Respectful Workplace Policy (Anti-Harassment/Anti-Discrimination)

By-Law Number
CPOL.-396(a)-262
As Amended by

Legislative History: Replaces Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy Enacted September 19, 2017 (By-law No. CPOL.-155-407) and amended July 24, 2019 (By-law No. CPOL.-155(a)-384); Adopted December 10, 2019, in force and effect March 1, 2020 (By-law No. CPOL.-396-7); Amended August 10, 2021 (By-law No. CPOL.-396(a)-262)

Last Review Date: August 10, 2021

Service Area Lead: Director, People Services

1. Policy Statement

1.1 The Corporation of the City of London (“City”) is committed to providing a safe and supportive workplace in which the diversity, dignity, and perspectives of all individuals are valued and respected.

1.2 Harassment and discrimination in the workplace are prohibited by law. Under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, every person has a right to equal treatment in employment without discrimination and the right to be free from harassment in the workplace. Workplace measures to prevent and address workplace harassment are also required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

1.3 The City will not tolerate, ignore, or condone harassment, discrimination, or reprisal of any of its employees in the workplace by anyone, including other employees, elected officials, members of the public, customers/clients, volunteers, contractors, and consultants. Workplace harassment, discrimination, and reprisal are serious forms of misconduct that may result in corrective and and/or disciplinary actions, up to and including termination of employment.

2. Definitions

The following definitions are intended to assist employees in understanding terms referenced in this policy. To the extent definitions may not be identical to legal definitions, they shall be interpreted and applied in accordance with applicable legislation, including the Human Rights Code and Occupational Health and Safety Act.

2.1 Discrimination – Actions or behaviours that result in unfavourable treatment or which have a negative impact on an individual or group because of one or more of the prohibited grounds listed in the Human Rights Code.  Discrimination may be intentional or unintentional. It may involve direct actions that are outright discriminatory, or it may involve rules, practices or procedures that appear neutral, but disadvantage certain groups of people.

2.2 Disrespectful Behaviour – Failing or refusing, through words or actions, to treat others in a professional, courteous, civil, dignified, fair, and equitable manner.

2.3 Harassment – Engaging in offensive, hurtful, upsetting, or embarrassing comment or conduct that a person knows or ought reasonably to know is unwelcome. The fact that a person does not explicitly object to harassing behaviour, or appears to be going along with it, does not mean the behaviour is welcomed, consented to, or is not harassing. Harassment usually involves more than one incident or a pattern of behaviour, but a single incident may be sufficiently serious, offensive, or harmful to constitute harassment.

Harassment may be:

a) Personal – directed at an individual(s) but not based on any prohibited ground listed in the Human Rights Code; or

b) Code-based – based on one or more of the prohibited grounds listed in the Human Rights Code. Code-based harassment is also a form of discrimination.

Harassment of a worker in the workplace, including sexual harassment of a worker in a workplace, is collectively referred to as “workplace harassment” for the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

2.4 Poisoned Work Environment – A hostile, humiliating, or uncomfortable workplace that is created by comments or conduct (including comments or conduct that are condoned or allowed to continue when brought to the attention of management) that intimidate, demean, or ridicule a person or group. The comments or conduct need not be directed at a specific person, and may be from any person, regardless of position or status. A single comment or action, if sufficiently serious, may create a poisoned work environment. Pornography, pin-ups, offensive cartoons, insulting slurs or jokes, and malicious gossip are examples of comments and conduct that can “poison the workplace” for employees.

2.5 Prohibited Grounds – The Human Rights Code prohibits harassment and discrimination in employment based on one or more of the following grounds:

  • race
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • colour
  • ethnic origin
  • citizenship
  • creed (religion, including atheism)
  • sex (includes pregnancy and breast feeding)
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • gender expression
  • age
  • record of offences (criminal conviction for a provincial offence or for an offence for which a pardon has been received)
  • marital status (includes married, single, widowed, divorced, separated, living together in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage, whether in a same-sex or opposite sex relationship)
  • family status (such as being in a parent-child relationship)
  • disability (includes mental, physical, developmental, or learning disabilities)
  • association or relationship with a person identified by one of the listed grounds
  • perception that one of the listed grounds applies, whether or not it actually does

2.6  Reprisal – Any act of retaliation or revenge against a person for:

  • Raising a concern or making a complaint under this policy (whether on their own behalf or on behalf of another)
  • Participating or cooperating in an investigation or other complaint resolution process under this policy
  • Associating with or assisting a person identified in the above bullets.

2.7 Sexual Harassment – Harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and includes:

a) Engaging in offensive, hurtful, upsetting, or embarrassing comment or conduct because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that a person knows or ought reasonably to know is unwelcome;

b) Making a sexual solicitation (i.e. request) or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome; and

c) Retaliating against or threatening to retaliate against an individual for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance where the retaliation or threat of retaliation is by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the individual.

