Harassment Resolution

Procedure Number: 
001
Policy Number: 
2308
Responsibility: 
Director, Human Resources
Approved: 
Senior Management Council
Effective: 
June 15, 2005
Last Amended: 
May 24, 2013
Review: 
May 24, 2015
Procedure Statement: 

1.    Definitions

Discrimination

Discrimination refers to unfair treatment on the basis of any of the prohibited grounds in the BC Human Rights Code:  race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, family status, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, sex, age, sexual orientation, political belief, or conviction of criminal or summary offence unrelated to employment, except where there is a bona fide occupational requirement.

Personal Harassment

Personal harassment is defined as unwelcome behaviour that denies an individual her or his dignity or respect by creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile, or offensive work environment and that may constitute discrimination on the basis of any of the grounds prohibited under the BC Human Rights Code.

Personal harassment may consist of repeated or persistent behaviour or may be a single serious incident.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is sexually oriented conduct which an individual would reasonably find to be unwanted or unwelcome and which detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences. 

The behaviour may be verbal, physical, written, or by innuendo.

Sexual harassment may consist of repeated or persistent behaviour or may be a single serious incident.

Sexual harassment may be accompanied by an expressed or implied threat of reprisal or promise of reward.

Sexual harassment refers to behaviour initiated by both males and females and may be directed toward members of the same or opposite sex, and is not restricted to interactions between supervisors and subordinates

Bullying

Bullying is defined as acts or verbal comments that could “mentally” hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Bullying is repeated, persistent, continuous behaviour as opposed to a single negative act. Bullying transcends normal workplace conflict and should not be confused with a tough management style.

Bullying is generally associated with a power imbalance between the victim and perpetrator, where the victim feels inferior. However, it can also be associated with a number of ordinary workers at whatever level who unfairly gang up on a manager, supervisor, peer, or subordinate, tormenting the person in usually nonviolent ways.

Acts and behaviours are considered bullying when they are used in a systematic manner over a longer period of time, resulting in an unpleasant and hostile work environment.

The following are representative examples only and do not comprise a comprehensive list of potential workplace bullying behaviours:

  • Social isolation (silent treatment)
  • Starting and/or spreading rumors
  • Personal attack of a person’s private life and/or personal attributes
  • Excessive or unjustified criticism
  • Over-monitoring of work
  • Verbal aggression
  • Withholding information
  • Withholding job responsibility
  • Trivial fault finding
  • Replacing proper work with demeaning jobs
  • Setting unrealistic goals or deadlines

Misuse of Authority

Misuse of authority takes place when a person who supervises or is in a position of authority exercises that authority in a manner that serves no legitimate work purpose and that a reasonable person ought to know is inappropriate.

Misuse of authority does not include actions occasioned through the exercise, in good faith, of the employer’s managerial/supervisory rights and responsibilities (e.g. application of policies, work rules and standards, performance reviews, assignment of work).  Nor does it include a single incident of a minor nature where the harm, by an objective standard, is minimal.

2.   Harassment Advisors

Harassment Advisors are people trained to explain the options available to the complainant under the JIBC policy and to recommend a course of action to the complainant.  Harassment Advisors have no authority to investigate a complaint or to attempt to mediate a resolution.

A current list of Harassment Advisors will be maintained on the JIBC intranet.

3.   Resolving a Complaint

A.    TAKE DIRECT ACTION

If an individual believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, bullying, or misuse of authority, he or she may wish to make his or her objection or unease known to the person in order to resolve the issue prior to seeking mediation.  

If dealing directly with the person is not an option or is unsuccessful, the individual may seek the confidential advice of a Harassment Advisor, Human Resources,  his/her respective Director or where applicable, the Union.

B.    MEDIATION PROCEDURE

The intent of mediation is to provide an alternative to the investigation procedure (section C below) and to promote early intervention and the use of mediation as a means to resolve allegations of discrimination, harassment, bullying or misuse of authority as defined above.  Where mediation occurs it will be conducted without prejudice to any further action by either party. 

Either party to the mediation may withdraw from the mediation process at any time.

a)    Requesting Mediation

Requests for mediation may be initiated through a Harassment Advisor, the Director, Human Resources or, where applicable, the Union.  Requests will be accompanied by a signed written complaint, which should include the following, where applicable:

  • name(s) of the complainant(s) and the respondent(s)
  • a description of the action(s), conduct, events, or circumstances
  • date, time, and place of incident(s)
  • name(s) of witnesses
  • prior attempts to resolve the situation
  • remedy sought

b)    Mediation Process

i.  Within five (5) days of receipt of a written request, a mediator will be assigned.  Where a Union member is party to the complaint, the mediator will be agreed to by the Director, Human Resources and the Union Representative. Costs associated with the mediator will be borne by the Employer. 

ii.  Mediation will be completed within ten (10) working days from the date of assignment or as soon as practicable.

iii.  The mediator will, in situations where the mediation results in a resolution, generate a Settlement Agreement within five (5) working days of the conclusion of the mediation.  The Settlement Agreement will be signed by and exchanged by both parties with copies going to the Director, Human Resources and if applicable, to the Area Office of the Union.

iv.  Should either party to the Settlement Agreement within the first six (6) months of the agreement be of the opinion that the agreement has been breached, he or she will make his or her views known to the Director, Human Resources and, if applicable to the Union Representative who will work with the parties in an effort to restore the agreement.  This may involve referring the parties back to the original mediator. 

v.  Any issue arising between the parties to the Settlement Agreement beyond the first six (6) months of the agreement will be deemed to be a new issue and will be dealt with through the appropriate mechanism.

vi.  In situations where, in the opinion of the mediator, a resolution is not to be found, the mediator will conclude the mediation.  This will be done in consultation with the Director, Human Resources and, if applicable with the Union Representative.  The mediator will, within ten (10) working days of the conclusion of mediation, issue a report to the Director, Human Resources and, if applicable to the Union Representative outlining the reasons for concluding the mediation.

