Victoria McCorkindale, Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP


Allegations of workplace harassment or bullying can be a challenging issue to deal with in any workplace. Where employees raise allegations of harassment and bullying, an employer has a duty to investigate. In many cases, this results in interviews with the respondent, the complainant, as well as other witnesses. Where allegations are widespread, an employer may end up investigating multiple employee witnesses across the workplace.

While workplace investigations can be helpful, and often are necessary, the issues that led to the investigation may still reverberate throughout the workplace even after the investigation is concluded.

Often, even where an investigation is concluded and discipline is issued, remaining employees may still feel the effects of the harassment.

For example, an investigation conducted into workplace bullying may result in an employer discovering the bullying is far more widespread than initially thought. They may discover that conflict and interpersonal issues still remain in the workplace.

Alternatively, even when an allegation only involves the respondent and complainant, the complainant may still have lingering concerns even after the respondent is disciplined.

At this point, it can be necessary for the employer to engage in a process of workplace restoration.

Workplace restoration is the process of restoring a respectful, healthy, and harmonious work environment following allegations of harassment or bullying.

Restoring the workplace may not be an easy process. Restoration can be challenging and lengthy, particularly where the allegations at issue involve serious and repeated instances of bullying and harassment, and where the allegations are widespread throughout the workplace.

After an investigation is complete, employers may need to determine what will happen to the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses or coworkers.

Generally speaking, both the complainant and the respondent should be made aware of the outcome of the complaint. Depending on the results of the investigation, issues to consider may be:

  • Whether to implement the recommendations and/or disciplinary actions and if so, the timing of doing so
  • If the complainant and respondent were in an employee/manager relationship, whether they can continue to work together
  • If employees cannot continue to work together, what steps can be taken to find a place for both of them going forward

In addition to these more practical issues, employers should also be aware of emotional and mental health concerns impacting employees in the fallout from an investigation:

  • Are employees not engaging as they used to?
  • Are gossip and rumours running rampant?
  • Do employees often look upset or withdrawn?
  • Are employees having abnormal outbursts?

All of these could be signs that employees are in need of assistance following the aftermath of harassment or bullying in the workplace.

Best practices for Employers following an investigation is to be aware of these issues in the workplace and Employers should be on alert to check in with their employees and provide supports where needed (i.e., employee assistance program).

In addition, it is important to remind employees of the policies on workplace harassment and bullying and ensure employees are aware of the procedures in place to assist and investigate should further issues arise.

While these principles are helpful in guiding the investigation and workplace restoration process generally, every situation requires an individualized approach based on its own facts. If you are dealing with a novel or particularly sensitive situation, it may be helpful to speak with a Hicks Morley lawyer to ensure you are appropriately addressing the issue at hand.


Victoria McCorkindale is a lawyer at Hicks Morley who specializes in labour and employment matters facing municipalities. If you have any questions about this article or any other labour or employment matter, do not hesitate to contact Victoria McCorkindale at 416-864-7228. She may also be reached at

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