Workplace Harassment Policy & Procedures

Workplace Harassment Policy & Procedures


Harassment Policy

The leaders of 4elements Living Arts (4elements) are committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.

Workplace harassment will not be tolerated from any person in the workplace. Everyone in the workplace must be dedicated to preventing workplace harassment. 4elements staff, interns, volunteers, Board members, and guest instructors, are all expected to uphold this policy, and will be held accountable by the leadership of the Board and Executive Director.

“Workers”, for the purposes of this policy, is understood to include 4elements staff, interns, volunteers, Board members, and guest instructors.

“Workplace”, for the purposes of this policy, is understood to include any activity, space, or communication shared between workers.  This may take place on site at the 4elements studio/office, but also during a 4elements program at any location where 4e is offering programming at a certain time, for example a community hall, township park, trail, or school setting.  Email, social media, and phone communications, off-site meetings, for example, are all governed by the policy where they are shared by or between two or more workers.

Workplace harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace — a comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

How do you know if your conduct is unwelcome?

  • Walk in the other person’s shoes.  Even if you didn’t intend the comment or action as a form discrimination or harassment, might the other person think you did?  Might the other person take offense at the comment or action?
  • Stop and think: would you want what you said or did to become publicly known?  Is it something that you would feel ashamed of?
  • Don’t rely on the other person’s response (or failure to respond negatively) as an indication that the behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable.

Workplace discrimination and harassment includes sexual harassment and bullying.

Examples of what constitutes harassment, when repeated, or one single severe event, include but are not limited to:

  • Preventing a person from expressing himself or herself: yelling at the person; threatening; constantly interrupting that person; prohibiting the person from speaking to others.
  • Unwanted sexual advances which may or may not be accompanied by threats or explicit or implicit promises.
  • Making rude, degrading or offensive remarks.
  • Making gestures that seek to intimidate.
  • Engaging in reprisals for having made a complaint under this Policy.
  • Discrediting the person by spreading malicious gossip or rumours, ridiculing him/her, humiliating him/her, calling into question his/her convictions or his/her private life, shouting abuse at him/her.
  • Compelling the person to perform tasks that are inferior to his/her competencies that demean or belittle him/her, setting the person up for failure, name calling in private or in front of others.
  • Isolating the person by no longer talking to him or her, denying or ignoring his or her presence, distancing him or her from others.
  • Destabilizing the person by making fun of his or her beliefs, values, political and/or religious choices, and mocking his or her weak points.
  • Harassing a person based on a prohibited ground of discrimination (as described in the Canadian Human Rights Act).

Harassment may also relate to a form of discrimination as set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code, but it does not have to.

This policy is not intended to limit or constrain the reasonable exercise of management functions in the workplace.

Examples of what does NOT constitute harassment:

  • Difficult conditions of employment, professional constraints, and organizational changes.
  • A single or isolated incident such as an inappropriate remark or having an abrupt manner.
  • A social relationship welcomed by both individuals.
  • Friendly gestures among co-workers such as a pat on the back.
  • Normal exercise of a supervisor’s right to manage, such as the day-to-day management of operations, performance at work or absenteeism, the assignment of tasks, reference checks, and the application of progressive discipline, up to and including termination, constitute the legitimate exercise of management’s authority. (Note: While exercising the normal managerial functions is not harassment, how such functions are exercised can risk giving rise to the potential for harassment or perceptions of harassment.)
  • Workplace conflict in itself, does not constitute harassment but could turn into harassment if no steps are taken to resolve the conflict.
  • Work related stress in itself does not constitute harassment, but the accumulation of stress factors may increase the risk of harassment.

4elements Living Arts, through the Executive Director, is responsible for ensuring that all workers have the appropriate information and support to maintain compliance with the Workplace Harassment Policy and Program.

All workers are encouraged to raise any concerns about workplace harassment and to report any incidents.  There will be no negative consequences for reports made in good faith.

The Executive Director or a member of the Board of Directors pledge to investigate and deal with all incidents and complaints of workplace harassment in a fair and timely manner, respecting the privacy of all concerned to the greatest degree possible.

Nothing in this policy prevents or discourages a worker from filing an application with the Human Rights Tribunal on a matter related to Ontario’s Human Rights Code within one year of the last alleged incident. A worker also retains the right to exercise any other legal avenues that may be available.



The following outlines the process and procedures for assessing and addressing incidents of workplace harassment.

4elements Living Arts is committed to providing a harassment-free workplace and will adhere to these procedures. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring that measures and procedures are followed by workers, and that workers have the information they need to protect themselves. Every worker must be in compliance with this program and the corresponding Workplace Harassment Policy.

4elements staff, interns, volunteers, Board members, and guest instructors must adhere to these procedures.

Appropriate Employee Responses to Discrimination or Harassment and How to Report a Complaint:

  • If the conduct is unwelcome, tell the individual that the behaviour is unacceptable and must stop.
  • If you are not comfortable doing this, then tell the Executive Director
  • If the incident involves the Executive Director or a Board member, report to another member of the Board of Directors.
  • If you experience or see harassment, you have a duty to report it to management.

What happens if you complain about someone’s behaviour?

  • 4elements’ leadership will investigate promptly
  • You will be asked to provide other details of the incident(s), including any witnesses or others involved.
  • You have a right to no retaliation as a result of making a complaint filed in good faith.
  • You have a right to know the results and decisions made as a result of the complaint.  (The other party’s privacy rights may limit details provided.)

Every effort will be made to promptly investigate any allegations of discrimination or harassment in as confidential a manner as possible and to take appropriate corrective action if warranted. The investigation will be undertaken by the Executive Director or a member of the Board of Directors.

What happens if you are accused?

  • 4elements Living Arts will investigate before any action is taken.
  • You will be given a chance to respond to allegations.
  • You have the right to provide names of other witnesses and other pertinent information.
  • You will be advised of any outcomes.


To protect the privacy interests of the employee who reports the complaint and the individual alleged to have discriminated or harassed, confidentiality will be maintained throughout the process to the extent possible. Names, circumstances and records will only be disclosed to the extent necessary to investigate and to take appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action, if applicable.

When an Investigation is Completed

The decision will be reported to both the person who complained and the person who was accused, although details regarding actions may be limited due to privacy concerns. 4elements Living Arts will take all reasonable steps to ensure that no further discrimination or harassment, or retaliation as a result of the complaint, occurs.


Any employee who is determined after an investigation to have engaged in discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.  Depending on the severity of the matter, an employee could face termination from employment even if it is a first time violation by the employee.

Any Board Member, volunteer, or intern who is determined after an investigation to have engaged in discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of their position.