Office of the Ombudsperson

OFFICE OF THE

University Ombudsman

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Harassment/Discrimination

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) was amended in 2016 with the passage of Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act. As a result, Queen’s must ensure its policies define workplace sexual harassment and clearly state that workplace harassment includes workplace sexual harassment. The Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy was developed to satisfy legal requirements regarding Discrimination and Harassment in the workplace in accordance with the Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy

The purpose of this policy is to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace through education and other proactive measures, and to ensure that the University effectively addresses and responds to reports and complaints of harassment and/or discrimination in the workplace. When determining whether the Interim Policy and/or Procedure is applicable to a specific situation, refer to the Human Resources document. If there are discrepancies between this website and the policy, the provisions of the policy and procedure shall govern.

The Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy applies to all employees in the course of their employment, and is intended to address discrimination and/or harassment of employees from all sources, including students, colleagues, coworkers, supervisors, managers, administrators, other members of the University community, and the public.

The Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy addresses all forms of harassment and/or discrimination that may occur in a workplace. This includes discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of protected grounds as outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The current practice is that both the Employee and Labour Relations Unit within Human Resources and the Faculty Relations Office are responsible for addressing allegations of both non-code and code-based complaints of harassment and/or discrimination that are reported to those units. All existing collective agreements at the University provide a mechanism for dealing with code-based complaints. The Employee and Labour Relations Unit within Human Resources and the Faculty Relations Office are responsible for administering these Collective Agreements on behalf of the University.


Policy Overlap – Queen’s Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure

An “interim” Policy was necessary to ensure that the University was compliant with changes made to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which took effect September 8, 2016. Currently, the Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy overlaps with other University Policies, including the University’s Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure. The University will administer the overlap according to the principles set out in the Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy at s. 3.2.

Where a complainant chooses to pursue his or her allegations under another policy or procedure, the University will nevertheless ensure that the standards relating to investigations, and the communication of investigation outcomes, set out under this Policy and related procedures are upheld. Those who are obliged to disclose information under this Policy and related procedures must comply with disclosure obligations regardless of whether other policies and procedures are being implemented.

Where it is alleged that a student has engaged in discrimination and/or harassment in the course of University employment (e.g. as a teaching assistant), the matter will be addressed under this Policy and related procedures.

Where it is alleged that a student has, in their capacity as a student, engaged in discrimination and/or harassment against an employee, the matter will be addressed under the Queen’s University Student Code of Conduct, 2016 and related procedures. However, in such cases, Human Resources and/or Faculty Relations will nevertheless be consulted in the process to ensure any investigation and/or corrective action satisfy the standards set out this Policy.

The Interim Policy will remain in effect until such time as all relevant documents have been updated to reflect the changes required by the Occupational Health & Safety Act (Bill 132).

Harassment 
“Ontario’s Human Rights Code prohibits workplace and sexual harassment in employment. The employer not only has a duty to provide a working environment that is free from harassment and discrimination; it must also deal effectively and efficiently with any allegation of harassment of which it is, or should be, aware.”[(1) Kathryn J. Filsinger, Employment Law for Business and Human Resources Professionals, 2d ed. (Toronto: Emund Montgomery 2010) at 142.]
Discrimination
"Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability” (Human Rights Code R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s.5.1).