This sample policy is written for a place of employment. It can be adapted to fit your work environment depending on the size and complexity of your organization.
It is highly recommended that service providers and landlords also consider implementing an anti-harassment policy.
Every employee, customer and client at ABC Company has a right to a workplace that is free from harassment (including sexual harassment) and the responsibility to refrain from participating in behaviour which is, or could be perceived to be, harassment. ABC Company will not tolerate harassment based on any characteristic protected by The Human Rights Code (Manitoba).
What is harassment?
- a course of abusive remarks or behaviours based on a protected characteristic
- a series of objectionable sexual solicitations or advances
- a sexual solicitation or advance made by a person who is in a position to provide or deny employment benefits if the person making the advance knows, or ought to know that their remarks or behaviour is unwelcome
- a reprisal or retaliation, or threat of reprisal, for rejecting a sexual solicitation or advance
Harassment does not include the normal exercise of supervisory and management responsibilities, including coaching, performance reviews, work evaluation and disciplinary action or voluntary or consensual sexual contact between employees.*
* Supervisory employees should consider that the Supreme Court of Canada has stated that managers who involve themselves with employees do so at their peril, as employees may later indicate that they felt coerced into the relationship even if that was not the manager's intent.
What characteristics are protected by The Human Rights Code?
It is a contravention of The Human Rights Code to harass any other employee or customer/client based on that person’s race, colour, ancestry, nationality or place of origin, ethnic background, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital and family status, source of income, political belief, physical or mental disability, social disadvantage or criminal record.
Harassment unrelated to a protected characteristic is sometimes referred to as “bullying,” or “personal harassment.” This type of disrespectful behaviour is not expressly covered by this Policy but may contravene the Workplaces Safety and Health Act or other legislation and is prohibited by ABC Company.
What is the scope of this Policy?
This Policy applies to all current, potential, term and contract employees and employees as well as volunteers and customers. This Policy applies to all activities connected with ABC Company’s workplace including work sites, washrooms, cafeterias, training sessions, business travel, conferences, work-related social gatherings, customer or client homes or work sites.
How do I report harassment?
Employees who believe they are being harassed, or who believe that someone else in the workplace is being harassed, should immediately report the harassment to [INSERT: Human Resources/ your Manager/ other]
What are an employee’s obligations?
Based on the severity of the harassing behaviour, the employee's personal comfort and safety, and the dynamics of their work environment, employees may choose to do one or more of the following:
- Tell the harasser to stop. Inform the harasser that his or her actions are not welcome.
- Advise ABC Company that you are being harassed and ask ABC Company to make it stop*
- File a formal complaint with ABC Company
- Contact the police in cases of assault
- Discuss the issue with a trusted friend/colleague, EAP or your union
* An employee is not always obligated to specifically report the harassment for ABC Company’s duty to take reasonable steps to terminate the harassment to be triggered. If ABC Company knows of the harassment, ABC Company must take reasonable steps to terminate the harassment.
What are ABC Company’s obligations?
ABC Company takes harassment in the workplace very seriously and will take appropriate action to investigate, discipline or otherwise sanction employees as required.
- Circulate this Policy and educate all ABC Company employees with respect to its content
- Provide a respectful work environment that is free from harassment
- Investigate reports of harassment expeditiously
- Involve managers, human resources, other management staff or third party professionals as necessary to investigate and respond to reports of harassment**
- Determine if harassment is based on a characteristic protected under The Human Rights Code
- Assess the severity of the situation and safeguard against further harassment***
- Ensure there are no reprisals against employees for making complaints or participating in investigations
- Refer employees to EAP or other counselling or the police as necessary
- Apply this Policy consistently
ABC Company acknowledges that harassment covers a broad continuum of behaviours including but not limited to comments, jokes, and e-mails. A range of responses and resolutions are available but must be fair and reasonably appropriate to the harassment with the focus being the prevention and termination of future harassment.
**ABC Company supervisory employees who knew, or ought reasonably to have known, of the harassment but who fail to take appropriate action will be disciplined.
***ABC Company will consider the need to suspend the employees involved from their regular duties pending the outcome of the investigation but will avoid at all times taking any action that could be perceived as punishing the parties involved until the investigation is concluded.
What is involved in investigating harassment?
ABC Company will determine in each situation, based on the severity of the harassment reported, and whether or not the alleged harassment is admitted to, the nature and extent of investigation required. In some cases a third party investigator may be engaged. In other cases, supervisory employees will speak confidentially with the parties involved in regard to the issue.
The investigator must weigh the evidence and determine if it is more likely than not that the allegation(s) are true.
The investigator will generally do the following:
- interview the person who is alleged to have been harassed
- interview the alleged harasser(s) (in the presence of a union or other representative if requested) to present the complaint and obtain a response
- identify any witnesses and interview them on a confidential basis
- weigh the evidence gathered to determine whether harassment occurred
- recommend appropriate steps to terminate the harassment that was substantiated (including discipline, training, etc.)
- report findings of the investigation including further action to be taken to the person who is alleged to have been harassed, the harasser(s), and other management as appropriate.
The investigation will usually result in any of the following:
Evidence shows that harassment occurred. An appropriate course of action is determined.
Evidence shows that harassment did not occur. An appropriate course of action may be recommended, including workplace mediation or education.
Evidence shows the harassment did not occur and the allegation arises from malicious intent. Discipline against the person alleged to have been harassed may be recommended. (Note: These cases are extremely rare.)
Evidence is insufficient to make a conclusion about harassment. An appropriate course of action may be recommended including education and debriefing.
Are reports of harassment kept confidential?
ABC Company will keep the details of any report of harassment confidential to the extent possible, however confidentiality does not always mean anonymity. Any person reporting harassment should be aware that ABC Company remains obligated to inform the alleged harasser(s) of the report, interview witnesses if necessary, and to discipline employees where necessary.
What if I am not satisfied with the investigation or results?
If an employee is not satisfied with ABC Company’s investigation into a report of harassment or with the specific findings of an investigation, the employee can request a review by contacting: [INSERT appeal mechanism]
At any time you may contact
Manitoba Human Rights Commission
7th Floor - 175 Hargrave Street
Winnipeg MB R3C 3R8
Toll free: 1-888-884-8681
Brandon: 1-800-201-2551 or 204-726-6261
The Pas: 1-800-676-7084 or 204-627-8270
Effective: March, 2013