This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.
Approving Authority: Board of Governors
Original Approval Date: February 12, 1991
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: November 16, 2023
Office of Accountability: Office of the President
Administrative Responsibility: Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management
1.01 Wilfrid Laurier University (“Laurier” or “University”) is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and Indigeneity as part of its core values, and understands that the effective creation and dissemination of new knowledge must take place in an academic community that recognizes the dignity and value of all students, staff and faculty members. The University is committed to fostering a learning, scholarly and workplace environment that is free from harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct.
1.02 Each member of the campus community is responsible for helping to create an environment that promotes mutual respect and understanding for the dignity and rights of others.
Several of the following definitions are taken from legislation governing the subject matter of this policy. The legislation supersedes this policy; to the extent the relevant legislation is amended, the definitions below will be read as likewise amended until such time as the policy is updated.
2.01 Direct Discrimination: Direct Discrimination describes an act, behaviour or practice of treating a person unequally on the basis of a Protected Ground.
2.02 Poisoned Environment: Where harassing or discriminatory behaviours are severe and/or pervasive and cause unreasonable interference with a person’s study or work environment, a poisoned environment may be created. The harassing behaviours need not be linked to the Protected Grounds. A poisoned work or learning environment is characterized as toxic or poisoned because it is intimidating, hostile and/or offensive. A poisoned environment can arise from even a single incident. It may be created by the comments or actions of any person, regardless of his or her status. The comments or conduct do not have to be directed at a particular individual. A person need not be the target of the behaviours to feel the effects of certain harassing and/or discriminatory behaviours at their place of work or study.
2.03 Protected Grounds: Protected Grounds are the protected categories listed under the Human Rights Code (Ontario) (“OHRC”)1, which, as of the effective date of this policy, are: age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status (including single status), gender identity, gender expression, record of offences (in employment only), sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding) and sexual orientation.
2.04 Systemic Discrimination: Systemic Discrimination: Systemic Discrimination, referred to as “constructive discrimination” in the OHRC, is discrimination inherent in, or the result of, the organization’s informal or formal policies, practices or procedures. Systemic Discrimination occurs intentionally or unintentionally when a requirement, qualification, or factor results in the exclusion, restriction or preference of a group identified by a Protected Ground.
2.05 Racism: Racism is an ideology that either explicitly or implicitly asserts that one racialized group is inherently superior to others. Racism is broader than Racial Discrimination and is rooted in negative attitudes, assumptions, values and stereotypical beliefs that may manifest in actions of Direct or Systemic Racial Discrimination.
2.06 Racial Discrimination: Racial discrimination may be direct or systemic in nature. Racial discrimination is any distinction, conduct or action, whether intentional or not, based on a person’s race, which has the effect of imposing burdens not imposed upon others, or withholding or limiting access to benefits available to other members of society. When racist ideology is enacted racial discrimination occurs and is a violation of this policy and legislation.
Racial discrimination can include racial slurs and jokes.
2.07 Workplace Harassment: As defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) workplace harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in the workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or workplace sexual harassment.
2.07.01 Workplace harassment often involves repeated words or actions, or a pattern of behaviours, against a worker or group of workers in the workplace that are unwelcome.
2.07.02 Harassment does not include:
a. interpersonal conflict or disagreement; or
b. reasonable action taken by a supervisor relating to the management and direction of the workplace or learning environment.
2.08 Workplace Sexual Misconduct: As defined by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, workplace sexual misconduct is in relation to a Student of the University
physical sexual relations with the student, touching of a sexual nature of the student or behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature toward a student by an employee of the University where,
the act constitutes an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada),
(ii) the act infringes the right of the student under clause 7 (3) (a) of the Human Rights Code to be free from a sexual solicitation or advance, or
(iii) contravenes this policy or any other policy, rule or other requirement of the University respecting sexual relations between employees and students, or
any conduct by an employee of the University that infringes the right of the student under clause 7 (3) (b) of the Human Rights Code to be free from a reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance.
2.09 Workplace Sexual Harassment: As defined by the OHSA, workplace sexual harassment is engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker 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 known to be unwelcome, or 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 worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.
