Sexual Harassment

Effective date: September 30, 2011

Revised January 2018

Relevant Legislation:

Not applicable to this policy.

Intent:

LOFT Community Services is committed to operating a workplace where all staff, volunteers, student placements, clients and residents are free from any form of sexual harassment. LOFT will endeavour to prevent sexual harassment and to take immediate action when it is thought to have occurred. All members of the LOFT community share the responsibility for keeping the Agency free of this type of behaviour. This obligates the Agency to educate and inform all members of management, employees, volunteers, student placements and other persons in order to make them aware of their duties and rights. Sexual harassment which takes place outside the premises of LOFT Community Services and has a negative effect on relationships in the work environment will be covered by this policy, to the extent of what is reasonably possible.

Definitions:

Sexual harassment includes behaviour that the person knows, or reasonably ought to know is offensive. It is any conduct, comment, gesture or contact between individuals of a sexual nature which might be perceived as being a condition for employment, for promotion, work assignment, training, or compensation or which creates a work environment that is intimidating, humiliating or uncomfortable. Such behaviour may consist of a single incident, or several incidents over a period of time. The harasser could be of the same or opposite sex as the person being harassed and may be a supervisor, co-worker, client, resident, volunteer, student placement or an external person providing service. Sexual harassment can occur in, or outside the office or program and is not limited to a work-related activity. Sexual harassment is considered a serious offence and is prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Sexual harassment can include:

• Making sexual advances where an individual knows, or ought to know that the advances are unwelcome.

• Sexual solicitation or an advance made by an individual in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to another individual.

• Reprisal or a threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance where the reprisal is made or threatened by an individual in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the person

• Unwanted, persistent or abusive sexual attention

• Sexually oriented remarks or behaviour which create a negative or ‘poisoned’ environment

• Distribution of materials or pictures of a sexual nature which potentially could be construed as offensive.

• Displaying sexist, pornographic or derogatory pictures.

• Unnecessary physical contact such as patting or pinching.

This is only a partial listing and does not include all definitions or examples of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment does not refer to accepted social banter or conversation. However, tolerance for such behaviour varies between individuals and good judgment must be used in situations that could be misinterpreted by some.

Policy:

Note: Staff, volunteers and student placements of LOFT Community Services will not engage in any sexual relations with clients or residents. Failure to comply with this rule will result in immediate dismissal from employment or termination of the contractual relationship with LOFT Community Services.

 

Responsibilities of Management

1. All Managers, Directors and supervisors are obliged to prevent, and failing that, to respond to any and all complaints. Any person who feels that they have been sexually harassed, or who sees another person being sexually harassed can make a complaint to the Program Director, Services Director or Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The agency may also make a formal complaint if it found that offensive material is being circulated, or the actions of suppliers or others who have contact with LOFT is found to be offensive.

2. On receipt of a complaint, a member of management is responsible for immediately informing the Manager of Human Resources or designee, and for assisting in the investigation and the resolution of the complaint.

3. During the investigation of a complaint, the responsible member of management and/or Manager of Human Resources or designee will interview the parties and any witnesses separately, document all findings, and render a summary of the complaint as soon as possible. Signed statements from those involved may be required. All information will be treated as confidential.

4. If the complaint is substantiated, some form of disciplinary action will be taken. If complaints are not substantiated, there will be no negative consequences drawn and no record of complaint will appear on any person’s file.

 

An employee who is found to have sexually harassed someone else or to have intentionally made a false accusation may receive a warning, reprimand, suspension or have their employment terminated by the CEO. A resident, consumer, volunteer, supplier or other person required to have contact with the organization who is found to have sexually harassed or to have intentionally made a false accusation may receive a warning, reprimand or be excluded from services and programs.

 

Responsibilities of Employees

1. Make your discomfort and disapproval known immediately. Ask them to STOP, or tell them that their behaviour is unwelcome. Some people may not understand what they are saying or doing is wrong.

2. Write down what happened as it will help you to remember the details later, if required. Keep a written record of the alleged nature of the harassment, date(s), time(s), place(s), behaviour(s) and witness(es).

