Protection of Human Rights Policy
Stages if the Complaint Resolution Process
The focus of these procedures is to assist people involved in a situation of harassment or discrimination to find a resolution to the conflict.
We believe that having this policy will help empower a person who feels that he or she is being harassed to tell the harasser that the behaviour is unwelcome and must stop. Where the direct approach does not work or where someone is unsure about how to proceed, managers and the Human Rights Policy Coordinator can assist in the resolution process. In those few situations where the situation is not resolved, the college will undertake a formal complaint process leading to an investigation and the possibility of sanctions being imposed. It is important to recognize that a resolution agreed to by the parties is the preferable solution.
The following four stages suggest an orderly way to approach the resolution of harassment or discrimination problems. While it is strongly recommended that the stages outlined below be followed in sequence, depending upon your situation, you may decide that it is not possible to utilize the informal (Stages One and Two) part of this procedure. At that point you may decide to proceed directly to Stage Three, formal complaint.
Stage One - Individual ActionRecognizing that it is in the best interests of all parties to resolve harassment and discrimination conflicts, if you believe that you are being harassed you should, when possible, as the initial step towards its resolution, discuss the complaint with the person whose action gave rise to the complaint.
Without being confrontational, clearly and directly describe the behaviour that is bothering you, its impact on you and ask the other person to stop. If you are concerned about talking to the other person, consider writing him or her a letter about what is bothering you. A copy of the correspondence should be retained. Remember, there are times when the person causing the problem is not fully aware of the impact of their actions.
Stage Two - Informal Complaint & Attempt to ResolveIf you require assistance in approaching the person causing the problem, if you are unsure of what to say or do, or if after talking to this person, the offensive behaviour continues, you should discuss the situation, in confidence, with your immediate supervisor, another manager, union steward, Human Rights Policy Coordinator, Manager, Security or college counsellor. Talking to someone often helps you find a way to resolve the problem.
The person you have gone to will either give you advice and/or assistance. You will be given information regarding the policy and procedure including:
- the emphasis of the policy on working with the individuals in conflict to resolve these issues informally
- your right to file a formal written complaint
- the availability of counselling
- the importance of contacting campus security and the police if you believe that your safety is at risk or threatened by the respondent,
- that security may need to be contacted if it is felt that there is a safety problem
- your right to have a personal adviser or representative
- your right to withdraw from any further action
- the availability of other avenues of recourse (such as the Human Rights Commission)
- the time limits which apply to this process
- the options available to address a complaint, including alternative dispute resolution
- the penalties and redress that are available under this policy, including the possibility of penalties against a complainant if the complaint is found to be trivial, without merit, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith
- the confidentiality of the process
- in some cases there will be an exception to the confidentiality of the process, that is, if there is a risk to yourself or others
If you require further information or action to resolve the matter, you should seek assistance from your manager. This individual will ask you to provide and will document the following information related to your complaint:
- the name and location of the respondent
- the nature of the complaint
- the time and date of the complaint
- the solution needed to resolve the complaint
The manager, in consultation with the Coordinator and/or Manager, Security, will provide advice to you regarding whether it seems, on the face of the information provided, that the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the policy. The manager, Coordinator or Manager, Security will intervene in order to assist you in resolving the matter. This may include assisting you in a meeting with the alleged harasser or having someone else talk to the alleged harasser. This intervention will occur within 30 days of your meeting with the manager. The individual providing assistance will document the results of the intervention.
It may be determined, in consultation with the Coordinator, that an alternative dispute resolution mechanism is in order. If you and the respondent are agreeable and it is believed to be a feasible option by the Coordinator, such a mechanism will be put in place.
Stage Three - Formal ComplaintFailing resolution of the complaint through informal means, you may submit a formal complaint in writing. The formal complaint must be submitted to the Coordinator on the Policy Complaint Form.
Within five calendar days of receipt of a written complaint, the Coordinator shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing, informing you whether, on a matter of jurisdiction, the complaint will be pursued under this policy, and, if not, the reasons for not pursuing the complaint,
- If it has been determined that the complaint will be pursued under this policy then the Coordinator will inform the respondent in writing of the complaint, providing a copy of the complaint, and giving the respondent an opportunity to respond to the allegations on the Respondent’s Response Form within ten calendar days. The Coordinator must provide the respondent with a copy of this policy as well as inform the respondent of his/her rights and responsibilities under the policy, including the right to have a representative and the importance of confidentiality.
- In the event that it is determined that the complaint will not be pursued because it does not fall under the jurisdiction of this policy, the Coordinator will inform the respondent in writing that a complaint has been made but will not be pursued further under this policy. The information provided will include a copy of the complaint, the reasons for not pursuing it and a statement that no response to the complaint is required.
