Workplace Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy

Policy and Purpose

The purpose of CPAB’s Workplace Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy is to minimize the risk of violence or harassment occurring in the workplace and to provide a process to be followed should an alleged incident or incident of violence or harassment take place or should an individual(s) become aware of a potentially violent or harassing situation. Actions have been taken to identify possible sources of workplace violence and harassment. This Policy is reviewed annually.p>

The Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB) is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment free from violence, threats of violence, discrimination, harassment, intimidation and any other misconduct for every CPAB employee, inspection consultants, contractors, temporary employees and members of the Board of Directors. CPAB does not condone and will not tolerate acts of violence or harassment / bullying against or by any CPAB employee.

Our Workplace Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy is not meant to stop free speech or to interfere with everyday interactions. However, what one person finds offensive, others may not. Usually, harassment can be distinguished from regular, mutually acceptable socializing. It is the perception of the receiver of the potentially offensive message be it spoken, a gesture, a picture or other form of communication which may be deemed objectionable that determines whether something is acceptable or not.

This Policy prohibits reprisals against individuals, acting in good faith, who report incidents of workplace violence or harassment or act as witnesses. Management will take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent reprisals, threats of reprisal, or further violence or harassment. Reprisal is defined as any act of retaliation, either direct or indirect.

CPAB will ensure that all employees are educated on violence and harassment and that they are clear about the roles and responsibilities as well as this policy and its procedures. In addition a copy of this policy will be made available to all employees.

All CPAB employees are accountable and responsible for enforcing this policy. They must make every effort to prevent discrimination, harassment and/or violent behavior. They must intervene immediately and report the incident in accordance with this policy if they observe a problem, or if a problem is reported to them.

For the purposes of this policy, violence and harassment can occur:

  • At the workplace
  • At employment-related social functions
  • During work assignments outside the workplace
  • During work-related travel
  • Over the telephone, if the conversation is work-related
  • Elsewhere, if the person is there as a result of work-related responsibilities or a work-related relationship


This policy applies to every CPAB employee, inspection consultant, contractor, temporary employee and member of the Board of Directors. The organization will not tolerate violence or personal harassment whether engaged in by employees, managers, officers, directors, or contract service providers of the organization.

CPAB will not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination against job candidates and employees on any grounds mentioned above, whether during the hiring process or during employment. This commitment applies to training, performance, assessment, promotions, transfers, layoffs, remuneration, and all other employment practices and working conditions.


This Policy is guided by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, of Ontario and similar legislation in other provinces in which CPAB operates. Canada’s Criminal Code also prohibits violence and harassment.


Workplace Violence

For purposes of this Policy, workplace violence means:

  • The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker
  • An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker
  • A statement or behavior that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is generally acknowledged to be a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship (or formerly intimate) that is meant to intimidate and control the victim. Abuse in a domestic situation can take many forms including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial and any attempt to carry out these actions towards a worker at work is considered workplace violence.

Personal Harassment

Any unsolicited, unwelcome, disrespectful or offensive behavior that has an underlying sexual, ethnic or racial connotation and can be typified as:

  • Behavior that is hostile and / or intends to degrade an individual based on personal attributes, including age, race, nationality, disability, family status, religion, gender, sexual orientation,gender identity or gender expression, and / or any other human rights protected grounds
  • Suggestive or offensive remarks
  • Any threats of physical violence that endangers the health and safety of the employee

Racial / Ethnic Harassment

Any conduct or comment which causes humiliation to an employee because of their racial or ethnic background, their color, place of birth, citizenship or ancestry. Examples of conduct which may be racial or ethnic harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome remarks, jokes or innuendos about a person's racial or ethnic origin
  • Color, place of birth, citizenship or ancestry
  • Displaying racist or derogatory pictures or other offensive material
  • Insulting gestures or jokes based on racial or ethnic grounds which create awkwardness or embarrassment
  • Refusing to speak to or work with someone or treating someone differently because of their ethnic or racial background

Sexual Harassment

  • Engaging in a course of vexatious comments, or conduct against a worker in a workplace based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome
  • Sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the person where the person making the solicitation or advance knows or ought reasonably to know that it is unwelcome
  • Reprisal or a threat of reprisal for the rejection of 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 to the person
  • Bragging about sexual prowess
  • Offensive jokes or comments of a sexual nature about an employee
  • Unwelcome language related to gender
  • Display of pornographic or sexist pictures or materials
  • Leering (suggestive persistent staring)
  • Physical contact such as touching or patting, with an underlying sexual connotation
  • Any actions that create a hostile, intimidating or offensive workplace.  This may include physical, verbal, written, graphic, or electronic means.


