4.1 Allegation: An allegation is an unproven assertion or statement based on a person’s perspective that the policy has been violated.
4.2 Complainant: The person alleging that discrimination or harassment occurred. There can be more than one complainant in a human rights complaint.
4.3 Discrimination: Discrimination is any practice or behaviour, whether intentional or not, which has a negative impact on an individual or group because of membership in a group protected in the Ontario Human Rights Code (e.g., disability, sex, race, sexual orientation, etc.) or circumstances unrelated to the person’s abilities or the employment or service issue in question. Discrimination may arise as a result of direct differential treatment or it may result from the unequal effect of treating individuals and groups in the same way. Either way, if the effect on the individual is to withhold or limit full, equal and meaningful access to goods, services, facilities, employment, housing accommodation or contracts available to other members of society, it is discrimination.
4.4 Duty to Accommodate: The legal obligation to take steps to eliminate disadvantage caused by systemic, attitudinal or physical barriers that unfairly exclude individuals or groups protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. It also includes an obligation to meet the special needs of individuals and groups protected by the Code unless meeting such needs would create undue hardship. Failure to accommodate a person short of undue hardship is a form of discrimination (for service provision accommodation obligations, refer to the Accessibility for Ontarian's with Disabilities Act; in the area of employment, refer to the Employment Accommodation Policy and Guidelines)
4.5 Employee: For the purpose of this policy, the term employee includes: City of Toronto employees, job applicants and individuals performing services directly on the city's behalf whether with or without compensation or benefit, excluding individuals providing services by way of service provision/third party contracts – see section 2.3
4.6 Equal Treatment: Equal treatment is treatment that brings about an equality of results and that may, in some instances, require different treatment. For example, to give all employees equal treatment in entering a building, it may be necessary to provide a ramp for an employee who requires the use of a wheelchair.
4.7 Harassment: Provisions regarding harassment are included in both the Ontario Human Rights Code, referred to as "Code Harassment", (see 4.8) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act ,referred to as "Workplace (non-Code) Harassment", (see 4.9). It is a form of discrimination if it is Code Harassment. Harassment may result from one incident or a series of incidents. Harassment can occur between co-workers, between management and employees, between employees and Members of Council, between employees and vendors, between employees and recipients of municipal services, between employees and members of the public, between Members of Council and members of the public, between Members of Council and their staff.
4.8 Code Harassment: defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome based on one or more of the prohibited grounds listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code, that a person knows or ought to know would be unwelcome, offensive, embarrassing or hurtful – see section 2.0 for a list of the prohibited grounds.
Examples of Code harassment based on a prohibited ground include, but are not limited to:
- slurs or derogatory remarks;
- inappropriate jokes, innuendos, name-calling, teasing;
- insulting gestures;
- practical jokes which result in embarrassment;
- displaying pin-ups, pornography, racist, homophobic or other offensive materials;
- use of electronic communications such as the internet and e-mail to harass;
- actions that invade privacy;
- spreading rumours that damage one’s reputation;
- refusing to work with another;
- condescending or patronizing behaviour;
- abuse of authority which undermines performance or threatens careers;
- unwelcome touching, physical assault or sexual assault (refer to the City's Workplace Violence Policy).
There is no legal obligation for an individual to tell a harasser to stop. The fact that a person does not explicitly object to harassing behaviour, or appears to be going along with it does not mean that the behaviour is not harassing or that it has been consented to.
4.9 Workplace Harassment: is harassment that is not related to a prohibited ground identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Workplace harassment, defined in 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.
Workplace harassment often involves a course or grouping of behaviours. However a single serious incident of such behaviour that has a lasting harmful effect on an employee may also constitute workplace harassment.
This policy is not intended to interfere with constructive feedback regarding performance or operational directives provided to employees by their supervisors or managers.
