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Central Coast
Regional District

Policy E8 Respectful Workplace

CENTRAL COAST REGIONAL DISTRICT

Purpose: To formalize the responsibility and commitment of the Central Coast Regional District (CCRD) to ensure that all managers, employees, elected officials, contractors, volunteers, residents, customers and visitors enjoy a workplace and service environment that is free from any form of discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment.)

To establish that the CCRD promotes a work environment in which all managers, employees, elected officials, and contractors are treated with respect and dignity and can contribute to a productive and professional atmosphere.

To ensure that all managers, employees, elected officials, and contractors understand what is meant by a respectful workplace and know what to do to ensure that a respectful workplace is created and maintained at the CCRD.

To provide processes and procedures to handle complaints and remedy situations when workplace discrimination, harassment or conflict, as defined by this Policy, occurs.

Policy:

What is a respectful workplace?

A respectful workplace is one which is free from discrimination and harassment as prohibited by the BC Human Rights Code. Discrimination and harassment are not tolerated at the CCRD. All employees, elected officials, contractors, volunteers, residents, customers and visitors at the CCRD shall have a respectful experience free from discrimination and harassment.

A respectful workplace is a workplace where each employee, elected official, volunteer, resident, customer and visitor feels comfortable and is treated fairly and civilly by others. All employees, elected officials and volunteers of the CCRD are expected to conduct themselves in a friendly, courteous and professional manner. The philosophy, which must be shared by employees, elected officials and volunteers of the CCRD, is “treat others as you would have them treat you.” Employees and elected officials are expected to consider the feelings and pride of others and to respect their unique backgrounds and contributions.

A respectful workplace promotes cooperative and collaborative behaviors including healthy group dynamics and proactive problem solving.

The CCRD will not tolerate any form of harassment within the Regional District.  Each elected official and member of the CCRD will act as a model for his/her colleagues and will perform his/her duties in a respectful, non-discriminatory manner.

In order to foster a respectful workplace, everyone at the CCRD must understand that this policy applies to all. Every employee, elected official, contractor and volunteer must accept his or her responsibility and accountability to ensure that a discrimination and harassment free work and service environment exists at the CCRD.

Our Commitment to Employment Equity

The CCRD incorporates the intent of the respectful workplace policy in its hiring practices. The CCRD promotes equal access to jobs, promotions, transfers, pay increases, training and development opportunities, and other aspects of employment to all individuals.

The CCRD will provide fair and equal opportunities to all employees and prospective employees. The CCRD will employ people who are capable of carrying out the work available, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, age or affiliations.

How Do We Define Respectful Communication?

English is the language for communicating about the work of the CCRD.  While employees may speak in a language other than English at work, each employee must be aware of how their choice of language is affecting others. If an individual in a group does not understand the language being spoken, he/she may feel excluded and uncomfortable. This is contrary to the spirit of a respectful workplace, which promotes a workplace where employees feel comfortable and included.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination refers to unfair, differential treatment of individuals or groups and is prohibited by law. Discrimination may be intentional or unintentional and often stems from prejudice and/or stereotypes we have of others.  Discrimination can result in one individual or group having an
advantage over another. Discrimination can cause an individual or group to be excluded from activities which they have the right to be included in.

All employees, elected officials, contractors and volunteers at the CCRD are protected from discrimination in employment by the BC Human Rights Code on the following grounds: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, political belief or unrelated criminal or summary conviction.

All residents and visitors who access the services provided by the CCRD are protected from discrimination by the BC Human Rights Code on the following grounds: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex or sexual orientation of that person or class of persons.

What is Harassment?

Harassment is a type of discrimination. It is a serious violation of fundamental human rights. Harassment means engaging in a course of annoying comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, and is tied to a prohibited ground of discrimination. It is behaviour which causes distress and serves no legitimate work related purpose.

Harassment attacks a person´s dignity, health and well being. It is unwarranted comment, conduct, or gesture that humiliates, intimidates, insults, embarrasses, excludes, isolates and undermines the individual´s self-esteem.   It can be a single incident (in the case of physical contact) or a pattern of repeated incidents directed against an individual or protected group. Whether intentional or unintentional, harassment demonstrates a lack of respect for the individuality and the dignity of those it targets.

Harassment behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

    a) Written or verbal intimidation, threats, or abuse
    b) Physical assaults or intimidation  
    c) Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendoes, or taunting which may humiliate, degrade or abuse
    d) Distribution or displaying of sexually explicit, racist, or other offensive or derogatory pictures or materials, (including materials on computers)
    e) Practical jokes which cause awkwardness or embarrassment, endanger a person´s safety or negatively affect a person´s performance
    f) Hazing or initiation rites  
    g) Condescension, paternalism, or patronizing behaviour which undermines self-respect, or adversely affects a person´s performance (or working conditions)
    h) False accusations of harassment, motivated by malice or mischief, meant to cause others harm.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination under the BC Human Rights Code. Sexual harassment is uninvited and unwelcome conduct that is sexual in nature that may detrimentally affect the work or service environment or lead to adverse job related or other consequences for the victim of harassment. The term ´sexual harassment´ has come to be used to identify those kinds of sexual coercion and exploitation of women and men in a formal or structured relationship in which we have an expectation that the relationship has nothing to do with sex or sexuality.

