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anti-harassment policy | about


policy statement | engagebarrie

Engage Barrie Organization is committed to fostering a violence-free and harassment-free workplace where all staff, volunteers and members are treated with respect and dignity.

Respectful disagreement and even anger can be powerful tools for motivating change, protecting the vulnerable, setting boundaries, and coming to solutions that take into account the needs of the many different residents and communities within our city.  But care must be taken to communicate in a safe and healthy manner, keeping our solutions-based approach in mind, and ensuring a safe and welcoming organization for all. 

General Principles:

Harassment at Engage Barrie Organization is not tolerated.  Directors, Members, Employees, and Volunteers who are found to have harassed another individual may be subject to disciplinary action.  This includes anyone who interferes with the resolution of a harassment complaint; retaliates against an individual for filing a harassment complaint; or files an unfounded harassment complaint intended to cause harm.


Engage Barrie Organization (Engage Barrie) will post a copy of this policy on its website, and include it in any orientation materials for new members, membership is conditional on acceptance of this policy, and membership may be terminated if an individual is found in breach of this policy.  This policy will be circulated to all staff, board, volunteers and other individuals who interact with the organization and its personnel.


This policy applies to all Engage Barrie Organization Directors, Members, Employees, Volunteers, service providers and contractors.


Workplace Harassment:

Workplace harassment is not limited to within the four walls of the physical space where the majority of business is conducted.  The workplace can include (but is not limited to) organization-related events (including social functions), seminars, training sessions, team building activities, conferences, external meetings, or travelling offsite or abroad.


Workplace harassment can also occur online (virtual meetings, texts, emails, social media, etc.), via telephone or other communications, in conversations or events (work-related or otherwise) outside the workplace, or in the community at large.


Harassment which occurs outside the workplace but which has repercussions in the work environment, adversely affecting workplace relationships and/or creating a hostile work environment, may also be defined as workplace harassment, and dealt with in the same manner.

Harassment is:

Harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome.  Harassment may be defined as a single incident, or an ongoing pattern of behaviour.


This includes but is not limited to:

  • offending or humiliating someone physically or verbally;

  • bullying, threatening or intimidating someone, aggressive behaviour;

  • defamation or character assassination;

  • purposely sabotaging another’s work; misleading staff / volunteers about work duties, such as incorrect deadlines, giving unclear or incorrect directions; ignoring, dismissing or blocking ideas or contributions without appropriate consideration or valid reason;

  • continued denial of requests for time off, proper training, or other accommodations, without an appropriate or valid reason;

  • excessive performance monitoring, overly harsh or unjust criticism;

  • verbal or emotional abuse — either a one-time assault or a consistent pattern of “lesser” assaults — including but not limited to name calling, ordering, accusing / blaming / judging / criticizing (outside of the scope of workplace accountability), abusive expectations, verbal assaults, discounting, blocking and diverting, undermining, gaslighting, or abusive anger; or

  • making unwelcome jokes, innuendo, comments about someone’s race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, marital status, family status, disability or pardoned conviction.


Reasonable action taken by the employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace harassment.


The Canadian Human Rights Act protects employees from harassment based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or pardoned conviction.  There are also provincial codes in each province which govern relationships within provincial jurisdiction.

Sexual harassment is:

Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:

  • behaviour of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, unwelcome, hostile or offensive work environment;

  • behaviour of a sexual nature that could reasonably be thought to put sexual conditions on a person’s job or employment opportunities;

  • actions including but not limited to unwelcome physical contact (or contact which would ought reasonably known to be unwelcome);

  • making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the individual and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome;

  • inappropriate staring or hovering;

  • engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against an individual in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome; or

  • remarks based on physical appearance, sexually based jokes, pornography in the workplace, questions or discussions of a sexual nature, and other manifestations of sexuality.


It should be noted that sexual harassment can also be a criminal offence addressed outside of the workplace as well.