2.09.01 Workplace sexual harassment may also include unwanted attention or remarks of a sexually oriented nature or unwelcome remarks based on gender which are not of a sexual nature, but which are demeaning or degrading.
2.09.02 Workplace sexual solicitation or sexual advance includes an implied or expressed promise of reward for complying with a sexually oriented request made by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement.
2.10 Member(s) of the University Community: Persons who currently live, work, or study on any Laurier campus. Members include Students (including student groups), Employees, adjunct and visiting faculty, and volunteers at Laurier.
2.11 Employee: A person who performs work for wages in any capacity for the University.
2.12 Student: An individual registered in a course of study as a student at the University, either full-time or part-time, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or non-degree certificate programs.
2.13 Workplace: Any site at which the employee works including any property or buildings owned, leased or managed by the University and any other place an employee is located while performing work for the University or while representing the University. This includes operating University equipment or a personal vehicle when the employee is on duty.
3.01 This policy applies to allegations of harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct involving any Members of the University Community while engaged in the learning, scholarly or work activities of the University, whether or not the alleged behaviour occurs during regular working/school hours or on campus (e.g. including but not limited to work or academic related travel, research in the field, remote/online work or learning, academic placements, University sanctioned events or activities).
3.02 This policy does not limit or supersede collective agreements, the OHRC,the OHSA. or the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act.
3.03 This policy does not impact bona fide special programs designed and implemented to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons or groups in achieving equal opportunity.
4.01 Every member of the Laurier community has a right to equal treatment to and freedom from harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct based on the Protected Grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code with respect to employment and the receipt of education and related services and facilities.
4.02 Every member of the Laurier community has a right to be free from reprisal or threat of reprisal for rejecting a sexual solicitation or advance, where the reprisal is made, or threatened by, a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement.
4.03 When an individual has power over another, decision-making can be impacted and mutual consent may be called into question should a complaint of harassment and/or discrimination arise either during or after a relationship has ended.
4.04 This policy also addresses the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as it relates to workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment.
4.05 This policy also addresses Sexual Misconduct of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act.
4.06 All persons involved in allegations of harassment, discrimination and/or sexual misconduct are to be treated fairly and impartially and maintain the rights, privileges and protections afforded to them under legislation, University policies and applicable collective agreements. Every person has the right to seek remedy through the Ontario Human Rights Commission or Tribunal, or through the assistance of the police. University proceedings may be suspended pending the outcome of those interventions.
4.07 All persons involved in a complaint process under this policy must consider their actions and obligations under this and other University policies and procedures, including privacy and confidentiality. All persons who, by virtue of their employment with the University, or involvement in the allegations, are privy to information or in possession of documentation pertaining to allegations shall hold such information in confidence. This will include refraining from discussing or releasing information in any form beyond what is required to comply with this policy and accompanying procedures and to manage risk of harm to others. Confidentiality shall not prevent the University from fulfilling its responsibilities under applicable legislation, or where there is a concern relating to the safety or security of individuals. Employees shall not be prevented from disclosing information to their union or association for the purpose of seeking advice, support and representation.
4.08 The University will take appropriate steps to fairly investigate and respond to allegations of harassment, discrimination and/or sexual misconduct in accordance with the Procedures relating to Prevention of Harassment, Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct.
4.09 At any step in the processes under this policy, persons involved in allegations of harassment, discrimination and/or sexual misconduct may be accompanied or assisted by a support person. Support persons cannot be witnesses in the investigation process and must be identified to the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management (OHRCM) prior to attending any meetings. The confidentiality requirement set out in section 4.05 of this policy apply to individuals providing support.
5.01 The University will not tolerate any retaliation or reprisal, through any means including through social or other electronic media, against anyone who discloses or reports an incident of harassment, discrimination and/or sexual misconduct, or who participates in a University process that is addressing allegations of harassment or discrimination. Retaliation or threat of retaliation or reprisal may result in disciplinary action under this or other University policies.
1Ontario Human Rights Commission. Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination. Approved by the Commission June 9, 2005, minor edits December 2009. ISBN: 0-7794-8397-9