Discipline and Reprisals Compliance Centre

When workers violate company rules, especially safety rules, it’s important that you discipline them appropriately. If you let infractions slide, you undercut the company’s argument that it exercised due diligence. But you must be careful not to discipline workers for exercising safety rights, such as refusing hazardous work or raising a health concern. That’s because across Canada, it’s illegal to punish workers in retaliation for exercising their rights under the OHS laws. In fact, Ontario recently changed its reprisal rules to make it easier for workers to claim they’ve been the victim of retaliation. To ensure you properly discipline workers:
1. Implement a non-retaliation policy at your workplace;
2. Use progressive discipline to enforce your company’s safety policies and procedures consistently as to all workers; and
3. Establish a system for investigating and responding to worker reprisal claims.

Guidance and Insight

worker

Lockout Glossary: How to Keep Your Workplace Drug-Free after Marijuana Is Legalized

From zero tolerance to fitness for duty.

DOS & DON’TS: [√] Document Discipline Imposed on Workers

You may need disciplinary records to justify a worker's firing or to prove due diligence.

AB Company Didn’t Have Just Cause to Fire Safety Officer for Loss of COR

Don't expect employees to fulfill their work duties without giving them the supervision, assistance, training, and other resources they need.

5 Keys to an Effective Anti-Retaliation Program

Learn the 5 key elements of a proactive anti-retaliation program that responds properly to workers' concerns, while preventing and addressing retaliation.

TEST YOUR OHS I.Q.: Can Temp Worker Be Fired for Second Safety Infraction?

A temporary worker commits 2 safety infractions, including violating lockout procedures. Does the employer need and have just cause to fire him?

Tools

Anti-Reprisal Program Checklist

Use this checklist to assess your program for preventing reprisals and ensure that it covers the key areas and is effective.

Investigation of Alleged Wrongdoing or Reprisal Checklist

Use this checklist when conducting investigations of alleged wrongdoing or reprisals for raising concerns of wrongdoing.

Model Non-Retaliation Policy

Primary Source: Before you use this tool, you may want to read the further analysis presented here. Benefits: The OHS laws bar employers from disciplining...

Model Off-Duty Conduct Policy

PRIMARY SOURCE When Is Off-Duty Conduct Just Cause for Discipline? BENEFITS When you discipline a worker, it’s typically for conduct on the job....

Questionnaire: Responding to Worker Reprisal Claims

BENEFITS One of the “gaps” in the current Ontario OHS system cited by the Dean Commission is insufficient protection for workers against being fired or...

Cases

retaliation

Firing Mechanic Just 2 Weeks after Work Refusal ≠ Retaliation

The mechanic claimed retaliation but the plant argued that the timing was coincidental and that he was fired for his inability to get along and show respect for colleagues and company processes.

One-Day Suspensions Not Unreasonable for Engaging in Horseplay

In a room at a mining facility, two maintenance workers engaged in a friendly wrestling match while a crowd of co-workers watched. A supervisor...

Failure to Follow Emergency Procedures & Prior Record Justified Firing

A worker was involved in a very serious safety infraction in which he failed to follow proper emergency procedures and, by doing so, put...

Court Refuses to Reinstate Privileges of Doctor Who Threatened Nurse

A doctor began a “friendship” with a nurse at the hospital where they worked. But this friendship deteriorated and he became obsessed with her....

Store Fired Clerk for Complaining of Harassment and Violence by Co-Workers

A store clerk was verbally harassed by a co-worker, which she reported to her supervisor. The supervisor spoke to the co-worker but his behaviour...