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Harassment and Grounds-Based Discrimination (OPS)

Contents

Introduction

Types of harassment and discrimination

Personal harassment

Ground-based discrimination

Poisoned work environment

If you experience harassment or discrimination

Next steps

Filing a dispute under your Collective Agreement

Filing a complaint under the OPS Respectful Workplace Policy

Filing a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

If you have questions or need assistance


Introduction

No one should experience harassment or discrimination—especially at work.

In addition to protections extended to every worker in Ontario, and those offered by your Employer, AMAPCEO has negotiated strong measures to help prevent harassment and discrimination and pursue remedies it if it happens.


Types of harassment and discrimination

Personal harassment

Personal harassment means “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against an employee in the workplace that is known or ought to be reasonably known to be unwelcome” (Article 2 of your Collective Agreement). This may include offensive jokes, slurs, intimidation, threatening behaviour, unwanted physical contact, and more.

Grounds-based discrimination

Grounds-based discrimination means imposing disadvantages or withholding benefits—whether intentional or not—because of a personal characteristic that is protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • age,
  • ancestry,
  • citizenship,
  • colour,
  • creed,
  • disability,
  • ethnic origin,
  • family status,
  • gender expression,
  • gender identity,
  • marital status,
  • place of origin,
  • race,
  • record of offenses,
  • sex, and
  • sexual orientation.

Poisoned work environment

Creating a poisoned work environment is a form of discrimination contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

A poisoned work environment can be defined as a negative, hostile, or unpleasant workplace due to comments or conduct that tend to be harassing or demeaning to a group protected under the Human Rights Code. The conduct does not have to be directed at a specific individual.

A finding of a poisoned work environment usually consists of a pattern of conduct, but in extreme cases, can be established based on one event.


If you experience harassment or discrimination

We strongly recommend you:

  • take careful, detailed notes of the situation; and
  • seek the assistance of a trained AMAPCEO OPS Workplace Representative in your District right away.

See below on how to ask for help from a Workplace Representative.

You may also wish to seek free, immediate, and confidential counselling through the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP).

Next steps

Your AMAPCEO Workplace Representative will work with you to determine next steps in your situation.

Where appropriate, you have the option of working with your supervisor or another Employer representative to resolve your issue informally with the assistance of your Workplace Representative. Informal dispute resolution can result in productive communication and may help encourage a positive relationship.

If you do not want to attempt to informally resolve your situation, or if it is unsuccessful, there are three formal processes you can consider. Each of these formal processes can result in a fair, just, and reasonable outcome. Before deciding, we recommend you consult with your Workplace Representative.

Filing a dispute under your Collective Agreement

You can request that AMAPCEO review your file and consider filing a formal dispute on your behalf. You will have AMAPCEO representation throughout the process.

Before you request to file a formal dispute, we encourage you to work with a Workplace Representative to develop a plan to address the situation:

1. review the requirements of the Collective Agreement and Employer policies;

2. summarize the details of your complaint, identifying who, what, where, when, and how;

3. gather supporting information (e.g. emails);

4. identify potential witnesses; and

5. consider the remedy that you are seeking.

Filing a complaint under the OPS Respectful Workplace Policy

You have the right to file a complaint under the OPS Respectful Workplace Policy.

This does not prevent you from also filing a dispute under your Collective Agreement; however, your dispute may be temporarily put on hold pending the outcome of an investigation under the OPS Respectful Workplace Policy.

You have the right to a support person during the complaint process, and you may select an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative as your support person. See below on how to ask for help from a Workplace Representative.

Visit the Employer’s OPS Wellness intranet portal for more information on filing a complaint under the OPS Respectful Workplace Policy.

Filing a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

You may ask the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to resolve a complaint of discrimination or harassment based on a protected ground under the Human Rights Code. This option is not available for complaints of personal harassment.

If you file an application with the Tribunal, this is done at your own expense. Because there is a dispute resolution process under your Collective Agreement, AMAPCEO cannot assist you, provide you with legal counsel, or fund your legal counsel.

Visit the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal website for more information on filing a complaint.


If you have questions or need assistance

Please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative in your District. They do not have to be in your Ministry.

Workplace Representatives are trained union members who have volunteered to confidentially assist members like you in the workplace. They should be your first point of contact in seeking information and representation with an issue at work.

Your Workplace Representative may ask you to use the union’s secure web-based system, RADAR, to provide details about your situation. RADAR will help you and your Workplace Representative keep track of things without the privacy concerns that could come from using the Employer’s email system.

Fact Sheet

Bargaining Unit: Ontario Public Service (OPS)

Collective Agreement Article: 2, 7, & 15

First Published: July 14, 2020

Last Updated: December 7, 2020

Contact a Workplace Representative

See more Ontario Public Service Fact Sheets