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Procedures to Prevent and Address Violence in the Workplace

Classification number LCG 1137.01
Parent policy Policy Against Violence in the Workplace
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 2021
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)

Definitions

"Complainant" refers to an Employee who is alleged to have experienced Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal.  Singular references to "Complainant" are deemed to include references to multiple Complainants where there are multiple Complainants.

"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.

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.

Member” includes a Student, Faculty or Staff.

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

"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 the Policy Against Violence in the Workplace .

"Report" refers to information about Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal in the workplace that is reported to Human Resources under these Procedures.  Under the Policy and this procedure, an incident report submitted to the Office of Campus Security does not qualify as a “Report”.

"Reporting Process" refers to the process set out under this procedure for submitting a Report to Human Resources and its processing.  Submitting an incident report to the Office of Campus Security does not automatically initiate the Reporting Process.

"Reprisal" refers to a retaliation against any individual for submitting a Report, or participating in a related investigation, under this procedure.

"Respondent" refers to anyone who is alleged to have engaged in behaviours of Violence in a Report or investigation. Singular references to "Respondent" are deemed to include references to multiple Respondents where there are multiple Respondents.

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 the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

"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, or       
  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.

Purpose of This Procedure

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

Under this procedure, a "Report" may be submitted by an individual who has experienced Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal, or any other individual who has witnessed such incidents.

Guiding Principles

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 the University’s Records Management Policy.

Confidentiality. Information collected under this procedure will be used only for the purposes of administering the Policy, and related processes, 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. In each particular case, only the individual(s) authorized by Human Resources under paragraph 34 of the Policy, the Provost or delegate, an assigned investigator, and the Non-Academic Appeals Committee, will have general access to documents collected and created under this procedure, including electronic documents.  Such documents will be disclosed to witnesses, including but not limited to Complainants and Respondents, on a need-to-know basis.

  3. All individuals involved in this 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Except as required under the Policy and its underlying procedures, or as otherwise required by law, investigation reports created under this procedure will not normally be disclosed or produced to a Complainant, Respondent or witness. Complainants, and Respondents who are Employees, will, however, be advised of the outcome of the investigation and the corrective actions taken, if any.

Right to an Advisor and Support Person(s).  Individuals who attend an interview in an investigation under this procedure may be accompanied by one advisor and up to two support persons. The role of an advisor is to assist the individual by providing procedural information, and to ask questions regarding the investigation process.  The role of a support person is to provide moral support.  Individuals who choose to attend an interview with an advisor and/or support persons(s) will choose their own advisor and/or support person(s) and will notify the investigator of their advisor's name, and 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 advisor may be a union representative. During the interview, an advisor will be permitted to speak and ask questions regarding the investigation process, but 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.

Informal Resolution Process. 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 be re-commenced. 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.

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.

Non-Exclusive Procedure - This procedure 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.

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

Involvement of Members other Than Employees

This procedure applies to incidents of Violence against Employees from all sources, including students, colleagues, coworkers, supervisors, managers, administrators, other members of the University community, and the public.

This procedure necessarily overlaps with other University procedures that are concerned with preventing and addressing incidents of Violence involving Students.  The University 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 Violence and/or Reprisal 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 under the Policy on Sexual Violence for Students and Procedures for Responding to Incidents of Sexual Violence or the Student Conduct Policy, as appropriateHowever, in such cases, Human Resources will nevertheless be consulted in the process to ensure any investigation and/or corrective action satisfy the standards set out this Policy and all applicable collective agreements. 

Where an individual, other than a Member, is alleged to have engaged in Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal against an Employee, Human Resources 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.  However, because Human Resources 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.

Preventative Measures

Human Resources will provide information and instruction to Employees regarding Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal.  Information about workplace violence prevention and response, including training programs, is available on the University's Health and Safety Website (http://healthandsafety.ontariotechu.ca/).

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.

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

Incidents, or perceived threats, of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal should be promptly reported to a Person of Authority and Human Resources.  If a member of Human Resources is involved in the incident at issue, then the incident should be reported to the University's General Counsel.

