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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
AP 410 - Workplace Violence & Harassment

Background
All employees, students, contractors, and volunteers have a right to work and learn in an environment free of discrimination, harassment and violence in compliance with The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and The Saskatchewan Employment Act.  Horizon School Division will take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent workplace violence and harassment and stop it if it occurs.

Horizon School Division is committed to creating and maintaining a positive work environment where all employees, students and volunteers are treated with respect, dignity and fairness.  Any act of violence or harassment committed by or against any worker, student or member of the public is unacceptable and such conduct will not be tolerated. We are committed to implementing this Administrative Procedure and to ensure that it is effective in preventing and stopping violence and harassment of any kind, including taking corrective action where it occurs.

  • A copy of this Administrative Procedure will be provided to all employees as part of their initial employment package.
  • A copy of this Administrative Procedure will be posted on our Division website.
1.  Definitions
1.1.  Pursuant to The Saskatchewan Employment Act, harassment means any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action or gesture by a person that either:
  • is based on race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, physical size or weight, age, nationality, ancestry or place of origin; or
  • adversely affects the worker’s psychological or physical well-being and that the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, would cause a worker to be humiliated or intimidated (sometimes referred to as personal harassment); and that constitutes a threat to the health and safety of the worker.

1.2.  Personal Harassment
This includes any inappropriate or unwelcome conduct, comment, display, action or gesture by a person that:
  • Adversely affects a worker’s psychological or physical well-being;
  • The perpetrator knows or ought to reasonably know would cause the worker to be humiliated or intimidated.
To constitute harassment for the purposes of the definition provided above, either of the following must be established:
  • Repeated conduct, comments, displays, actions or gestures;
  • A single, serious occurrence of conduct, or a single, serious comment, display, action or gesture, that has a lasting, harmful effect on the worker.
Personal harassment may include, but is not limited to:
  • Verbal or written abuse or threats;
  • Insulting, derogatory or degrading comments, jokes or gestures;
  • Personal ridicule or malicious gossip;
  • Unjustifiable interference with another’s work or work sabotage;
  • Refusing to work or co-operate with others;
  • Demeaning an individual on the basis of Prohibited Grounds other than gender; or
  • Interference with or vandalizing personal property.
1.3.  Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is conduct, comment, gesture or contact of a sexual nature that is offensive, unsolicited or unwelcome.

Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:
  • Verbal abuse or threats associated with behaviour of a sexual nature, including a threat of reprisal for refusal to comply with a sexually orientated request;
  • Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos, propositions or taunting about a person’s body, attire, sex or sexual orientation;
  • Displaying pornographic or sexually explicit pictures or materials;
  • Unwelcome physical contact, staring, leering or inappropriate observation of a co-worker of a sexual nature;
  • Exposing oneself sexually in the workplace;
  • Unwelcome invitations, advances, demands, requests, direct or indirect, to engage in behavior of sexual nature;
  • Refusing to work with or have contact with workers because of their sex, gender or sexual orientation. 
Harassment can exist even where there is no intention to harass or offend another. Every person must take care to ensure that his or her conduct is not offensive to another.
1.4.  Prohibited Grounds:
As set out in The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, prohibited grounds of discrimination include religion, creed, marital status, family status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, colour, ancestry, nationality, place of origin, race or perceived race, receipt of public assistance and gender identity.  The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of a prohibited ground.
1.5.  What is NOT Harassment
This Administrative Procedure does not extend or apply to reasonable actions taken by an employer in the context of day-to-day management or supervisory decisions, including those involving work assignments, job evaluations, workplace inspections, implementation of appropriate dress codes and disciplinary action.  These actions are not harassment, even if unpleasant consequences are involved.  Managerial will be carried out in a manner that is reasonable and not abusive. 

The Administrative Procedure also does not extend to harassment that arises out of matters or circumstances unrelated to the worker’s employment. For example, harassment that occurs during a social gathering of co-workers that is not sponsored by the employer is not covered. However, harassment that occurs while attending a conference or training session at the request of the employer is covered within this Administrative Procedure.  

