The Town of Oakville (town) is committed to maintaining a healthy, safe and supportive workplace for all town employees that is free from discrimination, harassment and workplace conflict. This procedure is designed to resolve complaints and disputes in a manner that is respectful and maintains an employee’s dignity.
Pursuant to the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the town will not condone discrimination or harassment with respect to race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.
It is the responsibility of every town employee to maintain a positive work environment by always acting in an appropriate manner in the workplace or at any work-related or employee social function. Any inappropriate conflict or behaviour will not be tolerated. The town will take the necessary corrective measures which may include discipline up to and including dismissal.
The town, as an employer, is committed to:
This policy applies to all town employees (including but not limited to full-time, part-time, students, volunteers, temporary and interns), elected officials, any individual representing or acting on behalf of the town in any manner (i.e. contractors, consultants) as well as every person accessing town property, services, events and programs.
An employee who believes that they have been subjected to an action which is in contravention of the respectful conduct policy by another employee member in the workplace, should:
If the behaviour continues, the employee should keep a record of the incidents, dates, times, locations, possible witnesses, and reaction of the alleged harasser and bring this to the attention of their own supervisor or Human Resources where the offending person is the employee’s own supervisor. Keeping a record will strengthen the case and help in remembering details over time.
In some situations telling the offending person may be difficult or the concern may be ignored. If an employee is unable to talk to the offending person or the concern is ignored they should notify either their own supervisor or the offending persons supervisor; once made aware, the supervisor is to address concerns immediately. If the offending behaviour does not stop, the employee should proceed to filing a formal complaint.
The town’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to provide support for employees.
Formal complaints must be made in writing on a Respectful Conduct Reporting Form, signed by the Complainant and submitted as soon as possible after the incident occurred.
The Respectful Conduct Reporting Form must be filled out accurately and completely. The Complainant may attach additional information or documentation to support their complaint.
All formal complaints must be forwarded to the Director of Human Resources who will determine if the complaint falls under the Respectful Conduct Policy and determine what investigation is appropriate in the circumstances within five (5) business days of receipt.
The investigation will be conducted either internally by a town employee or by an external investigator at the discretion of the Director of Human Resources.
Once the investigation is complete, the investigation outcomes will be reported to the Complainant and Respondent in writing.
1. If the complaint is substantiated, the Director of Human Resources or their designate will:
2. If the complaint is not substantiated, the Director of Human Resources or their designate will:
An investigation is a highly sensitive matter and it is critical to maintain the utmost confidentiality throughout the process. This is important not only to protect the confidentiality of the matters at issue, but also to protect the integrity of the evidence.
During the investigation and resolution of complaints, all information must remain confidential except where sharing information is otherwise required by law. Anyone who is aware of, or participates in an investigation as a Complainant, Respondent or Witness, must keep confidential:
Participants in the investigation may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Union representatives have an important role in working together with the investigator and the employer in maintaining and preserving confidentiality, the integrity of the evidence, and the integrity of the investigation process. As such, the same confidentiality and privacy requirements stated above apply unless limited disclosure is required for the purposes of fulfilling duties that may arise under the terms of the collective agreement and in the performance of legitimate union representative duties.
A Complainant or Respondent may elect to have a union representative present during their investigation interview(s). Union representatives may not disrupt the investigation or instruct a Complainant or Respondent not to answer questions, except where there are criminal proceedings underway and there is a serious risk that the employee may incriminate them self. Union representatives may not answer questions on behalf of the Complainant or Respondent; their role is limited to clarifying questions or providing support if the person being interviewed is unclear about the question being asked of them.
A reprisal is an action, or threat, that is intended as retaliation for bringing forward a complaint or participating in an investigation process. Such action will not be tolerated and will be subject to progressive discipline up to and including dismissal. However, if it is determined that the complaint was made in a frivolous or vexatious manner, the Complainant may be disciplined up to and including dismissal
Includes but is not limited to unequal treatment based on one or more of the prohibited grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code, except where conduct is permitted under the law. Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional, direct or indirect with the result being an adverse impact on the employee based on the prohibited grounds.
Includes a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. It may include but is not limited to:
Harassment can take many forms and may be directed at an individual or group of individuals. Harassment can occur in various types of communication, including face to face exchanges, email correspondence, written correspondence and the use of social media. Differences of attitude or culture and misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as harassment by one person may not seem so to another. Behaviour shall be regarded as harassing if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of the person who is the subject of the harassment, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.
Harassment also includes the following:
Occurs when there is a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in the workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of such comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or making 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. This may include, but is not limited to the following:
Personal harassment or bullying is any unwelcome, disrespectful, intimidating, abusive, cruel, vindictive or offensive behaviour, conduct or communications directed at an individual or group. In some cases it may erode their self-confidence or self-esteem and it may create an intimidating, offensive or embarrassing work environment often referred to as a Poisoned Work Environment.
Personal harassment may include, but is not limited to: name calling, insults, inappropriate jokes, threats, shouting, derogatory remarks (including messages that are threatening, derisive, or defamatory), spreading malicious rumours, persistent criticism and exclusion.
Harassment does not include:
Workplace conflict: Inappropriate workplace conflict occurs when two or more employees disagree on a matter which results in a disruption to the cohesive relationships necessary for a productive and harmonious workplace.
Complainant: a person who makes a complaint under this policy.
Respondent: the person against whom a complaint has been filed.
Poisoned work environment: This term is usually applied in circumstances where the work environment has become toxic because of pervasive discrimination or harassment, most commonly involving the prohibited grounds of the Code although not just limited to such. The offending conduct must be persistent and repeated unless the incident in question is sufficient, standing alone, to taint the entire workplace. In other words, a stand-alone incident will not create a poisoned work environment unless it is particularly egregious.
Procedure Number: HR-MNG-008-002
Parent Policy: HR-MNG-008
Section: Human Resources
Author: Human Resources Department
Effective Date: 2000 Jun 05
Review by Date: 2023