Workplace means any land, premises, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works. If a worker is being directed and paid to be there or near there, it is considered a workplace.

Risk Assessment

CPAB will conduct a risk assessment of the work environment to identify any issues related to potential violence and harassment that may impact the operation and will institute measures to control any identified risks to employee safety. This information will be provided to Human Resources.

The risk assessment may include review of records and reports i.e. security reports, employee incident reports, staff perception surveys, health and safety inspection reports, first aid records or other related records. Specific areas that may contribute to risk of violence and harassment include contact with public, exchange of money, entrances and exits, working alone or at night, etc.

Notification of Workers at Risk

If a manager is aware that an individual can be expected to encounter a person with a history of violent behavior, and the risk of workplace violence by that person is likely to expose the individual to physical injury, or an actual incident of workplace violence or harassment has occurred, or an incident of workplace violence or harassment is reasonably expected to occur, CPAB shall take the following steps to ensure the safety of all individuals:

  • Human Resources will advise the individuals who are at risk and coordinate a review of current procedures to minimize risk
  • Information about the source of workplace violence and harassment will be provided to the individuals who are at risk and their managers
  • Appropriate steps will be taken to protect individuals

CPAB will limit its disclosure of personal information to what is necessary to protect individuals from physical injury.

Safe-work Procedures

Safe-work procedures have been and continue to be developed at CPAB to inform and instruct individuals about the risks of workplace violence and harassment. Safe-work procedures on workplace violence and harassment prevention include:

  • Use of security access cards to enter the premises
  • Individuals in the field do not generally work alone. While in practice there is a minimum of two members on inspection teams, CPAB recognizes that there may be circumstances where due to scheduling constraints, this may not be possible. In such cases, the inspector is encouraged to communicate any concerns regarding the working arrangement with CPAB’s Vice President, Inspections
  • Reliance on the workplace violence and harassment policies and programs of the participating audit firms inspected by CPAB’s employees and inspection consultants
  • Familiarization with physical security arrangements put in place by the building manager, if applicable
  • Receptionist at CPAB’s offices to call through to the person, or their designate, visitor requests. Guests are met by a CPAB staff member in the lobby and accompanied through the facility.

Special Circumstances

Should an employee have a legal court order (e.g. restraining order or no-contact order) against another individual, the employee is encouraged to notify their supervisor and to supply a copy of that order to Human Resources.

This will likely be required in instances where the employee feels the aggressor may attempt to contact the employee at CPAB, in direct violation of the court order. Such information shall be kept confidential.

If any visitor to the CPAB workplace is seen with a weapon (or is known to possess one), makes a verbal threat or assault against an employee or another individual, employee witnesses are required to immediately contact the police, emergency response services, their immediate supervisor, and Human Resources.

Seeking Immediate Assistance

Canada’s Criminal Code deals with matters such as violent acts, threats and behaviors such as stalking. The police should be contacted immediately when an act of violence has occurred in the workplace or when someone in the workplace is threatened with violence.  If an employee feels threatened by a co-worker, volunteer, contractor, student, vendor, visitor or client / customer then an immediate call to 911 is required.

The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

Any CPAB employee can refuse to work if they have a reasonable belief that one or more of the following situations exist:

  • Machinery, equipment or tools required in the performance of job duties present a safety hazard and their use may cause an injury to the worker or those nearby
  • The working conditions are unsafe, and may cause an injury to the worker or those nearby
  • The workplace conditions or machinery, equipment or tools represent a violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations and represent a physical danger the health and safety of the worker or those nearby
  • The worker has a reasonable expectation that the work would place them in danger of physical violence

Recommendation to Get Medical Help

Individuals who have been the victim of workplace violence will be:

  • Encouraged to get medical help
  • Given the opportunity to be examined by a physician
  • Provided with transportation if required


Individuals and their families may have access to crisis counselling.


