Summer Series:

Critical HR Legal and Compliance Issues

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - Handling Social Media in the Workplace
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - Alcohol, Drugs, and Cannabis in the Workplace
Thursday, August 15, 2019 - Managing Sexual Harassment Complaints

August 13 - 15, 2019  ·  Toronto, Ontario
Preventing & Managing Sexual Harassment Complaints

Toronto, Ontario · August 15, 2019
Preventing & Managing Sexual Harassment Complaints
8:00 - 9:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 - 9:15
Welcome and Opening Remarks from the Chair
Brian G. Wasyliw, Lawyer, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
9:15 - 10:30
Legal Obligations: Times Have Changed!
Priya Sarin, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Jeffrey Stewart, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
  • What is sexual harassment?
    • The overt proposition vs. the poisoned work environment
    • Relationships and power hierarchies among employees
    • What happens when the problem is the boss or senior management?
    • What about social events?
    • What about behaviour that doesn’t quite meet the definition of sexual harassment?
    • What about bad behaviour from customers, investors, sponsors, etc?
  • Obligations and liability – Employer Beware!
    • Positive obligation to provide a workplace free of sexual harassment
    • Do you need a separate policy on sexual harassment?
    • The need for clear definitions of what behaviours constitute sexual harassment, procedures for making a complaint, complainant and accused rights, what an investigation entails, process for making findings of fact, collecting evidence, complying with the need for transparency and procedural fairness
    • Bystander behaviour
    • What training is required to support the policy?
    • Vicarious liability for employee conduct
    • The Human Rights approach
    • The Health and Safety approach
    • Exposure to lawsuits or Workers’ Compensation
    • How do you know what’s going on in your own workplace?
  • What You Need:
    • Mechanisms for employees to report harassment;
    • Procedure for handling incidents and maintaining confidentiality;
    • Provisions for investigating incidents;
    • Information about how the results of the investigation will be provided to the alleged target and alleged harasser
  • Investigations
    • Obligation to investigate a complaint
    • Process, Process, Process! What does it mean? Where and how do investigators typically go wrong?
    • Consequences of an improper investigation
    • Pre-investigation planning
    • Conducting the investigation
    • Preparing the report
    • Post-investigation responsibilities
10:30 - 10:45        Networking Break

10:45 - 11:45
Morale and Reputation: Beyond the Law
Chair: Brian G. Wasyliw, Lawyer, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Karen Gordon, Gordon Strategy
Ellen Low, Ellen Low Employment Law
Priya Sarin, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
  • Internal Management: Importance of Process and Procedure:
    • During intake
    • During the investigation
    • Following the investigation
    • Communicating results correctly
  • The All-important Public Relations Component
    • What should be communicated, by whom and to whom in the workplace/ to the broader public during the investigation?
    • Should the results of an investigation be disclosed? Discussed?
  • Open Settlements: Rising Tide of Transparent Settlements
    • What is the impact, internal and external, of a settlement that everyone knows about?
    • Messaging the departure, or continued presence of a guilty party


Each of the three case studies presented will focus on an issue of key importance in the prevention and management of sexual harassment.

Case studies allow participants to test their understanding of central topics and consolidate what he or she has learned. You will return to your workplace with new eyes sensitized to the meaning, scope, management and response to sexual harassment.

11:45 - 12:30
Case Study 1: Focus On The Definition Of Sexual Harassment
Brian G. Wasyliw, Lawyer, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Priya Sarin, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Jeffrey Stewart, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
  • Can you spot harassment - How to identify less-obvious forms of sexual harassment
  • Discussing what makes a poisoned work environment
  • Exploring the perils of gender disparity and power imbalance
12:30 - 1:30 Luncheon Break

1:30 - 2:30
Case Study 2: Focus On Responding To A Complaint And Conducting An Investigation
Brian G. Wasyliw, Lawyer, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Priya Sarin, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Jeffrey Stewart, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
  • How to respond when a complaint is received
  • Managing the complainant and the respondent
  • Selecting your investigator and developing your plan
  • Taking statements
  • Addressing unexpected obstacles during the investigation
  • Writing the report
  • Concluding the investigation and communicating results
2:30 - 2:45        Networking Break

2:45 - 3:30
Case Study 3: Focus On A Difficult Complaint Involving Social Media And Public Relations
Brian G. Wasyliw, Lawyer, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Priya Sarin, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Jeffrey Stewart, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
  • Responsiveness and the challenge of social media
  • Preventing damage to the company brand
  • Repairing damage to the company brand
  • Providing support systems for those affected
3:30 - 4:30
Concluding Panel: Next Steps When You Return to Your Office
Brian G. Wasyliw, Lawyer, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Priya Sarin, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Jeffrey Stewart, Sherrard Kuzz LLP
  • Reorganization
    • Does the structure of your organization contribute to the problem?
  • Policy Review
    • Workplace romance policies
    • Harassment policy review
    • Investigation policy or protocol
  • The importance of training
    • Management
    • Entire workforce
4:30 End of Program

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