In the event that this process does not resolve the complaint, the individual may pursue it through the investigation procedure.

C.      INVESTIGATION PROCEDURE

a)      Natural Justice and Fairness

The following procedures will comply with the principles of natural justice and fairness. This means that all parties to the discrimination, harassment, bullying or misuse of authority complaint, including the complainant, respondent and witnesses, will be given the opportunity to fully explain what happened from their perspective, to have their explanations and concerns fully considered, and to challenge any evidence that is being or has been considered.

b)      Investigation Process

Where an individual chooses not to pursue a complaint through Taking Direct Action or the Mediation Procedure (as described above), the following shall apply:

i.  An individual (complainant) who wishes to pursue a concern arising from alleged discrimination, harassment, bullying, or misuse of authority may submit a complaint in writing within six (6) months of the latest alleged occurrence directly to the Director, Human Resources.  The written complaint should include the following, where applicable:

  • name(s) of the complainant(s) and the respondent(s)
  • a description of the action(s), conduct, events, or circumstances
  • date, time, and place of incident(s)
  • name(s) of witnesses
  • prior attempts to resolve the situation
  • remedy sought

Where the complaint is against the Director, Human Resources, it shall be submitted to the President. 

Upon receipt of a written complaint involving a Union member, the Employer shall notify in writing the designated Union Representative.  Complaints shall be treated in strict confidence by all parties.

ii.  The Director, Human Resources has the discretion to waive the six (6) month time restriction where there are extenuating circumstances.

iii.  An alleged harasser (respondent) shall be given a copy of the complaint under this clause and shall be entitled to attend, participate in, and be represented at any hearing pursuant to (viii) below.

 iv.  The Director, Human Resources will designate an investigator to investigate the allegations and determine whether the conduct is in breach of this policy, and submit a written report to the Director, Human Resources.  The Director, Human Resources shall within ten (10) days of receipt of the report take the appropriate action to resolve the issue(s) as contained in the report.  The complainant, the respondent, the respective Director(s) and, if applicable, the Union Representative shall be apprised of the resolution.

v.  Both the complainants and respondent shall be given the option of having a Union Steward (if applicable) present at any meeting held pursuant to the above investigation.

vi.  Pending determination of the complaint, the Director, Human Resources may take interim measures to separate the parties concerned if deemed necessary.  Such action will not be deemed disciplinary in nature, or seen as presumption of guilt or innocence.

vii.   In certain situations, it may be in the best interest of all concerned that the parties be reassigned or removed from all job sites pending the determination of the complaint.  Such a decision will be made by the Director, Human Resources in consultation with the complainant, the respondent, the respective Director(s) and, if applicable, the Union Representative.  Every effort will be made to reassign the respondent unless the complainant requests reassignment.  In cases where reassignment is not possible, the individual shall be considered to be on a leave of absence without loss of pay until a decision is made by the Director, Human Resources with respect to the complaint.

viii.  Where either the complainant or the respondent, in conjunction with the Union (if applicable), is not satisfied with the Employer’s response, the complaint will be put, within thirty (30) days, before an agreed upon, independent adjudicator who specializes in this field.  The adjudicator shall work with the parties to achieve an acceptable resolution and if this is not achieved, the adjudicator shall have the right to:

  • dismiss the complaint; or
  • determine the appropriate level of discipline to be applied to the harasser;
  • make such further recommendations as are necessary to provide a final and conclusive settlement of the complaint.

ix.  Where the complaint is determined to be of a frivolous, vindictive, or vexatious nature, the Employer will take appropriate action, which may include discipline up to and including termination.

x.  This procedure does not preclude an individual filing a complaint under the BC Human Rights Code. 

xi.  The complainant may withdraw the complaint at any time during this process by notifying the Director, Human Resources, in writing.

c)       List of Mediators and Independent Adjudicators

A list of mediators and independent adjudicators will be maintained and posted on the JIBC intranet.  The Employer may agree to use mediators or independent adjudicators not on this list in the interest of proceeding with the investigation in a timely manner.

4.     CONFIDENTIALITY

No documentation of the discrimination, harassment, bullying, or misuse of authority, including any materials resulting from mediation or investigation process, such as reports from the mediator, investigator, or independent adjudicator, will be placed on an employee’s personnel file.

Where a complaint has been filed, the names of the complainant(s) and respondent(s) and the circumstances of the complaint will not be disclosed to any person except where disclosure is necessary for the purpose of investigating and resolving the complaint, or where disclosure is required by law.

In the event that an investigation concludes that discrimination, harassment, bullying or misuse of authority did occur and where disciplinary action was taken, a letter indicating the level of discipline will be the only documentation to appear on an employee’s personnel file.  All other documentation related to the investigation shall be maintained in a confidential manner by Human Resources and, if applicable, the Union.

All parties who are privy to information or in possession of documentation pertaining to matters/incidents in the course of dealing with a complaint of discrimination, harassment, bullying or misuse of authority shall hold that information in strict confidence.  This shall include refraining from discussions and from releasing information in any form, beyond that contained in this policy or as required by law.

5.       RETALIATION

Retaliation against any individual who has filed a complaint, or who has been named as a respondent or witness in the complaint or who investigates the complaint according to the procedures outlined, will itself be an incident of discrimination, harassment, bullying, or misuse of authority and will be dealt with in accordance with these procedures.

6.     CONCLUSION

The JIBC policy and procedures demonstrate the commitment of the JIBC to ensuring that all employees, seconded staff, contractors and volunteers of the JIBC can work in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and misuse of authority.

Last updated August 4, 2015