Workplace Harassment Policy and Program

Adopted on September 25, 2014

Approval Authority: CUASA Council, Employee-Employer Relations Committee
Mandatory Review Date: 
September 2017

The program that implements this policy can be found here.


Workplace Harassment

“Workplace Harassment”, as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

Harassment is an expression of perceived power and superiority by the harasser(s) over another person or group. Harassment may be based on one of the following (though it does not have to be): sex, race, creed, colour, religion, ethnic origin, place of origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, disability, language, age, social and economic class, or activism and participation in a union.

Harassment is unwelcome, unwanted and uninvited. It may be expressed verbally or physically, is usually coercive and it can occur as a single incident or on a repeated basis. It comprises actions, attitudes, language or gestures, which the harasser knows or reasonably ought to know are abusive, unwelcome or wrong. It may include but is not limited to:

  • Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos, taunts or other discriminatory communication in any media;
  • Insulting or malicious gestures or practical jokes which cause someone embarrassment or discomfort;
  • Ridiculing, degrading or expressing hatred or intolerance, whether verbally, in writing or physically;
  • Display of offensive material/pictures or graffiti;
  • Placing unreasonable limitations on someone because of a perceived need (e.g. disability, pregnancy, etc.);
  • Leering (sexually suggestive staring);
  • Defamation of religious imagery;
  • Mockery of religious practices, customs or religious wear;
  • Demands for sexual favours;
  • Unnecessary physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching;
  • Making comments about one’s appearance or personal life; or,
  • Expressing or promoting racial hatred.

Harassment does not include the legitimate exercise of management functions and legitimate exercise of academic freedom.

Bullying and Personal Harassment

Bullying or personal harassment are defined as actions which degrade or demean an individual including but not limited to: mobbing, offensive, malicious and/or cruel behaviour with the aim to humiliate, intimidate, undermine or destroy the character or confidence of an individual or group of individuals. Bullying and personal harassment may include an abuse of power or perceived power by one person or group over another that degrades an individual. Bullying behaviour is often persistent and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single incident.

This is normally carried out by an individual who ought  reasonably to have known that his/her actions are unwelcome or unwanted. It can also be an aspect of group behaviour. The policy includes any member in any type of relationship, for example domestic, intimate or common law partnerships.

Some examples of bullying and personal harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Abusive and offensive language;
  • Insults;
  • Teasing;
  • Spreading rumour or innuendo;
  • Unfair blame for mistakes;
  • Exclusion;
  • Intimidation;
  • Humiliation;
  • Practical jokes;
  • Outbursts or displays of anger directed at others;
  • Targeting of an individual through persistent, unwarranted criticism;
  • Belittling or disregarding opinions or suggestions; or,
  • Public criticism.

Context is important in understanding bullying, particularly verbal communication. There is a difference between friendly insults between long-time work colleagues and comments that are meant to be, or are taken as demeaning.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment violates personal integrity, the dignity of individuals and groups, and fundamental rights. Sexual harassment occurs when an individual engages in sexually harassing behaviour or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome and that:

  • Interferes with the employment or participation in an Association-related activity for the person harassed; and/or,
  • Is associated with an expressed or implied promise of employment-related or other consequences for the person being harassed (including reward, reprisal, or conditions of study or employment); and/or,
  • Provides a basis for employment or other decisions affecting the person harassed; and/or,
  • Creates an abusive, demeaning, or threatening environment for the person harassed; and/or,
  • Excludes the person harassed from rights and/or privileges to which they are entitled.

Some examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome sexual solicitations, flirtations or advances;
  • Sexually suggestive comments, gestures, threats or verbal abuse;
  • Sexual assault which includes unwarranted touching or physical contact of a sexual nature or coerced consent to sexual contact;
  • Inappropriate display or transmission of sexually suggestive or explicit pictures, posters, objects, or graffiti;
  • Leering, compromising invitations, or demands for sexual favours;
  • Degrading, demeaning, or insulting sexual comment or content, including unwelcome remarks, taunting, jokes, or innuendos about a person’s body, sexual orientation, or sexual conduct;
  • Misuse of position or authority to secure sexual favours;
  • Persistent, unwanted attention or requests for sexual contact after a consensual relationship has ended; or,
  • A course of sexualized comment or conduct that interferes with the dignity or privacy of an individual or group.

This policy is not intended to interfere with ordinary social or personal relationships among members or staff of the Association or impinge on normal expectations of privacy. Consensual relationships are not examples of sexual harassment.

Abuse of Supervisory Authority

Abuse of supervisory authority includes all forms of making conditional or appearing to make conditional employment, or other services, benefits, opportunities or facilities upon performance unrelated or irrelevant to the employment status of the one supervised. Such abuse can occur even if it does not have the intention or effective of benefiting the supervisor in question.

This can include unjustified discipline such as a supervisor who undervalues work, withholds vital information, sets individuals up to fail, monitors movement or removes areas of responsibility without justification.


A volunteer is defined as an Officer of the Association (as outlined in the Association Constitution) or any non-Employee working on behalf of the Association in an official capacity.


The workplace is defined as the Association’s offices as well as any location where the business of the Association is being or is to be conducted.


The Carleton University Academic Staff Association is committed to providing a workplace in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. As such, the Association will take whatever steps are reasonable to protect our members and workers from harassment from all sources.

Harassment, including but not limited to workplace harassment, sexual harassment, personal harassment, bullying, or abuse of supervisory authority, will not be tolerated from any person in the workplace. This policy applies to all members and staff of the Association as well as visitors, contractors, students and volunteers. Everyone is expected to uphold this policy and to work together to prevent workplace harassment.

There is a workplace harassment program that implements this policy. It includes measures and procedures to protect against workplace harassment, a means of summoning immediate assistance, and a process for the reporting of incidents or the raising of concerns.

The Association shall ensure this policy and the supporting program are implemented and maintained and that all individuals covered by the policy have appropriate information and instruction to protect them from harassment in the workplace.

The Association pledges to investigate and deal with all incidents and complaints of workplace harassment in a fair and timely manner as outlined in the workplace harassment program, respecting the privacy of all concerned as much as possible.

Nothing in this policy prevents or discourages a worker or member from filing an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on a matter related to Ontario’s Human Right’s Code within one year of the last alleged incident. Workers and members also retain the right to exercise any other legal avenues that may be available.

All must work in compliance with this policy and the supporting program.


Threatening or violent behavior shall not be ignored. Individuals are strongly encouraged to raise any concerns about, or incidents of, workplace harassment. Reports should be made to the President, President-Elect, or Executive Director.

There will be no negative consequences for persons making reports in good faith.

Executive Director
Unifor Local 567 Steward (staff only)

In the event of an emergency, the Department of University Safety should be contacted at (613) 520- 4444.

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