Toronto Metropolitan University's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967

Human Rights Policy

  1. Organizational commitment 

The EYEOPENER is not just a publication but a community.  As a community, The EYEOPENER seeks to create a safe space to work, volunteer and learn in which respect, equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-oppression, and transparency are valued and upheld.

The EYEOPENER recognizes the harm that legacy media has done and continues to impose on marginalized communities, including Indigenous, Black, transgender, queer, racialized, and disabled communities. We are committed to creating a safe environment within our publication where employees, volunteers, sources and other community members feel that their lived experiences are seen and valued. 

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, every person has the right to freedom from harassment and discrimination. Harassment and forms of physical violence are also prohibited under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.  Harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated, condoned, or ignored at The EYEOPENER. If a claim of harassment or discrimination contravening Ontario’s laws is proven after an investigation appropriate in the circumstances has been conducted, disciplinary measures will be applied, up to and including termination of employment for editorial board members and staff members, and the termination of relationships with volunteers.

The EYEOPENER is committed to a comprehensive strategy to address harassment and discrimination, and any forms of physical violence, including providing training and education to ensure that everyone knows their rights and responsibilities; regular monitoring of our employment and reporting practices for barriers based on Code grounds; providing an effective and fair complaints procedure; and promoting appropriate standards of conduct at all times. 

  1. Objective of Policy

The objectives of this Policy are to:                                      

  • Ensure that staff, volunteers and community members of The EYEOPENER are aware that harassment and discrimination are unacceptable practices and are incompatible with the standards of this organization, as well as being a violation of the law.
  • Set out the types of behaviour that may be considered offensive and are prohibited by this Policy. 
  • Ensure The EYEOPENER remains a safe and accessible space for students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, to access should they want to share their story or gain experience in journalism. 

  1. Application of policy 

The right to freedom from discrimination and harassment extends to all employees, including full-time, part-time and contract, as well as volunteers and interns.

It is also unacceptable for members of The EYEOPENER to engage in harassment or discrimination against sources, Ryerson community members or other people to which The EYEOPENER provides services.

This Policy applies at every level of the organization and to every aspect of the workplace environment—including online communications such as email, Slack and social media—and employment relationship, including recruitment, selection, training, salaries, benefits and termination. It also covers rates of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, shift work, discipline and performance evaluations.

This Policy also applies to events that occur outside of the physical workplace such as during business trips, or company parties. 

  1. List and Explanation of Protected Grounds              

This Policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of the following grounds, and any combination of these grounds:

  • Age 
  • Creed (religion) 
  • Sex
  • Gender identity 
  • Family status (Paternity, maternity or pregnancy) 
  • Marital status (including the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced, separated, or living in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage, whether in a same sex or opposite sex relationship)
  • Disability (including mental, physical, developmental or learning disabilities)
  • Race 
  • Ancestry 
  • Place of origin 
  • Ethnic origin 
  • Citizenship 
  • Colour 
  • Record of offences (criminal conviction for a provincial offence, or for an offence for which a pardon has been received) 
  • Association or relationship with a person identified by one of the above grounds 
  • Perception that one of the above grounds applies 

The EYEOPENER recognizes that people may experience discrimination and harassment based on the intersection of different identities. As such, complainants may file a complaint on the basis of more than one prohibited ground. 

  1. Definition of Key Concepts 

The following behaviour is prohibited by this Policy: 

Discrimination: means any form of unequal treatment based on a Code ground, whether imposing extra burdens or denying benefits. It may be unintentional or intentional. It may involve direct actions that are discriminatory on their face, or it may involve rules, practices or procedures that appear neutral, but have the effect of disadvantaging certain groups of people. Discrimination may take obvious forms, or it may occur in very subtle ways. In any case, even if there are many factors affecting a decision or action, if discrimination is one factor, that is a violation of this Policy. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Offensive jokes related to Code grounds
  • Slurs related to Code grounds 
  • Preferential treatment based on Code grounds 
  • Display of literature or materials that promotes racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, xenophobia and more 

Harassment: 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, or, causing another person to feel humiliated, intimidated or unsafe. It can involve words or actions that are known or should be known to be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning, or unwelcome, based on a ground of discrimination identified by this Policy. Harassment can occur on any of the grounds of discrimination.      

