This year has created innumerable challenges for employers— including the challenge of how to effectively conduct a workplace investigation when health and safety protocols demand a certain degree of separation. Fortunately, the same Do’s and Don’ts still apply to employers, whether they are conducting an investigation two meters apart or virtually through Zoom.

  • Don’t (inexcusably)

The Federal Circuit Court has ruled a senior executive who was investigated, following anonymous allegations of misconduct was not the victim of unlawful adverse action, finding that among other things, the investigation itself was not “adverse” and that other action taken by the employer was not taken for a prohibited reason as alleged.

What does this mean for employers?

Any disciplinary action which the employer proposes to take against the employee needs to be based on strong, direct evidence of relevant misconduct, which needs to come from the decision-maker in order to displace the assumption that the adverse action was taken for a prohibited reason.

Employers should also take note of the fact that in some cases the institution of an investigation could in or of itself constitute adverse action, in that it could injure an employee in their employment. As such, care should be taken when instituting investigations, in particular, only those individuals who need to be aware of the investigation should be advised of it and investigations should remain as confidential as is practicable.

In a recent case, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a Court of Quebec judgment and found that procedural fairness standards applicable to administrative law are not applicable to internal investigations into complaints of psychological harassment in the workplace.


The appellant was a college professor who was dismissed for psychological harassment of some

If traditional accident causation theory was truly sufficient for preventing incidents, wouldn’t we have learnt the lessons by now?

When we look at incident investigation reports, we see the same lessons being learnt time and time again. Those who investigate incidents will no doubt be familiar with the drawbacks associated with traditional investigation techniques.