Administrative Procedure 138: Positive Workplace Environment - Preventing Workplace Harassment & Discrimination

Legal References:

Education Act: Section 265 Duties of Principal - Discipline, Co-operation Among Staff; Care of Pupils and Property; Education Act: Part XIII - Behaviour, Discipline and Safety; R.R.O. Reg. 298: Section 20 Duties of Teachers - Co-operation with the Community, Safety Procedures, Consistent Disciplinary Practices; Guideline - Ontario Schools Code of Conduct; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Criminal Code of Canada; Ontario Human Rights Code; Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; Occupational Health & Safety Act; Keeping our Kids Safe at School Act; Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment Under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act


Related References:


1. Purpose & Scope

The Director of Education has authorized the development and implementation of this administrative procedure to ensure:

1.1 All employees and individuals within the board community, including volunteers, trustees, parents, contractors, permit holders, or other organization representatives who work on or are invited onto board premises are treated with dignity and respect, free from workplace harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination in a positive working and learning environment.

1.2 All individuals are made aware of the board’s intent to support a positive working and learning environment and to advise individuals of the procedures of the responding to, reporting of, and resolution of incidents of workplace harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.

1.3 Any incident/complaint of workplace harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination that might occur is dealt with promptly and a careful and impartial review of circumstances is conducted.

1.4 All individuals involved in an incident/complaint of workplace harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination are supported through the resolution process and
confidentiality is maintained, whenever possible.

1.5 Appropriate resolution and any corrective actions are taken to support a positive working and learning environment.
 
This administrative procedure does not include measures and procedures regarding harassment and discrimination involving students, which can be found in Administrative Procedure 352 Promoting Positive Student Behaviour.

This administrative procedure does not apply to reasonable actions taken by an employer, principal/supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace and/or coaching that includes counselling, performance appraisal, and the implementation of disciplinary actions.

Nothing in this procedure denies or limits access to other avenues of resolution available under the law or through the filing of a grievance or through progressive discipline. In such a case, application of this process may cease until the parties and their respective representatives have met with human resource services or the appropriate representative to determine which dispute resolution process will proceed and which one(s) will be stayed pending completion of the chosen process.


2. Definitions

2.1 Working and Learning Environment: all work and learning activities that occur while on board premises, or while engaging in board sanctioned activities or social events.

2.2 Workplace Harassment: 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, whether based on prohibited grounds enumerated in the Ontario Human Rights Code or not.

2.3 Sexual Harassment: engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

NOTE: Throughout the rest of this document the term “harassment” will refer to workplace harassment or sexual harassment.

2.4 Discrimination: any action or behaviour that results in unfair, unfavourable or adverse treatment based on one or more of the prohibited grounds.

2.5 Prohibited Grounds: in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code are: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status, and disability.

2.6 Reprisal: an act of retaliation against a person for invoking this procedure or participating in the process under this procedure.

2.7 Complainant: an employee or individual of the board community who believes that they are being harassed or discriminated against.

2.8 Respondent: an employee or individual of the board community who is accused of harassing or discriminatory behaviour


3. Accountability

3.1 Supervisory Officers

3.1.1 Overall accountability to promote positive working and learning environments within their region by ensuring individuals are treated with dignity and respect, free from harassment and discrimination.

3.1.2 Overall accountability to ensure this administrative procedure is implemented within their region and adhered to by all employees and individuals within the board community.

3.1.3 Approve resources to provide awareness, training and support to promote a positive working and learning environment, as well as resources to investigate and resolve the incident of workplace harassment or discrimination.

3.1.4 Participate in investigations and implement corrective actions as required.

3.1.5 Maintain confidentiality of all incidents and only disclose information as required.

3.2 Principals/Site Supervisors

3.2.1 Overall accountability to promote a positive working and learning environment in the workplace by ensuring individuals are treated with dignity and respect, free from harassment and discrimination.

3.2.2 Overall accountability to ensure this administrative procedure is implemented at the workplace and adhered to by all employees and individuals within the board community.

3.2.3 Ensure employees are trained on preventing and responding to workplace harassment or discrimination and this administrative procedure.

3.2.4 Ensure individuals within the board community are aware of this procedure.

3.2.5 Promptly respond to and report harassment and discrimination complaints.

3.2.6 Participate in the informal and formal resolution process, as required. Implement corrective actions as required.

3.2.7 Maintain confidentiality of all incidents and only disclose information as required.

3.3 Employees

3.3.1 Become aware of and sensitive to the damaging effects of discrimination and harassment.

3.3.2 Be positive role models and refrain from engaging in any discriminating or harassing behaviour.

3.3.3 Respect the rights and differences of others, including their beliefs, ideas and opinions.

3.3.4 Treat one another with dignity and respect at all times.

3.3.5 Demonstrate honesty and integrity.

3.3.6 Respect the need of others to work in an environment of learning and teaching.

3.3.7 Show proper care and regard for board property and for property of others.

3.3.8 Do not allow or condone discriminating or harassing behaviour, respond to or report incidents of harassment or discrimination promptly.

3.3.9 Participate and complete any training provided and review and adhere to this procedure.

3.3.10 Maintain confidentiality of all incidents and only disclose information as required.

3.4 Individuals of the Board Community

3.4.1 Become aware of and sensitive to the damaging effects of discrimination and harassment.

3.4.2 Be positive role models and refrain from engaging in any discriminating or harassing behaviour.

3.4.3 Respect the rights and differences of others, including their beliefs, ideas and opinions.

3.4.4 Treat one another with dignity and respect at all times.

3.4.5 Demonstrate honesty and integrity.

3.4.6 Respect the need of others to work in an environment of learning and teaching.

3.4.7 Show proper care and regard for board property and for property of others.

3.4.8 Do not allow or condone discriminating or harassing behaviour, respond to or report incidents of harassment or discrimination promptly.

3.4.9 Become familiar with and adhere to this procedure.

3.4.10 Maintain confidentiality of all incidents and only disclose information as required.

3.5 Superintendent of Education (Human Resource Services)

3.5.1 Ensure incidents/complaints of workplace discrimination or harassment are handled in accordance with this procedure.

3.5.2 Investigate incidents/complaints about a principal/supervisor, employee or individual within the board community, if the principal/supervisor is involved or as required. Investigations may be delegated to the Human Resource Services Administrator, Manager or Officer.

3.5.3 Ensure investigations are thorough and any corrective actions are implemented.

3.5.4 Provide training, coaching and support to the principal/supervisor who is involved in an investigation.

3.5.5 Obtain an external investigator to investigate incidents/complaints about the employer, Director, board chair or trustees.

3.5.6 Ensure records of investigation are stored in a secured area and access to records is controlled.

3.6 Director of Education

3.6.1 Investigate and ensure incidents/complaints of workplace discrimination or harassment about supervisory officers are handled in accordance with this
procedure.

3.6.2 Ensure investigations are thorough and any corrective actions are implemented.

3.7 Environmental Health and Safety Advisor/Human Resource Services Administrator

3.7.1 Maintain this administrative procedure.

3.7.2 Coordinate workplace harassment awareness training.

3.7.3 Provide communication resources to worksites.

3.7.4 Audit and communicate compliance of this administrative procedure.


4. Informal Resolution Procedure

All employees are required, and all other individuals within the board community are encouraged, to respond to discriminating or harassing behaviour. The informal resolution provides an opportunity for parties to resolve a dispute mutually in a respectful and timely manner.

The board encourages all parties involved to first attempt informal resolution as a means of resolving issues. At any time, however, an individual can formally report an incident of discriminating or harassing behaviour, by-passing the informal resolution procedure first.

4.1 An individual who believes they are being discriminated or harassed (complainant) should respond to the individual alleged to have engaged in the harassing discriminating behaviour (respondent), when they feel safe to do so. The complainant may respond by:

a) Describing the alleged inappropriate behaviour, stating it is not acceptable and requesting a commitment that the behaviour will stop; or
b) Informing the individual of this administrative procedure and/or providing a copy of this procedure, and requesting a commitment that the behaviour will stop.

4.2 The complainant and the respondent may consult or be supported by a support person of their choice, for example, principal/supervisor, Human Resource Services representative, colleague or union/federation/non-union representative where appropriate.

4.3 Depending on the circumstances, the support person may be obligated to report the situation to the principal/supervisor or superintendent of education (Human Resource Services).

4.4 In all cases where principals/supervisors and/or board personnel are asked to support the informal resolution process, they have a duty to respond and take action to resolve any alleged or suspected situations involving harassment or discrimination, and therefore shall follow up by monitoring the situation, holding (if necessary) subsequent meetings with the parties and taking further steps to ensure that the discriminating or harassing behaviour has stopped.

4.5 Where disputes are resolved through the informal resolution procedure, there will be no formal reports required. Every effort will be made to protect the privacy of all individuals involved.

4.6 At any time during the informal resolution procedure, the complainant and respondent may mutually agree to discontinue the informal resolution process.

4.7 If the individual(s) cannot bring about a resolution to the satisfaction of all involved through an informal resolution, the complainant or respondent may report the incident(s) to the principal/supervisor or superintendent of education (Human Resource Services).

4.8 Whenever possible, the individual should tell the alleged offender that the incident will be reported.


5. Reporting Procedure

All employees are required, and all individuals within the board community are encouraged, to report incidents of harassment or discrimination as soon as possible whenever the informal resolution procedure was not successful or the individual is requesting an investigation.

5.1 All reports should be filed within 6 months of the most recent alleged harassment or discrimination. Reports filed outside this timeframe may be considered at the discretion of the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services).

5.2 A report may also be made by individuals who have witnessed workplace harassment or discrimination directly, or have reasonable grounds to suspect it is occurring.

5.3 Incident/Complaint reports must be documented in writing, such as the Employee Hazard/Incident Report through eBase (Administrative Procedure 175), by the person reporting the incident or the person receiving a verbal report. The following information should be provided:

a) Name(s) of the complainant(s) and contact information
b) Name of the respondent(s), position and contact information (if known)
c) Names of the witness(es) (if any) or other person(s) with relevant information to provide about the incident (if any) and contact information (if known)
d) Details of what happened including date(s), frequency and location(s) of the alleged incident(s)
e) Any supporting documents the worker who complains of harassment or discrimination may have in his/her possession that are relevant to the complaint
f) List any documents a witness, another person or the respondent(s) may have in their possession that are relevant to the complaint.

5.4 Anonymous reports will not be entertained in the formal resolution process under these procedures.

5.5 Incidents of harassment or discrimination may be reported to the following:

● Principal/Supervisor
● Union/Federation/Non-union Representative
● Joint Health and Safety Committee Member
● If the respondent is the individual’s immediate supervisor, then the individual should report the incident to the Superintendent of Education (Human Resource Services)
● If the respondent is a Supervisory Officer, the individual should report the incident to the Director of Education
● If the respondent is the Director, board chair or trustee, an external person qualified to conduct a workplace harassment or discrimination investigations will be retained by the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services).

5.6 If the complainant first contacts their union/federation/non-union/JHSC member for assistance in reporting the incident, the representative shall immediately contact the principal/supervisor or superintendent of education (Human Resource Services) or designate or Director, when applicable, for further action.

5.7 If a principal/supervisor receives a verbal or written report of workplace harassment or discrimination he/she will report the situation to the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services) or designate, to ensure the formal resolution procedure, investigation and resolution is conducted as appropriate in the circumstances.

5.8 Individuals may also be required to follow other reporting protocols, which may be required by law or in place under the other agreements, such as the Teaching Profession Act, Criminal Code, or inter/intra-union procedures.


6. Formal Resolution Procedure

6.1 All formal reports/complaints shall be subject to an assessment to determine whether the alleged conduct would, if proven, meet the definition of workplace harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination within the meaning of this procedure. If it is determined that the allegations would not meet the definition of workplace harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination, the complainant and respondent will be so advised and no further action will be taken under this procedure.

6.2 If it is determined that the allegation meets the definition of workplace harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination, an investigation shall be initiated by the principal/supervisor, superintendent of education (Human Resource Services) or designate, or the Director of Education. The person conducting the investigation must not be directly involved in the incident/complaint and must not be under the control of the respondent.

6.3 The format for the investigation shall be at the discretion of the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services) or Director of Education. If necessary, interim measures and corrective action(s) may be taken while the incident is being investigated.

6.4 If the investigation involves the Director, chair, trustee or the board, the external investigator and timing of the investigation will be mutually agreed to by the complainant and respondent. The format for the investigation shall be at the discretion of the external investigator.

6.5 Throughout the formal resolution procedure, all individuals; the complainant, the respondent, witness(es) will be offered appropriate assistance and support from a person of their choice, for example, principal/supervisor, colleague, or union/federation/non-union representative where appropriate.

6.6 In a formal investigation it is the responsibility of the principal/supervisor or superintendent of education (Human Resource Services) or Director of Education to:
● Take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the complainant;
● Notify the complainant(s), the respondent(s), and the witness(s) they are entitled to support and assistance throughout the process;
● Interview separately the complainant(s), the respondent(s), and any witness(s); if the complainants, respondents or witnesses are not Avon Maitland District School Board employees, all reasonable efforts must be taken to conduct interviews;
● Collect and review any relevant documents;
● Prepare a written report summarizing the steps taken during the investigation, the complaint, the allegations of the worker claiming harassment, the response from the alleged harasser, the evidence of any witnesses and the evidence gathered. The report must set out findings of fact;
● Determine whether there was harassment or discrimination behaviour contrary to this procedure and, if so, determine the appropriate disciplinary and/or other measures warranted to maintain a positive working and learning environment;
● Provide a written summary of the results of the investigation and any corrective action to the complainant(s), and to the respondent(s) when the investigation is completed; and
● Take appropriate actions to resolve the situation.

6.7 If an external person conducts an investigation, he/she will be responsible to determine whether there was harassment or discrimination behaviour contrary to this procedure; and, if so, recommend the appropriate disciplinary and/or other measures warranted to maintain a positive working and learning environment. The external person will also provide a written summary to the complainant(s), and to the respondent(s) of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken or recommended as a result of the investigation.

6.8 The rights of the respondent must also be protected. Respondents have a right to know what approach to resolution is being considered and will be provided time to prepare a full and complete response to the allegations. If the respondent declines to participate in the formal investigation process the investigation will proceed.

6.9 Where, through discussion with the parties involved, there is a finding of harassment or discrimination but a mutually acceptable solution is found, subject to the provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the concern and agreed upon solution and any corrective actions will be recorded and retained.

6.10 Where there is a finding that harassment or discrimination has not occurred, no further action will be taken. If the complainant and/or respondent require counseling appropriate steps shall be taken.

6.11 If it is determined the allegations of discrimination or harassment were not made in good faith, disciplinary action may be considered.


7. Privacy & Confidentiality

7.1 It is the duty of the all employees and individuals within the board community to respect the privacy and keep incidents/complaints of workplace harassment or discrimination confidential to the extent possible. Information obtained about an incident or complaint including identifying information about individuals involved shall not be disclosed unless disclosure is necessary to protect individuals, to investigate the incident/complaint, to take corrective action, to provide information to an outside agency that has the right to require information otherwise protected by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, or to provide information required by law.

7.2 While the investigation is ongoing, the complainant, respondent and any witnesses shall not discuss the incident/complaint or investigation with other individuals unless necessary to obtain advice about their rights.


8. Review of Decision

8.1 In the event a complainant or respondent to a formal resolution process has one or both of the specific concerns below, the request may be made to the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services) to convene a review. A reviewer will be appointed by the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services).
 
The grounds for review are:
      • the investigators fail to comply with these procedures; and/or
      • new evidence becomes known after the final decision.

8.2 The reviewer will report his/her findings to the superintendent of education (Human Resource Services), who will affirm or amend the final decision, or require a new investigation.


9. Freedom of Reprisal

The right to freedom from harassment and discrimination includes the right to freedom from any reprisal or the threat of reprisal. Alleged reprisals shall be investigated as formal complaints and, if substantiated, are subject to the same consequences as complaints of workplace harassment or discrimination.


10. Records

10.1 All correspondence and other documents under these procedures are subject to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and must be marked “Private & Confidential”.

10.2 All correspondence and other documents generated under these procedures will be stored in a secure file in the Human Resource Services department.
 
Records that will be kept include but not limited to:
        • a copy of the incident/complaint details;
        • a record of the investigation including notes;
        • a copy of any witness statements, if taken;
        • a copy of the investigation report, if any;
        • a copy of the results of the investigation that were provided to the complainant(s) and respondent(s); and
        • a copy of any interim measures or corrective action taken to address the incident/complaint.

10.3 The complainant(s) and respondent(s), if they are an Avon Maitland District School Board employee, will be informed in writing of the results of the investigation and any corrective action that has been taken, or that will be taken, as a result of the investigation.

10.4 For the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, records must be kept for at least one year from the conclusion of any investigation involving workplace discrimination or harassment.


11. Training

11.1 All employees will complete awareness training on workplace violence, harassment and sexual harassment. Training is valid for three (3) years.
11.2 All employees will be informed about this procedure upon hire and at least annually.


12. Communication

12.1 All employees and individuals within the board community will be made aware of this procedure by posting a signed copy of Appendix A - Positive Workplace Environment Statement on the health and safety bulletin board at every Avon Maitland District School Board worksite.

12.2 Other methods of promoting a positive workplace environment and communicating this procedure may include, but not limited to school newsletters, meetings, memos, websites or social media, contract documents, etc.

12.3 This administrative procedure will be posted on the board’s website under School Board>Policies and Procedures, and in The Core under Director's Office>Admin Procedures.
 
Review
The review and revision of this administrative procedure will be done at least annually or more often if there is a change in circumstances. The Director of Education will sign and date Appendix A – Positive Workplace Environment Statement at least annually.
 
Revised September 2021


Appendix A - POSITIVE WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT STATEMENT

In order to achieve Avon Maitland District School Board’s (AMDSB) strategy to create positive, inclusive learning environments and maximize outcomes for students, the AMDSB is committed to ensuring all individuals in our school communities are treated with dignity and respect, free from discrimination and harassment.

Discriminating or harassing behaviour is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated from or towards any board member, senior staff, supervisor, employee, student, volunteer, parent, contractor, community member, permit holder, and any other individual performing school or work related activities on board premises, or while engaging in school related activities or events.

The Director, supervisory officers, principals and supervisors are expected to promote a positive work and learning environment by establishing procedures, communicating awareness, providing information and training, and investigating and addressing reported incidents of discrimination or harassment in a fair and timely manner.

All individuals in our school community will refrain from:

a) engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a person in the workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or

b) engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a person in the workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or

c) making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

d) any action or behaviour that results in unfair, unfavourable or adverse treatment against a person in a workplace based on prohibited grounds under the Human Rights Code, including race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status, and disability.

All employees are expected to respond to or report workplace discrimination or harassment, and all individuals within the board community are encouraged to report workplace harassment or discrimination to the appropriate person.

All individuals who participate in a discrimination or harassment investigation will be supported and any information about the incident will be kept confidential and will not be disclosed except to the extent necessary to protect individuals, to investigate the incident, to take corrective action or as otherwise required by law.

Any individual reporting or participating in a discrimination or harassment incident or investigation, in good faith, will not be penalized or face reprisals for exercising their rights and following Avon Maitland District School Board procedures.

For more information, refer to AP 138 Positive Workplace Environment.