Sexual harassment behaviour includes, but is not limited to:
    a) Remarks, jokes, innuendoes or derogatory or demeaning comments regarding someone´s body, appearance, physical or sexual characteristics or clothing
    b) Displaying of sexually offensive or derogatory pictures, cartoons or other material including material on computers)
    c) Unwelcome questions or sharing of information regarding a person´s sexuality, sexual activity or sexual orientation
    d) Sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the victim of harassment
    e) Leering or other suggestive or obscene gestures
    f) Conduct, comments, gestures or contacts of a sexual nature that are likely to cause offence or humiliation or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on any opportunity for selection, training advancement, or employment
    g) Unwanted physical contact of any kind.

What is Criminal Harassment?

Criminal harassment may be defined as adverse differential treatment of an individual or individuals which involves assault, damage to personal property or company property, and stalking.

What is a Poisoned Environment?

Harassment can ´poison´ the work environment for the victim of harassment as well as for others who share the work environment. A ´poisoned´ work environment is one which is hostile, intimidating or offensive. Comments or actions of a co-worker or a supervisor may create a poisoned environment. These comments and/or actions make the workplace uncomfortable and can interfere with productivity and interactions of the work group. The poisoned environment forms an unequal term or condition of employment, and is therefore a violation of the right to be free from discrimination.

DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT COMPLAINT PROCEDURE:

The CCRD encourages the prompt reporting of all allegations of harassment, regardless of who the offender may be.  All incidents of discrimination and harassment, including single and multiple incidents, must be reported so that corrective action may be taken to:

1. Stop the discriminatory behaviour; and
2. Remedy the situation for the individual(s) involved.

It is the responsibility of the CCRD to ensure that all complaints, which are brought to the attention of a member of the management staff, are dealt with promptly and fairly. Employees, elected officials, volunteers, residents and visitors who feel subject to, or who are aware of an incident of discrimination or harassment, are required to report it in writing to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

If a manager or supervisor suspects that discrimination or harassment may be occurring, he/she must take action to deal with the concern.

If you feel you are being harassed

    1. Tell the person whose conduct is offensive that his/her behaviour makes you uncomfortable, and request that it stops immediately.
    2.   Keep a record of dates, times, nature of any incidents and witnesses, if any.

Complaint Procedure for Employees

No employee will be criticized or penalized in any way because he/she has, acting honestly and in good faith, brought a complaint relating to harassment or discrimination to the attention of the CCRD.  Any employee who misuses this policy by making a false complaint in bad faith will be disciplined, up to and including discharge and may also be liable for defamation and libel.

The CCRD provides an informal as well as a formal complaint procedure for its employees. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the complaint procedure and investigation. Disclosure of information will be made only to the extent required to investigate a given complaint, to the extent practicable and appropriate under the circumstances, or required by law. Any unwarranted breaches of confidentiality will be treated very seriously.

Informal Procedure

    1. If you are unable to speak with the person or have spoken to the person and the behaviour does not stop, discuss your concerns with either your supervisor or the CAO.
    2. Your supervisor, the CAO, or other representative of the CCRD will investigate the complaint and attempt to resolve the issue informally between the parties. The outcome will be documented and placed in a confidential file with the CAO.
Formal Procedure

Any time you may make a formal written complaint to your supervisor or the CAO an investigation will follow. The formal complaint procedure is as follows:

    1. A copy of the written complaint will be provided to the person about whose conduct there has been a complaint or the CCRD will advise the person in writing of the allegations;
    2. The person will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint in writing;
    3. The complaint will be investigated by speaking to the complainant, to the person complained about and to other individuals, where appropriate, in confidence;
    4.   If the complaint is substantiated, appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action will be taken and a record will be made of the investigation and result;
    5. Where the complaint is not substantiated, no further action will be taken against the person complained about. A confidential record of the complaint, investigation and result will be filed with the CAO; and
    6. The complainant and the person complained about will be advised in writing of the outcome of the investigation.

Procedures with respect to complaints involving customers, clients, suppliers or other outside persons

If you believe you are subject to any form of harassment by a customer, supplier or other outside person with whom the CCRD does business, you should advise your supervisor or the CAO. The matter will be investigated by using either the informal or formal procedure to the extent appropriate in the circumstances.

Procedures with respect to complaints involving CCRD Board Members or the CAO

If you believe you are subject to any form of harassment by a CCRD Board Member or the CAO, you should advise your supervisor or the Chair of the CCRD Board. The matter will be investigated by using either the informal or formal procedure to the extent appropriate in the circumstances.  

Outside Investigator

The CCRD may choose to bring in an outside party to investigate the complaint. The investigation will be confidential. The investigator will prepare a confidential report providing the information and/or advice management needs to make a decision in respect of the complaint.

