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  • Writer's pictureMartin B DeBellefeuille

The Investigation of Psychological and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in 6 Major Steps

The investigation of harassment is a complex process governed by the law. It is indeed required that all individuals conducting workplace harassment investigations be accredited to practice this procedure. Here are the 6 major steps of the psychological and sexual harassment investigation process that lawyer investigators are trained in by the Barreau du Québec.

1. Filing the Complaint

Any employed individual who suspects they are a victim of psychological or sexual harassment in the workplace has the right to file a complaint with their employer. How to proceed? It's important to know that all employers must have a harassment prevention policy and complaint procedure easily accessible. You can refer to it to understand the internal procedure to follow.

Did you know that most employees are protected against workplace harassment by either the Labour Standards Act or the Canadian Labour Code?

Trick : When filing a complaint, it's important to be as precise as possible about the alleged facts. As soon as you sense any suspicion of psychological or sexual harassment, it's recommended to document the facts immediately. Taking the time to indicate dates, approximate times, and locations of events, as well as citing witnesses, words, and actions are good practices to adopt. This can make a difference in assessing the admissibility of a complaint.

2. Assessment of the admissibility of the complaint

After the complaint is filed, the role of the lawyer investigator is to assess the admissibility of the complaint. They determine whether the allegations made could reasonably constitute psychological or sexual harassment if proven true. This step is crucial as it determines whether or not there will be further action following the complaint, such as conducting an investigation.

The admissibility of the complaint will be judged based on the 'true appearance' of the alleged facts. It is therefore important to be as precise as possible when filing the complaint.

3. Mediation

If the complaint is deemed admissible, mediation may be proposed before initiating the investigation process. If both parties agree, the manager calls upon mediation services. The involved parties may be supported throughout the process.

Did you know that mediation is a voluntary and confidential process? Therefore, you have the right to refuse to participate in such a process

4. Investigation

The investigation lies at the core of the role of the lawyer investigator. This individual will conduct a thorough investigation to gather the necessary information to draft their investigation report. All stakeholders (the complainant, the person(s) whose behavior is being questioned, and any witnesses) will be called in for interviews. Following each interview, the information will be documented and analyzed by the lawyer investigator

During this process, any person called in for an interview has the option to be accompanied by a support person.

This person is chosen by a party or a witness to accompany them during their interview with the lawyer investigator. The support person cannot be a party or a witness in the same investigation

5. Investigation Report

The investigation report represents the final decision of the lawyer investigator following the analysis of the evidence gathered during the investigation process. This individual thus provides a legal opinion on the validity of the complaint of psychological or sexual harassment in the workplace.

6. Report to management

In the event that the complaint is substantiated, an intervention plan and disciplinary measures are recommended in a supplementary report submitted to management. This report contains key findings, risk factors related to the harassment situation, and recommendations for preventive or disciplinary measures for the individual whose behavior has been called into question

6. Implementation of measures

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the employer to enforce the intervention plan and disciplinary or preventive measures.


Me DeBellefeuille and Me Beaumier, partners at BdeB Avocats et Consultants RH, are the only two accredited lawyer investigators in Mauricie. Contact us!

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