Sexual harassment of a worker in the workplace is referred to as “workplace sexual harassment” for the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

2.8 Supervisor – When referenced in this policy means a management supervisor.

2.9 Workplace – Includes all sites, facilities, and other locations where the business, work, or social activities of the City take place (See also the Applicability section below).

3. Applicability

3.1 This policy applies to:

  • All City employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary, probationary, and casual employees
  • Elected officials
  • Volunteers (including members of Advisory Committees, Special Committees and Task Forces)
  • Interns and students on placements
  • Contractors and consultants acting on behalf of the City.

 3.2 Members of the public, including visitors to City facilities and individuals accessing services or conducting business with the City, are expected to adhere to the standards of conduct set out in this policy, including refraining from workplace harassment and discrimination of employees, elected officials, and persons acting on behalf of the City.

3.3 This policy applies at all City workplaces, whether during or outside of normal working hours and whether at or away from the worksite. This includes:

  • All City facilities and worksites
  • All City vehicles
  • Any other location where City employees are performing work-related duties or carrying out responsibilities on behalf of the City, including work-related travel and off-site meetings, conferences, seminars, and training.
  • Locations at which work-related social functions take place, including formal events officially sanctioned by the City and informal after-work social gatherings where behaviours could have an impact on the workplace.
  • Social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and internet sites, where posts may be connected to the workplace or could have an impact on the workplace or working relationships.

3.4 This policy also applies to communications by telephone, cell phone, email, text message, or other electronic instant messaging platforms where the communication may be connected to the workplace or have an impact on the workplace or working relationships, whether the computer, phone, or other electronic device used to make the communication is a personal or corporate-issued device.

4. The Policy

4.1 Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

a) Set expectations and standards of behaviour for a respectful, safe, and supportive workplace;

b) Define behaviours that may be offensive and prohibited by law and/or this policy.

c) Clarify roles and responsibilities with respect to interpersonal behaviour in the workplace.

d) Outline measures to prevent and address prohibited behaviour, including harassment, discrimination, and reprisal.

e) Address the City's obligations under applicable employment laws, including the Human Rights Code and Occupational Health and Safety Act.

4.2 Expected Behaviour

Employees will interact with one another, members of the public, and all others in the workplace in a professional, courteous, civil, dignified, fair, and equitable manner.

4.3 Prohibited Behaviour

The following behaviours are prohibited in the workplace:

  • Disrespectful Behaviour
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment (Personal and Code-based), including Sexual Harassment
  • Reprisal

See Appendix A for examples of the prohibited behaviours listed above.

4.4 Roles and Responsibilities

a) Creating and maintaining a respectful workplace is a shared responsibility. Every individual to whom this policy applies, as well as individuals who attend at City workplaces, or who access services or conduct business with the City, are expected and required to abide by the standards of behaviour set out in this policy.

b) Employees who are subjected to or witness prohibited behaviour in the workplace should consult the Respectful Workplace Dispute Resolution and Complaint Procedures (“Resolution/Complaint Procedures” – Appendix B) which outline various options available to address and resolve such behaviour.

4.4.1 All Employees

Every employee has a responsibility to create and maintain a respectful workplace. This includes to:

a) Ensure words and actions are consistent with this policy.

b)  Raise concerns as soon as possible of prohibited behaviour.

c) Accept responsibility for their workplace behaviours and their impact on others.

d) Cooperate in investigations and handling of alleged prohibited behaviour upon request.

e) Maintain confidentiality related to investigations of alleged prohibited behaviour.

f) Participate in training associated with this policy.

4.4.2 Managers/Supervisors

Managers and supervisors have additional responsibilities to create and maintain respectful workplaces and must act immediately on observations or allegations of prohibited behaviour.

A manager or supervisor may be held responsible if they are aware of an incident of prohibited behaviour but do not take steps to resolve or address it.

Managers and Supervisors must:

a) Ensure work-related practices/procedures in their areas are free from barriers and do not discriminate against groups or individuals.

b) Set a good example by ensuring their own words and conduct adhere to this policy.

c) Be aware of what constitutes prohibited behaviour and the procedures in place for addressing and resolving such behaviour.

d) Act promptly to address observations or allegations of prohibited behaviour.

e) Consult and work cooperatively with Human Rights and People Services as needed.

f) Keep a detailed record of any violations of this policy and corrective actions taken and report this information to Human Rights as required.

g) Support training and awareness activities related to this policy.

h) Ensure this policy is distributed and posted in a location that is easily accessible by all employees and any other individuals who enter the workplace and ensure contractors and consultants who enter the workplace are aware of this policy.

i) Implement disciplinary/corrective actions and workplace restoration measures as required.

j) Monitor the workplace where prohibited behaviour has occurred to ensure it has stopped.

k)  Provide appropriate support to all those in their work area affected by prohibited behaviour, including witnesses.

