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Policy Against Violence in the Workplace

Classification number LCG 1137
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner Vice-President, Human Resources and Services
Approval date December 7, 2016
Review date November 2019
Last updated Editorial Amendments, July 21, 2021; Editorial Amendments, February 18, 2020; November 2018
Supersedes See end notes

Any person who finds themselves or others to be at risk of imminent danger should summon immediate assistance by contacting:

On Campus: Office of Campus Safety
Extension:  2400

Direct line: 905.721.3211
Code Blue Stations

Off Campus: Durham Regional Police Service
911 (emergency)
905.579.1520 (non-emergency)

Policy Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to prevent Workplace Violence through proactive measures, and to ensure that the University effectively addresses and responds to Reports of Violence in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Human Rights Code.

Definitions

The following definitions apply throughout this Policy, and underlying procedures: 

"Complainant" refers to an Employee who is alleged to have experienced Workplace Violence.

"Employee" means any individual employed by the University, including but not limited to Employees who are members of a bargaining unit, and Employees who are not.  Students who are employed at the University during the course of their studies, are “Employees” for the purposes of this Policy when they are engaged in employment activities, but not otherwise.

Faculty” includes a Faculty Member, or previous Faculty Member, at the University, and includes those with both limited term and indefinite term appointments, as well as those with paid, unpaid and honorific appointments.  For greater certainty, “Faculty” also includes visiting scholars and emeritus professors.

"FIPPA" means the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSO 1990, c. F.31.

"Human Resources" means the department of Human Resources at the University, or its delegate.

"JHSC" means the Joint Health & Safety Committee(s) at the University.

Member” includes a Student, Faculty or Staff Member.

"Personal Information” means information about an identifiable individual, as defined in s. 2 of FIPPA, as amended from time to time.

"Person(s) of Authority" includes any person who has charge of a workplace or authority over another Employee.  Anyone who supervises an Employee at the University is a Person of Authority. 

"Policy" refers to this Policy.

"Report" refers to information about Workplace Violence in the workplace that is reported under the associated Procedures.

"Reporting Process" refers to the process for reporting information about Violence in the workplace under the associated procedures.

"Respondent" refers to anyone who is alleged to have engaged in behaviours of Violence in a Report or investigation.

Staff” means a Staff Member, or former Staff Member, at the University.

Student” includes any student who is registered, or was previously registered, at the University.

"University" means Ontario Tech University.

"workplace" means any place where Employees of the University engage in employment activity, including employment activities online, outside the normal place of work, and employment activities that occur outside of normal working hours.

"Workplace Sexual Violence" means, any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, in the workplace, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation.

Workplace Violence” means, 

  1. the exercise of physical force by a person against an Employee, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the Employee,

  2. an attempt to exercise physical force against an Employee, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the Employee,         

  3. a statement or behaviour that is reasonable for an Employee to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the Employee, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the Employee, or

  4. Workplace Sexual Violence (defined above).

Workplace Violence includes, for example, verbally threatening to attack an Employee, shaking a fist in an Employee’s face, wielding a weapon at work, hitting or trying to hit an Employee, or throwing an object at an Employee. 

Scope and authority

The Vice President with responsibility for Human Resources is the Policy Owner.  The Policy Owner is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration, interpretation and application of this Policy.

This Policy applies to all Employees in the course of their employment, and is intended to address Violence against Employees from all sources, including colleagues, coworkers, supervisors, managers, administrators, students and other members of the University community, and the public.

This Policy applies to all aspects of the employment relationship, including recruitment, training, evaluation, development and promotion of Employees.

This Policy is not geographically limited, and applies to any employment activity, including employment activities that occur outside the normal place of work, and employment activities that occur outside of normal working hours.

This Policy does not override or diminish the rights provided to Employees under applicable collective agreements, and will be applied with appropriate regard to the rights established under those agreements.

This Policy does not preclude Employees from pursuing resolution through external resources and processes, including those offered by the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, the police, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Policy

The University is committed to providing a work environment in which all Employees are treated with dignity, and to fostering a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the value of each Employee.  To this end:

  1. The University will not tolerate Workplace Violence.

  2. The University will ensure that procedures are in place for the prevention of, and response to, Workplace Violence.

  3. The University will provide information, instruction and assistance to Employees with respect to Workplace Violence.

  4. The University will ensure Persons of Authority are provided with information and instruction that will enable them to recognize, assess and address Violence in the workplace, and to understand how to respond appropriately when such incidents are alleged.

  5. The University will not penalize an Employee for submitting a Report in good faith, or for participating in a related investigation.  This protection does not apply to an Employee who submits a Report that is determined to be frivolous or vexatious, or who exhibits bad faith in the course of an investigation.  An Employee who believes they have been penalized for submitting a Report in good faith, or for participating in a related investigation, may pursue the allegation of reprisal by submitting a Report under the associated procedures, and/or may pursue a reprisal complaint through external processes.

  6. The University will respect the privacy of individuals involved in Reports and investigations, ensuring information about a Report is not disclosed, except to the extent necessary to investigate, take corrective action, implement measures to protect the health and safety of Employees, or as otherwise required by law.

  7. Personal Information collected under this Policy will be used only for the purposes of administering this Policy, and will be disclosed only on a need-to-know basis, to the extent disclosure is required to fulfill the University's legal obligations under the Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health & Safety Act, and any other applicable law and/or legal obligations, including any applicable collective agreement.  Subject to applicable law, Personal Information collected, used and disclosed under this Policy will otherwise be kept confidential, and will be stored and disposed of in accordance with FIPPA and the University’s Records Management Policy.

