DAOD 5012-0, Harassment Prevention and Resolution

1. Introduction

Date of Issue: 2000-12-20

Date of Last Modification: 2020-03-24

Application: This DAOD is a directive that applies to employees of the Department of National Defence (DND employees) and an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF members).


  • CFAO 19-39, Harassment
  • CPAO 7.18, Harassment

Approval Authorities:

  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS)
  • Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources-Civilian) (ADM(HR-Civ))


  • Director General Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (DGICCM) (policy and instructions for CAF members)
  • Director Civilian Labour Relations (DCLR) (policy and instructions for DND employees)

2. Definitions

harassment (harcèlement)

Improper conduct by an individual, that offends another individual in the workplace, including at any event or any location related to work, and that the individual knew or ought reasonably to have known would cause offence or harm. It comprises objectionable act(s), comment(s) or display(s) that demean, belittle, or cause personal humiliation or embarrassment, and any act of intimidation or threat. It also includes harassment within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act (i.e. based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability, or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered). Harassment is normally a series of incidents but can be one severe incident which has a lasting impact on the individual. Harassment that is not related to grounds set out in the Canadian Human Rights Act must be directed at an individual or at a group of which the individual is known by the harassing individual to be a member. (Defence Terminology Bank record number 19050)

responsible officer (agent responsable)

  • a director general at National Defence Headquarters;
  • a superior of a director general at National Defence Headquarters in the case of a complaint of harassment involving a director general or superior of a director general;
  • an officer commanding a command or formation;
  • a chief of staff or equivalent officer at a command or formation if directed by the applicable commander;
  • a commanding officer of a formation headquarters if directed by the formation commander in the case of any complaint of harassment made by a CAF member;
  • any other commanding officer; or
  • a senior civilian manager who is a head of a lodger or integral unit in a region or formation. (Defence Terminology Bank record number 43231)

workplace (milieu de travail)

Any location where work-related functions and other activities take place and work relationships exist, such as:

  • on travel status;
  • at a conference where the attendance is sanctioned by the DND or the CAF;
  • at DND or CAF sanctioned instruction or training activities, or information sessions; or
  • at DND or CAF sanctioned events, including social events. (Defence Terminology Bank record number 43176)

3. Policy Direction


3.1 In this DAOD:

  • “harassment” may include the abuse or misuse of authority inherent in the position of an individual;
  • “harassment” is also any act that involves participation as a result of expressed or implied coercion, and that demeans, belittles or causes personal humiliation or embarrassment at any ceremony or other event, such as an initiation rite;
  • “abuse of authority” may mean: taking advantage of a position of authority to exploit, compromise or mistreat others; the improper use of power or authority to endanger a person’s job or threaten a person’s economic livelihood, or to interfere with or influence the career of an individual; intimidation, threats, blackmail and coercion. Abuse of Power may include behaviour such as shouting, belittling a person’s work, favouritism/disfavourtism, unjustifiably withholding information that a person needs to perform their work and asking subordinates to take on personal errands. However, if an individual has authority over another individual in a situation by virtue of law, military rank, civilian classification or appointment, the proper exercise of that authority is not harassment. This includes the proper exercise of authority related to the provision of advice, the assignment of work, counselling, performance appraisal, discipline, and other supervisory and leadership functions.
  • “workplace” in the DND and CAF context can include places such as messes, on-base clubs, quarters, dining halls, gyms, and sanctioned events such as holiday gatherings and course parties as well as office spaces, classrooms, garrisons, ships, hangars, vehicles, aircraft, online forums, etc.

Policy Statement

3.2 Harassment in any form, including in the use of social media, constitutes unacceptable conduct and will not be tolerated in the DND and the CAF. It is prohibited for any DND employee or CAF member to subject any person in the workplace to harassment.

3.3 The DND and the CAF are committed to providing a respectful workplace through:

  1. prevention of harassment by:
    1. establishing the promotion of a comprehensive harassment prevention and awareness policy;
    2. ensuring that all DND employees and CAF members have the right to be treated respectfully and with dignity in a workplace free of harassment; and
    3. ensuring that managers, supervisors and leaders at all levels take immediate steps, whether or not a complaint has been submitted, to stop any harassment that:
  • they witness; or
  • is brought to their attention;
  1. resolution of harassment by:
    1. establishing efficient harassment complaint resolution processes, including workplace restoration activities;
    2. offering informal conflict resolution, in a timely fashion, if appropriate;
    3. taking steps in the workplace when it has been determined that harassment has not occurred but that a workplace conflict exists; and
  2. monitoring of the effectiveness of this DAOD and other applicable policies and instructions.

3.4 The DND and the CAF affirm that a work environment that fosters teamwork and encourages individuals to contribute their best effort in order to achieve the defence objectives of Canada is essential. Mutual trust, support and respect for the dignity and rights of every person are essential characteristics of this environment and are directly linked to the first ethical principle (Respect the Dignity of all Persons) in the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Code of Values and Ethics.

3.5 Harassment in certain forms is not only against the law, but also erodes mutual confidence and respect for individuals and can lead to a poisoned work environment. As a result, operational effectiveness, productivity, team cohesion and morale are placed at risk.

3.6 The following six criteria, as set out in the definition of harassment in section 2 of this DAOD, must be met for harassment to have occurred:

  1. improper conduct by an individual;
  2. individual knew or ought reasonably to have known that the conduct would cause offence or harm;
  3. if the harassment does not relate to a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the conduct must have been directed at the complainant
  4. the conduct must have been offensive to the complainant;
  5. the conduct may consist of a series of incidents, or one severe incident which had a lasting impact on that complainant; and
  6. the conduct must have occurred in the workplace.


