University Policy


Respectful Workplace

Approval Date: 2014-10-16

Effective Date: 2019-12-10

Review Date: 2021-12-10


The Vice-President (Administration and Finance) through the Director of Human Resources


To support a climate of respect in the workplace where individuals or groups of individuals are free from harassment and discrimination; to promote awareness and create an understanding of what is considered harassment; to provide a mechanism to have harassment concerns and complaints addressed and eliminated from the workplace and learning environment; and to respond to Memorial University’s responsibility under the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act, SNL 2010 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.


All employees of the University

Memorial University has a separate Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault policy.


Complainant — An employee who believes that they have been subjected to harassment who seeks recourse pursuant to this Policy.

Complaint — A written statement of allegation concerning harassment by a complainant seeking recourse pursuant to this Policy.

Concern — A situation which is of concern to an employee regarding harassment and which the employee wishes to resolve informally and expeditiously.

Day(s) — A day, other than a Saturday or Sunday, statutory holiday, or other day on which the University is not open for administrative business.

Harassment — Means comments or conduct which are abusive, offensive, demeaning or vexatious that are known or ought reasonably to be known to cause a person to be humiliated, offended or intimidated and which may be intended or unintended. Types of Harassment include Harassment based on Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination and Personal Harassment.

Harassment may occur during a single incident or a series of single incidents. Whether or not a single incident constitutes Harassment will depend on the nature and type of incident(s).

Legal Authorities — The legal entities, external to the University community, who have the responsibility and jurisdiction to uphold and enforce the law including the Criminal Code. R.S.C., 1985. c. C-46, as amended (The Criminal Code).

Non-University Person — Includes but is not limited to volunteers, contractors, their employees and agents, vendors of goods and services and their employees and agents, and visitors to the University, who have an association with the University.

Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination — Race, Colour, Nationality, Ethnic Origin, Social Origin, Religious Creed, Religion, Age, Disability, Disfigurement, Sex (including pregnancy), Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Marital Status, Family Status, Source of Income, Political Opinion.

Respondent(s) — The subject or subjects of a report of alleged Harassment under this Policy.

Retaliation — Any threat of reprisal, attempt to intimidate or adverse behaviour or action, taken against a Member of the University in response to that initial person having:

  • invoked this Policy;
  • participated or cooperated in any investigation under this Policy; or
  • been associated with a Member of the University who has invoked this Policy or participated in any of its processes.

Unit Head — For the purposes of this Policy, Unit Head is the term used to mean Supervisors/Managers, Deans, Department Heads, Division Heads, Heads of Schools, Directors, Supervisors/Managers, Executive Directors, University Librarian, University Registrar and other senior administrators at a comparable level; Associate Vice-Presidents, Vice-Presidents, the President, as applicable.

University — Memorial University of Newfoundland.

University-related Activity — Any activity that is directly related to or arises out of the operations of the University at any location. All activities on the University's campuses are University-related unless they are within the control of an organization or group external to the University.

Workplace Assessment — An independent third party review of the work environment in a particular unit with goals consistent with the purpose of this Policy.


1. General

1.1 All employees must respect the rights of other employees of the University as every employee is entitled to employment free from workplace Harassment. Employees are obligated to take reasonable care to not engage in bullying or workplace Harassment and are to report any observations or experiences of bullying and workplace Harassment. Employees must comply with the provisions of this Policy including the confidentiality obligations and the expectation to participate in any procedures taken under this Policy and its procedures.

1.2 Unit Heads bear the specific and primary responsibility for promoting an environment free from Harassment and are obligated to ensure the health and safety of employees. They are expected to act on this responsibility and to comply with the provisions of this policy. Unit Heads are to lead by example, to take reasonable measures to ensure an environment that is free from Harassment, to address incidents of possible Harassment that occur in their unit in a timely and confidential manner, and to keep appropriate documentation of action taken. In addition, Unit Heads should seek appropriate advice and guidance to carry out these responsibilities, from either the Office of Faculty Relations or the Department of Human Resources.

1.3 All employees must complete training related to workplace violence including harassment prevention. This training will be inclusive of the requirements of this Policy.

1.4 There are two methods for addressing issues of Harassment under this Policy. These are early resolution of concerns or the complaint process.

1.5 The early resolution of Concerns is a primary objective of this Policy. All attempts should be made to resolve any Concerns or conflict as soon as possible, in a fair and respectful manner without invoking the formal complaint process. Every reasonable effort should be made to resolve the Concern early with open communication and in a responsive manner, which may include mechanisms such as coaching, mediation, training, counselling, facilitation and use of the University's Employee Assistance Program. See Procedure for Early Resolution of Respectful Workplace Concerns.

1.6 This Policy and related Procedures do not restrict the right of individuals to file a complaint with the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission, make use of the Criminal Code of Canada or appropriate collective agreements or take other legal action. 

1.7 Conflicts in the workplace involving disruptive, threatening or violent behaviour where an employee's personal safety and security may be in danger must be reported immediately to appropriate campus enforcement or security officials on the respective campus or to Legal Authorities, in accordance with the University's Assessment and Care Protocol.

1.8 Supports are available to employees when workplace harassment occurs. These supports are available through the Employee Assistance Program and/or the Human Resources website.

2. Complaint Process

2.1 If early resolution is not successful or not appropriate, or the behaviour continues or reoccurs, an Employee may seek to file a Complaint. Such a Complaint may be made by an Employee against another Employee and must:

3. Jurisdiction

3.1 Non-University Persons who have concerns about Harassment at the University or at a University-related event may express their concerns to the Director of Human Resources, who may refer the concern to an appropriate unit. This Policy and its related Procedures may be used where a Non-University Person expresses a Concern or makes a Complaint against an employee.

