HARASSMENT POLICY 

Adopted: July 11, 2018

In the Eastman Humanist Community (EHC), we are committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for all. No one, whether an EHC member, visitor, or member of the executive, has to put up with harassment at EHC, for any reason, at any time. And, no one has the right to harass anyone else in any situation related to EHC. This policy is one step toward ensuring that our community and events are comfortable and safe for all of us.

What is harassment? 

Harassment is abusive and unwelcome behaviour that degrades, demeans, humiliates, or embarrasses a person. It is a form of discrimination when it is based on one of the protected grounds (ancestry, sex, religion etc). The person experiencing the harassment may have informed the harasser the behaviour is unwelcome or the behaviour may be deemed unwelcome if a reasonable person in those circumstances would view it that way.

It can take many forms:

  • verbal behaviour (comments, innuendo, jokes, threats)
  • gestures and other non-verbal behaviour (touching or unnecessary physical contact) ∙ visual forms of harassment (posters, videos)
  • physical behaviour (pushing, shoving)
  • electronic harassment (emails, text messages, displaying graphic images)

Who is responsible for harassment? 

The Eastman Humanist Community Executive Committee must not harass others and must ensure those around them are protected from harassment. If these individuals are made aware of a concern of harassment, they must take reasonable steps to investigate the concern and stop the harassment. This includes harassment of a current or prospective member, visitor, or guest speaker.

Telling the person harassed to take their concerns to the police is not sufficient to deal with a concern of harassment.

What is sexual harassment? 

Sexual harassment is harassment based on sex or creating or permitting a sexualized or sexually charged, negative atmosphere. Sexual harassment often occurs where there \is a power imbalance between the people involved. A power imbalance can be based on anything from sex to perceived popularity to economic status and many more.

Sexual harassment includes offensive or humiliating behaviour that is related to a person’s sex. For example, questions and discussions about a person’s sexual life; persisting in asking for a date after having been refused; writing sexually suggestive letters or notes, persistent “jokes” or reference to sex or sexual topics or displaying derogatory pictures, cartoons or other images, may all be forms of harassment.

Sexual harassment is defined in the Manitoba Human Rights Code (The Code) as a series of objectionable and unwelcome sexual solicitations or advances or a sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in an authority, if that person should reasonably have known that their behaviour would be unwelcome or retaliating against someone for rejecting a sexual solicitation or advance. More broadly, at EHC, we acknowledge that any unwanted interactions that seem sexual in nature constitute inappropriate and unacceptable conduct.

What can you do if you are harassed? 

It is your responsibility to inform someone in authority of the harassment.

Sometimes victims of harassment are reluctant to take any action against the harasser. While it is not your responsibility to stop the harassment, there are several things that you can do:

If you can, make it clear to the harasser that his or her behaviour is unwelcome ∙ Keep a record of the incidents including a description of unwanted behaviour, times, places and witnesses
Report the incident(s) to an EHC executive member (see Appendix 1) as soon as possible
If EHC executive members fail to take prompt and effective action regarding your concern, then you may wish to contact The Manitoba Human Rights Commission for information or to file a complaint.

What should EHC executive do? 

When informed of a concern of harassment, they should:

  • Advise the victim that the complaint will be taken seriously and treated as confidentially as possible.
  • Assess whether immediate steps need to be taken to ensure the victim and the harasser do not have to interact further.
  • Investigate the allegation promptly by talking to the individuals involved as well as witnesses who might have information about the incident(s).
  • If the allegation is substantiated, take steps to ensure the harassment stops, such as educating those involved or revoking EHC membership.
  • Communicate your conclusion to the victim and advise what steps you are taking to provide a harassment free community.
  • Monitor or check in with the individuals involved after a reasonable period of time. Remedies available to those who experience harassment

The purpose of The Code is not to punish the harasser or the organization for failing to take steps to stop the harassment but rather, to provide a remedy for the victim of the harassment and to prevent future harassment. There is usually a specific remedy for injury to the victim’s dignity and self respect. Remedies can include any or all of the following: a letter of apology, a re-affirmation by EHC of its commitment to stand against harassment, and compensation to the injured by the harasser.

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Appendix 1 

EHC Executive members as of May 9, 2018:

President: Gary Snider
Vice-President: Kelvin Toews
Secretary/Treasurer: Helen Friesen
Members at Large: Jordan Kroeker, Heather Murray, Blaine Penner, Pat Siemens

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