4.4.3 Non-management Supervisors

Non-management supervisors must likewise set a good example by ensuring their behaviour complies with this policy and must report all observations, concerns, and/or complaints of prohibited behaviour to their supervisor/manager or Human Rights immediately to be addressed in accordance with the Resolution/Complaint Procedures (Appendix B).

4.4.4 Enterprise Supports Service Area

4.4.4.1 Human Rights Division (Human Rights)

The focus of Human Rights is to assist in preventing, correcting, and remedying prohibited behaviours. Human Rights does not advocate for, act on behalf of, or represent any party in a dispute (complainant, respondent, or management). All complaints to Human Rights will be dealt with in an unbiased manner.

 Human Rights is responsible for:

a) Reviewing and recommending updates to this policy.

b) Providing information to employees, including to managers and supervisors, regarding this policy and the various options available for raising, addressing, and resolving concerns and complaints of prohibited behaviour.

c) Making referrals to agencies for counselling and assistance when required.

d) Receiving complaints, including conducting intakes.

e) Recommending appropriate interim measures, and complaint resolution and investigation options.

f) Conducting independent investigations.

g) Assisting in implementing resolutions of complaints.

h) All tracking of concerns and complaints under this policy.

4.4.4.2 People Services Division (People Services) 

People Services is responsible for:

a) Removing barriers in hiring and employment policies, practices, and procedures that may have the effect of discriminating against groups or individuals.

b) Reporting all complaints of prohibited behaviour to Human Rights, including grievances alleging harassment, discrimination and/or reprisal filed under a collective agreement.

c) Consulting with Human Rights as required with respect to alleged prohibited behaviour.

d) Ensuring this policy is distributed and posted in a location that is easily accessible by all employees and any other individuals who enter the workplace and ensure contractors and consultants who enter the workplace are aware of this policy.

e) Providing training on this policy and related practices and procedures.

f) Providing support to managers and supervisors in responding to and addressing matters under this policy.

g) Making referrals to agencies for counselling and assistance where required.

4.4.4.3 Emergency Management and Security Division (Security)

The focus of Security is to protect and promote the safety and security of City workplaces, employees, and the public by assisting in preventing and addressing prohibited behaviours where safety may be at risk. Security is responsible for:

a) Providing advice and assistance to address concerns and complaints of prohibited behaviour against a member of the public or where the physical safety of employees or others may be at risk.

b) Making referrals to agencies for counselling and assistance when required.

c) Receiving complaints alleging a member of the public has engaged in prohibited behaviour, including conducting intakes and determining appropriate interim measures.

d) Determining informal actions and conducting independent investigations of complaints of prohibited behaviour against  a member of the public.

e) Consulting and working cooperatively with Human Rights and People Services as required.

f) Recommending and implementing appropriate corrective action involving members of the public when required.

g) Reporting prohibited behaviour by members of the public and corrective actions taken to Human Rights as required.  

4.4.5 Respectful Workplace Ombudsperson (RWO)

The RWO is available as a neutral and confidential resource for employees to obtain information regarding their rights and obligations under this policy. The RWO advocates for fair and transparent processes under this policy and related practices and procedures but does not act as an advocate for or provide legal advice to individuals.

The RWO will:

a) Receive and respond on a confidential basis to questions from employees regarding this policy.

b) Provide assistance to employees as they proceed through the Resolution/Complaint Procedures.

c)Review complaints from employees related to processes and procedures undertaken by the City under this policy and make recommendations to the City Manager for improvements.

d) Report annually to the City Manager about their interactions with employees related to this policy and identify themes and potential options for action and improvement.

4.4.6 Joint Health and Safety Committees

The City's Joint Health and Safety Committees will be consulted and may provide input and feedback with respect to the implementation and maintenance of this policy and related processes and procedures in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  

4.4.7 Unions/Associations

Union/Association officials are available for confidential consultation and to provide representation to both complainants and respondents if they are Union/Association members. Union/Association officials can also make a referral to agencies for counselling and assistance where required.

4.4.8 Community Agencies

Community agencies are available to provide confidential advice to individuals affected by complaints.

4.5 Communication

This policy shall be posted on the City's website, City's intranet, and in the City's workplaces.

4.6 Respectful Workplace Training

Employees, elected officials, interns, and students on placement, will receive mandatory training on this policy upon assuming their respective roles in the workplace. Thereafter, as appropriate, they will receive refresher or in-service training with respect to specific rights and/or obligations arising from the Human Rights Code and/or the Occupational Health and Safety Act and will be reminded of the complaint mechanisms to enforce those rights and any substantial changes.

