Welcome back to the second edition of the Complex Human Resources Newsletter. I hope you and your family are safe and healthy. The good news is that spring is just around the corner.

I’ve been staying COVID-19 free and religiously following the protocols, but have to admit it’s been trying at times having experienced some COVID-19 exhaustion and a touch of cabin fever. I can’t wait until COVID-19 decides it has had enough and leaves town so we can get back to normal; I am having trouble remembering what that was like. I’m also impatiently waiting for the warmer weather of spring and summer. I miss being able to sit outside on my lawn chair, read, relax and enjoy mother nature. It will also be nice not having to dress up and slap on multiple layers of clothing to keep the cold at bay. It’s almost time to break out the shorts and t-shirts.

As stated in my original newsletter, my focus is on providing you with practical tips, tricks and techniques for conducting workplace investigations – meat and potatoes stuff – some interesting background information, and updates on projects I am working on.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter and find it useful and informative.

I’d appreciate your feedback on the newsletter and welcome suggestions for future topics.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Human Rights Tribunal Hands Down 6 Figure Award

In the case of NK vs. Botiuk, the Human Rights Tribunal has awarded $170,000 to a woman who had been the victim of “egregious sexual harassment and solicitation”.

The Tribunal awarded $70,000 more than the woman sought, which is extremely rare.

There are a couple of takeaways here:

  • This award may encourage more people to come forward, file complaints and proceed to the Tribunal stage for a hearing.
  • The cost of harassment is high and getting higher, as it should be.
  • The damage to the company’s brand is enormous. Who wants to go work for an organization that tolerates harassment or doesn’t deal with complaints properly and professionally?

If you’d like more detailed information about this case, please use our contact form.

Significant Court Decision regarding On-line harassment

A recent case may open the door for employees to sue their employer for harassment and cyberbullying.

In a recent Ontario case, Caplan v Atas (2021), Nadire Atas waged a long and abusive and vicious campaign of cyber stalking, bullying and harassment. It started in 1993 and was directed at a former employer and his friends and family. It should be noted that Atas had filed for bankruptcy and was broke.

In his ruling, the Judge found that there were no existing common law torts that were sufficient to address the situation and developed the tort of harassment of internet communications. This tort is available under the following conditions:

  1. The defendant maliciously or recklessly engages in communications and conduct so outrageous in character, duration and extreme in degree, so as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and tolerance, and
  2. With the intent to cause, fear, anxiety, emotional upset or to impugn the dignity of the plaintiff, and
  3. The plaintiff suffers hardship.

The judge ordered two unique remedies:

  1. The Court vested title of the impugned online postings to the victims, with ancillary orders enabling the removal of falsities, rather than relying on the defendant to remove offensive content on the internet; and
  2. The Court extended protection beyond the litigants to their “families and related persons, and business associates” holding that this description of victims is “as precise as it can be to achieve its purpose” of foreclosing the defendant from carrying out a campaign against someone for the purpose of indirectly harming a named litigant.

Note there was no financial penalty for Atas because of her financial insolvency and inability to pay.

Takeaways:

  • Have a clearly written policy on internet communications.
  • Amend your current policies to include a definition of internet harassment and warn employees of the consequences of engaging in such activities. Embed this in your code of conduct.
  • Conduct internal training on on-line harassment.

If you’d like more detailed information about this case, please use our contact form.

The Writer’s Corner

My book on how to conduct workplace investigations into employee misconduct is coming along nicely. I’ve finished writing it and made four different proof reads. I’ve sent the draft to a number of trusted colleagues for feedback. I will start processing it shortly. The last step is a final proofreading. Then it’s off to the publisher. I’m planning for a late spring release.

I’ve also written two white papers – one on how to conduct a covert (undercover) operation and the other on recording workplace conversations. I have two more in the hopper: How to conduct a citizen’s arrest and another on zero tolerance policies.

I am also starting a third book on how to prevent allegations of harassment levied during performance management.

Stay tuned for more details.

Book Worm

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on lying and body language. For a really in-depth treatment of lying, try Paulk Eckman’s Telling Lies. For reading body language, try What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro, an ex FBI agent. Navarro is considered an expert on the subject.

Professional Development

I’ve enrolled in an online course on Facebook for Investigators. Its looks really interesting. It’s a course that is available to licensed private investigators only. It will enhance my skills when it comes to conducting background checks.

Did You Know?

Here are some interesting stats for you to digest:

  • Bullying touches 38% of males and 30% of females according to Stats Canada.
  • More than 65% of performance problems result from strained relationships between employees – not from deficits in individual employees’ skills or motivation. – Source unknown .
  • 90% of workplace harassment is never officially reported. – Workplace Conflict: Facts and Figures.
  • Absenteeism costs employers $16.6 billion annually. – Mercer Canada
  • According to research by Michael G. Kessler & Associates:
    • 21% of employees will never steal.
    • 13% of employees will steal
    • 66% of employees will steal if they see others do so without consequences.
  • The typical manager spends 25-40% of his or her time dealing with workplace conflicts. – Source unknown.
  • 45% of women experiencing sexual harassment says it happens remotely. Source: a survey of women in the UK and Wales by the charity Rights of Women.
  • According to a study by Adrian Raine, a psychologist at the University of Southern California, pathological liars have on average more white matter in their prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that is active during lying, and less grey matter than people who are not serial liars. White matter enables quick, complex thinking while grey matter mediates inhibitions.
  • According to a survey by Chekster, a reference checking company, 78% of candidates who applied for or received a job offer in the last six months admit they did or would consider misrepresenting themselves on their application

A man working on an imaginary high voltage transformer was found dead in his home.
He had apparently received a fatal shock from the fictitious device.

Investigators who later examined it concluded that this was because he was not grounded in reality.

Take care and stay safe.