UWOFA Matters

Discrimination and Harassment and Bill 168

Discrimination and Harassment: Definitions, Responsibilities, Process

UWO and the Association are committed to providing a working and learning environment that allows for full and free participation of all members of the institutional community.

Ontario's Bill 168, amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act have both expanded the definition of harassment, and heightened responsibility and reporting levels for all employers, including UWO.

This document provides definitions of harassment covered under both provincial and federal legislation; describes the responsibilities of faculty members relative to discharging their obligations; and provides information regarding the process by which the university receives, investigates and resolves complaints covered by the relevant Collective Agreement provisions.

The General Rule: if you think you are dealing with a discrimination and harassment issue, whether your own or someone else's, call the Equity & Human Rights Services office. If you are unsure whether or not a situation is an issue pertaining to Discrimination and Harassment, call the Equity & Human Rights Services office.

The call to make is not your own; the call to make is to Equity & Human Rights Services.


Workplace Violence: the exercise of physical force or an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker; a statement or behaviour 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.

If a UWOFA member becomes aware of potential or actual threats to the safety of any member of the campus community, including domestic violence, they must immediately report this information to the Campus Police.

Sexual Harassment: This term refers to comment or conduct of a sexual nature. Such comment or conduct includes: verbal abuse or threats, unwelcome sexual invitations or requests, demands for sexual favours, unwelcome innuendo or taunting about a person's body, physical appearance or sexual orientation, sexual assault and the like. Such comment and conduct is prohibited when:

  • made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual's employment, academic status or academic accreditation; or
  • used as a basis for employment, or for academic performance, status or accreditation decisions affecting such individual; or
  • interferes with an individual's work or academic performance; or
  • creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment.

Personal Harassment: This term refers to conduct and/or behaviour which create an intimidating, demeaning or hostile working or academic environment. The Ontario Health and Safety Act defines such harassment as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Such harassment may involve a single instance of such unwelcome behavior, or a pattern over time.

Harassment is NOT:
  • interpersonal conflict or disagreement;
  • the proper exercise of the performance evaluation provisions of this Collective Agreement; or
  • the exercise of expression protected by the Article Academic Freedom.


All faculty members are expected to cooperate with the Administration/Employer's exercise of the duties imposed by relevant legislation and Collective Agreement articles. Such duties include, for example, participating in education and training, or in efforts to resolve or investigate Discrimination and Harassment complaints.

All faculty members and campus leaders are expected to report instances of discrimination and harassment to Equity& Human Rights Services. Such instances might include those actually experienced or witnessed, as well as instances brought to their attention by other members of the community, such as a student or staff member (see below for a few examples).


1. A student comes to your office and tells you that one of your colleagues, Professor Dinosaur, told her that she is one of the most attractive students he has ever taught, and he wants to give her extra attention in preparing for her comprehensive exams.

What should you do?

2. A colleague complains to you that his APE score was low for Research, and he is sure it's because the members of the committee don't like the kind of research he does.

What should you do?

3. A colleague tells you that she feels like Professor Hector has been bullying her. He writes lengthy and hostile emails, routinely demeans her work in front of others, refuses to make eye contact when talking to her, and told her she wasn't welcome at a committee meeting even though she was on the committee.

What should you do?

4. A colleague sits you down and starts explaining why the Leafs are going to make the playoffs this year.

What should you do?


1. Tell your student that she is describing behavior that may be inappropriate. Advise her to email or call Equity & Human Rights Services, who will receive her concern, offer advice, and/or begin processing the matter in accordance with campus policies. Tell her as well that you are required to ensure that she addresses the concern to EHRS. If you have any concerns about this situation, contact UWOFA for advice.

2. Tell your colleague to take his concerns to the Chair/Program Director of your unit. It is your call whether or not to tell your colleague that his low score might have something to do with the fact that he hasn't published since 1994.

3. See the answer to question 1 above. If you are unsure if this is a legitimate harassment concern, contact EHRS or UWOFA. All such contacts are treated in the strictest confidence, unless there are immediate health or safety concerns.

4. Advise your colleague that there are other NHL franchises worth following. At this writing, the Flyers are looking strong in the Northeast, although Crosby's return might give the Pens the boost they need.


Faculty members must bring all concerns regarding Discrimination and Harassment to the office of Equity & Human Rights Services, which is located on the 3rd floor of the Health Sciences Building.

EHRS will hear the concern, offer information and/or advice, and take any necessary steps required by law. Staff at EHRS will usually attempt to resolve disputes through mediation and education. Such attempts may or may not involve department chairs/program directors or other campus leaders, depending on circumstances as assessed by EHRS.

In those cases where mediation and education fail, and where a Member or Members believe their complaint requires further action, and/or where the EHRS believes further action is required, a formal complaint may be made to the Associate-Vice President of Human Resources. The AVP-HR will initiate a formal process of investigation by a neutral 3rd party, who will provide a finding of fact relative to the complaint. This finding will then be forwarded to the Office of Faculty Relations and Vice-Provost (Faculty, Planning) for further action, where necessary.

If you have further questions, please contact the Professional Officer of the Association 519-661-2111 x 86960 or uwofapro@uwo.ca

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