Other situations that do not constitute harassment include:
  • Physical contact necessary for the performance of the work using accepted industry standards;
  • Conduct which all parties agree is inoffensive or welcome; or
  • Conflict or disagreements in the workplace, where the conflict or disagreement is not based on one of the Prohibited Grounds.  
1.6.  Violence
For the purpose of this Procedure, “violence” shall mean the threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a person that causes physical injury or gives a worker reasonable cause to believe that the worker is at risk of injury, whether at the work site or other work-related location.

Acts of violence can take the form of physical contact, such as pushing, hitting, pinching or biting.  The threat of violence, either overt or covert, can be just as detrimental and damaging as the physical act of violence itself.  Abuse in any form erodes the mutual trust and confidence that are essential to Horizon School Division’s operational effectiveness.  Acts of violence destroy individual dignity, lower morale, engender fear, and break down work unit cohesiveness.

Acts of violence may occur as a single event or may involve a continuing series of incidents.  Violence can victimize both men and women, and may be directed by or towards employees, volunteers, contractors, visitors, and members of the public.
2.  Complaint
Every employee has the right to file a violence and/or harassment complaint and to have their complaint acted upon.  Nothing in the procedure shall discourage or prevent an employee from referring a complaint to the STF, the Occupational Health and Safety Division pursuant to The Saskatchewan Employment Act, initiating a human rights complaint respecting discriminatory practices under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, or exercising any other legal rights available under any other law. 

The Division is committed to providing support to victims of violence and/or harassment, which shall include but is not limited to, referral to the Division’s confidential EAP services.  Employees who are victims of workplace violence in particular are encouraged to consult his or her physician for treatment or referral to other post-incident counselling.
3.  Confidentiality
All complaints will be dealt with in the strictest of confidence.

The Division will not disclose the name of the complainant or the alleged offender or the circumstances related to the complaint to any person except where disclosure is necessary for the purposes of investigating the complaint or taking corrective or disciplinary action with respect to the complaint, or as required by law.

The Division commits to take action to prevent reprisal against persons who make a complaint in good faith, which may mean informing complainants and alleged offenders of this commitment.
4.  Employee’s Responsibility
In accordance with The Saskatchewan Employment Act, all workers employed by the Division shall refrain from causing or participating in the discrimination or harassment of another worker, including volunteers and contractors, or any student, or perpetrating workplace violence, and shall co-operate with any person investigating complaints. 

There is zero tolerance for workplace harassment or violence, and the Division may take action against any employee whose activities are in violation of the law or this Administrative Procedure.  These actions may include:
  • Disciplinary actions for employees in accordance with the applicable Collective Agreement or Working Conditions, up to and including termination of employment; or
  • Legal action that could result in criminal or civil proceedings.
 5.  Reporting
An employee, who believes that he/she has been subject to behavior that violates this Administrative Procedure, should immediately inform the individual and ask them to stop their behavior.  This first step is very important so that the alleged offender is immediately made aware that their conduct is offensive to the victim and must stop.  If the behavior should continue, or be of a significant nature, the employee should report their concern/complaint immediately.  If an employee cannot confront the offender or if the violence/harassment continues, the employee should promptly report the conduct.

Any person who has been the subject of violence/harassment has the right to access assistance in communicating their objections and, if warranted, in pursuing the complaint more formally.  It is recognized that the issue of access to recourse is particularly critical where the alleged offender is in a position of authority over the victim or where there are other communication barriers.

 The victim is required to carefully record the details of the incident, including the date and time, nature of the incident, and the names of any persons who may have witnessed the incident.
6.  Process
Allegations of discrimination, harassment or violence may be resolved using informal and/or formal procedures as outlined.

Step 1
An individual reports an incident or concern to their supervisor or a designated Union or Association representative (if covered by a Collective Agreement or Working Conditions, respectively).  

