SAO Anti-Harassment Policy


To ensure that all members of the Strings Attached Orchestra  community, including musicians, board members, staff and volunteers are aware that harassment and discrimination are unacceptable practices and are incompatible with the standards of the Strings Attached Orchestra community, as well as being a violation of the law.


Discrimination:  Any form of unequal treatment based on a Human Rights Code ground, whether imposing extra burdens or denying benefits. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may involve direct actions that are discriminatory on their face, or it may involve rules, practices or procedures that appear neutral, but disadvantage certain groups of people. Discrimination may take obvious forms, or it may happen in very subtle ways. 

Harassment:  A course of comments or actions that are known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome. 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 based on any of the grounds of discrimination.

            Examples of harassment include:

  • Epithets, remarks, jokes or innuendos related to a person’s race, gender identity, gender expression, sex, disability, sexual orientation, creed/religious practice, age, or any other ground
  • Posting or circulating offensive pictures, graffiti or materials, whether in print form or via e-mail or other electronic means
  • Singling out a person for humiliating or demeaning “teasing” or jokes because they are a member of a Human Rights Code-protected group
  • Comments ridiculing a person because of characteristics that are related to a ground of discrimination. For example, this could include comments about a person’s dress, speech or other practices that may be related to their sex, race, gender identity or creed.

If a person does not explicitly object to harassing behaviour, or appears to be going along with it, this does not mean that the behaviour is acceptable. The behaviour could still be considered harassment under the Human Rights Code.

Sexual and gender-based harassment:  sexual harassment is a form of harassment that can include:

  • Gender-related comments about a person’s physical characteristics or mannerisms
  • Paternalism based on gender which a person feels undermines his or her self-respect or position of responsibility
  • Unwelcome physical contact
  • Suggestive or offensive remarks or innuendoes 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 
  • 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

The comments or conduct do not have to be made with the intention to discriminate to be in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Rather, the effect or the result of the comments or actions on the recipient may themselves constitute discrimination.


All members of the Strings Attached Orchestra community, including member musicians, board members, staff and volunteers are expected to uphold and abide by this policy, by refraining from any form of harassment or discrimination, and by cooperating fully in any investigation of a harassment or discrimination complaint.

The President and Board of Directors have the additional responsibility to act immediately on observations or allegations of harassment or discrimination. The President and Board of Directors are responsible for creating and maintaining a harassment-free and discrimination-free organization and should address potential problems before they become serious.


Any member of the Strings Attached Orchestra community, including member musicians, board members, staff and volunteers who have witnessed or experienced an incident of harassment are encouraged to explain to the person who is harassing or discriminating that the conduct is unwelcome, but are not obliged to do so. Indeed, each case is different. If addressing the person responsible could lead to an escalation of the harassment or discrimination, or to safety risks, complainants do not have to directly interact with that person. If a complainant feels they can safely make it known to the person responsible that the behaviour is unwelcome, of course this may resolve the matter, or may help them later if they make a complaint. However, the complainant should never feel obliged to address their harasser against their better judgment.

            Complaints Procedure:

  1. Every person who believes he or she has experienced harassment 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, and to maintain any relevant written documentation. Notes should include:
  2. What happened – a description of the events or situation;
  3. When it happened – dates and times of the events or incidents;
  4. Where it happened- location
  5. Who saw it happen – the names of any witnesses, if any.
  • An incident or a complaint of Strings Attached Orchestra harassment or discrimination that has not been resolved directly with the harasser to the satisfaction of the complainant should be reported as soon as possible after experiencing or witnessing an incident. This allows the incident to be investigated in a timely manner.
  • Reports of Strings Attached Orchestra harassment or discrimination should be made to a designated Ombudsperson, a member of the Board of Directors or the President.  A report can be communicated in person, in writing or through alternate or digital means. In the event that a complainant feels that they cannot discuss the matter with the Ombudsperson, they may report the incident to the President or to any member of the SAO Board of Directors. The Ombudsperson and/or members of the Board of Directors shall report the incident to the President.
  • In discussion with the Ombudsperson or another designate, the Strings Attached Orchestra President will then investigate the complaint according to this policy and decide on the appropriate course of action to ensure that harassment does not continue and that all members of the community are safe and can enjoy  involvement in/with the Strings Attached Orchestra defined by dignity and mutual respect. This may involve dismissal of a Strings Attached Orchestra member, musician, board member, staff or volunteer, such that he/she may not return to involvement with Strings Attached Orchestra. 

            Commitment to Investigate:

  • Strings Attached Orchestra’s President and Board of Directors will ensure that an investigation appropriate to the circumstances is conducted when the Ombudsperson, Board of Directors and/or President become aware of an incident of harassment or discrimination or receive a complaint of harassment or discrimination. 
  • The President shall appoint an investigator who is responsible for ensuring a thorough, fair and impartial investigation of the allegations in the complaint. This investigator can be the President, a member of the Board of Directors, the Ombudsperson or an external person with expertise in this area, 
  • The investigator will interview the complainant, the respondent(s), and relevant witnesses suggested by the complainant or respondent(s), as well as gather documents and/or information relevant to the matters in the complaint.
  • All Strings Attached Orchestra member musicians, board members, staff and volunteers are required to cooperate with the investigator as necessary.

            Summary results of the investigation: 

  • The investigator will prepare a written report summarizing the steps taken during the investigation, the complaint, the allegations of the person who reported the workplace harassment or discrimination, the response from the alleged individual(s), the evidence of any witnesses, and any other evidence gathered. The report must set out findings of fact and come to a conclusion about whether harassment or discrimination was found or not. 


  1. Unless included as a Respondent, the Strings Attached Orchestra President will decide whether the policy has been violated and, if so, the appropriate consequences for the person(s) who violated the policy. If the President is a Respondent then the Vice-President and Treasurer shall make the necessary decisions. These may include
  2. An apology
  3. Counseling
  4. Education and training
  5. Verbal or written reprimand
  6. Suspension with pay
  7. Suspension without pay
  8. Transfer
  9. Termination of orchestra participation


All SAO members, members of SAO’s Board of Directors, President, staff and volunteers of Strings Attached Orchestra will be required to review this policy and receive information on how to deal with harassment / discrimination complaints.  All members will be required to review and agree to this policy as part of their membership application/renewal.  The policy will be available on the Strings Attached Orchestra website.

            Resources for Anti-harassment training:


Each musician members, board members including board president, staff and volunteer of Strings Attached Orchestra, is to read and agree with this policy each year as part of the annual membership renewal process.  All SAO members will be required to confirm that they have read and accept this policy through a checkbox on their annual online membership form.  All members of the Board of Directors, staff (both employees and contract workers) and volunteers will sign a copy of the policy in order to indicate their agreement with its terms.  Signed copies of the forms will be stored digitally in the orchestra’s digital files together with all financial documentation.

We are a community orchestra – We fill our lives with music and we share it with others!

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