Harrasment policy

Effective Date: November 2, 2021

 

Objective

 

South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society strives to create and maintain an environment in which people are treated with dignity, decency and respect. The environment of the organization should be characterized by mutual trust and the absence of intimidation, oppression and exploitation. South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. Through enforcement of this policy and by education of our volunteers, we will seek to prevent, correct and take action towards behavior that violates this policy.

 

All volunteers, regardless of their positions, are covered by and are expected to comply with this policy and to take appropriate measures to ensure that prohibited conduct does not occur. Appropriate action will be taken against any volunteer who violates this policy. Based on the seriousness of the offense, actions may include verbal or written reprimand, suspension, or termination of the volunteer position.

 

Other volunteer positions in leadership capacities that knowingly allow or tolerate discrimination, harassment or retaliation, including the failure to immediately respond to a complaint, are in violation of this policy and subject to actions as mentioned above.

Prohibited Conduct Under This Policy

 

South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society, in compliance with all applicable federal and provincial anti-discrimination and harassment laws and regulations, enforces this policy in accordance with the following definitions and guidelines:

Discrimination

 

It is a violation of South Okanagan Similkameen Pride’s policy to discriminate in the provision of volunteer opportunities, benefits or privileges; or to create discriminatory work conditions or standards for volunteering if the basis of that discriminatory treatment is, in whole or in part, the person's race, skin colour, national origin, age, religion, disability status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information or marital status.

 

Discrimination of this kind is also strictly prohibited by a variety of federal and provincial laws. This policy is intended to comply with the prohibitions stated in anti-discrimination laws.

 

Discrimination in violation of this policy will be subject to measures up to and including termination of a volunteer’s position.

Harassment

 

South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society prohibits harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, and will take appropriate and immediate action in response to complaints or knowledge of violations of this policy. For purposes of this policy, harassment is any verbal or physical conduct designed to threaten, intimidate or coerce any person working in a volunteer capacity for or on behalf of South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society.

 

The following examples of harassment are intended to be guidelines and are not exclusive when determining whether there has been a violation of this policy:

  • Verbal harassment includes comments that are offensive or unwelcome regarding a person's national origin, race, skin colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, appearance, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status or other protected status, including epithets, slurs and negative stereotyping.

  • Nonverbal harassment includes distribution, display or discussion of any written or graphic material that ridicules, denigrates, insults, belittles or shows hostility, aversion or disrespect toward an individual or group because of national origin, race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, appearance, disability, sexual identity, marital status or other protected status.

 

Sexual Harassment

 

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination and is prohibited under South Okanagan Similkameen Pride’s anti-harassment policy. For the purpose of this policy sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment/volunteer position decisions or such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

 

Sexual harassment occurs when unsolicited and unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature:

  • Is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of volunteer work.

  • Is used as a basis for any volunteer position decision.

  • Unreasonably interferes with a volunteer's abilities or duties or creates an intimidating, hostile or otherwise offensive environment.

 

Sexual harassment may take different forms. The following examples of sexual harassment are intended to be guidelines and are not exclusive when determining whether there has been a violation of this policy:

  • Verbal sexual harassment includes innuendoes, suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, lewd remarks and threats; requests for any type of sexual favor (this includes repeated, unwelcome requests for dates); and verbal abuse or "kidding" that is oriented toward a prohibitive form of harassment, including that which is sexual in nature and unwelcome.

  • Nonverbal sexual harassment includes the distribution, display or discussion of any written or graphic material, including calendars, posters and cartoons that are sexually suggestive or show hostility toward an individual or group because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression; suggestive or insulting sounds; leering; staring; whistling; obscene gestures; content in letters, notes, facsimiles, e-mails, photos, text messages, tweets and Internet postings; or other forms of communication that are sexual in nature and offensive.

  • Physical sexual harassment includes unwelcome, unwanted physical contact, including touching, tickling, pinching, patting, brushing up against, hugging, cornering, kissing, fondling, and forced sexual intercourse or assault.

 

Courteous, mutually respectful, pleasant, noncoercive interactions between volunteers that are appropriate and acceptable to and welcomed by both parties are not considered to be harassment, including sexual harassment.

 

Consensual Romantic or Sexual Relationships

 

Because South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society does not employ paid staff and operates as a volunteer-based organization, we do not have a policy that discourages romantic or sexual relationships between our volunteers.  We do not have a hierarchical structure or power imbalanced reporting structure within our organization, therefore we do not see this as a conflict as long as volunteers abide by all aspects of this policy. 

Retaliation

No hardship, loss, benefit or penalty may be imposed on a volunteer in response to:

  • Filing or responding to a bona fide complaint of discrimination or harassment.

  • Appearing as a witness in the investigation of a complaint.

  • Serving as an investigator of a complaint.

 

Lodging a bona fide complaint will in no way be used against the volunteer or have an adverse impact on the individual's status with the organization. However, filing groundless or malicious complaints is an abuse of this policy and will be treated as a violation.

 

Any person who is found to have violated this aspect of the policy will be subject to action up to and including termination of their volunteer position.

 

Confidentiality

 

All complaints and investigations are treated confidentially to the extent possible, and information is disclosed strictly on a need-to-know basis. The identity of the complainant is usually revealed to the parties involved during the investigation if required, and board of directors will take adequate steps to ensure that the complainant is protected from retaliation during and after the investigation. All information pertaining to a complaint or investigation under this policy will be maintained in secure files within the board of directors.

 

Complaint procedure

 

South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society has established the following procedure for lodging a complaint of harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The organization will treat all aspects of the procedure confidentially to the extent reasonably possible.

  1. Complaints should be submitted as soon as possible after an incident has occurred, preferably in writing. The Board may assist the complainant in completing a written statement through the Secretary, or, in the event any volunteer refuses to provide information in writing, the Secretary will dictate the verbal complaint.

  2. Upon receiving a complaint or being advised that violation of this policy may be occurring, the Board of Directors will review the complaint. If the complaint refers to any member of the Board, that individual or individuals will be omitted from the review process.

  3. The Board will initiate a meeting to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that the alleged violation of this policy occurred.

  4. Upon conclusion, the Board of Directors will submit a written conclusion of their findings. If it is determined that a violation of this policy has occurred, the Board will collectively recommend appropriate action. The appropriate action will depend on the following factors:

  • a) the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the conduct;

  • b) prior complaints made by the complainant;

  • c) prior complaints made against the respondent; and

  • d) the quality of the evidence (e.g., firsthand knowledge, credible corroboration).

If the evidence is inconclusive or if it is determined that there has been no violation of policy but potentially problematic conduct may have occurred, the Board of Directors may recommend appropriate preventive action.

 

Once a final decision is made by the Board, the Board will meet with the complainant and the respondent separately and notify them of the findings and their decisions on further action. If action is to be taken, the respondent will be informed of the nature of the action and how it will be executed.

 

Alternative legal remedies

 

Nothing in this policy may prevent the complainant or the respondent from pursuing formal legal remedies or resolution through local, provincial or federal agencies or the courts.

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South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society supports the regional LGBTQ2+ community through education, advocacy and providing safe spaces and inclusive events for everyone.