Step 2
The person receiving the complaint reviews the complaint and reports to the Deputy Director of Education or designate.  The Deputy Director of Education is responsible for all concerns/complaints and will assess whether the nature of the complaints falls within this Procedure.  Where it is alleged that the supervisor is involved in the complaint, the individual reports the complaint to the Deputy Director of Education.  The Deputy Director of Education (or designate) may meet privately with the alleged offender to review the complaint and determine whether there is an agreement on a resolution or a resolution process.

If the Deputy Director of Education is the subject of the complaint, the individual reports the complaint directly to the Director of Education.

If the Director of Education is the subject of the complaint, the individual reports the complaint directly to the Board Chair who will expeditiously report to the entire Board of Education.  The Board may appoint a third party to investigate the complaint, and that person will investigate following the procedure outlined.
 
If an elected official of the Board of Education is the subject of the complaint, the individual reports the complaint directly to the Board Chair of the Board of Education.

If the elected official is the Board Chair of the Board of Education and is the subject of the complaint, the individual reports the complaint directly to the Vice-Chair of the Board of Education.

6.1.  Informal - Resolution Sought
Depending on the nature of the allegations, the employee may request or the Deputy Director of Education may recommend an informal resolution process.  The informal process focuses on resolving the problem as opposed to determining right or wrong or taking disciplinary action.  This type of resolution may include, but is not limited to, an apology, consultation, counseling, problem solving or mediation. 

Should the result of an informal approach be unsatisfactory to the complainant, then the complainant may initiate a formal complaint.
6.2.  Formal Complaint – Investigation Required
An individual will report an incident or concern to their supervisor or a designated Union or Association representative (if covered by a Collective Agreement).  The complaint should be recorded in writing on AP 410-1 (Harassment Complaint Form) including the following information:
  • Name and job title of the complainant and contact information;
  • Name of the alleged offender;
  • Description of the conduct, display or events considered objectionable, including dates and location of events;
  • Names and available contact information of any possible witnesses;
  • Description of the bases of the complaint;
  • Any other information or material the complainant considers relevant;
  • Signature of the complainant.
The Deputy Director of Education is responsible for:
  • Discussing the allegations or concerns raised by the individual and options available for addressing the concerns;
  • Determining if immediate intervention is required to stop ongoing harassment or reprisal;
  • Coordinating the gathering of any available information relevant to the concerns raised;
  • Investigating & Reporting.
6.3.  Investigation
Where an investigation is required, the Deputy Director of Education appoints an investigator or investigation team, which may include:
  • Contracting out the investigation to a third party;
  • Appointment of an out-of-scope staff member;
  • The Deputy Director of Education;
  • The Director of Education. 
The selected investigator(s) will have no apparent bias or interest in the outcome of the investigation.

Where the complainant or the alleged offender objects to the appointment of an investigator, on the basis or bias or conflict of interest, the Deputy Director of Education will appoint another investigator. 
 
Prior to starting the investigation, the Deputy Director of Education will:
  • notify the alleged offender of the complaint and provide the alleged offender with information concerning the circumstances of the complaint.  This does not necessarily mean that in all circumstances the alleged offender will receive a copy of the formal complaint, but will, at a minimum, receive an adequate summary of the complaint to permit a full response to the allegations; and
  • request the alleged offender to respond in writing to the complaint.
Investigators will use the following guidelines:
  • The investigation commences as soon as reasonably possible;
  • Only those individuals absolutely necessary to verifying the complaint will be interviewed in order to maintain the confidentiality of the complainant and the offender to the greatest extent possible. 
  • Both the complainant and the accused will be interviewed and the accused will be advised of the allegations they face, including the identity of the complainant, and provided with an opportunity to answer the same;
  • Witnesses are interviewed separately and written witness statement are prepared;
    • Witnesses are asked to review and sign their written statements;
    • Witnesses are asked to keep the investigation and the identity of the complainant and alleged harasser in total confidence, unless they are required to disclose them by law;
  • The complainant and alleged offender are entitled to be accompanied by legal counsel, STF representative, union representation or any other person of their choice during the interview and investigation process.
  • The safety of the complainant will be a paramount consideration through the investigation process.
Once the investigation is complete, the complainant and alleged offender will receive in writing the results of the investigation.  This will include a summary of the evidence, a description of any conflict in the evidence, the conclusions reached by the investigator(s) on the facts and reasons for reaching those conclusions, as well as the recommended corrective action where discrimination, harassment or violence has been found to have occurred.  All records relating to the complaint and investigation will remain strictly confidential and be kept on file at the Division Office. 
7.  Disciplinary and/or Corrective Action
Following the investigation process, Horizon School Division will determine whether or not the complaint has been substantiated.  In the event that the complaint is not substantiated, the complainant and the alleged offender will both be advised and the complaint is dismissed, including a removal from the alleged offender’s record of any reference to the complaint.  Consideration will be given to whether or not the complaint was made with malicious intent and what recourse should flow in the event that this conclusion is reached.
 
