Richards Advocacy provides independent investigations on complaints of discrimination, harassment, and sexual violence for companies, universities and colleges in Ontario.
Uncovering the relevant facts and providing an independent and timely report is critical to workplace investigations.
Richards Advocacy is regularly asked by companies, universities, and colleges in Ontario to conduct external workplace investigations on complaints made under harassment and discrimination policies, sexual and gender-based violence policies, civility policies, collective agreements, and research integrity policies. Our investigative experience includes unionized workplaces, tenured faculty, and students.
Our team’s expertise in providing external workplace investigations stems, in part, from our prior experience litigating allegations of discrimination, harassment, bullying, sexual violence and historical sexual assault for universities in Ontario and religious institutions across Canada.
Richards Advocacy’s approach to external investigations starts with defining a clear scope and mandate for the investigation, and providing all involved parties with a framework for the investigation. Ensuring that everyone understands the process to the investigation is important. Our Investigators also ensure that their investigations are thorough – gathering all the facts and relevant documents early in the process and following up on additional facts and evidence, as needed.
Richards Advocacy applies a trauma-informed approach to their investigations while ensuring fairness, due process, and transparency throughout the investigation. Our Investigators approach all investigations with the same purpose – to independently investigate the facts, assess credibility, and ensure a fair and complete review.
The Investigators at Richards Advocacy are trained lawyers and members of the Canadian Chapter of the Association of Workplace Investigators (CAWI).
Complaint & Investigation Support
Richards Advocacy can provide legal support and assistance to individuals under investigation, or to individuals seeking to bring a complaint forward, at their place of employment or academic institution. We are lawyers who are also trained investigators and understand how to support an investigative process and prepare individuals for interviews and hearings. Complaint-based investigations are different than civil litigation processes. Engaging with a lawyer who understands these processes will ensure that you are better prepared for the complaint and interview process.
We can also assist with appeals of decisions that have been made following the results of an investigation and reviewing the investigative process for fairness and transparency.
Sometimes a complaint identifies a broader systemic issue, system or process that is not linked to any one individual but to a department, or group within an organization. Often these complaints speak to a toxic workplace environment, or a systemic issue triggering a Human Rights Code-based complaint. Richards Advocacy has experience with investigations of this nature, and can investigate these issues in a fulsome manner, providing a comprehensive report that assists employers with resolving the complaint, and instituting better practices to ensure a civil and non-discriminatory workplace. Workplace assessments can also stem from an anonymous complaint(s). The investigators at Richards Advocacy are trained lawyers who understand complex workplace environments and can assist with these complaint-based assessments.
Prima Facie Assessments
Richards Advocacy also has expertise with conducting prima facie assessments of concerns or issues that arise in a workplace or academic setting. In these scenarios, individuals may report concerns or issues to a manager, supervisor, academic professor or Dean, and it can be unclear if these concerns/issues constitute a formal complaint. Richards Advocacy has been retained to assess these scenarios and provide an assessment as to whether the concerns/issues give rise to a complaint that should be investigated under workplace or academic policies.