3. Speak to a supervisor, a Program Director, Services Director, Manager of Human Resources, or the CEO. They can advise you on how to proceed with the complaint.

4. Assist in the preparation of a written report of the complaint, detailing the nature of the incident, the date(s), time(s), place(s), witness(es), and the name(s) of those involved.

 

Confidentiality

All allegations of sexual harassment involve sensitive disclosures. These disclosures will be kept confidential throughout the complaint process and after. Significant personal harm and damage to reputation could come to either party through inappropriate breaches of confidentiality, including harm created by innuendo and gossip. Trust in the confidentiality of the process also encourages people to come forward with their complaint. Everyone involved has a responsibility to strictly limit the number of people who are brought into the investigation, and to caution these contacts on the importance of confidentiality. The contacts should not include individuals who have no clear interest is resolving the complaint. Any and all documentation related to a complaint will also be held in a confidential and secure manner. However, confidentiality must be distinguished from anonymity. An individual who lodges a complaint must be prepared to be identified to the respondent.

 

Procedures:

Anyone may ask for advice and counselling without initiating a formal complaint. However, LOFT is legally required to act to prevent and stop harassment if there is an indication that harassment has occurred. Many issues or complaints may be resolved informally and privately between the parties. This will involve a supervisor (e.g. Program Director, Services Director, Manager of Human Resources) meeting privately (separately) with the individuals involved, explaining the nature of the unwelcome behaviour, and coming to some form of agreement. If the individual who feels they have been harassed does not wish to seek an informal resolution, does not agree with the informal agreement that has been reached, or finds that the unwelcome behaviour persists, a formal complaint may be lodged. Since LOFT desires to resolve these complaints as soon as possible, time frames have been established to move the complaint along. Therefore:

 

1. A complaint shall be filed in writing to the responsible supervisor (e.g. Program Director, Services Director, Manager of Human Resources) within 10 calendar days of the incident.

2. The Manager of Human Resources or designee will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing to the complainant, and will investigate the complaint within 10 calendar days of its receipt and render a recommendation as to its resolution. This will be communicated to both parties and the CEO.

3. The complainant shall be assured of an environment free from intimidation, threat, discipline or unfair evaluation as a result of filing the complaint.

4. In extenuating circumstances and upon application to the Manager of Human Resources, a complaint may be filed up to six (6) months from the incident giving rise to the complaint.

5. A complaint may be withdrawn at any time during under this policy. However, LOFT may continue to pursue complaints independently, if circumstances warrant it.

 

Appeals Procedure

Either party may appeal the actions taken, or the decision reached in resolving the complaint if not satisfied, by pursuing any of the following actions:

(a) Submit a formal complaint to the CEO under the appropriate grievance/complaint procedure.

OR

(b) Submit a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Other Notes:

• It must be emphasized that sexual harassment is a serious offence and any complaints will be dealt with quickly and professionally, while maintaining confidentiality and sensitivity during the process. Sexual harassment is prohibited on the part of all those employed by, or those who have a contractual agreement, or privileges with LOFT Community Services.

• Any notes made in an investigation will not be kept in an employee’s Human Resources file.

• In cases where immediate attention is needed and an employee, volunteer, student placement or other person’s safety is in danger; it is encouraged that the police or 911 be called.

 

OTHER FORMS OF HARRASSMENT

Harassment is unwelcome behaviour which humiliates insults, excludes or degrades another person. It is sometimes used to pressure people into doing things they do not want to do; sometimes it is a form of bullying; sometimes it is simply thoughtless and inconsiderate. It can also include, but is not restricted to, name calling, jokes, slurs, insults, rude behaviour, graffiti, avoidance or exclusion, threats, unwanted physical contact or violence. Harassment can take many forms. It may be intentional or unintentional, verbal, written, physical or by gestures. A comment or action may be subtle or passive, overt or aggressive. All members of the LOFT Community Services community share a responsibility for keeping the Agency free from discrimination and harassment.

A complaint received alleging some form of harassment will be treated the same as sexual harassment under this policy.