Verbal Abuse:

Verbal abuse creates emotional pain and mental anguish.  It is a lie told to you or about you.  Generally, verbal abuse defines people, telling them what they are, what they think, their motives, and so forth.  Usually one person is blaming, accusing, even name calling, and the other is defending and explaining.


Since the target of verbal abuse is often blamed, ignored, or yelled at, they may have difficulty recognizing just what is going on in the interchange or dynamic.  Most people targeted by verbal abuse try to explain to the perpetrator why what they’ve just heard is not true or not okay.  They explain themselves because they believe the perpetrator is rational and can hear them and the interchange or dynamic will then get better.  Then they usually hear more verbal abuse, for instance, “you’re too sensitive.”  At that point, they don’t usually realize that they have just been defined, and, therefore, verbally abused again.


Verbal abuse is one of the trickier types of harassment to recognize, both as recipient and perpetrator, but can be one of the most damaging contributing factors to workplace toxicity, in part, because it is so difficult to recognize.  A good resource for learning more about verbal abuse is at

Workplace Violence is:

  • Physical Attacks – including physical force such as shoving, pushing, kicking

  • Threatening behaviours against a person

    • Physical Threats — including raising a fist, blocking a doorway or cornering

    • Verbal or Written Threats 

    • Direct Threats – communication which indicates potential to harm

    • Conditional Threats — “if you don’t leave me alone, you will regret it” and similar

  • Malicious intimidation, mockery and teasing

  • Verbal abuse – swearing, insults, condescending language, etc.

  • Actions against property

  • Possession of a dangerous weapon


Workplace violence includes domestic violence where an individual with personal relationship to the organization threatens to harm a spouse, partner or family member at the workplace. 


It should be noted that many forms of workplace violence can also be considered as criminal offences addressed outside of the workplace as well.


Engage Barrie Organization responsibilities

It is the responsibility of a Board Director, Committee lead, Manager, or any other person within this organization who supervises one or more employees or volunteers to take immediate and appropriate action to report or deal with incidents of harassment of any type, whether brought to their attention or personally observed.  Under no circumstances should a complaint be dismissed or downplayed.

This policy is not intended to limit or constrain the reasonable exercise of management functions in the workplace.  Management reserves the right to take reasonable action related to the direction and management of staff and volunteers in all business related matters related to the smooth operation of the business provided the techniques and approaches used by management do not violate any provisions of this policy and provide all staff and volunteers with a harassment free workplace. 

Ensuring a safe and respectful workplace is the responsibility of everyone, however management is expected to exercise leadership in the event of a complaint rather than leaving it to the parties in conflict to work it out on their own.

The Manager, Committee lead, or other direct supervisor, in association with the Board of Directors, is responsible for:

  • ensuring that this policy is applied in a timely, consistent and confidential manner;

  • determining whether or not allegations of harassment are substantiated; and

  • determining what corrective action is appropriate where a harassment complaint has been substantiated.

  • fostering a harassment-free work environment and setting an example about appropriate workplace behaviour;

  • communicating the process for investigating and resolving harassment complaints made by staff, volunteers or members;

  • dealing with harassment situations immediately upon becoming aware of them, whether or not a harassment complaint has been made;

  • taking appropriate action during a harassment investigation, including separating the parties to the harassment complaint, when appropriate; and

  • ensuring harassment situations are dealt with in a sensitive and confidential manner.

In the event that the harassment cannot be reported to the direct supervisor (in cases where the complaint involves the staff or volunteer’s direct supervisor, it will be referred to an impartial Board representative, who will have the same responsibility and authority

Board of Directors: President and/or Secretary (as a representative of the Board of Directors) is responsible for:

  • the administration of this policy;

  • reviewing this policy annually, or as required; and

  • making necessary adjustments to ensure that this policy meets the needs of the organization.