  8. The University will administer the processes set out in the associated procedures, responding to Reports fairly and promptly, with adequate regard to the unique circumstances of each particular case, and in a manner that prioritizes the privacy of individuals involved.

  9. The University will inform and update individuals who are involved in investigations about the status of those investigations as they progress.

Employees who engage in Workplace Violence will be held accountable and may be subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.   In any event, the University will act in accordance with the rights and obligations established by applicable collective agreements.

Employees may refuse to work, or do particular work, where they have reason to believe that Workplace Violence is likely to endanger the Employee. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Employees

  1. Employees must not engage in Workplace Violence.

  2. Employees are, along with the University, responsible for creating and maintaining an environment that is free from Workplace Violence.

  3. Employees are encouraged to report incidents of Workplace Violence by communicating such incidents to their supervisor.  If the Employee's supervisor is involved in the incidents at issue, the information should be reported directly to the administrator who the Employee's supervisor reports to, or directly to the Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources [Link to Human Resources Department].  If the Employee’s supervisor is involved in the incidents at issue, and that supervisor is a member of Human Resources, then the information should be reported to the University's General Counsel.  

  4. Where it is requested and reasonably required, Employees shall participate in the Reporting Process, and/or any related investigation.

  5. Employees who are found to have engaged in Workplace Violence under this Policy will comply with the corrective measures imposed by the University, subject to relevant collective agreements, including grievance and arbitration processes.

Persons of Authority

  1. Persons of Authority are responsible for supporting the University in its duty to create and maintain an environment that is free from Workplace Violence.           

  2. Persons of Authority shall lead by example, acting respectfully in dealings with all Employees, and in particular, those Employees under their supervision.

  3. Persons of Authority are responsible for familiarizing themselves with this Policy and related procedures, and for directing Employees under their supervision who have information about Workplace Violence to follow the appropriate procedures.

  4. Persons of Authority are responsible for supporting the University in its duty to recognize, assess and address Workplace Violence. For example, Persons of Authority should intervene promptly when they become aware of Workplace Violence and should seek assistance from the Assistant VP, Human Resources [Link to Human Resources Department], unless a member of Human Resources is directly involved in the incidents at issue, in which case assistance should be sought from the University's General Counsel.
  5. When a Person of Authority becomes aware of information about Workplace Violence, that Person of Authority must ensure the information is reported in the form of a Report.

Human Resources

  1. Human Resources will take primary responsibility for updating this Policy and related procedures, ensuring that this Policy, and all related procedures, are reviewed as often as is necessary, and in any event, at least annually, in consultation with all appropriate departments and the JHSC(s), and in accordance with the University’s Policy Framework and relevant collective agreements. 

  2. Human Resources will, as often as is necessary:

    i.   assign a Human Resources Employee to implement and oversee the activities outlined below, and in related procedures,

    ii.  assign a Human Resources Employee to act as a contact for those who wish to make Reports; 

    iii. assess the risk of Workplace Violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, type of work or conditions of work, taking into account the circumstances of the workplace and circumstances common to similar workplaces, as well as any other elements prescribed in regulation; and

    iv. develop measures and procedures to control identified risks that are likely to expose an Employee to Workplace Violence.

  3. Human Resources shall share the results of risk assessments conducted under b iii above with the JHSC(s).

  4. Human Resources is primarily responsible for overseeing compliance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act, including: 

    i.   providing Employees with appropriate information and instruction with respect to Workplace Violence , including notifying them of this Policy and its related procedures;

    ii.  ensuring all Persons of Authority are provided with information and instruction that will enable them to recognize, assess and address Workplace Violence in their respective workplaces, and will ensure Persons of Authority are aware of this Policy and related procedures;

    iii. ensuring that copies of this Policy and related procedures are posted on the established health and safety bulletin boards where it is likely to come to the attention of Employees; and

    iv. notifying the Ministry of Labour and JHSC, when required, under the OHSA.

  5. Human Resources is also responsible for:

    i.   receiving and responding to Reports

    ii.  ensuring Reports are investigated, internally or externally, and responded to in a timely and equitable manner, as outlined in this Policy and in related procedures;

    iii. ensuring the appropriate departments and/or individuals are advised of a Report, where appropriate;

    iv. ensuring the outcome of an investigation under this Policy, and the corrective actions taken (if any), are communicated in writing to Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) who are Employees;

    v.  ensuring that copies of this Policy and related procedures are posted on a University website; and

    vi. Where a member of Human Resources is directly involved in the incidents at issue, the above responsibilities will be assumed by the University's General Counsel.

Relevant legislation

Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c O.1, as amended

Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c F. 31

Related policies, procedures & documents

Academic Staff Employment Policies

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Policy

Emergency Management Plan and Procedures

Fair Processes Policy

Non-Academic Staff Policies

Policy to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Violence for Students

Procedures for Responding to Incidents of Sexual Violence

Procedures to Prevent and Address Violence in the Workplace

Records Management Policy

Joint Health and Safety Committee Terms of Reference

Occupational Health and Safety Management System

Student Conduct Policy

University-Durham College Threat Assessment Procedures

Work Refusal Procedures

Workplace Violence Incident Report

End Notes

This Policy supersedes the Workplace Violence Policy (LCG 1112), January 2014

Minor amendments to s. 35 h), s. 43, Approved by Board of Governors, May 3, 2017

Editorial Amendment, February 18, 2020
Editorial Amendments, July 21, 2021. Pursuant to the approval of the Respectful Campus Policy, elements of this policy related to harassment and discrimination have been removed from this Policy.