Harassment and Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedure

HR-14
Harassment and Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedure
DepartmentHuman Resources
Creation DateMarch 1, 2004
Approval DateSeptember 1, 2010
Effective DateAugust 1, 2014

Organizational Scope

The Harassment/Sexual Harassment/Discrimination policy shall apply to all employees and students.

Purpose

Michener is committed to providing a learning and working environment in which all of its employees and students are treated with respect and dignity and have the right to learn and work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. As part of this commitment, this policy is aimed at preventing and resolving behaviour and conduct that constitutes harassment and discrimination as defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code (herein referred to as “the Code”).

 

Michener will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment in its employment, educational, accommodation or business dealings.   This includes but is not limited to the workplace / campus, work related social events, clinical settings, conferences and training seminars, and refers to all forms of communication. This Policy provides guidelines on the reporting, investigation and resolution of complaints of discrimination and harassment. Each employee and student has an obligation to understand this Policy and how it applies to their employment or studies at Michener.  Every member of the Michener Community has the right to file a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment.

Definitions

Discrimination

Discrimination is unequal treatment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

Harassment

Harassment is a form of discrimination defined as a course of vexatious comments or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. In some cases, a single action may be classified as harassment.

Acts of harassment can include, but are not limited to:

  • Profane language and inappropriate comments or gestures;
  • Inappropriate physical conduct;
  • Material or offensive pictures that are displayed publicly, circulated, put on someone’s work space or belongings, or on a computer or fax machine
  • Any inappropriate electronic or cyber activity used for the purpose of violence, intimidation and/ or harassment
  • Creating an intimidating or offensive working environment; or
  • Creating a degrading, humiliating, or hostile work environment
  • Cyber bullying, defined as any inappropriate electronic or cyber activity used for the purpose of violence, intimidation and/or harassment

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment means engaging in a course of conduct of a gender related or sexual nature that is known or might reasonably be known to be unwelcome or unwanted. In some cases, a single action may constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment may include but is not limited to:

  • Requests for sexual favours;
  • Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature;
  • Physical conduct of a sexual nature;
  • Offensive sexual comments, abuse or innuendo about how someone talks, dresses or acts;
  • Jokes or gestures of a sexual nature;
  • Material or offensive pictures that are displayed publicly, circulated, put on someone’s work space or belongings, or on a computer or fax machine;
  • Staring or leering in a sexual manner
  • Telephone calls or e-mail of a sexual nature.
  • Soliciting sexual favours in exchange for a benefit.

Appropriate Authority

This person is responsible for overseeing the proper implementation, administration and enforcement of this Policy. At Michener the Appropriate Authority is the Manager, Human Resources for all employees, or the Dean of Students for all matters pertaining to students.

Complainant

A person who is or has been subjected to, or a person who has witnessed alleged discrimination or harassment.

Respondent

An individual who is alleged to have exhibited conduct that is the subject of a complaint.

Policy

Freedom from Harassment and Discrimination

In keeping with the Human Rights Code, Michener prohibits discrimination or any form of harassment in employment as well as teaching and assessment on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

Every person in the Michener Community has the right to file a complaint pursuant to this policy. Nothing in this policy shall limit a person’s right to pursue legal recourse that may be available to that person, including filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal, initiating a grievance according to the collective agreement, or commencing a legal action.

Every person who attempts to enforce his or her rights as identified under this policy has a right to do so without reprisal or threat of reprisal.

Responsibility

All employees and students of Michener are responsible for maintaining and promoting an environment which is free of harassment and discrimination and for promptly reporting any incidents which they believe to be acts of discrimination or harassment. Michener recognizes its responsibility to deal quickly, fairly and expeditiously with such complaints.

A person who knows of, or is in possession of information about harassment or discrimination contrary to this policy and who has the authority to penalize or prevent the conduct and fails to exercise that authority may be held accountable for failing to exercise that authority and may be found to have violated this policy. A person in authority includes any member of management of Michener, or other person who is designated legally responsible for the protection of persons covered by this Policy.  Such persons in authority are encouraged to seek assistance and guidance from the Appropriate Authority or his or her manager.

Supervisory personnel who are contacted by an individual seeking to file a complaint about harassment or discrimination shall assist that person in obtaining the assistance in accordance with this policy and shall immediately report such matter to the Appropriate Authority.

Abuse of this Policy

Michener supports the prompt and timely investigation and resolution of complaints of harassment or discrimination. However, Michener will not tolerate malicious, frivolous or vexatious complaints. Any person who makes a malicious, frivolous or vexatious or bad faith complaint may be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment or expulsion, in the case of a student.

Upon a finding of harassment or discrimination, the Respondent employee may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Upon a finding of harassment or discrimination, a Respondent student may be disciplined in accordance with Michener’s Academic Policy and may be subject to discipline up to and including expulsion.

Confidentiality

While individuals are encouraged to seek advice and counsel regarding possible violations of this policy, it is requested that all such information be kept confidential and not be disclosed except as provided by this Policy or in order to seek legal advice. A violation of this provision may result in discipline up to an including termination of employment for staff, or expulsion, in the case of students.

