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Policy Statement:

Itopa Theater Ingersoll will make every reasonable effort to ensure that no employee or volunteer is subject to discrimination, harassment and violence in the workplace.

The Law:

Both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code protect employees/volunteers from harassment related to work. Provincial human rights laws also prohibit harassment. And the Criminal Code protects people from physical or sexual assault.

Employee’s or Volunteer Responsibilities and Rights:

Each employee/volunteer has the right to be treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace. Each employee/volunteer also has the responsibility to treat co-workers, customers and service providers in a way that respects individual differences.

Employer’s Responsibilities:

  • Provide an inclusive workplace environment free of discrimination and harassment;
  • Support the productivity, personal goals, dignity, and self respect of all its employees/volunteers and potential employees/volunteers;
  • Have a clear anti-harassment policy that employees/volunteers know about and understand;
  • Are responsible for harassment by employees/volunteers or non employees (potential employees, clients, service providers or volunteers)
  • Must also take action to address the situation if employees or volunteers are harassed by non-employees (clients, couriers, service providers or volunteer)
Discrimination:

Discrimination means denying an individual employment, or goods and services, or differentiating adversely between individuals in the course of employment, or in the provision of goods and services based on any of the following grounds, actual or perceived:

  • Race, colour, ethnicity, nationality;
  • Religion, religious activity, beliefs:
  • Age:
  • Sex or gender (including pregnancy and childbirth)
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Marital status
  • Mental or physical disability
  • Pardoned conviction (and, in Ontario, conviction for a provincial offense)
  • Language or linguistic background
Harassment:

What is harassment?

Harassment (sexual, psychological, internet harassment or cyber bullying) means:

  • Conduct that is abusive threatening, demeaning, or humiliating that can affect a volunteer/employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and results in a harmful work environment for the employee/volunteer. It may be a single incident or may continue over time
Examples include (but are not limited to)

  • Comments or conduct that disparage or ridicule a person’s age, sex, sexual orientation, body, clothing, race, national origin, religion, disability, handicap, marital status, family status, pardoned or provincial conviction, or other personal characteristics;
  • Refusing to work with people because of their age, sex, sexual orientation, body, clothing, race, national origin, disability, handicap, marital status, family status, pardoned or provincial conviction, or other personal characteristics;
  • Verbal abuse;
  • Written abuse (which includes using the internet to harass threaten, or maliciously embarrass colleagues);
  • Display or circulation of racist, derogatory, offensive or sexually explicit materials;
  • Unwelcomed sexual advances (remarks, jokes, taunts, innuendos, gestures)
  • Unwelcomed requests for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature;
  • Leering (suggestive staring) or other offensive gestures;
  • Unwelcome physical contact, such as patting, touching, pinching, hitting;
  • Vandalism of personal property;
  • Practical jokes that embarrass or insult someone;
  • Patronizing or condescending behaviour;
  • Humiliating an employee/volunteer in front of co-workers;
What isn’t harassment?

Consensual banter or romantic relationships, where the people involved agree with what’s happening, are not harassment. Appropriate performance reviews, counselling or discipline by a supervisor or manager are not harassment.

Where harassment happens:

Work-related harassment can take place in the workplace itself, or outside of the workplace in a situation that is in some way connected to work. For example, employees/volunteers (and clients) must be protected from harassment during off-site meetings, business trips, and any other event or place related to employment or when the employee/volunteer is present in the course of employment.

Workplace Violence:

Workplace violence is actual, attempted, or threatened conduct by an individual that causes, or is likely to cause, physical injury to a person in the workplace:

Examples include (but not limited to):

  • Verbal or written threats – eg. Threats of death or harm to persons, property, or a building (bomb, fire) directly or indirectly.
  • Threatening actions – eg. Physical intimidation (shaking fists) throwing objects, property destruction, or other anger-related acts.
  • Physical attaches – eg. Hitting, pushing, kicking, punching, or otherwise physically contacting someone.