3.2 A Concern or Complaint against a Non-University Person should be reported to either the Associate Director (Employee/Labour Relations and Consulting Services) or the Associate Director, Office of Faculty Relations.

  1. The Associate Director may deal with the Concern in consultation with the Complainant, where appropriate.
  2. Where a Complaint has been made against a Non-University Person, the Associate Director will determine, with appropriate consultation, the steps to be taken.
  3. Harassment by a Non-University Person may result in suspension of privileges, such as access to campus or any other action deemed necessary.

4. Workplace Assessment

4.1 Where circumstances warrant, the President or a Vice-President who believes Harassment may have occurred, may, in the best interests of the University, authorize a Workplace Assessment.

5. Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints

5.1 Frivolous, vexatious and/or malicious complaints may constitute grounds for disciplinary action against the complainant.

5.2 Any imposed discipline related to frivolous, vexatious and/or malicious complaints will be taken in accordance with the Guide for Non-Bargaining, Management and Professional, and Senior Administrative Management Employees, applicable collective agreements or, for employees not covered by one of the above, the applicable contractual provisions.

6. Time Limits

6.1 Raising a Concern or filing a Complaint should occur no later than twelve months after the last alleged incident of Harassment. Events prior to the twelve (12) month period may be referenced if the incident(s) is relevant and part of a series of incidents that form a pattern of Harassment.

7. Conflict of Interest

7.1 Employees are subject to and must comply with the University's Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures and should also refer to the conflict of interest provisions and relevant clauses in the appropriate collective agreements, Guide for Non-Bargaining, Management and Professional, and Senior Administrative Management Employees, or other applicable documents.

8. Confidentiality

8.1 All matters relating to Respectful Workplace Policy activity shall be handled with confidentiality and in accordance with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, other privacy legislation to which the University is subject, and University policies. All persons involved in any process related to this Policy are expected to maintain confidentiality. Any information obtained relating to workplace harassment, including personal information, will not be disclosed unless it is necessary for the purpose of an investigation, corrective action relating to the complaint or where required by law.

8.2 Delivery of all written statements and reports shall be made in a confidential and secure manner, stating "to be opened by addressed only".

8.3 A breach of confidentiality by any individual with respect to a Concern or Complaint may be subject to disciplinary sanction or other appropriate action.

8.4 Confidentiality may not apply to persons subject to extra-University judicial processes, or where disclosure is permitted by law, or where the health, safety and security of a person or persons is a concern.

9. Records, Reports and Retention

9.1 All records will be handled in accordance with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, related University policies and other privacy legislation applicable to the University.

9.2 A summary report is prepared annually by the Director of Human Resources and Director of Faculty Relations and made available to the Vice-Presidents' Council concerning the number, type and disposition of Complaints, in a non-identifiable format, and on educational and other activities related to this Policy.

10. Retaliation

10.1 No person shall retaliate against another for bringing forward a Concern or Complaint or for being involved in any process related to this Policy. The University considers Retaliation at any stage to be a serious offence because it may prevent potential complainants, witnesses, administrators or others from coming forward with Concerns or Complaints.

10.2 Any imposed discipline related to Retaliation will be taken in accordance with the Guide for Non-Bargaining, Management and Professional, and Senior Administrative Management Employees, Student Code of Conduct, applicable collective agreements or, for individuals not covered by one of the above, contractual provisions.

10.3 A breach of confidentiality under Section 8 may constitute retaliation.

11. Appeals

11.1 Complainants and Respondents have the right to appeal or grieve in accordance with the following:

a. In the case of non-bargaining unit employees, appeals shall be filed in accordance with the Complaint and Appeal Procedures as outlined in the Guide for Non-Bargaining, Management and Professional, and Senior Administrative Management Employees. 

b. In the case of bargaining unit employees, the Respondent has the right to file a grievance regarding any discipline and the decision of the appropriate Unit Head under the terms of the applicable collective agreement. The Complainant may have the right to file a grievance regarding the finding of the appropriate Unit Head as to whether Harassment has or has not occurred under the terms of the applicable collective agreement.>

c. In the case of Academic Administrators who are not members of a bargaining unit, the appeal shall be directed to two other Vice-Presidents not involved in the case by notice, in writing, within fifteen (15) days of notification of the action to be taken.

Related Documents

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Conflict of Interest Policy
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Employment Policy
Health and Safety Policy
Privacy Policy
Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Policy
Workplace Accommodation Policy
Assessment and Care Protocol
Employee Assistance Program


For inquiries related to this policy:

Department of Human Resources 709-864-2434


Vice-President (Administration & Finance)


Human Rights

Previous Versions:

There is at least one previous version of this policy. Contact the Policy Office to view earlier version(s)

Approval Date: 2014-10-16
Effective Date: 2019-12-10
Approval Date: 2014-10-16
Effective Date: 2014-10-16
Approval Date: 2007-05-22
Effective Date: 2007-05-22
Policy Amendment History

There are past amendments for this policy:

Date: 2023-09-15 14:09:50
This policy was published as a replacement of a previous version with an ID of 336. Comment provided: Updating broken links
Date: 2024-02-16 14:54:59
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: Incidental amendments made to comply with provincial OHS regulations. Approved by PEC February 13, 2024.
Date: 2024-02-20 11:21:52
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: Updated to correct typo
Date: 2024-02-20 14:51:09
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: Refined definition section
Date: 2024-02-20 14:55:36
This policy was replaced with a new version. Comment provided: Refine Definition