Respectful Workplace Policy


OSTA-AECO values its employees, volunteers, customers, and partners and is committed to providing a work environment that upholds the principles of respect, inclusiveness, fairness and equity. OSTA-AECO has policy, procedures, education, training, and expectations to create and support a respectful workplace.


  • A respectful workplace is any work environment, on or off-site, where OSTA-AECO employees, board members, volunteers, interns, and contractors are polite and considerate of others; communications are thoughtful, transparent and timely; activities are inclusive and sensitive; feedback is immediate and constructive; and disagreements or disputes are resolved by maintaining the dignity of the parties involved and creating developmental resolutions. A respectful workplace:

    • promotes positive communication;

    • embraces diversity and equality;

    • values dignity of the person;

    • encourages fair and respectful treatment;

    • encourages thinking about how other people want and deserve to be treated;

    • applauds polite, courteous and considerate conduct;

    • promotes collegiality and team work;

    • supports an inclusive atmosphere;

    • promotes active listening;

    • promotes the sharing of opinions and ideas in an open-minded environment;

    • encourages positive feedback for ideas, suggestions or work that is accomplished well;

    • encourages thinking before we act or speak or type; and

    • encourages considering how our actions affect others.

  • Unacceptable behaviour refers to any behaviour which is prohibited by this policy, including discrimination, harassment and bullying. unacceptable behaviour also includes behaviour that detracts from maintaining a respectful workplace where employees, board members, interns, volunteers, and contractors feel respected, valued, and safe.

  • A complainant is a person who believes they have been harassed, bullied, or discriminated against and who seeks recourse under this policy.

  • A respondent is a person against whom an allegation of discrimination, harassment, or bullying is made under this policy.

  • An investigator can be the Board of Directors or an authorized designate who determines the facts of a complaint and documents findings. An external investigator may be appointed by OSTA-AECO. Based on the investigation, the Investigator will prepare a confidential report with findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendations and/or remedies for the or Board Chair.

  • Prohibited grounds refer to the prohibited grounds articulated in the Ontario Human Rights Code—i.e., race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex (includes pregnancy), sexual orientation, age, gender identity or expression, and conviction of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

  • Reprisal or retaliation is when an employee, volunteer, or Director of OSTA-AECO is punished for engaging in legally-protected activity (e.g., filing an internal complaint or a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal). Reprisal or retaliation occurs when OSTA-AECO or its agents engage in actions or behaviour that would deter a reasonable person in a legally-protected situation (i.e., where they are experiencing discrimination, harassment, bullying, or any other type of legally-defined activity) from filing a complaint.

  • Bullying is a form of harassment that is marked by the intentional, persistent attempt of one or more persons to intimidate, demean, torment, control, mentally or physically harm or isolate another person(s).

  • Harassment may be based on one of the prohibited grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code or personal harassment.

    • Discriminatory harassment includes any unwelcome conduct, comment, display, action, or gesture related to any of the Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination that negatively affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences for the victim of the harassment. The conduct does not have to be directed at a specific individual or be intentionally offensive to be considered harassment. Harassment includes conduct that the person engaged in the harassment ought to have known would be unwelcome.

    • Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome conduct, comment, display, action or gesture, or contact of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwanted physical contact, sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, sexual innuendo, suggestive or offensive comments or gestures emphasizing sexuality or sexual identity, and any conduct that reasonably leads to the perception that a condition of a sexual nature is being placed on a person’s employment or any opportunities for persons in the workplace.

    • Personal harassment is a type of harassment that is not related to one of the Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination. Personal harassment is any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action, or gesture by a person towards another person that the first person ought to have known would cause the other person to be humiliated or intimidated.

      To constitute personal harassment there must be: a) repeated conduct, comments, displays, actions or gestures; or b) a single serious occurrence of conduct, or a single serious comment, display, action or gesture that has a lasting, harmful effect on a person.

      Personal harassment includes verbal or physical abuse, threats, violence, bullying, insults, belittling comments, or intimidation, and subtler forms of harassment such as unwelcome non-verbal gestures, manipulation, ignoring or isolating a person or treating a person adversely for no legitimate work purpose.