Procedures for addressing concerns or complaints:

Informal resolution procedure:

  • When an incident occurs, immediately tell the offending individual(s) that the behaviour is unwelcome and request that the behaviour stop immediately. Speak to him or her directly, or write him or her letter (date it and keep a copy);
  • Record the details of the incident, including when it happened and the name of anyone who may have witnessed the incident.
Formal resolution procedure:

All formal complaints must be made to the Current President and two current Board Members, will investigate the complaints as follows:

  • Get all pertinent information from the complainant;
  • Inform the alleged harasser of the details of the complaint, and get her or his response;
  • Interview any witness;
  • Decide whether, on a balance of probabilities, the harassment did take place; and recommend appropriate remedies, penalties, or other action

Remedies for the victim:

A person who has been harassed should expect the following:

  • Reports of discrimination, harassment or violence will be taken seriously and will be dealt with in a timely manner;
  • An oral or written apology from the harasser and the current President.
Corrective action for the harasser may take the form of one or more of the following:

Someone who has harassed another person will be subject to one or more of the following forms of discipline, depending on the severity of the harassment:

  • Formal apology to the complainant
  • Respondent counselling about inappropriate behaviour
  • Written warning placed in respondent’s personnel file
  • Respondent demotion or withholding of promotion
  • Suspension without pay or termination of respondent

Frequently Asked Questions: Information for Employees

(Prepared by the Canadian Human Rights Commission)

Is harassment just a matter of opinion?

No. Because of variances in life experiences, different people may have different perceptions of what harassment is, but we can still develop some common understandings. Any unwelcome behaviour that demeans, humiliates, or offends a person, or put sexual conditions on a person’s job, is harassment.

What if everyone else in the workplace is comfortable with the behaviour?

People react to behaviour in different ways. A person may think her or his conduct is welcome or innocuous, when in fact the recipient dislikes it, but is going along with to avoid a confrontation. This can happen especially where there is a difference in age, racial or cultural background, seniority, level of authority, or personal power between those concerned. Sometimes people feel they have to join in to avoid being ostracized, victimized, or teased by their peers. However, if you are uncomfortable with this behaviour, you have the right to file a complaint and follow the steps outlined in this policy.

How does a person know what behaviour is unwelcome?

Sometimes a person can say directly that something is offensive or humiliating. Other times, we have to be aware of non-verbal message and clues. If someone looks embarrassed or hurt, turns away, leaves the room, or avoids another, chances are they do not welcome certain behaviour.

The courts have created the “reasonable person” rule; in other words, we assume that a reasonable person would know that certain types of behaviour are unwelcome. For example, a reasonable person would know that asking for sexual favours, and threatening someone’s job if they do not comply, is unacceptable. In cases like this, the courts may presume the behaviour was unwelcome, even if the complainant has never said “no” or “stop” and seemed to go along with the situation.

What if colleagues want a sexual relationship?

A relationship where both people are involved of their own free will is not harassment. However, if one person decides to end the relationship, the other does not have the right to insist, or to continue the sexual attention. And the managers should be cautious when getting involved with workers, especially anyone who is under their supervision. The imbalance of power may mean that the worker has not actually consented, but feels coerced in the relationship.

What if my employer doesn’t know harassment is taking place?

Only employers can really prevent harassment in the workplace. The ultimate responsibility rests with them. The law says that even an employer who didn’t actually know about the harassment is still responsible, if he or she should have known it was occurring. If an employer can show that he or she take all reasonable steps to prevent and deal with harassment, the legal and financial consequences may well be less severe.

Can it be harassment if it only happened once?

Yes. Frequently, harassment is a series of incidents. However, even something that only happens once can be harassment; if it was unwelcome to the person it was directed at.

What if the harassment takes place outside the workplace, or after regular work hours?

Any place or time that people are gathered for work-related reasons are still considered part of the “Workplace”. This includes business travel, conference, telephone calls, company social gatherings, and job interviews. Harassment is not permitted in any of these situations, and employers are responsible for dealing with it in these circumstances.

What if I didn’t mean to harm or offend anyone?

Even the best intended comment or action may be harassing, if it is unwelcome or offensive to another person. Harassment is not about a person’s intent. It is about how the behaviour affects the victim.

What if someone at work tries to retaliate against a complaint?

Employers are legally required to protect their employees from retaliation. Retaliation against anyone involved in a complaint will not be tolerated, and will have serious consequences. Generally, the penalties for retaliation are the same as for original harassment, and may be even more severe.

What if an employer doesn’t deal properly with a problem of harassment?

An employee/volunteer who feels her or his concerns have not been properly addressed has the right to contact the appropriate human rights commission or other organizations. If an outside agency determines that harassment has taken place, the employer may face financial or other consequences: giving an apology, compensating the complainant for lost wages and injury to self-respect, or human rights training, for example. The exact remedy will depend on the complaint.

What if I am sexually assaulted at work?

If the harassment involves physical or sexual assault, you should contact the police. Physical and sexual assaults are criminal offences. 

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