Respectful Workplace Policy



Tearmann Society for Abused Women is committed to providing an environment that promotes respect and dignity to all clients, staff, volunteers and board/society members, contractors/subcontractors and other professionals. Harassment, bullying and discrimination, in any form, is unacceptable and will not be condoned or tolerated. This policy will foster a respectful workplace by promoting the prevention of harassment and bullying, and the prompt resolution of any violations of the Respectful Workplace Policy 



Harassment – Any improper conduct by an individual that is directed to another person or persons, and that individual knew or ought reasonably to have known, would cause offence or harm. This would include comments or displays that demeans, belittles or causes personal humiliation or embarrassment and any act of intimidation or threat. 

Harassment may include but not limited to: 

  • Verbal abuse or threats
  • Stalking, unwelcome and inappropriate requests whether direct or indirect
  • unwelcome remarks, jokes, or taunting about a person’s body, attire, age, marital status, ethnic or national origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation
  • Unwanted physical contact, such as touching, patting, pinching, or punching

Harassment is not regular performance evaluations, routine supervision or appropriate disciplinary action, and operational directives. 

Discrimination – A form of harassment that is based on discrimination against an individual or class of individuals on account of age, race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, ethnic, national or aboriginal origin, family status, marital status, source of income and political belief, affiliation or activity. 

Bullying -Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could 'mentally' hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can involve negative physical contact as well. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. 

Bullying may include, but is not limited to: 

  • Spreading malicious rumors, gossip, or innuendo.
  • Excluding or isolating someone socially
  • Intimidating a person,
  • Yelling, profanity, belittling.
  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person's work.
  • Physically abusing or threatening abuse.
  • Making jokes or demeaning remarks that are 'obviously offensive' by spoken word, text, social media or e-mail.
  • Criticizing a person persistently or constantly.
  • Tampering with a person's personal belongings or work equipment.

Cyberbullying-Any bullying that occurs through the use of electronic communication (email, text, social media, etc.). Incidents of cyberbullying should be reported and will be investigated in accordance with this policy. 

Sexual Harassment – Any objectionable, coercive, or aggravating comment or attention of a sexual nature and verbal and physical sexual advances to a person or persons that is known, or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. This also includes actions or communications with a sexual connotation or component that are directed at no one person in particular but create an intimidating, demeaning, or offensive environment. 

Domestic Violence-A person who has a personal relationship with an employee-such as a spouse or former spouse, current or former intimate partner or a family member­may physically harm or attempt or threaten to physically harm, that employee at work. In these situations, domestic violence is considered a workplace issue. 

Retaliation -A reprisal, threat or attempt to intimidate, against any person for alleging a violation of this Policy, providing information relevant to a complaint under this Policy, or participating in any process under this Policy. Retaliation will be considered an act of harassment. 

Workplace -includes, but is not limited to, the offices and buildings of Tearmann Society, washrooms, training sessions, business travel, conferences, work related social gatherings, vehicles, telephone communications, faxes, electronic mail, texting, etc. It also includes any location, event or activity where the actions of an employee, resident, volunteers, students and contractors, whether on duty or not, will have such repercussions as to seriously affect or negatively impact the workplace environment. 

Complainant – the individual making the complaint of harassment and/or bullying. 

Respondent – the individual about whom the complaint is made. 

Bad Faith Complaint -a Complaint made with no reasonable basis in fact, with malicious intent, or in bad faith. 



This policy applies to all clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, and board/society members involved with Tearmann Society for Abused Women. 



  • all clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, and board/society members must be informed of this policy.
  • The policy will be posted on the Tearmann Website (
  • Early resolution should be used to resolve problems at the outset.
  • Mediation must be offered before an investigation is initiated.
  • Corrective action must be timely in all situations of harassment and bullying.



Clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, board/society members, contractors, subcontractors, and other professionals: 

  • are expected to act towards other individuals professionally and respectfully.
  • who believe they have been treated in an improper and offensive manner are expected to communicate their disapproval or unease to the offending party as soon as possible, they may do so directly or through the Executive Director (ED).
  • expect prompt action if they report an incident of harassment.
  • expect to be treated without fear of embarrassment or reprisal when dealing with a harassment and/or bullying situation.
  • will be encouraged to participate in a resolution process before proceeding with the Complaint or Grievance process.

Executive Director 

  • The ED is expected to lead by example and to act respectfully and impartial in dealings with clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, board/society members, contractors/subcontractors and other professionals.
  • The ED can expect to have access to learning opportunities on the prevention and resolution of harassment and bullying.
  • The ED is expected to ensure that clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, board/society members contractors/subcontractors and other professionals are aware of the policy and remind them of its contents when deemed necessary.
  • The ED is expected to intervene promptly when she becomes aware of improper or offensive conduct and to involve the parties in resolving the issue.
  • The ED is expected to address any alleged harassment and bullying of which they are aware, whether or not a complaint has been made.
  • The ED is expected to handle all harassment and bullying situations confidentially and to ensure that others act accordingly.
  • The ED is expected to address the needs of the parties concerned during and following a complaint in order to establish or re-establish harmonious working relationships.

