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Workplace Violence Procedure

Classification number LCG 1137.01
Parent policy Policy Against Violence in the Workplace
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Governance, Nominations and Human Resources Committee
Policy owner Vice-president responsible for Human Resources
Approval date October 19, 2021
Review date May 2024
Last updated Editorial Amendments, February 18, 2020; Initial Approval December 7, 2016
Supersedes See end notes

Purpose

The purpose of these procedures is to establish a dispute resolution framework for the handling of Reports of Workplace Violence; ensuring the University effectively addresses and responds to these Reports with legislative obligations.

Definitions

For the purposes of these procedures the following definitions apply:

"Complainant" refers to an Employee who is alleged to have experienced Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal. 

"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 Ontario Tech 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, as amended from time to time.

 “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.

University Member” includes any individual who:

  • is employed by the University or Staff. holds an appointment with the University, including paid, unpaid and/or honorific appointments;
  • is registered as a student, in accordance with the academic regulations of the University; and/or,
  • Is otherwise subject to University policies by virtue of the requirements of a specific policy (e.g. Booking and Use of University Space) and/or the terms of an agreement or contract.

"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.

"Report" refers to information about Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal in the workplace that is reported to Human Resources and/or the Office of Campus Safety.

“Reprisal” includes retaliation, coercion, dismissal, threats or intimidation of anyone who in good faith: raises complaints or concerns, exercises their rights or participates in a remedial process under this Policy instrument.

"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.

"University" means the Ontario Tech University.

“Worker” means any individual employed by Ontario Tech, including but not limited to workers who are members of a bargaining unit, and workers who are not. Students who are employed at Ontario Tech during the course of their studies, are workers for the purposes of the policy when they are engaged in employment activities, but not otherwise. Persons who perform work or supply services for monetary compensation are considered to be workers.

"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 or physical act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the worker’s consent.

Workplace Violence” means,

  • the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker, or
  • a statement or behaviour that is reasonable for an worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker, or
  • Workplace Sexual Violence (defined above).

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

Scope and Authority

These Procedures apply 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.

The Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources, or successor thereof, is the Policy Owner and is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of these Procedures.

Procedures

Safety is Paramount: Ontario Tech has an overriding obligation to protect the safety of all Ontario Tech Members. When the safety of community members is at risk, Ontario Tech reserves the right to investigate and respond appropriately, independent of a Complainant's and/or Respondent's course of action under this procedure.

Confidentiality. Information collected under this procedure will be used only for the purposes of administering the Policy and may be disclosed only on a need-to-know basis to the extent required to fulfill the University's legal obligations. Personal Information collected, used and disclosed under this procedure will otherwise be kept confidential. To this end:
  1. Physical documents collected and created under this procedure will be kept in a confidential file at Human Resources.
  2. Reasonable steps will be taken to protect against unauthorized access to such documents. investigator, and the Non-Academic Appeals Committee, will have general access limited to Complainants and Respondents, on a need-to-know basis.
  3. Personal Information obtained during the Reporting Process will not be disclosed except to the extent that disclosure is necessary for the purposes of investigating Reports, taking corrective action, protecting the health and safety of members of the University community, or as otherwise required by law.  For example, information may be shared with the Office of Campus Safety if this is necessary to protect an individual who has allegedly experienced Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal.
  4. All individuals involved in the procedure will be advised of their duty to maintain the confidentiality of all information disclosed to them in this procedure, including any Personal information disclosed to them.
  5. Complainants, and Respondents who are Employees, will be advised of the outcome of an investigation and the corrective actions taken, if any.

Right to a Support Person(s).  Individuals who attend an interview in an investigation under this procedure may be accompanied by a support person.  The role of a support person is to provide moral support.  Individuals who choose to attend an interview with an a support person(s) must choose a support person who is not otherwise connected to the matter under investigation (e.g. a witness or fellow complainant) and will notify the investigator of their support person(s)’ name(s), at least 24 hours prior to the interview. In the case of an Employee who is a member of a bargaining unit, the support person may be a union representative. During the interview, questions regarding the investigation process, but a support person will not be permitted to make legal submissions or arguments on behalf of the individual, or to disrupt the interview. In any event, individuals who are being interviewed must answer the interview questions themselves. 