4.7 Policy Review Process

The City is committed to continuing to enhance its respectful workplace policies, practices, and procedures. This policy will be reviewed as often as necessary, but at least annually, to ensure it remains current and is appropriately implemented. Employees and their representatives are encouraged to provide input and feedback to Human Rights  People Services, or the RWO.

4.8 Policy Implementation

Implementation of this policy will be in accordance with applicable Council and/or City by-laws, policies and procedures, legislation, and collective agreement provisions.

4.9 Related Resources

 

Appendix A: Examples of Prohibited Behaviours

The following are some examples of the prohibited behaviours listed in Section 4.3 above.

Disrespectful Behaviour

Examples could include:

  • Teasing or joking that intimidates, embarrasses, or humiliates
  • Belittling and use of profanity
  • Using sarcasm or a harsh tone
  • Deliberately expressing or exhibiting disinterest when an employee is speaking
  • Spreading gossip or rumours that damage one’s reputation
  • Condescending or patronizing behaviour
  • Actions that invade privacy or one’s personal workspace
  • Deliberately excluding an employee from basic civilities (e.g., saying “good morning”), relevant work activities, or decision making.

Any of the behaviours listed above could also constitute discrimination (if based on one or more of the prohibited grounds) or harassment (if the behaviour is repeated, occurs in combination with other prohibited behaviours, or is severe).  

Discrimination

If based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, examples could include:

  • Excluding an employee from workplace activities
  • Refusing to work with another employee
  • Denial of hiring, promotion, work assignment, career development or training
  • Failing or refusing to accommodate short of undue hardship
  • Denial of services to any individual or group of individuals.

Harassment

Examples of Personal Harassment could include:

  • Angry shouting/yelling
  • Abusive or violent language
  • Physical, verbal, or e-mail threats or intimidation
  • Aggressive behaviours (e.g. slamming doors, throwing objects)
  • Targeting individual(s) in humiliating practical jokes
  • Excluding, shunning, or impeding work performance
  • Negative blogging or cyberbullying
  • Retaliation, bullying, or sabotaging
  • Unreasonable criticism or demands
  • Insults or name calling
  • Public humiliation
  • Communicating via any means (e.g. verbal, electronic mail, voice mail, print, social media posts, or radio) that is demeaning, insulting, humiliating, or mocking.

Examples of Code-based Harassment could include (if based on one or more of the prohibited grounds):

  • Insulting, offensive, humiliating or mocking remarks, gestures, jokes, slurs, or innuendos
  • Name calling, including using derogatory or offensive terms or language
  • Refusing to work or interact with an employee
  • Attaining, viewing, retaining, or distributing insulting, derogatory, or offensive information from the internet or other sources
  • Vandalism of an individual’s property
  • Interference with a person’s ability to perform their work responsibilities
  • Offensive, derogatory, insulting, or demeaning communication via any means (e.g. verbal, electronic mail, voice mail, print, social media posts, or radio)
  • Displaying pictures, graffiti or other materials that are derogatory or offensive.

Harassment Does Not Include:

  • Reasonable performance of management or supervisory functions, including:

- performance/probation reviews/appraisals

- performance management (including coaching, counselling, discipline)

- organizational changes/restructuring

- shift/vacation scheduling

- work direction

- work assignments/work location.

  • Occasional disagreements or personality conflicts between co-workers.
  • Stressful events encountered in the performance of legitimate duties.
  • A single comment or action unless it is serious and has a lasting harmful effect.

Sexual Harassment

Examples could include:

  • Comments, jokes, slurs, innuendos or taunting about a person’s body, attire, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
  • Comments or conduct of a sexual nature (verbal, written, physical).
  • Jokes of a sexual nature which cause awkwardness or embarrassment.
  • Negative stereotypical comments based on gender, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Gender related comments about an individual’s physical characteristics or mannerisms.
  • Displaying or distributing pornographic pictures or other offensive material.
  • Inappropriate touching, gestures, leering, staring or sexual flirtations.
  • Sexual assault (also an offence under the Criminal Code).
  • Persistent unaccepted solicitations for dates (including unwelcome contact subsequent to the end of an intimate relationship).
  • Unwelcome solicitation(s) made by a person in a position to confer or deny a workplace benefit or advancement on the recipient.
  • Unwelcome comments or questions about a person’s sex life.

Reprisal

Examples could include:

  • Issuing discipline, changing work location or hours, demoting, denying of advancement or promotional opportunities, or threatening to carry out such actions if done as an act of retaliation or revenge.
  • Bullying, threats, or other intimidating behaviour.
  • Making false allegations of workplace misconduct.
  • Pressuring an individual to withdraw or change a complaint or witness statement.