Examples of harassment include:                                         

  • Epithets, remarks, jokes or innuendos related to an individual’s race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, creed, age, or any other ground;                       
  • Insults or verbal aggression, such as yelling, swearing, name-calling, and intentional humiliation;                       
  • Display or circulation of offensive pictures, graffiti or materials; whether in print form or via e-mail or other electronic means;
  • Vandalizing or otherwise damaging or defiling personal belongings, work area or work product;
  • Singling out an individual for humiliating or degrading “teasing” or jokes because they are a member of a protected groups
  • Spreading malicious rumours (regardless of whether or not they are believed to be true)
  • Comments ridiculing an individual because of characteristics, dress etc. that are related to a ground of discrimination.

The fact that a person does not explicitly object to harassing behaviour or appears to be going along with it does not mean that the behaviour is not harassing, and does not mean that it has been assented to.

A reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace is not workplace harassment.

Sexual harassment: A course of unwanted remarks, behaviours, or communications of a sexually oriented nature and/or a course of unwanted remarks, actions that promote gender-based violence, or behaviours or communications based on gender – where the person responsible for the remarks, actions, behaviours or communications knows or ought reasonably to know that these are unwelcome; or making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to: 

  • Gender-related comments about an individual’s physical characteristics or mannerisms;
  • Unwanted attention of a sexually oriented nature such as personal questions about one’s sex life, persistent requests for a “date”, or unwelcome remarks about someone’s hair, body shape, etc. 
  • Unwelcome remarks based on gender which are not of a sexual nature but which are demeaning such as derogatory gender-based jokes or comments
  • Paternalism based on gender which a person feels undermines their self respect or position of responsibility; 
  • Unwelcome physical contact; 
  • Suggestive or offensive remarks or innuendos about members of a specific gender; 
  • Propositions of physical intimacy;
  • Gender-related verbal abuse, threats or taunting; 
  • Leering or inappropriate staring;
  • Bragging about sexual prowess or questions or discussions about sexual activities;
  • Offensive jokes or comments of a sexual nature about an employee or community member; 
  • Rough and vulgar humour or language related to gender;
  • Display of sexually offensive pictures, graffiti or other materials, including through electronic means; 
  • Demands for dates or sexual favours

Sexual Violence: Any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • sexual assault
  • sexual harassment
  • Stalking
  • indecent exposure
  • Voyeurism
  • sexual exploitation
  • degrading sexual imagery
  • distribution of sexual images or video of a community member without their consent
  • and cyber harassment or cyberstalking of a sexual nature.

Poisoned environment: a poisoned environment is created by comments or conduct (including comments or conduct that are condoned or allowed to continue when brought to the attention of management) that create an unsafe, discriminatory work environment such that workers can reasonably feel that it has become a term and condition of their employment to have to be in such a workplace. The comments or conduct need not be directed at a specific individual, and may be from any individual, regardless of position or status. A single comment or action, if sufficiently serious, may create a poisoned environment.

  1. Roles and responsibilities

All persons present in The EYEOPENER are expected to uphold and abide by the Policy, refraining from any form of harassment or discrimination, and by cooperating fully in an investigation of a harassment or discrimination complaint. 

The editor-in-chief and general manager have the additional responsibility to act immediately on observations or allegations of harassment or discrimination. Managers and supervisors are responsible for creating and maintaining a harassment and discrimination-free organization and should address potential problems before they become serious. 


  1. Access to information and advice 

The EYEOPENER will appoint a neutral third party with expertise in workplace complaints involving human rights and/or workplace health and safety (hereafter “Advisor”), who will provide information about the Human Rights Policy, as well as the Procedure to any person who is concerned about possible harassment or discrimination within the organization. The Advisor will not act as an advocate for any person and will not provide legal advice, and will maintain strict confidentiality of communications unless required to disclose information under a legal obligation. 