An individual who experiences workplace harassment or violence will keep their existing benefits coverage while under treatment or counselling, subject to the terms of the plan.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

If an individual experiences workplace harassment or violence that necessitates medical care or results in the employee not being able to earn full wages, both CPAB and the individual must file a report of injury with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board where applicable.

Reporting Incidents of Workplace Violence or Harassment (Personal, Racial/Ethnic or Sexual)

An individual should report any incident of workplace violence or harassment to their immediate manager, to Human Resources; or to another colleague, if they feel that is more appropriate or they are more comfortable doing so.

If the individuals’ immediate manager was involved in the incident, they should report it to any other manager; to Human Resources; or to another colleague, if they feel that is more appropriate or they are more comfortable doing so.

If a member of Human Resources was involved in the incident, they should report it to any other manager, or to another colleague, if they feel that is more appropriate or they are more comfortable doing so. The manager shall inform the Chief Executive Officer directly.

Should the report name the Chief Executive Officer as a Respondent, the Complainant may file the report with Human Resources, who shall inform the Chair of the Board (Chair), or file the complaint directly with the Chair.

The above is a suggested reporting structure. However, employees are able and encouraged to report any incident to any individual they feel most comfortable reporting to or dealing with.

The individual and manager should assess the risk associated with the situation and the individual should complete the prescribed Violence and Harassment Investigation Form and review it with the manager. The form must be completed for all incidents including situations that cause a reasonable fear of future workplace violence or harassment. Human Resources should submit the Violence and Harassment Investigation Form to the Chief Executive Officer within 24 hours of receiving the report. CPAB recognizes there may be circumstances that prevent a formal report from being made within this time period.

Investigating Incidents of Workplace Violence and Harassment


The individual’s manager and Human Resources, shall, as soon as possible, review the incident, evaluate the risk of future workplace violence and harassment, review the current safe-work procedures and revise or implement additional procedures as appropriate to help minimize the risk of future workplace violence and harassment.

The facts and circumstances as alleged in the complainant’s Violence and Harassment Investigation Form surrounding the incident shall be subject to an investigation appropriate in the circumstances. The investigation may include, but is not limited to:
  • Requesting and reviewing further documentation of the incident from the complainant, respondent(s) and others
  • Conducting interviews with the complainant, respondent(s) and/or witnesses
  • Properly documenting complainant/respondent interviews and witness statements
  • Examining other relevant material

Due Process

CPAB is committed to ensuring that an individual’s human rights, due process and the rules of fairness are followed in any investigation.

Separation of Parties

If the investigator thinks it would be in the best interests of CPAB and the parties, Human Resources may make arrangements for the complainant and respondent(s) to be immediately assigned different responsibilities for the duration of the investigation.


All parties must cooperate fully with any investigation under this Policy.

Opportunity to be Heard

The investigator or Human Resources shall provide each party with a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations in the complaint before an investigation report is issued.

Right to Representation

At any interview or proceeding related to an investigation under this Policy, a complainant and respondent may have their counsel present to provide advice and representation. Should a respondent choose to retain legal counsel at any stage of an investigation, it will be at the respondent’s own expense.

Fraudulent or Malicious Complaints

This Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy and Procedures must never be used to bring fraudulent or malicious complaints against employees. It is important to realize that unfounded / frivolous allegations of harassment may cause both the accused person and the company damage.  If it is determined by the company that any employee has knowingly made false statements regarding an allegation of harassment, disciplinary action will be taken.  As with any case of dishonesty, disciplinary action may include immediate dismissal without further notice.