Appendix B: Respectful Workplace Dispute Resolution and Complaint Procedures

1. Purpose

These procedures are intended to:

a) Outline internal options available for employees to raise concerns of prohibited behaviour for resolution and/or investigation.

b) Inform managers and supervisors of actions required to address concerns and complaints of prohibited behaviour.

c) Inform employees of what they can expect to occur in the event they raise a concern of prohibited behaviour, or are a witness to, or accused of such behaviour.

d) Inform employees of available supports to assist them in raising concerns of prohibited behaviour or in the event they are accused of, or witness such behaviour.

e) Outline actions that will be taken to prevent, correct, and remedy incidents of prohibited behaviour.

2. Definitions

For the purposes of these procedures,

2.1 Complainant – A person(s) alleging they have been subjected to prohibited behaviour under this policy.

Note: Complaints of prohibited behaviour will be accepted from any source that provides reasonable grounds for concern (e.g. witnesses, unions/associations, or other third parties). These individuals will not be considered “complainants” for the purpose of these Resolution/Complaint Procedures or the City's Formal Investigation Process.

2.2 Prohibited Behaviour – Behaviour in the workplace that is prohibited by this policy (see Policy, Section 4.3 above).

2.3 Respondent – The person(s) who is alleged to have engaged in prohibited behaviour.

2.4 Respectful Workplace Response Team – Shall be comprised of the City Manager, relevant Deputy City Manager, Director, People Services, or their designate(s), and a member of the City Solicitor’s Office.

3. Complaints Involving the City Manager/Deputy City Managers/Director, People Services/Human Rights Intake Administrator

a) Complaints received through these Resolution/Complaint Procedures alleging the City Manager has engaged in prohibited conduct (alone or in conjunction with another respondent(s)) shall be forwarded to the Director of People Services or the City Solicitor as soon as possible. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Director of People Services or the City Solicitor will immediately refer the complaint to an external third party.

b) Complaints received through these Resolution/Complaint Procedures alleging a Deputy City Manager, the Director, People Services, or the Human Rights Intake Administrator (alone or in conjunction with another respondent(s) other than the City Manager) has engaged in prohibited behaviour shall be forwarded to the City Manager as soon as possible. Upon receipt of a complaint, the City Manager will immediately refer the complaint to an external third party.

c) The external third party will perform all the functions assigned to People Services and/or Human Rights as described in this procedure and the Formal Investigation Process.

d) In the case of the City Manager, if the external third party determines that a formal investigation is required, they will provide the investigation report and their recommendations, if any, to the Committee designated by the Municipal Council to deal with such matters. The Committee, after consultation with the external third party and such other external and/or internal resources as appropriate and required (e.g. external legal counsel, member of the City Solicitor’s Office, Director, People Services), shall make recommendations to the Municipal Council relating to corrective and/or disciplinary actions, and the Municipal Council shall consider, adopt or otherwise deal with the recommendations from the Committee.

e) In the case of a Deputy City Manager, Director, People Services, and the Human Rights Intake Administrator, if the external third party determines that a formal investigation is required, they will provide the investigation report and their recommendations, if any, to the City Manager. The City Manager, after consultation with such other external and/or internal resources as appropriate and required (e.g. external legal counsel, member of the City Solicitor’s Office, Director, People Services) will determine or, where required, will recommend to the Committee designated by the Municipal Council to deal with such matters, appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action.

In all other respects, the Resolution/Complaint Procedures below will apply to the processing of the complaint.

4. Complaints Involving a Member of Council (Including the Mayor)

a) Complaints received through these Resolution/Complaint Procedures alleging a Member of Council has engaged in prohibited conduct shall be forwarded to the Director, People Services as soon as possible. In the event the Director, People Services, determines that a formal investigation of the complaint is required, they will immediately refer the complaint to the Integrity Commissioner to conduct an investigation in accordance with the Integrity Commissioner’s procedures. Where such a request is made to the Integrity Commissioner, the Director, People Services shall be the complainant for the purposes of the Integrity Commissioner’s procedures.

b) Where the Integrity Commissioner conducts an investigation, the Integrity Commissioner will provide results to the Director, People Services in accordance with the Integrity Commissioner’s procedures. Based on the Integrity Commissioner’s reporting, the Director, People Services will provide the complainant with a written summary of the findings.

c) Where there are findings of a violation of this policy, the Director, People Services will refer the findings to the Respectful Workplace Response Team to implement appropriate corrective action to ensure the behaviour stops in accordance with section 7.4 below. 

d)  As noted in Section 7.10 below, other complaint avenues for raising concerns of prohibited behaviour by a Member of Council may be available, including directly to the Integrity Commissioner as provided for in the Code of Conduct for Members of Council.

 In all other respects, the Resolution/Complaint Procedures below will apply to the processing of the complaint.