3.7 The DND and the CAF must provide DND employees and CAF members with:

  1. information about:
    1. conduct that constitutes harassment;
    2. their rights and responsibilities in respect of harassment prevention and resolution;
    3. ways of dealing with harassment; and
    4. the resources available to them;
  2. ongoing prevention activities to promote a respectful workplace;
  3. knowledge of the various informal resolution mechanisms in the case of harassment;
  4. access, without fear of reprisal, to effective, timely and confidential harassment complaint resolution processes;
  5. clear roles and responsibilities for responsible officers (RO), harassment advisors and investigators, labour-relations officers and other persons in key positions in support of harassment prevention and resolution; and
  6. guidance, support and training for ROs and supervisors to carry out their responsibilities to prevent harassment and resolve harassment and conflict situations that may occur.

Note 1 – All parties directly involved in the resolution of a complaint of harassment or workplace conflict are expected to limit the discussions pertaining to the complaint to those who need to know.

Note 2 – All decision-makers involved in the resolution of a complaint of harassment must adhere to the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice. This includes:

  • notice to affected parties that a complaint has been submitted and of the allegations;
  • disclosure of information to be used in rendering a decision;
  • an opportunity to make representations;
  • the right to a fair and unbiased decision; and,
  • written reasons for the decision.

In addition to a final investigative report, decisions also include the Situational Assessment. Any RO that is in a real or perceived conflict of interest or is biased in any way must recuse themselves from a file, including at the initial stages and prior to conducting a Situational Assessment.

3.8 The ability of the DND and the CAF to provide confidential harassment complaint resolution processes may be limited by any obligation on a CAF member to report to the proper authority an infringement of the pertinent statutes, regulations, rules, orders and instructions that govern the conduct of any person subject to the Code of Service Discipline. Unit authorities should consult with the local representative of the Judge Advocate General as appropriate.

3.9 When harassment, as defined in section 2 of this DAOD, is considered not to have occurred but a workplace conflict exists, the RO must take steps to address the conflict.

3.10  Detailed implementing instructions are set out in the associated Harassment Prevention and Resolution Instructions.

4. Compliance and Consequences


4.1 DND employees and CAF members must comply with this DAOD. Should clarification of the policies or instructions set out in this DAOD be required, DND employees and CAF members may seek direction through their channel of communication or chain of command, as appropriate. Managers and military supervisors have the primary responsibility for and means of ensuring the compliance of their DND employees and CAF members with this DAOD.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

4.2 DND employees and CAF members are accountable to their respective managers and military supervisors for any failure to comply with the direction set out in this DAOD. Non-compliance with this DAOD may have consequences for both the DND and the CAF as institutions, and for DND employees and CAF members as individuals. Suspected non-compliance may be investigated. Managers and military supervisors must take or direct appropriate corrective measures if non-compliance with this DAOD has consequences for the DND or the CAF. The decision of an L1 or other senior official to take action or to intervene in a case of non-compliance, other than in respect of a decision under the Code of Service Discipline regarding a CAF member, will depend on the degree of risk based on the impact and likelihood of an adverse outcome resulting from the non-compliance and other circumstances of the case.

4.3 The nature and severity of the consequences resulting from non-compliance should be commensurate with the circumstances of the non-compliance and other relevant circumstances. Consequences of non-compliance may include one or more of the following:

  1. the ordering of the completion of appropriate learning, training or professional development;
  2. the entering of observations in individual performance appraisals;
  3. increased reporting and performance monitoring;
  4. the withdrawal of any authority provided under this DAOD to a DND employee or CAF member;
  5. the reporting of suspected offences to responsible law enforcement agencies;
  6. the application of specific consequences as set out in applicable laws, codes of conduct, and DND and CAF policies and instructions;
  7. other administrative action, including the imposition of disciplinary measures, for a DND employee;
  8. other administrative or disciplinary action, or both, for a CAF member; and
  9. the imposition of liability on the part of Her Majesty in right of Canada, DND employees and CAF members.

Note – In respect to the compliance of DND employees, see the Treasury Board Framework for the Management of Compliance for additional information.

5. Authorities

Authority Table

5.1 The following table identifies the authorities associated with this DAOD:

The ... has or have authority to …
  • issue policies and instructions concerning harassment prevention and resolution for CAF members.
  • issue policies and instructions concerning harassment prevention and resolution for DND employees.
level one (L1) advisors and commanders of commands
  • establish harassment prevention activities in their organization that are consistent with this DAOD and the Harassment Prevention and Resolution Instructions;
  • establish an implementation plan within their organization for the application of this DAOD and related procedures; and
  • assign a harassment advisor within their organization.
  • establish policies and instructions on harassment prevention and resolution for CAF members;
  • oversee the effectiveness of this DAOD for CAF members; and
  • oversee L1 advisor and commander of command implementation plans in their organizations and the application of this DAOD and related procedures for CAF members.
Director General Workplace Management and DCLR
  • establish policies and instructions on harassment prevention and resolution for DND employees;
  • oversee the effectiveness of this DAOD for DND employees; and
  • oversee L1 advisor and commander of command implementation plans in their organizations and the application of this DAOD and related procedures for DND employees.
  • oversee responsibilities set out in the policies and instructions concerning harassment prevention and resolution, including the entering of all harassment complaints in the electronic database.

6. References

Acts, Regulations, Central Agency Policies and Policy DAOD

Other References

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