The Advisor will ideally be an alumni of the EYEOPENER as opposed to a current staff member. 

  • Access to Code mechanism 

The provisions of the Policy and Procedure in no way affect the right of any person to exercise their rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code, within the limits specified by that legislation. 

  • Making a complaint 

The EYEOPENER will investigate and deal with all complaints or incidents of workplace harassment, discrimination in a timely manner. A complaint may be made by speaking to either the editor-in-chief, the general manager or the Board’s masthead representative. 

Where possible, the complaint should be made in writing, via email or letter, including details of: 

  • What happened—a description of the events or situation 
  • Name(s) of the worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and contact information
  • Name of the alleged harasser(s), position and contact information (if known)
  • Names of the witness(es) (if any) or other person(s) with relevant information to provide about the incident (if any) and contact information (if known)
  • Details of what happened including date(s), frequency and location(s) of the alleged incident(s)
    • Any supporting documents the worker who complains of harassment may have in his/her possession that are relevant to the complaint.
    • List any documents a witness, another person or the alleged harasser may have in their possession that are relevant to the complaint.

The complainant may also request an in-person meeting to make their report or complaint. The role of the person taking the report or complaint is to listen, clarify details and assess appropriate next steps.

The person receiving the complaint will notify the person(s) complained against (“the respondent(s)”) of the complaint and provide the respondents(s) with a copy of the written complaint. 

If necessary, the complainant or the respondent will be placed on a paid leave of absence, asked to work from home or provided with alternative reporting relationships. The decision will be made on a case-by-case basis while respecting the principle that the complainant will not be penalized for making the complaint. 

It is the duty of the Advisor to ensure that the complainant is aware of the outcomes that may result from a formal report, including an investigation into their complaint.      

The EYEOPENER recognizes that instances of harassment or discrimination could occur during the news reporting process, where a staff member or volunteer of The EYEOPENER is a complainant and the respondent is an individual who has little to no relation to the paper. In that case, The EYEOPENER would support the complainant in reporting the case of harassment or discrimination to the respondent’s employer or to Ryerson University. The EYEOPENER would stay in contact with the respondent’s representative to stay up to date on the investigation process and respond appropriately to the findings.

  • Reprisal 

Every person has a right to claim and enforce their right to a healthy and safe workplace, free of violence, harassment and discrimination. No person should be negatively treated for bringing forward a complaint, providing information related to a complaint, or assisting in the resolution of a complaint. It is the violation of The EYEOPENER Policy to discipline or punish a person because they have brought forward a complaint, provided information related to a complaint or otherwise been involved in the complaint resolution process. Reprisal may be the subject of a complaint under this Procedure. 

Every effort will be made to ensure employees, volunteers and community members feel safe coming forward with complaints and are not discouraged by fear of reprisal. All complaints of harassment and discrimination will be taken seriously, and dealt with fairly and promptly. 

  • Dispute resolution 

When appropriate, the person receiving the complaint will offer the parties an opportunity to have the complaint mediated. No person will be required to undertake mediation. Mediation will be conducted by a neutral and expert third-party mediator. Mediation may take place at any stage during the complaint process. 

  • Appointment of an investigator 

Where mediation is not appropriate or is not successful, the person receiving the complaint will refer the complaint to an expert external investigator. 

  • Representation 

Complainants and respondents are entitled to seek representation of their own choice, including legal counsel, during the complaints process at their own expense. The EYEOPENER will not provide legal counsel to any complainant or respondent.

  • Documentation 

Every person who believes they have experienced harassment, violence or discrimination, as well as every person who has been notified of a complaint against them, is advised to create and keep written notes about the events at issue, as well as maintaining any relevant written documentation. 

  • Confidentiality and privacy 

Advisors, investigators, mediators and persons receiving complaints will, to the extent possible, protect the confidentiality and privacy of persons involved in a complaint, subject to the requirements of a fair investigation and resolution process. The investigator must ensure the investigation is kept confidential and identifying information is not disclosed unless necessary to conduct the investigation. The investigator should remind the parties of this confidentiality obligation at the beginning of the investigation.