Reprisal. Any Reprisal, or expressed or implied threat of Reprisal, for making and pursuing a Report under this procedure is itself considered a breach of the Policy.  Any individual experiencing Reprisal may file a Report, and that Report will be processed under this procedure.

Records. Human Resources will maintain a confidential file for each Report, including all related communications, memoranda, reports, statements and evidence.   These records will be retained, and disposed of, in accordance with FIPPA and Ontario Tech’s Records Management Policy.

Preventative Measures

  1. Human Resources will provide information and instruction to Employees regarding Workplace Violence. Information about workplace violence prevention and response, including training programs, is available on the Ontario Tech Health and Safety Website http://healthandsafety.ontariotechuniversity.ca .

     

  2. Human Resources will, as often as is necessary, 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. Upon the conclusion of this assessment, Human Resources will develop measures and procedures to control identified risks that are likely to expose an Employee to Workplace Violence.

  3. When incidents of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal occur, Human Resources will ensure that reasonable steps are taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

Reporting

  1. Anyone who witnesses or is involved in an incident of attempted or actual Workplace Violence, should promptly call 911 and/or report it to Security. Security will attend forthwith and intervene as required based on the exigencies presented by the incident. The Office of Campus Safety will be notified by Security. Where applicable, Security may be instructed to immediately secure the scene and ensure all relevant physical and electronic evidence is secure. Security will record the names and contact information of University Members who are involved in the incident or who witnessed the incident (either the Office of Campus Safety or local law enforcement, if appropriate and/or necessary). The Office of Campus Safety will ensure the procedural rights granted to those individuals under their respective collective agreements are maintained. At the conclusion of their initial intervention, Security will complete an Incident Report and submit it to the Office of Campus Safety to be forwarded to the Director of Human Resources. If the incident report involves a member of the Human Resources team, then the report will be raised directly with The Office of the University Secretary and General Counsel.
  2. Perceived threats of Workplace Violence and/or complaints of Reprisal should be promptly reported to a Person of Authority and Human Resources. Human Resources will, on its own initiative, initiate a Report when it receives information regarding an incident of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal, unless such a Report has already been submitted by an individual. If a member of Human Resources is involved in the incident at issue, then the incident should be reported to Office of the University Secretary and General Counsel
  3. If the University becomes aware that circumstances of domestic violence may expose an Employee to physical injury in the workplace, the University will take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect that Employee.  To this end, Employees who become aware of such risks must report those risks to a Person of Authority, who must in turn advise Human Resources.  Human Resources will consult with the Employee at risk, the Office of Campus Safety and other University Members if necessary, to determine and implement reasonable measures to protect the Employee.
  4. The University will provide appropriate support services to Employees who are victims of Workplace Violence. This may include the creation of a personal safety plan through the Office of Campus Safety, the provision of Employee counselling through the Employee Assistance Program and/or referral to the Victim Service Unit of Durham Regional Police Services.

The Reporting Process

All reports of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal will be reviewed by Human Resources unless the report involves a member of the Human Resources team. If the allegation of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal involves a member of the Human Resources team, then the Employee’s concerns should be raised directly with the Office of the University Secretary and General Counsel and all duties assigned to Human Resources below will be undertaken by the Office of the University Secretary and General Counsel.

Step 1 - Interim Measures

  1. Upon receiving a Report, Human Resources will immediately determine whether interim measures are necessary, considering the severity of the allegations, and the potential risks to University Members.  For example, an Employee may be placed on paid, administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, or may be required to refrain from interacting with the Complainant or other witnesses.  Normally, a Complainant will not be required to interact with a Respondent during the Reporting Process or a related investigation. 
  2. Further interim measures will be implemented where reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.  As necessary, Human Resources will consult with others, such as the manager(s) of the Complainant and Respondent, and the Office of Campus Safety, on a confidential basis, to determine additional interim measures.

Step 2 - Informal Resolution

  1. At any stage during this procedure an Informal Resolution Process, such as mediation, can be pursued if the Complainant, Respondent and Human Resources consent to Informal Resolution Processes being pursued and to its format. Where those involved in the Informal Resolution Processes reach an agreed resolution, that resolution will become binding and effective upon written approval of the Vice President overseeing Human Resources, or delegate. Once an Informal Resolution Process has commenced, the investigation may be delayed for a maximum period of 30 calendar days, after which, unless a resolution has been reached and approved, the investigation will re-commence. Even if a resolution is reached and approved, Human Resources retains the discretion to continue/complete its investigation where it is appropriate to do so, having regard to relevant collective agreement requirements and applicable law, and, to protect the interests of the University and its Members.