  • Bullying and harassment does not include:

    • Management of the workforce. Harassment may occur because of an abuse of authority. However, supervision, direction or management of employees undertaken in a good faith manner for a work-related purpose does not constitute harassment. For example, harassment does not include changes to working conditions, corrective action, discipline, termination of employment, decisions relating to workload and deadlines, performance evaluation, transfers, changes in job duties, lay-offs, demotions, and reorganizations unless such conduct is carried out in an abusive or threatening manner or is intended to cause emotional harm.

    • It is not harassment for a manager or supervisor to informally or formally investigate behaviour or incidents of concern that occur at or arise from the workplace by interviewing employees unless an interview is carried out in an abusive or threatening manner or intended to cause emotional harm.

    • It is not harassment for a supervisor or manager during an investigation to warn an employee of the disciplinary consequences that may result from failure to comply with this Policy including engaging in bullying and harassment, failing to cooperate with the company’s investigation, failure to report bullying and harassment, breaching confidentiality or retaliation.

    • Interpersonal conflict between persons at the workplace is not harassment unless the conflict results in behavior that is considered threatening or abusive. Expressing differences of opinion is not harassment.

    • Conduct unrelated to an employee’s employment is not harassment. Personal disputes over non work-related matters should not be engaged in at the workplace. Disputes over work-related matters should be resolved respectfully between the persons involved or with the assistance of a supervisor, manager, or human resources.

Policy statement

All OSTA-AECO employees, Directors, interns, volunteers, contractors, service providers, external guests, and visitors interacting with or attending OSTA-AECO events or worksites are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect and refrain from discrimination, harassment, bullying, or other unacceptable behaviour.

OSTA-AECO does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, bullying, or unacceptable behaviour by anyone. These behaviours have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

OSTA-AECO employees, Directors, interns, volunteers and contractors are accountable for their own behaviour and are expected to conduct themselves in a respectful and appropriate manner at all times. As representatives of OSTA-AECO, we are ambassadors and will behave in accordance with this policy whether in our workplace or at other locations for meetings or work related events.

Anyone who is found to have violated this policy will be subject to a range of corrective measures, up to and including termination of employment or contract, removal from a position, and/or revocation of access to OSTA-AECO’s premises and its employees, volunteers, directors, customers, and/or partners.

This policy does not limit the ability of supervisors to manage employees in order for OSTA-AECO to meet its goals, objectives and strategies. Supervisory responsibilities such as providing work direction, addressing interpersonal conflicts and managing performance including providing feedback for improvement are reasonable and acceptable under this policy unless such management functions are carried out in an abusive or threatening manner.

Under this policy, every OSTA-AECO employee, volunteer, or Director, and other persons attending at or interacting with OSTA-AECO workplaces have specific responsibilities for contributing to a respectful workplace.

Employees, volunteers, and Directors will:

  • conduct themselves in a respectful and appropriate manner;

  • comply with this policy by not engaging in discrimination, harassment, bullying or unacceptable behaviour;

  • participate in training on this policy (as applicable);

  • report incidents of discrimination, harassment, bullying or unacceptable behaviour which are experienced or observed; and

  • participate in the investigation process of potential violations of this policy.

Managers, supervisors, and directors will:

  • conduct themselves in a respectful and appropriate manner;

  • comply with this policy by not tolerating or engaging in discrimination, harassment, bullying or unacceptable behaviour;

  • participate in management-specific training on this policy;

  • create a respectful work environment by taking reasonable steps to ensure it is free from discrimination, harassment, bullying or unacceptable behaviour;

  • intervene when any unacceptable behaviour is observed whether or not it is reported; and

  • facilitate, support and participate in the investigation process of reported incidents.

OSTA-AECO, as an organization, will:

  • provide education and training to support this policy;

  • provide established procedures for reporting, investigating and resolving complaints;

  • comply with this policy by not tolerating or engaging in discrimination, harassment, bullying or unacceptable behaviour; and

  • conduct an annual review of the policy, procedures and any related forms.