The CCRD reserves the right to proceed with an investigation even if no formal complaint is made or if a complaint is withdrawn.

Resolutions

Resolutions resulting from a complaint or investigation, whether formal or informal, may include any one or more of the following:
    a) a formal apology;
    b) a written warning to the person whose conduct was harassment;
    c) counselling;
    d) attendance at educational seminars;
    e) a change in work assignment of the person complained about;
    f) demotion;
    g) suspension or discharge from the CCRD

In the case of harassment of an employee by someone who is not an employee of the CCRD, appropriate action will be taken.

In addition to any sanctions imposed by the CCRD, individuals who engage in harassment could face sanctions imposed under the B C Human Rights Code. If the situation moves to legal steps by any parties, the internal administrative procedures will be suspended.

What About Workplace Conflict?

Discrimination and harassment are specific types of conflicts which are prohibited by the BC Human Rights Code. There are many other types of conflicts that can arise in the workplace that are not dealt with by the BC Human Rights Code. For the purpose of this Policy, these other types of conflicts are dealt with as “Workplace Conflict.”

Getting along with co-workers, supervisors, or elected officials may not always be easy, but making an effort to resolve conflict at work should be a goal of all employees and elected officials  at the CCRD. It is the expectation of the CCRD that each employee will try his/her best to get along with his/her co-workers. This means:

    Respect the fact that others may be different from you and that they may have a different approach or way of doing something than you do.
    • Be aware of the fact that how you act can impact others in the workplace.
    • Avoid talking negatively, gossiping or being judgmental about your co-workers or elected officials. This type of behaviour encourages conflict in the workplace, and is not consistent with the goals of the Respectful Workplace Policy.
    • If you are not sure if your behaviour is welcome, ask.

Workplace Violence

Employees must not engage in any improper activity or behaviour or violent behaviour in the workplace that might create or constitute a hazard to them or any other person.

Improper activity or behaviour includes the attempted exercise by a person towards another person in the workplace of any physical force or violence so as to cause injury and includes any threatening statement or behaviour which gives a person reasonable cause to believe he or she is at risk of injury. Improper activity or behaviour also includes physically or mentally bullying, tormenting or other demeaning behaviours towards another person.

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can be defined as a conscious, wilful and deliberate hostile activity intended to harm.

Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people.

Bullying can also be described as the assertion of power through aggression.

Bullying or other aggressive or demeaning behaviours towards others are contrary to a respectful workplace and will not be tolerated at the CCRD.  Individuals who are found to be bullying or otherwise tormenting others, either physically, mentally or via email or in writing, will be subject to discipline.

Areas Where Infractions May Occur

For the purpose of this policy, workplace discrimination, harassment, violence or bullying can occur in, but is not limited to the following:
    a) At the work place
    b) At work-related social functions
    c) At business functions, such as meetings, conferences, training sessions and workshops
    d) At sporting events and competitions
    e) During telephone conversations
    f) During electronic communications via computer, phone, or other electronic device
    g) Elsewhere if the person harassed is present as a result of CCRD related responsibilities or relationships  

Workplace Conflict Complaint Procedure

If someone is behaving in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable at work, or if you are having a conflict with someone at work, you are encouraged to try and speak with the person directly and discuss the matter with him/her. If you do not feel comfortable dealing with the individual directly, you should speak to the CAO who will assist you in resolving the situation.

If you see others behaving in a way that is inappropriate or disrespectful, try and speak to the person(s) involved or bring the matter to the attention of the CAO (or Board Chair if it involves the CAO or an elected official).

Workplace Conflict Discipline Procedures for Employees

All employees are subject to the following disciplinary procedures:
    • First contravention: verbal warning followed up with a letter which will be placed in the employee´s personnel file
    • Second contravention: one day work suspension without pay
    • Third contravention: one week work suspension without pay
    • Fourth contravention: termination of employment.

Workplace Conflict Discipline Procedures for Board Members

If the complaint involves the CAO or an elected official, the complaint should be reported to the Board Chair of the CCRD, who will speak to the CAO or accused elected official to try to resolve the situation. If there is no resolution the Chair will report the incident to the CCRD Board, who will determine what action will be taken to resolve the situation.  

Natural Justice

All investigations stemming from a complaint shall follow the principles of natural justice, which stated that:
    a) Everyone has the right to a fair hearing in the course of determining whether an infraction has been committed
    b) The issues should be clearly and concisely stated so that the accused is aware of the essentials of the complaint
    c) The accused has a right to have a representative present in his or her case
    d) Relevant information must be available to all parties
    e) The accused has the right to call and cross-examine witnesses
    f) The accused has the right to a written decision following the judgment
    g) The accused has the right to appeal a decision (if there are grounds)
    h) The decision-making body has a duty to listen fairly to both sides and to reach a decision untainted by bias.

Adopted: April 11, 2013
This Policy shall be reviewed every three years by the Central Coast Regional District.

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