  • The ED will keep a confidential record of all information pertaining to the complaint in a locked filing cabinet until the complaint process is complete. An unfounded complaint against a member of CUPE Local 4459 will not be kept in a separate complaints file. No documentation in relation to the harassment and bullying or complaint process will be placed in the personnel file of either party unless the outcome of the complaint process leads to disciplinary action.
  • The ED will ensure that both the complainant and the respondent have access to support and advice during any of the processes.
  • The ED will advise all unionized employees (CUPE Local 4459) that they are entitled to have a shop steward or union representative present during any interview or the investigative process.


  • It is the responsibility of everyone within Tearmann Society for Abused Women to promote a respectful and productive workplace. When individuals do not speak up about the presence of harassment, discrimination, violence, or improper activity or behavior, the individual silently condone the actions, and such actions may become more widespread.
  • Any individual who witnesses such actions should:
    • Offer the person support and inform them that you witnessed the incident.
    • Encourage the person to come forward and let them know that you will be a witness and will provide a statement in the event of an investigation.
    • It is important that management is aware of the harassment, discrimination, bullying, violence, or improper activity or behaviour taking place in the workplace. Inform the Executive Director what you witnessed so that this type of behaviour can be addressed as soon as possible. 



The objective of early resolution is to resolve any situation or conflict as soon as possible in a fair and respectful manner. Resolution can be completed in one of two ways: 

  • The complainant communicates their concerns directly to the respondent – the complainant should clearly inform that the behaviour is unwelcome and must stop. It may prove to be useful to have a witness present.
  • If the complainant feels uncomfortable speaking directly with the respondent, they can express their concerns to the ED and request the ED’s assistance in resolving the situation. The ED may act as a mediator between the complainant and respondent. She may also solicit an external or third party mediator.
  • If the complaint is against the ED then Article #39, ‘Complaints against the Executive Director,’ of the Personnel Policies will be followed.



If early resolution is not effective in resolving the situation or the complainant prefers to file a formal complaint, they have the following options: 

  • The Complaint procedure, which applies to all individuals (clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, board/society members).
  • The Grievance Procedure, which is only available to unionized employees.

Complaint Procedure 

  • The clients (resident/non-resident), staff, volunteers, and board/society members, contractors/subcontractors and other professionals will submit a complaint to the ED. (or the Chair of the Board if the complaint is against the ED). The complaint must include the nature of the allegations, name of the respondent, relationship of the respondent to the complainant, date and description of incident(s), and names of any witnesses.
  • The ED then screens the complaint to ensure that the above noted information is included and that the complaint is being filed within one year of the alleged harassment and/or bullying leading to the complaint, unless there are extenuating circumstances. If the criteria have not been met the ED informs the complainant in writing that they cannot accept the complaint and may suggest another means of resolving the issue.
    The ED further screens the complaint to determine if the allegations are related to harassment or bullying.
    If the complaint is not related to harassment and/or bullying then the ED informs both the complainant and the respondent in writing and directs both parties to an appropriate avenue to resolve the situation, e.g. early resolution.
    If the complaint is related to harassment and/or bullying then the ED forwards the complaint on to an Ad hoc Complaint Committee.
    If the respondent is a member of CUPE Local 4459, she will be notified, of the concerns or allegations of harassment and bullying, within 15 working days of the ED’s knowledge of the complaint. (As per Article 27.05 of the Collective Agreement)
    The Ad hoc Complaint Committee is comprised of three members of the Human Resources Committee. Each of these individuals will be expected to: 
    • Be impartial in any complaint process they are involved in.
    • Ensure complete confidentiality of each case.
  • The Ad hoc Complaint Committee will:
    • Determine what efforts have been made to resolve the problem.
    • Investigate all related information about the allegation.
    • Meet with both parties if required.
    • Once all relevant information is reviewed, make a decision on the complaint.
  • The Ad hoc Complaint Committee will inform both parties, in writing that an investigation has been completed and ensure that corrective measures are taken, if warranted. Confidential details of any corrective or disciplinary measure, that may become a part of the respondent’s personnel file, will not be disclosed to the complainant. 

If mediation occurs any time during the investigation process, the investigation is suspended. It can be resumed only if the mediation is unsuccessful. 

If the complainant is a member of CUPE Local 4459 and is unsatisfied with the decision she may, within 7 working days of the complaint decision, file a grievance as per Article 11 of the Collective Agreement between Tearmann Society for Abused Women and CUPE Local 4459. 

Grievance Procedure 

Unionized employees have this procedure as an option. This can be done in addition to the complaint procedure or alone. 

Unionized employees can file grievances as per their Collective Agreement, Article 11 – Grievance Procedures. 



 There will be a signed acknowledgment and agreement to the policy by  anyone who works or volunteers in any capacity with Tearmann Society for Abused Women.


This document has replaced the former Harassment Policy and was completed in consultation with: 

  • Tearmann Society Policy & Procedure Committee
  • The Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace
  • Treasury Board of the Government of Canada.
  • The Sexual Harassment and No Discrimination Policy – The Government of Nova Scotia Human Resource Management Manual.
  • Collective Agreement between Tearmann Society for Abused Women and CUPE Local 4459
  • CUPE National Occupational Health & Safety Representative, Jenna Brookfield
  • J. Dena Bryan, Barrister & Solicitor
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