Anyone who witnesses an incident of Workplace Violence should also promptly report it to the Office of Campus Safety.  Employees who witness an incident of Workplace Violence must complete a Workplace Violence incident report form as soon as possible.  If several Employees are involved in or witness the incident, each Employee must file a separate report with the Office of Campus Safety. The Office of Campus Safety will immediately forward a copy of all Workplace Violence incident reports to the Director of Human Resources, when there is a situation that presents a threat of further Workplace Violence to Employees, volunteers or visitors.

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, and other Members if necessary, to determine and implement reasonable measures to protect the Employee.

The University will provide appropriate support services to Employees who are victims of Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal. 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

Step 1 - Submitting a Report

Submitting an incident report to the Office of Campus Security does not automatically initiate a formal “Report”.  A “Report”, and the corresponding “Reporting Process”, is initiated only when an individual completes the Report form (website here; Appendix X) that is available from 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 incidents at issue, then the Report should be submitted to the University's General Counsel.

After filing an incident report, an Employee with ongoing concerns regarding Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal should consult with a supervisor or manager (“Persons of Authority”).  All such Persons of Authority must seek guidance from Human Resources in attempting to address and resolve concerns relating to Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal in the workplace. If an Employee's supervisor or manager is allegedly involved in Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal, then the Employee's concerns should be raised directly with Human Resources.  However, 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 University's General Counsel.  When Human Resources or the University's General Counsel is approached by an individual seeking to submit a Report, Human Resources or the University's General Counsel will advise that information about a Report will be kept confidential except to the extent that the University is legally required to investigate and/or disclose information, in which case information may be shared only on a need-to-know basis.

All Reports will be submitted in the format prescribed by Human Resources (website here; Appendix X), with the ability to attach additional pages if needed.

Step 2 - Interim Measures

Upon receiving a Report, Human Resources or the University's General Counsel 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.

Further interim measures will be implemented where reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.  As necessary, Human Resources or the University's General Counsel 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 3 - Establishing the Process & Investigation

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 or the University's General Counsel will respond to the individual submitting the Report 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.  The Employee submitting the Report will also be advised that Human Resources may reconsider the Report if additional and significant information is provided. 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.

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.

When an investigation is to be conducted, Human Resources or the University's General Counsel will establish an investigation process that is appropriate in the circumstances. This process will be summarized in written form and distributed to the Complainant and Respondent.  This document will also define the scope of the investigation.  At this stage, consideration will be given to whether the investigation will be conducted internally or externally. Under no circumstances will an investigation be conducted by an individual who was directly involved in the events in 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 a personal stake in the events in issue will be involved in an investigation (other than as a witness). Human Resources or the University's General Counsel 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.

Human Resources or the University's General Counsel will ensure the Employees involved in an investigation, and their respective bargaining agent(s), where applicable, are informed of the investigation process that will be adopted in each particular case. At a minimum, any investigation will provide a reasonable opportunity for the parties to understand the allegations, and to submit relevant information.

Step 4 - Determination & Corrective Action

The investigator will be charged with determining whether Workplace Violence and/or Reprisal has occurred.  Human Resources or the University's General Counsel 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.

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 or the University's General Counsel will ensure such reasonable steps are taken to prevent a recurrence.

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

At the conclusion of an investigation, Human Resources or the University's General Counsel will 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.

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 Against Violence in the Workplace

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

End Notes

This Procedure supersedes the Workplace Violence Procedures (LCG 1112.01), January 2014

This Procedure supersedes the Harassment and Discrimination Procedures (LCG 1105.01), November 2004 only for Harassment and Discrimination of Employees, and is intended to address Violence, Harassment and Discrimination against Employees from all sources, including colleagues, coworkers, supervisors, managers, administrators, students and other members of the University community and the public.

Minor amendments, s. 39 b., s. 55, s. 63, approved by Board of Governors, May 3, 2017

Editorial Amendments, 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.