Responsibilities of Staff/Volunteers/Members towards cultivating a safe, respectful environment:

Staff, Volunteers and Members are responsible for:

  • treating others with respect;

  • reporting harassment or other disrespectful/dangerous workplace practices to their direct supervisor and/or a Board member;

  • cooperating with a harassment investigation and respecting the confidentiality related to the investigation process;

Staff, Volunteers and Members can expect:

  • to be treated with respect in the workplace;

  • that reported harassment will be dealt with in a timely, confidential and effective manner;

  • to have their rights to a fair process and to confidentiality respected during a harassment investigation; and

  • to be protected against retaliation for reporting harassment or cooperating with a harassment investigation.


Staff / Volunteers / Members - How to Proceed if you are being harassed:

Step 1: If it is possible and safe to do so, tell the harasser that their behaviour is unwelcome and ask them to stop.  This is not required if doing so would expose you to physical or psychological harm. 

  • Keep a record of incidents (date, times, locations, possible witnesses, what happened, your response).  You do not have to have a record of events in order to make a complaint, but a record can strengthen your case and help you remember details over time. 


Step 2: If, after asking the harasser to stop their behaviour, the harassment continues, report the problem.  An individual may file a harassment complaint by contacting the direct supervisor and/or a Board Director, as specified above.

  • The complaint may be verbal or in writing.  If the complaint is made verbally, the direct supervisor and/or Board Director will record the details provided by the complainant.

  • The complainant should be prepared to provide details such as what happened; when it happened; where it happened; how often and who else was present (if applicable).

  • Complaints should be made as soon as possible but no later than within one year of the last incident of perceived harassment, unless there are circumstances that prevented the individual from doing so.

Supervisor – how to proceed if a complaint has been received:

The supervisor and/or Board Director will notify the person subject to the complaint that the harassment complaint has been made against, in writing, that a harassment complaint has been filed.  The letter will also provide details of the allegations that have been made against them.


Every effort will be made to resolve harassment complaints within 30 days at the local organization level.  The supervisor and/or Board Director will advise both parties of the reasons why, if this is not possible.


If appropriate, the Organization will attempt to resolve the complaint by mediation. If mediation is not successful, an investigation may be undertaken by an investigator designated by the supervisor and/or Board Director.


Commitment to investigate:

  • The supervisor and/or Board Director will ensure that an investigation appropriate in the circumstances is conducted when the Board, human resources, a manager or supervisor becomes aware of an incident of workplace harassment or receives a complaint of workplace harassment.

Who will investigate:

  • The supervisor and/or Board Director will determine, with the Board of Directors, who will conduct the investigation into the incident or complaint of workplace harassment.  If the allegations of workplace harassment involve Board, Supervisors, Management or other senior leadership, Engage Barrie will refer the investigation to an external investigator to conduct an impartial investigation.

Timing of the investigation:

  • The investigation must be completed in a timely manner and generally within 30 days or less unless there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. illness, complex investigation, global pandemic) warranting a longer investigation.

Investigation process:

The person conducting the investigation whether internal or external to the workplace will, at minimum, complete the following:

  • The Investigator must ensure the investigation is kept confidential and identifying information is not disclosed unless necessary to conduct the investigation.  The Investigator should remind the parties of this confidentiality obligation at the beginning of the investigation.

  • The investigator must thoroughly interview the individual who allegedly experienced the workplace harassment and the alleged harasser(s), if the alleged harasser is a Director, Staff, Volunteer or Member of Engage Barrie.  If the alleged harasser is not a Director, Staff, Volunteer or Member, the Investigator should make reasonable efforts to interview the alleged harasser.

  • The alleged harasser(s) must be given the opportunity to respond to the specific allegations raised by the complainant.  In some circumstances, the individual who allegedly experienced the workplace harassment should be given a reasonable opportunity to reply.

  • The Investigator must interview any relevant witnesses employed (whether through salary, contract, or volunteer) by Engage Barrie who may be identified by either the individual who allegedly experienced the workplace harassment, the alleged harasser(s) or as necessary to conduct a thorough investigation.  The Investigator must make reasonable efforts to interview any relevant witnesses who are not employed by the Engage Barrie if there are any identified.

