Canadian Lawyer

March 2022

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 19 of 51

18 TOP LABOUR & EMPLOYMENT BOUTIQUES Attention to workplace complaints While it might seem counterintuitive, with so many people working from home and not in the office, Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark partner Keith Murray says he has seen a "real increase in investigative work arising from workplace complaints of bullying and harassment." This is in addition to the more "traditional" complaints of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination based on race or disability. Part of this, Murray says, could relate to employees recognizing that bullying and harassment in a toxic work environment is a legitimate complaint to bring forward and the mental health issues this can cause. "There's also less stigma attached to making these complaints, so people feel more comfortable bringing them forward." He also notes that these can be complex cases to investigate as they can involve a lot of "he said, she said." James Knight, managing partner at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP notes "the changing face of Canadian society has motivated many employers to become much more pro-active in practices related to recruiting, hiring, and promoting." He adds that "employers are imposing high standards in terms of expectations of civility in the workplace, not to mention dealing with any complaints of harassment or violence." Related to this area of employment law, Thomson at Harris & Company says she has seen a significant increase in requests from clients for guidance as they consider issues relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion within the workplace. Thomson says that as societal attitudes evolve and employees expect organizations to act on this important issue, there is a need to develop practical tools and policies to guide employers and "address cultural have been heavily affected by public health restrictions, she adds, as well as under- standing and applying significant changes to employment standards legislation in relation to sick leave. Thomson and other labour and employ- ment lawyers also say they have seen a jump in the number of human rights complaints being filed — an overall increase and specific complaints related to the pandemic. "We have been working with our clients to navigate the issues created by both the increase in these complaints and the delays related to the backlog," she says. "As they relate to the pandemic, we have been working with clients on vaccination policies and addressing requests for accommoda- tions from employees based on protected human rights grounds, most commonly medical or religious." "[It's the] beginning of a power dynamic shift in the workplace due to clients increasingly feeling the effects of competition for labour" Angela Rae, Rae, Christen Jeffries LLP REGARDLESS OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN, WHAT DO YOU PREFER? Source: Angus Reid poll of 2040 randomized Canadians, August 2021 Work mostly from home, some office time 44% 29% 22% 5% Work mostly from the office, some home time Work from home all the time Work from the office all the time SPECIAL REPORT

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