in the occupation of accommodation, including injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”

This decision sets out some very clear expectations for housing co‑op Boards in dealing with issues of harassment and discrimination contrary to the Code. Volunteer board members should take note of the Tribunal’s expectations around how responsive and communicative a volunteer board of directors should be when dealing with these issues.

Continue reading “Ontario Human Rights Tribunal finds co-op failed to address harassment; awards $30,000 to victims”

Employers: update your Workplace Harassment policy. Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act come into force September 2016.

April 7th, 2016 by Shelina Ali

Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act received royal assent on March 8, 2016 and will come into force in September 2016.   It makes several important amendments to the provisions dealing with workplace harassment in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act).

Workplace sexual harassment is now explicitly included in the definition of workplace harassment and is a defined term under the Act.   The amendments also clarify that a reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor in managing employees does not constitute harassment.  A reasonable action is not defined under the Act, and will need to be determined on a case by case basis. Continue reading “Employers: update your Workplace Harassment policy. Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act come into force September 2016.”

Ontario Human Rights Tribunal awards $30,000 in compensation to several housing co‑op members

March 10th, 2016 by Shelina Ali

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal released an 87 page decision last week awarding the ten applicants, all members of a Scarborough housing co‑operative, $30,000 in compensation.   The applicants each brought applications against the housing co‑operative and its board of directors for failing to address harassing conduct towards the applicants by another member of the housing co‑operative. While the board members and co‑operative did not engage in the harassment, the Tribunal found that it was still liable for failing to address the conduct.

We are still awaiting the release of the decision, and will write more about the Tribunal’s findings once it’s available.  News coverage of the decision can be found here.