5. Complaints Involving Members of the Public Attending at City Workplaces and/or Accessing City Services

a) The Director, Emergency Management and Security, or designate, in addition to the individuals listed in sections 6.1 and 6.2 below, is available to provide advice, guidance and assistance to employees and supervisors/managers regarding available options to raise and resolve concerns of prohibited behaviour by a member of the public.

b) The Director, Emergency Management and Security, or designate, in consultation with Human Rights as needed, may also determine an appropriate informal course of action that may effectively resolve a complaint against a member of the public in a timely and fair manner as outlined in section 6.3 below. All findings of harassment, discrimination, and/or reprisal determined through informal action, as well as any corrective actions taken, shall be reported to Human Rights.

c) In addition to the Director, People Services and in accordance with section 6.5 below, the Director, Emergency Management and Security or designate, in consultation with Human Rights as needed, may determine that further inquiry into a complaint of prohibited conduct against a member of the public is necessary and, if so, a formal investigation of the matter will be conducted in accordance with the City’s Formal Investigation Process.

d) Where there are findings of a violation of this policy, corrective action shall be determined in accordance with section 7.4 below.

e) The Director, Emergency Management and Security or designate, shall report all findings of harassment, discrimination, and/or reprisal determined through formal investigation, as well as any corrective actions taken, to Human Rights.

In all other respects, the Resolution/Complaint Procedures set out below will apply to the processing of a complaint against a member of the public.

6. Resolution/Complaint Procedures

a) There are a number of internal options available to raise and resolve concerns of prohibited behaviour under this policy, including:

  1. Consultation – Obtaining Advice and Assistance
  2. Individual Action – Talking to the Respondent
  3. Informal Action – Dispute Resolution without Formal Investigation
  4. Mediation
  5. Formal Investigation

b) Whether all options are available or appropriate in a particular case will depend on the nature of the concerning behaviour and/or the parties involved. In all cases, concerns should be raised and addressed as soon as possible. Where appropriate, and especially when raised right away, individual, or informal actions can bring about a quick resolution and prevent escalation of workplace disputes.

6.1  Consultation – Obtaining Advice and Assistance

Employees who believe they have witnessed or been subjected to prohibited behaviour may benefit from having access to information and advice before deciding how to proceed with a concern. Employees may consult any member of management or Human Rights or People Services staff. These individuals have responsibility to take action to resolve and stop prohibited behaviour (see Roles and Responsibilities – Policy, Section 4.4). They can provide advice, assistance, coaching, and referrals to assist employees in addressing the dispute themselves where appropriate to do so. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the concern raised, these individuals may be obligated to initiate an investigation even if the complainant does not wish to pursue that option.

The RWO is also available to provide neutral, confidential advice and information regarding available resolution and complaint options (see Policy, Section 4.4.5).

Employees who are members of a bargaining unit may also consult their Union/Association representative.

6.2  Individual Action – Talking to the Respondent

a) If an employee believes they are being subjected to prohibited behaviour and there are no immediate health or safety concerns, it is recommended the respondent be told as soon as possible that their behaviour is unwelcome and must stop.

b) It is not necessary for the employee to advise the respondent directly. The communication may be done verbally, via e-mail, transcribed, or other suitable means. It is recommended that if the communication is done verbally, what was said, as well as the date, time, and place, be documented. Human Rights and People Services staff, a Union/Association representative, any member of management, or a trusted friend may assist.

c) It is recommended that the complainant maintain a detailed record of incidents of prohibited behaviour, including the number of occurrences, date(s), time(s), place(s), nature of the offensive behaviour(s), names of individuals who may have observed the incidents and all actions taken.

d) If addressing the respondent directly could raise health or safety risks, escalate the dispute, or is not appropriate, complainants may take other resolution options outlined in these procedures.

6.3 Informal Action – Dispute Resolution without Formal Investigation

a) If individual action is not appropriate or if the prohibited behaviour continues after asking the person to stop, the employee shall advise their manager/supervisor or Human Rights of their complaint, preferably in writing. Where the employee’s manager/supervisor is involved in the complaint, the employee may advise a more senior member of management. Managers and supervisors will report all complaints of behaviour that may constitute harassment, discrimination, or reprisal to Human Rights as soon as possible. When uncertain, managers/supervisors should consult Human Rights for guidance.

b) Where the prohibited behaviour alleged is not harassment, discrimination, or reprisal, the manager or supervisor in consultation with Human Rights, as needed, and with the parties to the dispute, if appropriate, may determine an appropriate informal course of action that will effectively resolve the complaint in a timely and fair manner without the need for formal investigation. If the prohibited behaviour warrants disciplinary action, the supervisor or manager must consult with Human Rights or People Services staff before issuing discipline. The manager or supervisor shall document and report to Human Rights any informal action taken, including any corrective/disciplinary action(s) implemented, to resolve the complaint.

c) Where the alleged prohibited behaviour may constitute harassment, discrimination, or reprisal, the Director, People Services, or designate, in consultation with Human Rights, and with the complainant if appropriate, will determine whether an informal course of action may be appropriate.

