HFNS is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all employees. It is our policy to recognize the dignity and worth of each member of our workforce and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination. Every employee has the right to work in an environment free of harassment and discrimination and to be treated with respect, courtesy, and tact. HFNS will not tolerate harassment and discrimination in the workplace nor expressions of prejudice and objectionable attitudes.
Employees may register complaints about harassment and discrimination with assurance of prompt action and without fear of reprisal. All complaints will be treated seriously. This Policy applies to all employees and Board Members of HFNS and all activities that occur while on any of our premises or while engaging in work, related activities, or our social events.
Harassment is considered an offence, subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including dismissal.
Harassment is against the law.
The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits harassment on prohibited grounds (see below for a definition of prohibited grounds). The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act protects us from workplace harassment. You have a right to live and work without being harassed, and if you are harassed, you can do something about it.
All employees have the responsibility to treat each other with respect, and to speak up if they or someone else is being harassed. Employees who believe they have been treated in an improper and offensive manner are expected to first communicate to the offending party, as soon as possible, directly or through their Lead Educator, their disapproval or unease. All employees have a responsibility to report harassment to the appropriate person and to comply with this Policy. All employees are responsible for respecting the confidentiality of anyone involved in a harassment complaint and for cooperating in any investigations of complaints.
Lead Educators’ responsibilities
Each Lead Educator is responsible for fostering a safe working environment, free of harassment. Lead Educators must set an example for appropriate workplace behaviour, and must deal with situations of harassment immediately on becoming aware of them,
whether or not there has been a complaint. All situations of harassment must be reported to the Executive Director immediately. The Executive Director is responsible for supporting Lead Educators in any circumstance of harassment and for taking action when the Lead Educator is unable or unwilling to manage a situation of harassment or discrimination.
Complainant is the person who files a formal complaint in writing pursuant to this Policy.
Respondent is the individual against whom allegations that could constitute a violation of this Policy have been made.
Prohibited ground is one of those listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code: race, colour, creed (religion), place or ethnic origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), age (eighteen years old and over), disability (including mental, physical, developmental or learning disabilities), ancestry, citizenship, sexual orientation, marital status (including the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced, separated, or living in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage), or family status (such as being in a parent-child relationship).
is any improper behaviour that is directed at and is offensive to an individual and which the person knew or should have known would be unwelcome. Harassment includes objectionable conduct, actions, comments or displays that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses an employee based on a prohibited ground as defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code. It may be a single incident or continue over time. Harassment may include, but is not limited to the following:
• unwelcome remarks, slurs, jokes, taunts or suggestions about a prohibited ground, such as a person’s race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or pardoned conviction;
• the display or circulation of offensive material, including offensive slides and cartoons;
• degrading words used to describe a person based on a prohibited ground; and
• derogatory or degrading remarks directed towards all members of a group who share characteristics based on a prohibited ground.
means being subjected to objectionable conduct or comment, not related to a prohibited ground, which serves no legitimate work purpose, and creates an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive work environment. Personal harassment
includes “workplace harassment” as defined in Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and is defined as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Personal harassment is targeted at a person or group of people because of a personal dislike or personality conflict, and not solely because of a prohibited ground.
Personal Harassment includes:
• spreading malicious rumors, gossip or innuendo that is not true;
• intimidation, verbal abuse, threats, belittling or humiliating an employee in front of co-workers;
• deliberately not speaking to someone, thereby ostracizing them;
• yelling or using profanity;
• refusal to work with a person;
• unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment;
• tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment;
• making jokes that are obviously offensive (written or oral);
• vandalism of personal property;
• Written or verbal abuse or threats.
An isolated incident of offensive behavior is not considered “workplace harassment”; however, this behavior is considered unacceptable and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
means any unwelcome conduct, comment, gesture or contact of a sexual nature, whether on a one-time basis or a series of incidents, that might reasonably be expected to cause offence or humiliation or that might reasonably be perceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment, on an opportunity for training or promotion, or on the receipt of services or a contract.
Sexual harassment includes:
• unwelcome sexual remarks, invitations or requests (including persistent, unwanted contact after the end of a sexual relationship);
• displays of sexually explicit, sexist, racist or other offensive or derogatory material;
• sexist jokes;
• the display or circulation of sexually offensive slides/cartoons;
• sexually degrading words used to describe a person or directed towards members of one sex;
• leering (suggestive staring) or other obscene/offensive comments or gestures;
• unwelcome physical contact, such as patting, touching, pinching, hitting;
flirtations, advances, propositions;
• persistent unwanted contact or attention after the end of a consensual relationship;
• requests for sexual favours; and
• unwanted touching/ sexual assault
What is not Harassment?