All documents related to a complaint, including the written complaint, witness statements, investigation notes and reports, and documents related to the complaint, will be securely maintained by the general manager.                                                       

The EYEOPENER will not disclose the name of the complainant to any person except where disclosure is necessary for the purposes of investigating the complaint or taking responsive measures.            

There are, however, limits to confidentiality under specific circumstances such as where:

  • An individual is determined to be at imminent and serious risk of harming themselves
  • An individual is determined to be at imminent and serious risk of harming another
  • Records are subpoenaed by a court of law, or disclosure is otherwise required by law.

Any member of The EYEOPENER community who receives a disclosure or report is expected to treat it with confidentiality. The EYEOPENER staff members will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement with respect to receiving disclosures or reports of any of the behaviours covered by this policy.

  1. Investigation processes

The investigator is responsible for ensuring a thorough, fair and impartial investigation of allegations in the complaint. The investigator will interview the complainant, the respondent(s), and relevant witnesses suggested by the complainant or respondent(s), as well as gather documents relevant to the matters in the complaint. If the respondent is not a worker, the investigator should make reasonable efforts to interview the respondent. 

The respondent(s) must be given the opportunity to respond to the specific allegations raised by the worker. In some circumstances, the complainant should be given a reasonable opportunity to reply.

The investigator must make reasonable efforts to interview any relevant witnesses who are not employed by the employer if there are any identified.

The investigator must collect and review any relevant documents.

The investigator must take appropriate notes and statements during interviews with the worker who allegedly experienced workplace harassment, the alleged harasser and any witnesses.

All staff of the organization are required to cooperate with the investigator.

The investigator will complete the investigation within 90 days of receiving the assignment, unless there are extenuating circumstances warranting a longer investigation (ex. more than five witnesses, key witness unavailable due to illness).

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will prepare a written report summarizing the allegations, factual findings, and the investigation conclusions, and will forward the report to the General Manager. 

  1. Potential outcomes 

Based on the findings and conclusions in the investigator’s report, the General Manager shall determine the appropriate consequences for the person(s) who have been found to have violated the Policy. Consequences may include, but are not limited to: 

  • An apology 
  • Education and training 
  • Verbal or written reprimand 
  • Suspension without pay
  • Suspension with pay 
  • Termination of employment 
  • Termination of volunteer relationship
  • Ban the individual from The Eyeopener’s property                                         

In determining the appropriate consequences, the General Manager shall take into account the nature of the violation of the Policy, its severity, and whether the individual has previously violated the Policy. 

Where a violation of the Policy is found, the General Manager shall also take any steps necessary to repair the effects of the discrimination or harassment on the complainant, and to prevent any further recurrences of harassment or discrimination within the organization. 

The General Manager will be responsible for monitoring the outcome of the complaint. 

Within 10 days of the investigation being completed, complainant and respondent, if they are a worker of the employer, will be informed in writing of the results of the investigation and any corrective action taken or that will be taken by the employer to address workplace harassment, violence or discrimination. 

  1. The Informal Process                        

In the case that the complainant only wants to proceed with an informal process, a third-party mediator with expertise in workplace mediations will follow the procedure as outlined below.        

The informal process usually will involve discussions with both the complainant and the respondent in an attempt to mediate a resolution. The mediator will be the main point of contact  for both parties in this process. The mediator will also talk to witness(es) to better inform the mediation, if applicable.               

The informal process is largely oral and informal. The end result of an informal process will be remedial instead of disciplinary.

The mediator will provide a report to the general manager following the process.

  1. Training 

All The EYEOPENER editorial members, staff and volunteers will be required to sign a form at the beginning of each school year affirming that they have read and understood The EYEOPENER’s Human Rights Policy.

  1. Review 

This Policy will be reviewed on a biannual basis. 

If it requires major changes, this should be done in consultation with members of The EYEOPENER’s editorial board, staff, volunteers and board of directors.