Staff Report #3
March 6, 2023
To All Commissioners
Re: 2022 Mutual Respect/Human Rights Summary Report
The report be NOTED and FILED.
The London Transit Commission policies on Human Rights and Diversity (Anti-Harassment, Anti-Sexual Harassment & Anti-Discrimination) and Mutual Respect in the Workplace address the Commission’s expectations of employees and members of the public that utilize London Transit services. As the result of recommendations stemming from a Third-Party investigation undertaken by Rubin Thomlinson in 2018/19, these policies were subject to a number of amendments in an effort to simplify the process and ensure a general understanding of the elements relating to the processes by all stakeholders, ultimately making employees and customers more comfortable in utilizing the process.
The respective policies and associated written procedures outline the associated complaint procedure and investigation/decision-making process, including the option for a complainant to appeal decisions reached to a higher level. These policies and related procedures have been reviewed with all current employees and are incorporated into the orientation-training program for all new employees.
In 2022, administration completed an organizational review of London Transit’s internal investigation process, which at the time had the Human Resources department responsible for alleged policy violations of Human Rights and Diversity (Anti-Harassment, Anti-Sexual Harassment & Anti-Discrimination) and respective department Directors/Managers responsible for alleged policy violations of Mutual Respect in the Workplace. The review identified a number of issues with the process that needed to be addressed, including but not limited to:
- limited exposure to actual investigations for department Directors and Managers resulted in the need for frequent refresher training;
- lack of consistency in approach to the investigation process between departments;
- difficulty in identifying trends in the workplace with investigations spread out across all departments; and
- difficulty for Managers to dedicate the time required for complex investigations while ensuring all other duties remained on schedule
In order to address these issues and streamline the investigative processes, it was determined that a single management investigator with the requisite skills and experience should be responsible for all workplace investigations. In addition to addressing the aforementioned issues, this approach would allow for a more focused, proactive approach to the investigation process. In mid-2022, a Specialist Workplace Investigator position was established and filled. This position became responsible for the management of the investigation processes from receipt to resolution for complaints of workplace harassment, discrimination, violence, and mutual respect. This included managing intake, triage, performing complainant, respondent and witness interviews, writing the investigation report and completing recommendation reports.
The Specialist Workplace Investigator is responsible for completing an annual assessment in the first quarter of each year, comparing year-over-year trends relating to these policies and related complaints filed and investigated. The annual assessment identifies critical trends and issues that require focus going forward and those requiring specific initiatives to be undertaken to reverse and/or slow the rate of troubling trends.
Summaries of the complaints and investigations related to both of the above-noted policies for the years 2019-2022 are set out below, noting that the information provided is summarized at a level high enough to ensure privacy for all parties involved in the complaint and investigation processes.
Human Rights Complaint Process Summary
All alleged Human Rights complaints received are investigated consistent with the policy and associated procedures. If the complaint is received from a bargaining unit employee, the requisite investigation will be completed jointly between the Specialist Workplace Investigator and an ATU Local 741 Union Executive member appointed by the ATU Local 741 President. The final investigation report, including findings and recommendations, is subject to the department’s Director’s concurrence.
The following table summarizes all Human Rights complaints received in each of the years 2019 through 2022. The internal complaint column represents those claims filed by a London Transit employee, and the external complaint column represents those filed by a member of the public. Complaints filed directly with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal are included in both categories.
Summary of Human Rights Complaints – 2019 to 2022
As the table indicates, 2022 saw an increase in the total number of complaints filed in both the internal and external categories. When considering these numbers it is important to recognize that one of the underlying goals of the policy and procedures updated in 2020 was to make employees/customers more comfortable with the process, and as such, an increase in the number of complaints is not unexpected, nor unwelcomed. Additionally, the introduction of the Specialist Workplace Investigator in 2022, and the educational campaign rolled out to introduce both the new role in the organization and the new streamlined process, may have further increased employee comfort in bringing forward issues and resolving matters in a more timely and effective manner for all.
