Administrative Procedure 171

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Background

The Division is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to work in a professional workplace and to learn in a safe setting which promotes equality of opportunity and which prohibits discriminatory practices.

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex and is prohibited.

The Superintendent has developed this Administrative Procedure to prevent sexual harassment and to deal quickly and effectively with any incident that might occur.

Definition

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behaviour that is sexual in nature. Unwanted sexual advances, unwanted requests for sexual acts, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment with:

  • Such conduct undermines another individual’s personal dignity by causing embarrassment, discomfort, humiliation or offence; or
  • Such conduct interferes with an individual’s work performance or learning opportunities by creating an intimidating or hostile work or learning environment; or
  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition or employment or of educational services; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct affects decisions regarding that individual’s employment or educational advancement including matters such as promotion, salary, benefits, job security, grades, or employment references.

Sexual harassment includes unwanted touching (e.g. pinching, patting, rubbing), leering, sexist jokes, the display or sexually suggestive material, derogatory or degrading comments, sexually suggestive gestures, and unwelcome propositions, innuendoes, demands or inquiries of a sexual nature.

Although sexual harassment most commonly occurs in the form of behaviour by males towards females, it can also occur as behaviour by females towards males, between males or between females.

Procedures

  1. Individuals Covered
    1. This Administrative Procedure applies to all individuals working or volunteering for the Division or attending Division schools.
       
  2. Confidentiality
    1. The Division recognizes the difficulty of reporting sexually harassing behaviour, and understands that confidentiality is important to complainants.
    2. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the complaint procedure, and information relating to the complaint, including the identity of the parties involved, will only be disclosed to the extent necessary to investigate the complaint.
       
  3. Responsibility
    1. The Division is responsible for providing a work and learning environment, free from sexual harassment. To this end, the Superintendent will:
      1. Inform all employees, volunteers, parent(s) and students about the sexual harassment procedure;
      2. Take steps to educate employees, volunteers and students about sexual harassment, and the procedures for investigating complaints;
      3. Discourage and prevent sexual harassment, even in the absence of formal complaints (e.g. speaking with known harassers)
      4. Promptly investigate every complaint; and
      5. Support and assist any employee, volunteer or student who complains of sexual harassment.
         
  4. Reporting of Complaints.  
    1. The Superintendent encourages reporting of all incidents of sexual harassment.
    2. Employees, volunteers or students who have experienced sexual harassment are encouraged to:
      1. Keep a written record of the date, time, nature of the behaviour, names of people who may have witnessed the incident, and the action taken to stop the harassment.
      2. If practicable, advise the offender, either verbally or in writing, that his/her behaviour is unacceptable and unwelcome and ask him/her to stop; and
      3. Promptly report the incident(s) to a trusted adult or the Principal or the  Superintendent.
    3. Any employee or student who believes that a colleague has experienced or is experiencing sexual harassment or retaliation is encouraged to notify the Principal or the Superintendent. In the case of students being the alleged harasser, employees must always be aware that they stand in loco parentis to all student(s).
       
  5. Resolution of Complaints
    1. The resolution of substantiated complaints will follow the following process, namely:
      1. The Principal or Superintendent may attempt to resolve the complaint in an informal manner (e.g. through mediation with both parties). If the parties do not agree to such informal process, or if the Principal or Superintendent believes that an informal process is not practicable having regard to all the circumstances then clause 5.2 shall be complied with.
      2. If informal resolution fails or is not agreed upon or is impractical, the Principal can refer the complaint to the Superintendent.
        1. The Superintendent may impose appropriate disciplinary measures after taking such other investigative steps as may be required by this Administrative Procedure and in the event this Administrative Procedure is silent such further investigative steps as the Superintendent deems appropriate in the circumstances.
        2. In any event, the Superintendent shall provide the person accused of the harassment with an opportunity to respond to the complaint.
    2. If the harasser has been disciplined, the relevant documentation will be retained in his/her personnel file. If the investigation fails to disclose evidence to support the complaint, no record of the complaint shall be retained in the alleged harasser’s file.
    3. If the complaint is filed in good faith, no documentation will be placed in the complainant’s file, regardless of the outcome. However, any person(s) who knowingly and wilfully submits a complaint based on false allegations shall be subject to disciplinary action and the documentation will be retained in his/her personnel file.
       
  6. Protection Against Retaliation
    1. The Division will not retaliate against an individual who reports sexual harassment, nor permit any employee or student to do so. Retaliation will not occur against an individual:
      1. For invoking this Administrative Procedure on their own or on another person’s behalf; or
      2. For participating in or co-operating with an investigation under this  Administrative Procedure.
         