Investigation Report

Upon examination of the evidence, the investigator or Human Resources shall make recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer in an investigation. Such recommendations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Dismissal with cause from CPAB
  • A directive from the Chief Executive Officer or Chair, as appropriate, to cease the behavior that led to the complaint
  • External counselling for the respondent and / or the complainant
  • A written and / or verbal apology to the complainant by the respondent
  • A training program for the respondent and / or the complainant
  • A record of the proceeding in the respondent’s personnel file
  • A referral by CPAB to the appropriate authorities

The investigator or Human Resources shall render an investigation report in writing to the Chief Executive Officer within one month of the filing of the Violence and Harassment Investigation Form, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

The Complainant and the respondent, if he or she is a CPAB staff or contactor, will be informed in writing of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation.

Immediate Action

Notwithstanding any other provisions in the Policy, the Chief Executive Officer or Chair, as appropriate, may take immediate action following an alleged incident of workplace violence or harassment should there be an imminent threat to the safety of an individual or individuals.

Record of Investigation

The investigator and Human Resources shall maintain a record of the entire investigation including the Violence and Harassment Investigation Form, documentation of interviews and investigation report.


CPAB recognizes the importance of confidentiality to anyone who files a Violence and Harassment Investigation Form under the Policy and will make every reasonable effort to balance confidentiality with the legal responsibility of CPAB, including the responsibility to investigate the complaint, take corrective action or where required by law. CPAB shall handle all complaints and investigations under this Policy as confidentially as practical and appropriate in the circumstances. CPAB shall make all reasonable efforts to safeguard the confidentiality of all records relating to Violence and Harassment Investigation Form filed under the Policy, investigations, interview notes, investigation report and other relevant material. Information gathered about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment will not be disclosed unless necessary for the investigation or corrective action regarding the incident.


CPAB reserves the right to disclose confidential information relating to an alleged incident of workplace violence or harassment where required by law (for example, in receipt of a subpoena or in a criminal matter).

Ministry of Labor

This Policy is not intended to discourage or prevent anyone from exercising any other legal rights under any other law. Notwithstanding this Policy, any person covered by the Policy continues to have the right to seek assistance from the relevant provincial ministry of labor. CPAB, however, encourages individuals to use the procedures in this Policy prior to seeking assistance from a ministry of labor.

Responsibilities and Accountabilities:


CPAB has a responsibility to:

  • Provide a safe working environment, free from workplace violence and harassment
  • Provide an environment that supports prospective complainants to report all incidents of alleged workplace violence and harassment
  • Provide a mechanism to handle and investigate workplace violence and harassment complaints
  • Treat all complaints regarding workplace violence and harassment seriously and promptly
  • If CPAB (or an individual) becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose an individual to physical injury may occur in the workplace, CPAB is required to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the individual


Management has a responsibility to:

  • Ensure, as much as reasonably possible, that no individuals are subjected to workplace violence or harassment
  • Help protect individuals from workplace violence and harassment by communicating and enforcing the Policy and instructing and equipping individuals as appropriate
  • Respond as soon as possible to complaints regarding workplace violence and harassment
  • Apply corrective action when they are aware of an incident or potential incident of workplace violence or harassment and / or when individuals are found to be in violation of the Policy
  • Carry out supervisory responsibilities, including performance reviews and discipline, in a manner that does not abuse authority

Employees, Inspection Consultants and Members of Board

Employees, inspection consultants and members of the Board of Directors have a responsibility to:

  • Work together in a professional manner to ensure the work environment is free from workplace violence and harassment
  • Refrain from engaging in any behavior that may be perceived as workplace violence or harassment
  • Report incidents of alleged workplace violence or harassment, reprisal or retaliation promptly

Managing and / or Coaching

Counselling, performance appraisal, work assignment, and the implementation of disciplinary actions is not a form of harassment, and the policy does not restrict a manager / supervisor’s responsibilities in these areas.

Policy Review

As required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, CPAB will review this policy annually and will post the policy on the Health and Safety Bulletin Board.


The Policy shall be posted on CPAB’s intranet site, accessible to employees and inspection consultants, and made available to members of the Board of Directors.

Acknowledgement and Agreement

I, acknowledge that I have read and understand the Workplace Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy of CPAB. I agree to adhere to this policy and will ensure that employees working under my direction adhere to this Policy. I understand that if I violate the rules set forth by this Policy, I may face disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.


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