Administrative Procedures

Workplace Violence and/or Harassment

Health & Safety AP 736

Background

The Superintendent is committed to building and preserving a safe, productive, and healthy working environment that is based on mutual respect by and for all employees. In pursuit of this goal, The Superintendent neither condones nor tolerates acts of violence or harassment against or by any employee.

Definitions

a)  Harassment: Shall mean any single incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying, or action by a person which the person knows or ought reasonably to know will or would cause offence or humiliation to a worker, or adversely affect the worker’s health and safety.

Harassment includes a sexual solicitation or advance, as well as conduct, comment, bullying, or action because of race, religious beliefs, colour, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Harassment does not include any reasonable conduct of an employer or supervisor in respect to the management of workers or a work site.

b)  Reprisal: Shall mean any act of retaliation, either direct or indirect.

c)  Violence: Shall mean, whether at a work site or work-related, the threatened, attempted, or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological injury or harm, and includes domestic or sexual violence.

d)  Work site: Shall refer to a location where a worker is or is likely to be engaged in any occupation and includes any vehicle or mobile equipment used by a worker in an occupation.

Procedures

With respect to Training and Education:

1. The Superintendent or designate shall ensure that all employees are trained and educated on violence and harassment in the workplace and that they are clear about the roles and responsibilities, as well as this Administrative Procedure. This training shall cover, at minimum, the following topics:

1.1.  How to recognize workplace violence and harassment;

1.2.  This Administrative Procedure, and workplace arrangements that effectively minimize or eliminate workplace violence and harassment;

1.3.  The appropriate response to workplace violence and harassment, including how to obtain assistance; and

1.4. Procedures for reporting, investigating, and documenting incidents of workplace violence and harassment.

2. A copy of this Administrative Procedure shall be publicly available through the Division website.

Regarding Hazard Assessment:

3. The Superintendent or designate shall conduct a hazard assessment in the workplace that identifies situations where risks of physical violence and harassment exist. The hazard assessment shall include the following factors:

3.1. Hiring procedures;

3.2. Potential work or work related sources of violence and harassment;

3.3. Work processes; and

3.4. The physical environment.

4. Once the hazard assessment is completed, the Superintendent or designate shall have identified:

4.1. Whether there are any aspects of the workplace that could increase the potential for violence or harassment;

4.2. Which individuals are at the highest risk; and

4.3. Where there is a need for controls.

With respect to Reporting Procedures:

Reporting Violence and Harassment

5. Any employee who is directly affected by or a witness to any incident of violence and harassment in the workplace should report the incident immediately to their site supervisor, or the human resources department.

6. Alternate reporting mechanisms shall be made available to employees in circumstances where the designated recipient of harassment complaints is the alleged harasser.

7. The Superintendent or designate shall investigate all incidents of violence or harassment and take actions to address the incident and prevent it from reoccurring.

7.1. The Superintendent or designate shall prepare a report that outlines the circumstances of the incident, and retain this record for two years; and

7.2. The Superintendent or designate shall ensure that the report is available upon request to an occupational health and safety officer.

8. Appropriate assistance shall be provided to any employee who is the victim of violence or harassment.

8.1. If a worker reports an injury or adverse symptom resulting from workplace violence or harassment, or is exposed to workplace violence or harassment, the Superintendent or designate shall advise the worker to consult a health professional of their choice for treatment or referral.

8.2. An employee who is likely to be exposed to domestic violence at the worksite is encouraged to advise their immediate supervisor and Director of Human Resources.

8.3. The Superintendent is committed to ensuring the protection and safety of the employee and will take reasonable precautions to do so.

Consideration for an Informal Procedure:

9. Any employee who has been the subject of violence and harassment can take the following actions:

9.1. Confront the alleged offender personally, or in writing, clearly stating what the unwelcome behaviour or action was and requesting that it stop immediately; or

9.2. Discuss the situation with the alleged offender’s supervisor, the alleged victim’s supervisor, or Director of Human Resources.

10. Any employee who is the victim of violence and harassment can and should, in all confidence and without fear of reprisal, personally report the occurrence to their school administrator, site supervisor, or Director of Human Resources.

Consideration for a Formal Procedure:

11. An employee who is the subject of violence and harassment can make a written complaint to their school administrator or site supervisor.

11.1. The written complaint must be delivered to their immediate manager, or Director of Human Resources if a conflict of interest exists, and it must include the following information:

11.1.1. The date and time of each incident being reported;

11.1.2. The nature of the violence or harassment;

11.1.3. The name of any persons involved in the incident;

11.1.4. The name of any persons who witnessed the incident; and

11.1.5. A full description of what occurred.

12. Once a written complaint has been received, The Superintendent or designate shall complete a thorough investigation.

12.1. Employees shall not be demoted, dismissed, disciplined, or denied a promotion, advancement, or employment opportunity because they lodged a complaint when they honestly believed they were the subject of violence and harassment or the threat of violence in the workplace.

Investigation Procedures:

13. An investigation by the Superintendent or designate shall include:

13.1. Informing the respondent of the complaint;

13.2. Interviewing the complainant, any persons involved in the incident, and any identified witnesses; and

13.3. Interviewing any other persons who may have knowledge of the incident.

14. Statements from all parties involved shall be taken and a decision by the Superintendent or designate shall be made.

14.1. If necessary, The Superintendent or designate may employ outside assistance or request the use of legal counsel.

15. Where the Superintendent or designate determines that violence and/or harassment have occurred, a written report of the remedial action will be given to the employees concerned, as appropriate.