  7. Disciplinary Measures
    1. Where the complaint has not been informally resolved, individuals found to have engaged in sexual harassment will be appropriately disciplined. Disciplinary actions for persons who have engaged in sexual harassment, retaliated against a person who has filed a complaint, or filed a complaint in bad faith may include:
      1. A written apology;
      2. A written reprimand delivered to the harasser and recorded in his/her personnel or student file;
      3. Referral to counselling;
      4. Transfer;
      5. Withholding of promotion;
      6. Demotion;
      7. Suspension or termination (for employees);
      8. Suspension or expulsion (for students).
         
  8. The complainant and alleged perpetrator have the right of appeal outlined in student and personnel appeal policies.
     
  9. Informal or Verbal Complaints
    1. Students or employees who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment may discuss the situation with a teacher, Principal, counsellor, or Superintendent. These persons shall respect confidences and will provide support and guidance in assisting complainants to choose from among the alternatives that are open to them.
       
  10. Formal or Written Complaints
    1. Individuals who believe they have been sexually harassed may submit a written complaint to a trusted adult, the Principal or the Superintendent. A valid letter of complaint is normally to contain the following information:
      1. Who the alleged harasser was/is,
      2. Where the alleged harassment took place,
      3. When the alleged harassment took place,
      4. The nature of the alleged harassment,
      5. Witnesses (if any), and
      6. What, if anything was done to stop the harassment.
    2. The trusted adult, Principal or the Superintendent may refuse to take action on a complaint which is deemed to be frivolous or vexatious.
      1. The trusted adult’s decision may be appealed to the Principal. The Principal’s decision may be appealed to the Superintendent. The Superintendent’s decision may be appealed to the Board.
    3. If the trusted adult believes action is necessary, the Principal or Superintendent will be notified.
    4. The Superintendent will investigate the details of the complaint and will hear from the parties involved and recommend solutions to identified problems.
      1. In the course of the investigation, the Superintendent shall ensure that all documents submitted by either the complainant or the respondent be provided to the other party and that all evidence is submitted by either the respondent or the complainant to the other party.  
      2. The Superintendent may wish to secure additional information from files and records or other sources maintained by the Division, and in such event, any such information will be secured in conformity with any Division procedures governing access to such information.                     
      3. Additionally, if such information is obtained both parties will be notified of the information and be given the opportunity to respond thereto.
      4. The investigation to be conducted by the Superintendent shall be conducted in a period not to exceed one (1) month from the receipt by the Superintendent of the initial complaint.
    5. Should the complainant so request, the investigation will be stopped at any point except where the respondent requests the investigation continue. (This might arise where an investigation had involved obtaining records, etc. and where the person(s) against whom the complaint had been made wish to clear their names.
      1. In such circumstances the request will be considered by the Superintendent and the decision of the Superintendent will be final and binding.
      2. At any time the Superintendent may choose to close or to suspend the investigation. Such a decision may be appealed to the Board.

  11. Decision of the Superintendent
    1. When the investigation is closed, the Superintendent will make a full report indicating:
      1. That the respondent is guilty or not guilty of sexual harassment;
      2. That the respondent be disciplined or that other action be taken;
      3. That the matter has been referred to an appropriate outside agency (e.g., the Alberta Human Rights Commission);
      4. That administrative or other changes be made in order to avoid re-occurrence;
      5. That the complainant deliberately and knowingly made false allegations in an attempt to cause harm to the respondent, and that specific sanctions be imposed on the complainant.
    2. The Superintendent will communicate the decision to the complainant and respondent.
    3. Any sanctions imposed by the Superintendent will be set out in the written notification.

  12. Complaint to Human Rights Commission
    1. The foregoing does not prohibit a person being harassed (employee, volunteer or student) from making a complaint directly to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
    2. Any complaint filed under the Individual’s Rights Protection Act must be lodged with the Alberta Human Rights Commission within six (6) months of the alleged incident.
    3. Either party has the right to seek redress through the civil courts or to file a complaint with their union. 

Reference

Section 20, 45, 45.1. 60, 61, 96, 113 School Act

Alberta Human Rights Act

Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act

Employment Standards Code

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canadian Human Rights Act

Criminal Code

Individual’s Rights Protection Act

Student Record Regulation 225/2006

ATA Code of Professional Conduct

 

Approved: June 11, 1996

Amended: May 3, 1999; August 21, 2018