Michener recognizes the confidential nature of matters arising under this policy; however, it cannot guarantee that the subject matter of the complaint, the response or the investigation will be kept confidential.   All information collected by Michener pursuant to this policy will be kept confidential, except when disclosure is required to investigate, and/or resolve or otherwise deal with such matters, or when disclosure of evidence is required in the course of a legal proceeding.

Associated Documentation

Procedure

Any employee or student who feels that he or she has been the subject of harassment or discrimination contrary to this policy may attempt an informal resolution, seek advice from the Appropriate Authority, request informal intervention and / or file a formal complaint pursuant to this policy. Nothing in this policy shall limit a person’s right to pursue such legal recourse that may be available to that person, including filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal, initiating a grievance according to the collective agreement, or commencing a legal action.

Complaints should be reported as soon as possible after the event has occurred, but in any event no more than three (3) months following the occurrence giving rise to the complaint.

Parties to a complaint will be given a reasonable opportunity to dispute, correct or contradict all allegations, to present arguments and evidence in support of their position throughout all stages outlined in these procedures.

A member of the bargaining unit may be represented by a Union representative.

A complainant may, at his or her discretion, withdraw a complaint at any time. However, Michener may, at its discretion, pursue the complaint in order to comply with its legal obligations.

Procedure:

Employees / students who believe they have been subject to or have witnessed harassment, discrimination or reprisal are encouraged to resolve the issue directly by asking the person to stop immediately. They should keep a record of the incident and resolution.

Alternatively, an employee / student may seek guidance from the Appropriate Authority or supervisor in determining their course of action.

If the attempted resolution is not successful, the Complainant should report the complaint to his or her supervisor or the Appropriate Authority in accordance with the provisions herein.

Initial Assessment of Complaint

Once the Complainant lodges a complaint with his / her supervisor or the Appropriate Authority (i.e. Manager, Human Resources or Dean of Students), the person receiving the complaint shall first determine if the complaint is within the scope of this policy, and shall advise the Complainant in writing if:

  • the complaint does not fall within the definitions outlined in the policy, is not subject to this policy, and should be pursued through an alternate mechanism;
  • the subject matter has been found to be frivolous, vexatious or in bad faith;
  • the complaint appears to be outside the jurisdiction of Michener; or,
  • the complaint cannot be supported or substantiated.

If the complaint is deemed to be within the scope of this policy, a discussion will take place during which the Complainant shall be invited to provide details of the complaint.

During this discussion, the recipient of the complaint will explain all options available to the Complainant.

Informal Resolution

The Complainant may and is encouraged to seek the assistance of the Appropriate Authority towards an informal resolution of the complaint. The Appropriate Authority or designate will meet with each party involved and attempt to affect an informal resolution of the complaint.

In the absence of an informal resolution of the complaint, the complainant may withdraw the complaint, or file a formal complaint with the Appropriate Authority.

Formal Complaint

If the Complainant wishes to proceed further with his or her complaint, the Complainant must then provide a written statement regarding the alleged harassment or discrimination. This written statement will be shared with the Respondent who shall have at least 5 working days to respond, in writing, to the allegation.  The Respondent will have sufficient time to consult with his or her union representative or lawyer should he or she choose to do so.

The Respondent’s statement should provide a specific response to each complaint. The Respondent must sign his or her statement, which will then be attached to the original complaint.

If the Appropriate Authority determines that a formal investigation is warranted, the Appropriate Authority will conduct an investigation within a reasonable period after receiving the Respondent’s response.

Investigation

Michener seeks to resolve every harassment and discrimination claim as expediently as possible. The Appropriate Authority may investigate the matter, or appoint another person or persons to conduct the investigation.   The investigator(s) shall determine, on a balance of probabilities, whether a violation of this policy has occurred.

The investigator(s) shall meet with the Complainant, the Respondent and any person that may have information relevant to the complaint.

The investigator(s) may request and will receive documents or things that may be relevant to the investigation, and the opportunity to interview any person about matters relevant to the complaint.

At the conclusion of a formal investigation(s), the investigator will prepare a written report which will include a statement of factual findings and a determination of whether, on a balance of probabilities standard, this policy has been violated.

Report Handling Procedures

The Appropriate Authority shall advise the Complainant and the Respondent of the findings of any investigation conducted under this policy.   In all cases, Michener’s Human Resources department shall retain the findings report.  A copy of any such report will also be included in the appropriate personnel file.

Upon a finding of harassment or discrimination, the Respondent employee may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Upon a finding of harassment or discrimination, a Respondent student may be disciplined in accordance with Michener’s Academic Policy and may be subject to discipline up to and including expulsion.

Likewise, any acts of reprisal or complaints made that are malicious, frivolous, vexatious or in bad faith may be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment for employees or expulsion for students.

Records

The Human Resources department will keep records of all formal and informal resolutions and hearings except where otherwise stated in this Policy. Any records will be maintained in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.