If determined that an employee violated this policy, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken, which may include, reprimand, relocation, demotion, suspension or termination of employment.  Corrective action such as apology, training, or referral to EAP for counselling may also be required.

The severity of the discipline will depend on the following:

Seriousness of the Alleged Conduct

  • Whether the conduct is an offence under The Criminal Code;
  • Whether the conduct is an offence under The Saskatchewan Employment Act or The Saskatchewan Human Right Code;
  • The extent of the mental or physical injury caused to the complainant by the conduct;
  • Whether the offender persisted in behavior that was known to be offensive to the complainant;
  • The offender’s role in the organization; and
  • Whether the offender abused a position of authority.
Risk of the Offender Continuing with Conduct
  • Whether the offender acknowledges that the conduct was unacceptable and makes a commitment to refrain from participating in future misconduct;
  • Whether the offender has apologized to the complainant or taken action to repair any harm cause by the conduct;
  • Whether the offender has agreed to participate in awareness sessions, training or other recommended counselling or treatment.
8.  Retaliation or Malicious Complaints
No individual filing a complaint will be penalized or subjected to any prejudicial treatment as a result of making a complaint.  Acts of retaliation including threats, intimidation, reprisals or adverse employment action against a person who filed a complaint or participated in any manner in an investigation of discrimination, harassment or violence.  Sanctions may be imposed for any such retaliation. 

It is uncommon for someone to make a false claim deliberately, but it can happen.  When an investigation finds a complainant has knowingly made a false allegation, the complainant will be subject to the appropriate discipline, up to and including termination for just cause.

9.  Third-Party Offenders
This Administrative Procedure covers harassment and violence connected to any matter or circumstance arising out of the worker’s employment.  Parents, volunteers, visitors, contractors or their workers and others invited to the workplace could engage or participate in violent behavior or harassment of an employee.    Horizon School Division may have limited ability to investigate or control their conduct. However, Horizon School Division shall take reasonably practicable action to stop or reduce the risk to its workers of being harassed or subjected to violence by third parties.
 
This action may include:
  • requiring certain contractors and their workers to accept and meet the terms of the harassment Administrative Procedure; and
  •  removing   workers   who participate in harassment or violence from the workplace. 
Where an individual has been asked to stop abusing or harassing a worker and does not, workers are authorized to end telephone conversations, politely decline service, and/or to ask the individual to leave the workplace.
10.  Training
The Division will provide training to its employees which will include a review and explanation of this Procedure, as well as a description of the Division’s expectations of employees relative to their behaviour in the workplace.  This training will include the following:
  • How to recognize workplace violence/ harassment;
  • Procedures and work practices developed to minimize or eliminate risks of violence or harassment;
  •  Appropriate response to incidents of violence/ harassment, including how to obtain assistance; and
  •  The procedures for reporting, investigating and documenting incidents of workplace violence/ harassment pursuant to this Procedure.
 

Reference:  Section 85, 87, 108, 109, 175 The Education Act
The Saskatchewan Employment Act

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code Act
Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms
STF Code of Ethics
 
March 7, 2017