• Appropriate performance evaluations, counselling or discipline by a Lead Educator is not harassment.• Consensual banter or romantic relationships, where the people involved agree with what’s happening, is not harassment.
Employees who believe that they have been subjected to harassment have both formal and informal options available to them. Employees should:
If you believe you are being harassed, speak up right away. If possible, tell the person that you are not comfortable with their behaviour, and want it to stop. Usually, that will be all you need to do. The person may not realize the behaviour is offensive. Clearly state that you perceive the behaviour as harassment under the terms outlined in this policy. You can speak to them directly, or write them a letter (date it and keep a copy).
Record all unwelcome or harassing behaviour. Write down what has happened, when, where, how often, who else was present, and how you felt about it. Write down every instance of harassment.
• If the harassing behaviour occurs again, or if you are unable to deal directly with the person harassing you, report it to your Lead Educator as soon as possible. The Lead Educator will contact the Executive Director about the matter. If you are not comfortable, for whatever reason, to bring this matter to the attention of your Lead Educator, you may contact the Executive Director directly. Once a person reports harassment, the Executive Director will ask questions such as what happened, when, where, how often and who else was present and will keep notes of this conversation.
• If you are unsatisfied with the response you received from the Lead Educator or the Executive Director, or if you are not comfortable, for whatever reason, to bring this matter to their attention, you may contact the Director of Human Resources. The Director of Human Resources will bring the matter to the attention of the Executive Director. If the complaint involves the Executive Director, the Director of Human Resources will bring the matter to the Board of Directors.
You may want to proceed informally at first. This means you can ask your Lead Educator or the Executive Director to help you communicate with the other person, or to speak to them on your behalf, without going through a formal complaint. The informal approach may not always be possible or successful, but when it is, you may be able to resolve the situation quickly.
If you want to go ahead with a formal complaint, it will be investigated by a committee comprised of the Executive Director and one or more members of the Board of Directors. Formal complaints should be filed within a reasonable period of time following the incident(s) complained of. An investigation will involve:
• Getting all pertinent information from the complainant;
• Informing the alleged harasser of the details of the complaint and getting her/his response;
• Interviewing any witnesses;
• Deciding whether, on a balance of probabilities, the harassment did take place; and
• Recommending appropriate remedies, penalties or other action.
The investigating committee will report its findings and recommendations to the President of the Board of Directors. The President, after appropriate board and/or legal consultation, will decide whether to dismiss the complaint or act upon the report and will inform both parties of the decision, in writing, ideally within two weeks of the report being submitted.
• All files and materials relating to the investigation will be held separately and securely from the personnel files. No record of the event will be noted on the complainant’s personnel file, unless disciplinary actions arise from a vexatious complaint or are taken against the respondent.
• Should an employee feel that satisfactory resolution has not been attained through HFNS’s investigation process, the employee has the right to lodge a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
• Once an investigation is completed and appropriate corrective measures taken, the matter will be considered closed.
HFNS will not tolerate reprisals or retaliatory measures against an employee who, in good faith, raises a complaint of workplace harassment within the meaning of this Policy or cooperates in the investigation of a complaint.
Violations of this Policy
Discipline, up to and including immediate dismissal, may be imposed on the following individuals in the following circumstances:
• On respondents when a complaint of harassment has been substantiated against them;
• On Lead Educators who were aware of harassment and permitted it to take place;
• On employees who bring forward complaints in bad faith or for vexatious reasons;
• On employees who have made a false accusation of harassment, knowingly or in a malicious manner;
• On any employee or Lead Educator who retaliates against an employee for having invoked this Policy; and
• On any employee or Lead Educator who retaliates against any individual for having conducted, participated or cooperated in any investigation of a complaint under this Policy.
Confidentiality is required to properly investigate a complaint and to offer appropriate support to those involved. HFNS will maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable and permissible by law and expects its employees to do the same. Gossiping about an incident undermines the privacy of all parties involved and will not be tolerated. Policies and procedures regarding Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace will be reviewed with each new employee, student and volunteer, prior to commencement of employment or placement.