If the complaint is not dismissed, upon receipt of the respondent’s response to the complaint, the Coordinator shall disclose such information back to you within five calendar days of its receipt.
Within ten days of the complainant receiving the response of the respondent, the Coordinator shall meet separately with you and the respondent to clarify the details of the submissions and to identify the steps that have been taken to attempt to resolve the matter. If appropriate, the Coordinator may ask a suitable person, such as a union steward or association representative, to assist in the resolution of the complaint at this point.
If, after the clarification of the submissions from the parties, the complaint has not been resolved, the Coordinator shall facilitate the appointment of an investigator by the college. In certain circumstances, determined by the Coordinator, an investigation team composed of not more than three individuals may be appointed. The investigation shall commence within ten days of this appointment.
The investigator may:
- interview the complainant and the respondent
- interview witnesses suggested by the parties
- interview other witnesses who may provide useful information for the investigation
- gather evidence
- request written statements
- submit, within 30 calendar days from the beginning of the investigation, a written report of the findings of the investigation to the Coordinator. If required, the investigator may request an extension of this time frame. The parties must be informed if further time to complete the investigation is required.
Stage Four - Investigation Report/Decision Making Meeting
The Coordinator will review the investigation report to ensure that it meets the necessary standards of thoroughness and analysis. If required, the investigator will provide the necessary additions to the report. Within five days of receipt of the final report the Coordinator shall send a summary of it to the parties.
If the investigation report advises that the complaint does not fall within the jurisdiction of this policy, the complaint may then be dismissed by the college. The Coordinator will review the investigator’s advice and if he or she concurs, the parties will be informed of the dismissal at this time. If it is felt by the Coordinator that the investigation process should continue, he or she will direct the investigator to continue.
The decision to terminate an investigation because of lack of jurisdiction may be appealed, in writing, within ten calendar days, to the Vice President, Strategic Planning, Corporate Services and Secretary General or designate in the case of employees and the Vice President, Student Affairs or designate in the case of students. If an appeal is submitted by the complainant, the respondent will be sent a copy of the submission and be given the opportunity to respond. The Vice President will review the investigation report and any submissions and make a final decision. If a decision is made in favour of upholding the complaint dismissal, this decision is not appealable within these procedures. If the decision is to allow the complaint to proceed further, the process shall then continue.
For any other findings of the investigative report, the parties will be requested to submit comments regarding that report. These submissions must be received by the Coordinator within ten calendar days. All submissions received will then be disclosed to the parties to the complaint.
At the same time the Vice President will be informed that a mutually acceptable solution to the complaint has not been found by any of the other processes outlined in this policy.
Within 10 calendar days of receiving the submissions from the parties, the Vice President may initiate an information meeting. This meeting shall take place within 21 calendar days of the notice of the meeting. The purpose of the meeting will be to assist the Vice President to seek clarification of the contents of the investigative report and/or submissions in order to make a final decision on the complaint. The meeting will be presided over by the Vice President. The Vice President may include anyone who he/she believes will add value to the process at the meeting. The notification of the meeting to the parties will include a list of persons and an agenda.
At the information meeting the Vice President or designate may ask for clarification from anyone she/he feels may provide helpful information at that time. Cross‑examination is not permitted at the meeting.
Within 10 calendar days after receipt of the investigative report and submissions or after the completion of the information meeting, if such a meeting occurs, the Vice President will provide to the parties a written decision with reasons. This decision is not appealable through this policy process.
Due to the confidential nature of these matters and to ensure protection of the individual's privacy, the Vice President will not disclose the findings of the investigation, or the final report to any other party except to the complainant and the respondent and, where necessary, to those officials required to complete the policy process or as required by law. It shall be up to the individuals involved to inform their representative or personal advisor of the outcome of the investigation. This will help ensure the preserving of the complainant's and respondent's dignity, privacy and self-respect.
Determining Redress and Sanctions
It is most important to recognize that human rights are restorative rather than punitive in nature. The initial emphasis of this stage of the process will be directed at restoring the complaint to a situation similar to the one prior to the harassment occurring. When determining appropriate disciplinary action and corrective measures, the Vice President shall consult, where appropriate, with supervisory staff and shall consider factors such as:
- nature of the harassment;
- whether the harassment involved any physical contact;
- whether the harassment was an isolated incident or part of an ongoing pattern;
- the nature of the relationship between complainant and harasser;
- whether the harasser had been involved in previous harassment incidents;
- whether the harasser admitted responsibility and expressed a willingness to change;
- whether the harasser retaliated against the complainant
- the impact of the harassment on the complainant
- the type of sanction requested by the complainant.
Collective Agreement Steps
If progressive disciplinary and/or discharge is recommended the appropriate steps of the collective agreement shall come into effect.
Documentation regarding substantiated acts of harassment will be maintained in an employee’s or student’s file.