Workplace Harassment Summarizing of Culpable Behavior


The employee Giovanna has been harassing another worker Carole during the job process. The former regularly makes belittling and derogatory comments in front of their workgroup. The actions made by Giovanna are leading to Carole’s chronic stress and are taking a significant toll on her mental health. As a consequence, under Bill 132, it is unlawful behavior based on the prohibited ground of discrimination (“Employment and social development Canada”, 2017). It represents culpable harassment, and the necessary measures must be taken in order to prevent such actions in the future.

Summarizing of the Investigation Taken By Management

Conformity to the Principles of Procedural Fairness

The investigation taken by management has been confirmed to the principles of procedural fairness concerning notification made by Anita for Giovanna about the allegation and asking a union steward to join the investigation. Apart from it, it involves providing rights to appeal to an investigator and present witnesses (Mahil & Allen, 2018). In this case, one of them sided with Giovanna and spoke in her defense, saying that the only time he has heard she does anything negatively was in response to the slow pace on the line. As a result, it caused all of the witnesses to miss their productivity targets on a regular basis. In addition, conformity consists in determining the specific consequences for the employee and conducting the investigation by an impartial person (Mahil & Allen, 2018). Anita actually did not have any special relationship with Giovanna or Carole.

Apart from it, the investigation has failed to meet the principles of procedural fairness since Giovanna was not notified about the process, and Anita failed to thoroughly study the relevant policies. Moreover, it comprises the disclosure of the full information, which Anita has (Mahil & Allen, 2018). When Giovanna asked which co-worker filed a complaint, she replied that it was not relevant information. It is correct from a confidentiality perspective, but Anita had to ask a direct question about her relationship with Carole and receive specific answers (Mahil & Allen, 2018). Besides, Giovanna was not notified of her right to legal advice.

Recommended Improvements

To ensure an arbitrator makes a fair decision in investigating the case, the improvements include notifying Giovanna of an investigation and her right to legal advice, the study by Anita of relevant policies, and proper interviewing. Specifically, Anita should ask open-ended questions such as “How would you describe your relationship with Carole in the workplace?” or “What words do you use while communicating with her?”, thus getting the concrete answer (Mahil & Allen, 2018). Furthermore, in the process of completing the investigation, it is recommended to determine the consequences (Mahil & Allen, 2018). In accordance with Bill 132, it is subsequently necessary to ensure that each employee in the workplace is correctly trained in methods that will help prevent harassment and violence during the job process (“Employment and social development Canada”, 2017). Moreover, considering incidents of persecution pose a risk to workers’ mental health and associated absenteeism; therefore, a comprehensive assessment of the probability of the occurrence of such incidents and implementation of health policy in this regard are needed.

Preliminary Steps Which Should Be Taken Before a Disciplinary Recommendation

Assuming the investigation has been conducted fairly, the preliminary steps, which should be taken before proceeding with making a disciplinary recommendation, include measures that must be balanced and not penalized to either party. For instance, temporarily it could be helpful to change the shift schedules of Giovanna and Carole so that the complainant and respondent would not work together (Bolton & Griffiths, 2018). Another step consists in directing Giovanna and Carole not to communicate with each other until the investigation is over.

Internal investigator Anita may have the privilege of lower cost and higher speed but not of the time, experience, and skill to conduct an accurate clarification of circumstances. Apart from it, it is essential for the professional to have extensive practical knowledge of codes of behavior, applicable policies, and laws, which are supposed to have been violated (“Employment and social development Canada”, 2017). Moreover, it is advisable to hire an external lawyer to better hold the investigation.

The additional information to gather comprises appropriate video footage, surveillance, or emails as evidence in an inquiry. Further, these data and notes taken during the interview must be located in a safe place and be kept confidential (Bolton & Griffiths, 2018). Moreover, complete and accurate interview results must be documented and should not contain editorial opinions or comments (Bolton & Griffiths, 2018). It should be done in case of a potential judicial trial in which these records would need to be provided (Bolton & Griffiths, 2018). Any revisions could diminish the credibility of the investigation.

The next step is to develop a written report, which contains assessments, findings, and conclusions. It should summarize the complaint, generalize all evidence gathered from documents and conversations with interviewed witnesses, identify inconsistencies in it, weigh opposing evidence in defense of Giovanna and Carole, and assess credibility. It will provide an informed judgment about whether there has actually been a violation of policy or law (Bolton & Griffiths, 2018). When the investigation is complete, respondents should be informed about its outcomes and the reasons for the decision.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors and Recommended Appropriate Level of Discipline

Before determining the appropriate level of discipline, the employer should consider Giovanna’s response as a factor in defining the least severe level of corrective measure necessary to bring about the desired change in behavior. In making such a designation, the former must consider all relevant features. In particular, aggravating factors include the dishonesty about the absence of any issues at work before the incident. Apart from it, they comprise Giovanna’s failure to recognize her accountability for the behavior. In particular, she stated that she had no idea that someone could blame her for harassing one of her coworkers and that she would never do something like that as it was not in her nature. The mitigating factors include the absence of any similar allegations in the past and the lengthy service in the company for nearly 20 years.


In consideration of all relevant facts, Giovanna’s response, and the aggravating and mitigating factors, the recommended appropriate level of discipline is suspension without pay for a month. Giovanna actually has culpable behavior in relation to Carole, which is confirmed by the provided audio recording of an altercation between herself and Carole. Nevertheless, the mitigating factors of the absence of being disciplined previously and the length of service for nearly 20 years induce the progressive discipline, which can help not punish the accused but correct her behavior.


Bolton, L., & Griffiths, G. (2018). How to conduct an effective (and defensible) workplace investigation. Web.

Employment and social development Canada. (2017). Government of Canada releases report on harassment and sexual violence consultations. Web.

Mahil, R., & Allen, K. E. (2018). A review of the standards of procedural fairness in workplace investigations. Web.