i) Where the alleged misconduct is minor in nature.

ii) Where all the facts necessary for resolution are known without the need for further inquiry.

iii) Where no other resources or special expertise are required for an impartial and timely resolution.

iv) Where the alleged misconduct is acknowledged by the respondent, the parties to the complaint are in agreement as to how to effectively resolve the issues, and the agreed upon resolution is acceptable to the appropriate manager(s) and the Director, People Services or designate.

d) Informal action may include, among other actions:

i) Consulting, advising, meeting with and/or interviewing those involved in the complaint (i.e., an informal review/investigation).

ii) Reviewing documentary evidence (e.g., emails).

iii) Communication of findings to the parties to the complaint and making recommendations to remedy concerns.

iv) A facilitated discussion to resolve the issues.

e) The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to conduct an investigation that is appropriate in the circumstances of all incidents and complaints of workplace harassment. Therefore, options for informal action that do not include investigation will not be available for complaints of workplace harassment until after an appropriate investigation has been completed.

f) Where there are findings of prohibited behaviour determined through informal action, communication of those findings will be in accordance with the Communication of Findings section of the City's Formal Investigation Process.

6.4  Mediation

a) Mediation is a form of informal action. It is a voluntary process whereby the complainant and respondent meet with a trained mediator to determine whether the complaint can be resolved in a mutually satisfactory manner.

b) Mediation is not appropriate in all circumstances.  For example, when there are allegations of severe discrimination or harassment which, if substantiated, would result in disciplinary action, or where there are potential health or safety concerns. If the Director, People Services or designate, in consultation with Human Rights , deems mediation appropriate, it will be offered to the parties but will only be conducted with the consent of both the complainant and the respondent.

c) It is preferable that mediation be attempted prior to a formal investigation but will remain available to the parties throughout the investigation process. Where workplace harassment is alleged, mediation will only be available, if deemed appropriate, after an investigation is completed as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

d) During the mediation process, the complainant and the respondent may, if desired, be accompanied by a Union/Association representative or a trusted friend.

e) If a mediated settlement is reached, the terms of the settlement shall be reduced to writing and signed by the complainant, respondent, and the mediator. If the settlement requires any action on the part of the City, the agreement of the Director, People Services or designate will be required.

Discussions at the mediation will be treated as carried out with a view to coming to a settlement. Discussions will be treated as privileged and confidential to the full extent permitted by law.

6.5  Formal Investigation

If mediation or other informal options to resolve the complaint are not appropriate or are unsuccessful or where the Director, People Services or designate, in consultation with Human Rights, determines that further inquiry is necessary, a formal investigation into the matter will be conducted.

Corporate-initiated Investigations: In circumstances where a complaint is made by someone other than the alleged victim, the City may conduct a formal investigation where the Director, People Services or designate, in consultation with Human Rights, deems it appropriate, including where allegations of harassment or discrimination warrant further action/investigation or where the alleged victim does not wish to submit a complaint. The City may also conduct a formal investigation where there is information to suggest the existence of an outstanding specific or systemic problem in the workplace.

Formal investigations and communication of the findings from such investigations will be conducted in accordance with the City's Formal Investigation Process.

7. General Provisions

7.1  Refusal to Act or Investigate

  • The behaviour alleged, if true, would not be a breach of this policy.
  • The complaint is anonymous and there is insufficient information to warrant any or further steps.
  • The complaint is vexatious or made in bad faith (see Section 7.5 below).
  • Another complaint avenue has been pursued or engaged regarding the same or a related concern/complaint.
  • Having regard to all of the circumstances, further investigation of the matter is unnecessary.

7.2 Interim Measures

a) In certain circumstances such as where health or safety is at issue, it may be necessary to take immediate measures. In such a case, interim measures shall be determined by the Director, People Services, or designate, in consultation, where appropriate, with Human Rights, other members of the Respectful Workplace Response Team, Director, Emergency Management and Security, and/or the London Police Service. Interim measures may include relocating a party or placing a party on a non-disciplinary suspension with pay pending the resolution of the complaint or outcome of the investigation. The Director, Emergency Management and Security, or designate, in consultation, where appropriate, with Human Rights, other members of the Respectful Workplace Response Team, and/or the London Police Service, shall determine interim measures with respect to members of the public. The implementation of interim measures does not mean that conclusions have been reached relating to the allegations.