  • The Investigator must collect and review any relevant documents.

  • The Investigator must take appropriate notes and statements during interviews with the individual who allegedly experienced workplace harassment, the alleged harasser and any witnesses.

  • The Investigator must prepare a written report summarizing the steps taken during the investigation, the complaint, the allegations of the individual who allegedly experienced the workplace harassment, the response from the alleged harasser, the evidence of any witnesses, and the evidence gathered.  The report must set out findings of fact and come to a conclusion about whether workplace harassment was found or not.

Results of the investigation:

  • Within 10 days of the investigation being completed, the individual who allegedly experienced the workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if they are a Director, Staff, Volunteer or Member of Engage Barrie, will be informed in writing of the results of the investigation and any corrective action taken or that will be taken by Engage Barrie to address workplace harassment.


  • Information about complaints and incidents shall be kept confidential to the extent possible, as the investigation is ongoing.  Information obtained about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless disclosure is necessary to protect other staff, volunteers or members, to investigate the complaint or incident, to take corrective action or otherwise as required by law.

  • While the investigation is on-going, the individual who has allegedly experienced harassment, the alleged harasser(s) and any witnesses should not discuss the incident or complaint or the investigation with each other or other staff / volunteers / members or witnesses unless necessary to obtain advice about their rights.  The investigator may discuss the investigation and disclose the incident or complaint-related information only as necessary to conduct the investigation.

  • All records of the investigation will be kept confidential, unless required as evidence for a criminal investigation, or as required by law (e.g., threat of harm against another).

Substantiated Complaint

If a harassment complaint is substantiated, the supervisor and/or Board Director will decide what action is appropriate.

Remedies for the individual who was harassed may include: an oral or written apology; compensation for lost wages; compensation for any lost employment benefits such as sick leave; and compensation for distress.

Corrective action for the Director, Staff, Volunteer or Member found to have engaged in harassment may include: a reprimand; a suspension; a transfer; a demotion; and/or dismissal.  If the individual is to remain with Engage Barrie in any capacity, an appropriate level of re-training in workplace safety and human rights law may be ordered before returning to work.  Any Director, Staff, Volunteer or Member found to have not handled the harassment situation or complaint according to Engage Barrie policy and procedure will also be required to take similar training.

Both parties to the complaint will be advised, in writing, of the decision.  A report will be prepared by the supervisor and/or Board Director who filed the complaint.

Other Redress

An individual who is not satisfied with the outcome of the harassment complaint process may file a discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission or Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Privacy and Confidentiality

All parties to a harassment complaint are expected to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all other parties involved and to limit the discussion of a harassment complaint to those that need to know, with the understanding that:

  • The substantiated charges and identity of the individual found to have engaged in harassment may constitute a “need to know” for the sake of workplace safety.

  • The identity of the complainant should only be disclosed with their permission, and in full consideration of their physical, psychological and emotional safety.

Engage Barrie Organization and all individuals involved in the harassment complaint process will comply with all requirements and all applicable legislation to protect personal information.


External Resources:

Government of Canada — Is it Harassment? A Tool to Guide Employees:

Ontario — Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment:

OHRC - Human Rights at Work 2008 - Third Edition:

Ontario - Understand the Law on Workplace Violence and Harassment:

Verbal Abuse Information Site:

(initially created for domestic/romantic relationships, but a good source of information about the common dynamics of verbal abuse, emotional abuse & controlling behaviour in general, which can be a more difficult-to-spot form of abuse & harassment, but can be highly toxic in the workplace) 


It shall be the responsibility of all Directors and Committee leaders to implement this policy and report to the Board of Directors annually, or more often as needed, on its progress.


Engage Barrie Organization is not responsible for errors or omissions.  Engage Barrie Organization takes every precaution to ensure that the content of our policy and procedures stay current and accurate, acknowledging errors can occur.  Given the changing natures of laws, rules and regulations, there may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies.


This policy was approved in Barrie, Ontario on September 6, 2021, by the Board of Directors.

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