Step 3 - Investigation

  1. Human Resources will review the Report and determine if the conduct alleged in the Report would amount to Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal.  This determination will be based on an assumption that all of the alleged facts were true. If the allegations set out in the Report would not, if true, amount to Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal, Human Resources will respond to the complainant in writing, usually within 60 days, advising that the Report has been reviewed, and that the information provided does not support an allegation of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal under the policy. If there is another process or resource at the University that would be more appropriate for the subject matter of the Report, the individual will be advised of this alternative process.

  2. If, on the other hand, the information provided would, assuming the alleged facts were true, support a finding that Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal had occurred, an investigation will be conducted. An investigation may include written submissions or witness interviews, depending upon the severity of the allegations. In the case of an incident report submitted by the Office of Campus Safety, Human Resources will assess the report to determine if additional investigation is warranted or necessary.

  3. When an investigation is to be conducted, Human Resources will establish an investigation process that is appropriate in the circumstances consistent with the University’s Fair Processes Policy. At a minimum, any investigation will provide a reasonable opportunity for the parties to understand the allegations, and to submit relevant information.  Under no circumstances will an investigation be conducted by an individual who was directly involved in the events at issue, or by an individual whose involvement would give rise to a conflict of interest or a perception of a conflict of interest. No individual who was involved in or who has personal stake in the events in issue will be involved in an investigation (other than as a witness). Human Resources will review the collective agreement(s) of any individuals involved in the Report, and will ensure the procedural rights granted to those individuals under their respective collective agreements are maintained.

Step 4 - Determination & Corrective Action

  1. The investigator will be charged with determining whether Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal has occurred.  Human Resources will ensure that the results of the investigation are brought to the attention of, and reviewed by, the appropriate Person(s) of Authority.  Human Resources will advise the Person(s) of Authority with respect to appropriate corrective measures, if any, to be taken, including measures aimed at preventing Reprisal, where appropriate. 

  2. Where an Employee is found to have engaged in acts of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal, corrective measures may include non-disciplinary actions (e.g. education) or disciplinary measures (e.g. a written reprimand, a suspension or termination). Human Resources will ensure such reasonable steps are taken to prevent a recurrence. 

  3. Employees that are members of a bargaining unit will have any corrective measure(s) imposed in accordance with applicable collective agreement requirements.

  4. At the conclusion of an investigation, Human Resources ensure that any Employee who was alleged to have experienced Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal, and any Respondent Employee(s), are informed, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation, and the corrective actions taken.  Human Resources will ensure that such information is provided in accordance with the procedural requirements of any relevant collective agreement and any applicable laws.

Involvement of Members other Than Employees

  1. This procedure applies to incidents of Workplace Violence against Employees from all sources, including students, colleagues, coworkers, supervisors, managers, administrators, other members of the University community, and the public.
  2. This procedure necessarily overlaps with other University procedures that are concerned with preventing and addressing incidents of Workplace Violence involving Students. Ontario Tech will administer the overlap according to the following principles:
    1. This procedure will be applied to all incidents in which an Employee has allegedly experienced Workplace Violence to ensure the University satisfies its commitment to, and its obligations under, legislation and collective agreements.
    2. Where it is alleged that a student has, in their capacity as a student, engaged in Violence against an Employee, then the matter will be addressed in conjunction with the Student Conduct Policy and relevant procedures.
    3. Allegations involving a student who is also an employee of the University, and who allegedly engaged in violence in the course of their employment, will be handled under this Policy instrument.
  3. Where an individual, other than a Member, is alleged to have engaged in Workplace Violence against an Employee, Human Resources and/or the Office of Campus  Safety will consult with Members at risk, and other Members if necessary, to determine and implement reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of its Employees. Because the University does not have the jurisdiction to compel statements from members of the general public, or to impose sanctions upon them, it will not normally conduct a formal investigation in such cases.

Monitoring and Review

These Procedures will be reviewed annually. The Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review these Procedures.

Relevant Legislation

Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c O.1, as amended
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c F. 31

Related Policies, Procedures and 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

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