7.3 Support for Parties

a) The City recognizes that involvement in a workplace investigation may be stressful and emotionally upsetting. Complainants, respondents, witnesses, and other affected employees may access the counselling services and support provided by the City’s employee assistance provider. Additionally, complainants may wish to access counselling and support through outside agencies.

b) Parties to a complaint also have the right to be accompanied by a support person of their choice during meetings relating to a complaint made pursuant to these procedures, including their Union/Association representative, if applicable, or a trusted friend (e.g., another manager if they are a management employee). Where the Human Rights Intake Administrator/investigator is of the opinion that the presence of the support person is inappropriate (e.g., they have a conflict) or is hindering the process, the relevant party may select another support person provided that doing so does not hinder or unduly delay the meeting/process.

c) As these procedures are intended as an internal means of addressing prohibited behaviour outside of more formal legal proceedings, parties are not entitled to select legal counsel as their support person.

7.4 Corrective Action and/or Disciplinary Action

a) Where a finding of a violation of this policy that does not constitute harassment, discrimination, or reprisal has been made, the applicable Division Manager, in consultation with the Director, People Services, or designate, will determine appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary actions.

b) Where a finding of harassment, discrimination, or reprisal in violation of this policy has been made, the Respectful Workplace Response Team will determine appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary actions.

c) Where it is determined that corrective or disciplinary action is to be taken against an employee of the City, such action may include the following:

  • An apology
  • Coaching or counselling
  • Education or training
  • Warning
  • Suspension or leave without pay
  • Demotion
  • Transfer
  • Termination of employment

d) The appropriate manager or supervisor will implement corrective or disciplinary actions to be taken against an employee.

e) Where it is determined that corrective action is to be taken against members of Council, volunteers (including members of Advisory Committees, Special Committees, and Task Forces), students on placements, contractors, consultants, members of the public, including City clients or customers, the City will take such corrective action as is reasonable in the circumstances and permitted by law to ensure the prohibited behaviour stops. This may include barring the person from City facilities or discontinuing business with contractors or consultants. The Director, Emergency Management and Security or designate will be consulted with respect to determining any corrective action to be taken against members of the public.

f) The City may also implement any systemic remedies it deems appropriate.

7.5 Vexatious/Bad Faith Complaints

Where it is determined that the complainant has made a vexatious or bad faith complaint or an individual makes allegations knowing them to be false, the Respectful Workplace Response Team will take appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action which may include the same corrective and/or disciplinary actions noted above.

A complaint is vexatious or made in bad faith if it is made for the purpose of annoying, embarrassing or harassing the respondent, out of spite or vindictiveness, or the complainant is engaging in improper behaviour such as fraud, deception, or intentional misrepresentation.

A complaint that is made in good faith but is not substantiated does not constitute a vexatious or bad faith complaint.

7.6 Timing of Complaint

A complaint under these procedures should be made as soon as possible after the prohibited behaviour occurred and no later than one year after the last incident occurred unless there are reasons why it was not possible to bring it forward sooner. Where failure to make a complaint in a timely fashion affects the ability of the City to conduct a full and complete investigation, the City may decline to deal with the complaint.

7.7 Timing of Completion of Actions/Investigation

The City will complete any informal actions or formal investigations pursuant to these procedures in a timely manner and within three (3) months from the date of receiving a complaint/initiating an investigation, unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. illness, complex investigation) warranting a longer period. The Human Rights Intake Administrator/investigator, supervisor, or manager responsible for handling a complaint under these procedures will update the parties to the complaint on a regular basis (approximately every two to three weeks) as to the status of their complaint and anticipated next steps.

7.8 Confidentiality

a) The administration of these procedures will be in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“MFIPPA”). All complaints received under these procedures will be considered strictly confidential subject to the City's obligation to safeguard employees, to conduct a thorough investigation, take appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action, or to otherwise disclose information as required by law. The parties to the complaint and any witnesses are also expected to maintain confidentiality. Unwarranted breaches of confidentiality will result in corrective and/or disciplinary action.

7.9 Complaint Records

a) Where an investigation results in corrective and/or disciplinary action against an employee, a record of such action will be placed in the employee’s People Services file. Where there is insufficient evidence to prove that prohibited conduct occurred, no record of the complaint shall be placed in the respondent’s People Services file.

b) All records pertaining to enquiries and complaints under this policy will be kept in confidential storage separate from employees’ People Services files. All records will be subject to the provisions of MFIPPA as noted above.

7.10 Other Avenues of Complaint

a) In addition to these internal resolution and complaint procedures, there may be other avenues available to pursue complaints of prohibited behaviour. Depending on the nature of the behaviour at issue and the parties involved, other complaint avenues may include an Application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, a complaint to the Ministry of Labour, an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, a civil action, a criminal complaint, a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner, and a grievance pursuant to the terms of an applicable collective agreement.

b) These resolution/complaint procedures are not intended to interfere with or restrict employees’ rights to pursue any other available avenue(s) of complaint, including pursuant to the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Where appropriate and/or required by law, the City will conduct its own independent investigation into the allegations and make its own determination in accordance with this policy even when another avenue of complaint is pursued. This includes circumstances where there may be a related criminal proceeding.

Last modified:Wednesday, October 20, 2021