Examples of workplace harassment include a pattern of:
- frequent angry shouting/yelling or blow-ups
- regular use of profanity and abusive language
- verbal or e-mail threats (not including threats to exercise physical force which are covered by the workplace violence policy), intimidation
- intimidating behaviours - slamming doors, throwing objects
- targeting individual(s) in humiliating practical jokes,
- excluding, shunning, impeding work performance
- spreading gossip, rumours, negative blogging, cyberbullying
- retaliation, bullying, sabotaging
- unsubstantiated criticism, unreasonable demands
- frequent insults and/or name calling
- public humiliation
- communication that is demeaning, insulting, humiliating, mocking
- Intent to harm
- A single, serious incident that has a lasting, harmful impact
Workplace harassment does not include:
- legitimate performance/probation management
- appropriate exercise and delegation of managerial authority
- operational directives
- a disagreement or misunderstanding
- conflict between co-workers
- work related change of location, co-workers, job assignment
- appropriate discipline
- less than optimal management
- a single comment or action unless it is serious and has a lasting harmful effect
- rudeness unless it is extreme and repetitive
- conditions in the workplace that generate stress (technological change, impending layoff, a new boss, friction with other employees, workload, etc.)
4.10 Racial Harassment: Racial harassment is harassment on the ground of race. It may also be associated with the grounds of colour, ancestry, where a person was born, a person’s religious belief, ethnic background, citizenship or even a person’s language. Racial harassment/discrimination can include:
- racial slurs or jokes
- ridicule, insults or different treatment because of your racial identity
- posting/e-mailing cartoons or pictures that degrade persons of a particular racial group
- name-calling because of a person’s race, colour, citizenship, place of origin, ancestry, ethnic background or creed
4.11 Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is harassment on the ground of sex.
- a sexual advance or solicitation from anyone if the person knows or ought to know the advance is unwelcome - especially if the advance is from a person in a position to give or deny a benefit, to engage in a reprisal, or if a threat of reprisal is made if the advance is rejected.
- sexually suggestive or obscene remarks or gestures
- leering (suggestive staring) at a person’s body,
- unwelcome physical contact,
- having to work in a sexualized environment (bragging about sexual prowess, or discussions about sexual activities),
- circulation or posting of sexist jokes or cartoons, display of pin-up calendars or other objectifying images,
- negative stereotypical comments based on gender, sex or sexual orientation
- gender related comments about an individual’s physical characteristics or mannerisms and/or behaviours that reinforce traditional heterosexual gender norms
- exercising power over another person, making them feel unwelcome or putting them 'in their place' – motivated by sexual interest
This policy is not intended to interfere with normal social interaction between employees.
4.12 Mediation: A voluntary process where parties in dispute consent to meet with a trained mediator to determine whether the dispute can be resolved in a mutually satisfactory manner. Mediation discussions between parties are treated as private and confidential to the full extent permitted by law.
4.13 Poisoned Work Environment: A poisoned work environment is a form of indirect Code based harassment/discrimination. It occurs when comments or actions ridicule or demean a person or group creating real or perceived inequalities in the workplace. Pornography, pin-ups, offensive cartoons, insulting slurs or jokes, and malicious gossip (even when they are not directed towards a specific employee or group of employees) have been found to “poison the work environment” for employees.
4.14 Prohibited (Protected) Grounds: The list of grounds for which a person or group is protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. See Application section 2.0 for a list of prohibited grounds. Under the Code, case law and this policy, there are protections where there is a perception that one of the prohibited grounds applies or where someone is treated differently because of an association or relationship with a person identified by one of the above grounds.
4.15 Reasonable Person Test: This is an objective standard to measure whether a comment or conduct is discrimination or harassment. It considers what a reasonable person's reaction would have been under similar circumstances and in a similar environment. It considers the recipient's perspective and not stereotyped notions of acceptable behaviour. This standard is used to assess human rights complaints under this policy.
4.16 Respondent: The person who is alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment. There can be more than one respondent in a human rights complaint.
4.17 Workplace: The workplace includes all locations where business or social activities of the City are conducted. This Policy may apply to incidents that happen away from work (e.g., inappropriate phone calls, e-mails or visits to an employee's home, incidents at luncheons, after work socials).