16. A copy of the complaint detailing the complainant’s allegations shall be provided to the respondent and shall explain that:

16.1. The respondent may reply to the complainant’s allegations in writing;

16.2. The reply shall be made known to the complainant before the case proceeds; and

16.3. The Superintendent or designate shall take all measures to prevent any unnecessary disclosure of the incident and the identities of the parties.

17. The Superintendent or designate shall retain investigation reports for a minimum of two years after the incident.

18. If the complainant decides not to lay a formal complaint, senior management may decide that a formal complaint is required, which will be based on the investigation of the incident, and will file such documents against whom the complaint is laid.

Regarding Fraudulent or Malicious Complaints:

19. Unfounded, frivolous, or fraudulent allegations of violence and harassment may cause both the respondent, the Division and the Division’s staff significant damage and, therefore, if the Superintendent or designate determines that any employee has knowingly made false statements regarding an allegation of workplace violence or harassment, immediate disciplinary action shall be taken and may include immediate dismissal without further notice.

Regarding Confidentiality:

20. All records of violence or harassment and subsequent investigations are considered confidential and are strictly prohibited from being disclosed to anyone except to the extent required by law.

21. In cases where criminal proceedings are forthcoming, The Superintendent or designate shall assist police agencies, lawyers, insurance companies, and courts to the fullest extent.

22. The Superintendent or designate shall do everything possible to protect the privacy of the individuals involved and to ensure that complainants and respondents are treated fairly and respectfully.

22.1. The Superintendent or designate shall protect this privacy so long as doing so remains consistent with the enforcement of this Administrative Procedure and adherence to the law.

23. Neither the name of the person reporting the facts nor the circumstances surrounding them shall be disclosed to anyone whatsoever, unless such disclosure is necessary for an investigation or disciplinary action.

Reprisal:

24. This Administrative Procedure prohibits reprisals against individuals, acting in good faith, who report incidents of workplace violence and harassment or act as witnesses.

24.1. The Superintendent or designate shall take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent reprisals, threats of reprisal, or further violence and harassment.

Disciplinary Measures:

25. If The Superintendent or designate determines that any employee has been involved in a violent behaviour or unacceptable conduct related to another employee, immediate disciplinary action shall be taken.

25.1. Such disciplinary action may involve counselling, a formal warning, and other disciplinary measures, and could result in immediate dismissal without further notice.

Employee Roles and Responsibilities:

26. Employees shall assist in eliminating violence and harassment from the workplace, and shall comply with the following responsibilities:

26.1. All employees are personally accountable and responsible for complying with this Administrative Procedure;

26.2. Employees shall make every effort to prevent and eliminate violence and harassment in the work environment and to intervene immediately by advising a member of management if they observe a problem or if a problem is reported to them; and

26.3. Any employee who has been a victim of, or is at potential risk of domestic violence, is encouraged to advise human resources if they think that the aggressor may attempt to contact them at work;

26.3.1. The Division shall take all reasonable precautions to protect the employee from domestic violence that has followed them into the workplace.

With respect to Colleagues:

27. An employee who witnesses violence or harassment in the workplace to a colleague should perform the following actions:

27.1. Inform the victim that, in the opinion of the employee, violence or harassment was witnessed and that this is unacceptable (Support is often welcome);

27.2. If that person does not feel that they have been the victim of violence and harassment, then normally the incident should be considered closed;

27.3. If the employee feels comfortable doing so, the employee may inform the alleged offender that the perceived actions of the alleged offender are unacceptable; and

27.4. Encourage the victim to report the incident to their school administrator or site supervisor.

With respect to School Administration and Site Supervisors:

28. All School administrators and site supervisors have a legal responsibility for creating and maintaining a violence- and harassment-free workplace.

29. School administrators and/or site supervisors shall enforce this Administrative Procedure and ensure its application in the day-to-day operations of the Division by its employees.

30. School administrators and/or site supervisors shall be sensitive to the climate in the workplace and address potential problems before those problems become serious.

31. If a School administrator and/or a site supervisor becomes aware of violence and harassment in the workplace, and chooses to ignore it, that School administrators and/or site supervisors and others in the Division risk being named co-respondents in a complaint and may be found liable in legal proceedings brought about by the victim.

32. When an employee has asked their School administrators and/or site supervisors to deal with a violent incident, the School administrator and/or site supervisor shall:

32.1.  Support the employee without prejudice;

32.2.  Work with the employee and document the offensive action and have the employee sign a complaint; and

32.3.  Contact their school administrator, site supervisor or executive and provide details of the incident on behalf of the employee.

Review:

33. This Administrative Procedure and training procedures shall be reviewed and, if necessary, updated when an incident of violence or harassment occurs, upon recommendation from the Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee or representative or at very least every three years.

Special Circumstances:

34. If an employee has a legal court order (for example, a restraining order or “no-contact” order) against another individual, the employee is encouraged to notify their supervisor, and to supply a copy of that order to the human resources department.

34.1. This action may likely be required in instances where the employee strongly feels that the aggressor might attempt to contact that employee while at the workplace, in direct violation of the court order.

34.1.1. Such information shall be kept confidential.

35. If any visitor at the workplace is seen with a weapon, or is known to possess one, or makes a verbal threat or assault against an employee or another individual, employee witnesses must immediately contact the police, emergency response services, their immediate supervisor, and the human resources department.

 

Approved:

signature

Date Approved: October 1, 2019

Reference: Education Act: Preamble, 31, 32, 33, 35, 196, 197, 222
Alberta Human Rights Act
Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act
Employment Standards Code Occupational Health and Safety Act
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Human Rights Act
Criminal Code (Canada)
Individual’s Rights Protection Act Student Record Regulation (97/2019) ATA Code of Professional Conduct

Reviewed or Revised:
Executive: January, 2021

References shall be updated as required and do not require additional approval.