The respective policy and Ontario Human Rights Code prohibit discrimination on protected grounds. A detailed analysis of the grounds and subject of the complaints offers valuable insight into any trends that may be developing. Of the 109 Human Rights complaints filed over the four year period, the following provides a breakdown of the basis of the alleged violations:
- 46% identified ancestry, colour, race or citizenship;
- 40% identified disability;
- 6% identified gender identity or gender; and
- 8% identified other categories including age, marital status, family status, etc.
Of the total 109 complaints filed over the four year period:
- 49% were deemed to be a violation of the Human Rights and Diversity policy;
- 19% were deemed to be unfounded, but with action required relating to other London Transit policy/procedure violations; and
- 32% were deemed to be unfounded with no further action required
With respect to those investigations were findings of a violation of either the Human Rights and Diversity Policy, or other LTC policy occurred, appropriate action was taken.
Breaking down the complaints between those filed internally versus externally also provides some insight into the interactions leading to complaints. Of the total 41 internal complaints filed over the four year period:
- 47% stemmed from a customers’ treatment towards Operators;
- 46% stemmed from employees filing complaints against co-workers; and
- 7% stemmed from employees filing complaints against members of management
The increase in the total number of complaints filed is consistent with the reference in Staff Report #5 dated March 6, 2023 relating to the transition in verbal exchanges becoming more toxic in 2022.
With respect to the increased number of external complaints filed in 2022, further assessment indicates the increase is attributable to COVID-19 rules relating to mask-wearing/medical exemptions, which tapered off in late 2022 as there was a relaxation in rules for same.
In 2023, the Human Rights & Diversity and Mutual Respect in the Workplace training modules will be re-assessed to ensure the training modules continue to meet all legislative requirements and best practices and effectively address issues faced in the workplace. Once completed, it is anticipated that in late 2023, employees will begin to complete the training modules, consistent with the training cycle established
Mutual Respect Complaint Process Summary
Mutual Respect investigations cover a broad range of issues from minor interpersonal conflicts to more serious issues such as privacy and/or harassment breaches. The Specialist Workplace Investigator receives complaints and then takes the necessary steps to investigate same. If the complaint is received from a bargaining unit employee, a joint investigation is undertaken between the Specialist, Workplace Investigator and an ATU Local 741 Union Executive member appointed by the ATU Local 741 President. The final investigation report, including findings and any recommendations, is subject to the department’s Director’s concurrence.
London Transit conducts an annual review of all Mutual Respect complaints received and related investigations into the same in an effort to identify any trends that may be occurring. The chart below summarizes the total number of Mutual Respect complaints received each year over the four-year period 2019 through 2022.
Summary Mutual Respect Complaints 2019 to 2022
Consistent with the Human Rights and Diversity complaint commentary earlier in this report, given the changes to the respective policies and procedures undertaken in 2020, the increase in the overall number of complaints filed is neither unexpected nor unwelcomed. Further, the introduction of the Specialist Workplace Investigations position and related process is anticipated to have made employees more comfortable in bringing forward issues and resolving matters in a more timely and effective manner for all.
The distribution of the 56 internal complaints filed by LTC employees between departments is consistent with the complement levels in each department and as such, there are no concerns with any department trending higher than another. In terms of the investigative determinations for the 56 complaints filed:
- 43% resulted in corrective action being taken;
- 7% resulted in a recommendation for additional training; and
- 50% resulted in the determination of the allegation being unfounded
Over the last few years, the complexity of Mutual Respect in the Workplace complaints has increased, requiring at times more extensive investigation and, where warranted, a deeper analysis of the potential root causes for the complaints. From the overall assessment conducted in early 2023, it was determined that a significant number of the complaints received stemmed from communications between new Operators and the Dispatch department. The root cause of these complaints is a general lack of understanding of the multiple work rules for new hires, frustration with repetitive questions, a lack of patience and understanding toward new hires, and difficulties in overall communications.
The further assessment of communication standards and protocols between these two groups and implementation of any recommendations stemming from same is included on the 2023 Work Program as one of the initiatives intended to improve overall internal communications within the organization.
This report will be summarized and shared with all employees through internal communication protocols.
Dario Prada, Specialist Workplace Investigator
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager