HR Policy: Freedom from Harassment and Workplace Violence
Creating a Respectful Workplace - Date of Issue: November 13, 2017
The Canadian Human Rights Code defines harassment as meaning:
“Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is or ought to be reasonably known to be unwelcome”. Vexatious is defined as “distressing” or “annoying”. In Quebec legislation, the form of bullying recognized is psychological harassment. The psychological harassment definition in the legislation is any vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that affects an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and results in a harmful work environment for the employee.” (LS Act, s. 81.18)
A single serious incidence of such behaviour that has a lasting harmful effect on an employee may also constitute psychological harassment however the act’s definition assumes that vexatious behaviour must take the form of conduct, comments, actions or gestures are repetitive in nature, i.e. continuity over time. Harassment can be distinguished from normal, mutually acceptable socializing in that it is offensive, insulting, intimidating, embarrassing, hurtful, malicious and creates an uncomfortable work environment.
The Canadian Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered. Personal harassment, not based on one of these prohibited grounds, can be equally demeaning, intimidating or humiliating and is also covered by this policy. Management will treat any complaint of harassment with seriousness, sensitivity and discretion. Confidentiality will be maintained wherever possible. Exceptions will only be made where disclosure is necessary for the purposes of conducting a proper investigation, taking appropriate disciplinary/corrective measures, or where required by law. Points to remember about harassment.
• Harassment can be present in every job level and occupation
• Harassment is defined by the perceptions of the recipients of the behavior, not by those of the harasser
• Harassment is about power and control
Workplace harassment ranges from subtle to blatant behaviour and can be expressed in a number of ways which includes, but is not limited to, the following examples:
Sexual harassment may be broadly categorized into two main components:
1. Where a person in a position to confer, grant, or deny a benefit or advancement to a person:
• makes employment or benefits from employment, such as promotions, good performance ratings, etc. conditional upon the employee’s acceptance of sexual advances
• threatens to or makes reprisals when an employee rejects a sexual advance
2. Where the work environment becomes “poisoned when the conduct or comments of the supervisors or fellow employees create a hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:
1. Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos, or taunting about a person’s body, attire or sex
2. Practical jokes of a sexual nature which cause awkwardness or embarrassment
3. Displaying pornographic pictures or other offensive material
4. Leering (suggestive staring) or other gestures
5. Unnecessary physical contact such as touch, patting or pinching
6. Suggestive or offensive remarks or unwelcome questions or discussions about sexual activities
7. Sexual propositioning
8. Sexual assault
Examples of Racial or Ethnic Harassment
1. Displaying of racist, derogatory or offensive pictures or materials.
2. Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendoes or taunting about a person’s racial or ethnic background, colour, place of birth, citizenship or ancestry.
3. Refusing to converse or work with an employee because of his or her racial or ethnic background.
4. Insulting gestures or practical jokes based on racial or ethnic grounds which cause embarrassment or awkwardness.
Workplace violence is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as the exercise, or the attempt to exercise, physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury, or a statement or behaviour that is reasonable to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force that could cause injury. No forms of violence will be tolerated in the workplace on the part of employees and artists, managers, patrons, suppliers or visitors. Every effort will be made to identify possible sources of violence and to implement procedures which eliminate or minimize the risks created by such situations. Any acts of violence or threats of violence in the workplace are unacceptable. GEORDIE PRODUCTIONS is committed to the prevention of workplace violence and to responding appropriately if workplace violence does occur. It is up to each employee to report any threat or act of violence. Employees who initiate or are a party to acts of violence or aggression may be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.
Examples of Violence in the Workplace:
• Actual and attempted acts of physical violence such as hitting, punching, slapping or kicking
• Threats of physical violence or intimidation
• Intimidation causing fear or anxiety
• Other acts of physical aggression, such as the deliberate destruction of or damage to property, especially where such actions are meant to intimidate one or more individuals.
GEORDIE THEATRE will ensure that complaints are handled with sensitivity and incidents of violence, discrimination, intimidation or harassment are discontinued as quickly as possible upon Geordie Theatre’s awareness of it and to ensure protection from retaliation for any employee who has made a complaint in good faith. There shall be no reprisal or negative job consequences from GEORDIE THEATRE against any individual who, in good faith, reports an incident of harassment, discrimination or workplace violence or who participates in an investigation.
Confidentiality will be maintained whenever possible. Information which relates to potentially violent individuals will be provided only on a need to know basis.
It is the responsibility of employees to show respect for others both in the workplace and in any capacity where they are representing GEORDIE THEATRE. Employees are responsible for their actions and are expected to change their conduct when advised that their behaviour is not acceptable to others.
Procedures to Deal with Harassment, Discrimination or Workplace Violence
Whenever possible, let a harasser or abuser know that his or her behavior is unacceptable and that it must stop immediately. Sometimes not speaking up can be interpreted as consent, whereas at other times a simple warning from the person on the receiving end of such conduct or comments may be enough to correct the problem. Keep a record. Write down dates, times, any witnesses, what was said or done, when and by whom. Documentation is extremely important especially if the harasser does not stop or if the violence or harassment is serious and justifies a formal complaint.
Where an employee is not comfortable communicating directly with the harasser or abuser, report the incident (s) to Kathryn Westoll, Managing Director and/or Mike Payette, Artistic Director. At this point, the employee can either file a complaint, or have Kathryn and/or Mike speak with the alleged perpetrator.
A formal complaint consists of the employee providing a written statement indicating the events, dates, times, witnesses. Kathryn Westoll and Mike Payette, as senior management of Geordie Theatre, and one board member of Geordie Productions, (hereinafter collectively called the Geordie Human Resource Team), will conduct a detailed investigation, which includes interviewing the complainant, the alleged offender(s) and any other person who may provide information. Information received will be received in the strictest confidence possible.
Investigation of Reported Incidents
All workers, including contractors, must co-operate fully in any investigation under these guidelines. Any report of workplace violence or potential of workplace violence will be fully investigated. The report will provide details of the violent incident, or potential of violence, including dates, times, places, names of individuals involved and names of any witnesses. The person filing the report will be advised that the Geordie Human Resource Team will conduct an investigation.
- The investigation will include interviews with the person who filed the report, any relevant individual(s) named in the report, and relevant witnesses. External agencies specializing in issues of workplace violence, and/or the police, may be informed or consulted during this process or in regard to any incident or complaint of workplace violence.
- the Geordie Human Resource Team will meet with the respondent (if the person is an employee) and provide, or forward, a copy of the complaint to him/her, and provide him/her with an opportunity to respond. The respondent will be advised that the Geordie Human Resource Team will conduct an investigation. This investigation would include interviews with the complainant, the respondent and, if necessary, any relevant witnesses. There may be a request for written response from the respondent within ten days.
- Following the investigation, the Geordie Human Resource Team will provide a written report of recommendations to address the incident or potential of violence, which may include (but not be limited to): disciplinary action of the person responsible for the violence (if another employee), requirement to provide a formal apology, appropriate counselling for those involved, and/or discussion with the aggressor regarding expected and appropriate workplace behaviour and responsibilities. At the discretion of the Geordie Human Resource Team, a report may be provided to the complainant, the respondent and any affected parties.
- Complaints that are found to be trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith may result in disciplinary action against the complainant. The severity of the action will depend on the seriousness and impact of the complaint.
Once the investigation is complete, the parties involved will be advised of the outcome of the investigation. Any recommendation or actions that arise as a result of the complaint will be provided to the appropriate parties.
There will be a follow-up to monitor the working relationship of the parties involved.
If you have been subjected to workplace violence, immediately report the matter to the appropriate manager for investigation and response.
Notwithstanding the above, where there is an extremely urgent and/or life-threatening situation in the workplace, particularly with regard to serious violence, the most important concern is for the immediate safety and well-being of the affected employee. Depending upon the situation, the most immediate need may be to call the police, fire department or paramedics. Employee safety and security is of paramount importance and therefore, common sense must prevail.
If you have any questions regarding the above policy you may contact Kathryn Westoll, Managing Director, and/or Mike Payette, Artistic Director.
Your personal information and privacy is important to us. Geordie Productions does not sell customer or donor mailing lists. Financial information collected in the fulfillment of ticket sales is kept on file and confidential for a period of seven years, as per the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency. Only authorized personnel have access to this information. As a patron of Geordie Productions, you may receive information about Geordie’s plays and special events. If you do not wish to receive such information, or if you have questions, please contact us at 514-845-9810.