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Queen's University

Human Resources

Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace Policy

The University is committed to providing a work environment where all persons working for the University are treated with respect and dignity.

Workplace Harassment creates a negative environment as well as having a negative impact on individual staff members. Such behaviour is not acceptable in the Queen’s workplace.

This policy aims to prevent harassment by promoting increased awareness and early problem resolution through early intervention. The application of this policy is intended to promote a work environment where all are treated with respect and dignity and to reinforce those values of integrity and trust that are the foundation of a sound workplace.

This policy addresses workplace harassment not related to the grounds of discrimination prohibited under the Ontario Human Rights Code.


This policy applies to all general staff as defined in the Staff Policy Manual.

The policy nevertheless reflects the expectations of the general workplace at Queen’s. All other employees working at the University are directed to the resources available to them through their collective agreements or other resolution mechanisms available to them. This policy does not apply to complaints from the public. The responsibility for follow-up on such complaints lies with departments and affiliated organizations.



Harassment is any improper conduct by an individual, that is directed at and offensive to another person or persons in the workplace, and that the individual knew or ought reasonably to have known would cause offence or harm. It comprises any objectionable act, comment or display that demeans, belittles, or causes personal humiliation or embarrassment, and any act of intimidation or threat. Harassment is not properly discharged supervisory responsibilities including performance evaluation, disciplinary action, day to day management of the operation or conduct that does not interfere with a climate of understanding and respect for the dignity and work of Queen’s University employees. It does not include prohibited grounds of harassment within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code.


Directors/Department Heads/Supervisors are expected to:

  • Lead by example and to act respectfully in dealings with employees working for the University.

  • Have access to learning opportunities on the prevention and resolution of harassment and in conflict resolution.

  • Ensure that employees are aware of the policy and to remind them of its contents as deemed necessary.

  • Intervene promptly when they become aware of improper or offensive conduct and to involve the parties in resolving the problem

  • Address any alleged harassment of which they are aware, whether or not a complaint has been made. This applies to situations that involve employees as well as other persons working at the University.

  • Handle all harassment situations confidentially and ensure all employees involved in a harassment issue understand that they are expected to maintain confidentiality.

  • Address the needs of the parties concerned and the working unit following a complaint with the assistance of Human Resources as needed, in order to establish or re-establish harmonious working relationships.

Employees are expected to:

  • Act towards other individuals professionally and respectfully.

  • Communicate to the offending party, as soon as possible, directly or through a supervisor/manager, their disapproval or unease.

  • Get help or guidance from the supervisor, a staff advisor, or from Human Resources.

  • Be informed of the university policy.

  • See prompt action if they report an incident of harassment to their supervisor/manager or if necessary, to another appropriate manager.

  • Be treated without fear of embarrassment or reprisal when dealing with a harassment situation or involved in the resolution of a complaint.

  • Participate in a problem resolution process before proceeding with the complaint process.

Complainants, respondents and witnesses are expected to:

  • Provide information as required in the steps noted in the Grievance Procedure.

  • Co-operate in the grievance process if and when called upon to do so.

  • Respect confidentiality by limiting the discussion of the complaint to those who need to know.

  • Review their statement as recorded by an investigator (if any), to confirm its accuracy, prior to the final report being submitted.

  • Receive information related to the complaint in writing, including allegations, as noted in the steps under the Grievance Procedure, and in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness.

  • Be informed in writing of the outcome of any investigation and will receive a copy of the final report.

  • Be informed of measures that will be taken as a result of the complaint

  • Address the needs of the parties concerned and the working unit following a complaint with the assistance of Human Resources as needed, in order to establish or re-establish harmonious working relationships.

Early resolution

The objective of early resolution is to resolve any situation or conflict as soon as possible, in a fair and respectful manner without having to resort to the complaint process. Every effort should be made to resolve the issue early with open communication and in a co-operative manner. The use of dispute resolution mechanisms such as coaching, mediation and facilitation can in many instances resolve the issue and prevent the situation from escalating to the point where filing a complaint is necessary.

Employees who make use of the provisions of this policy shall not be subject to recrimination or harassment as a result of exercising this right.

Complaint process

If early resolution is not successful or is not appropriate, an employee may file a complaint under the Grievance Procedure for General Staff. All steps should be completed without undue delay. The sharing of information related to the harassment complaint with the parties must comply with the principles of privacy and access to information legislation.

Employees found to have harassed another person may be subject to disciplinary action ranging from a verbal warning up to and including termination.

Resource body

Human Resources will act as an expert resource body by providing confidential assistance and advice to employees and departments in the prevention and resolution of harassment in the workplace. Human Resources will ensure that persons conducting mediations and investigations are highly qualified to do so, that they are impartial, that they have no supervisory relationship with the parties, and that they are not in a position of conflict of interest. Individuals who wish to discuss a potential claim of harassment can do so without fear of disclosure without the employee’s permission unless the situation must be dealt with because of the nature of the complaint and failing to respond would place the University at risk.

Other recourse

If harassment is based on one of the grounds of discrimination prohibited under the Ontario Human Rights Code, employees should contact the Human Rights Office. Assaults including sexual assault are covered by the Criminal Code and in such cases Campus Security and the police should be contacted; this can be done through the Human Rights Office, in particular when the assault is motivated by one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code, including sex, race, sexual orientation, faith, place of origin, disabilities etc.


Human Resources and individual units/departments will work together to monitor results in achieving the policy objective and statement.

Queen's Human Resources
Fleming Hall, Stewart-Pollock Wing
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
T: 613.533.2070 | F: 613.533.6196