Overview of the Complaint Process: "The Steps"

To help you understand the complaint process, each of the following steps are represented in the colour-coded flowchart.

If you feel that you are the subject of harassment or discrimination, you can contact the HRO to access the Case Resolution Request form or complete the online version.

The Complainant (i.e., you) is to provide details of the incident(s), including:

  1.  What happened
  2. Person(s) involved, or systems involved
  3. When did it happen (the date(s))
  4. Where did it happen, and
  5. Were there witnesses

Systemic discrimination: If you feel that you have experienced a situation of systemic discrimination, you can contact the HRO. 

The HRO reviews your Case Resolution Request form and any relevant supporting documentation, to determine if the following criteria have been met:

  1. Your complaint establishes a prima facie case of harassment or discrimination
  2. Your complaint is filed within 12 months of the last occurrence of discrimination or harassment

Prima facie means: if the allegations made are presumed  to be true, it would justify a finding of discrimination or harassment

If your complaint does not include enough information, the HRO may, 1) ask you for more information, or 2) the review will indicate that there is not enough information to move forward 

If your complaint appears to fall outside the scope of Policy 67a, based on the information you provided, the HRO can’t proceed with your complaint. The HRO can recommend other problem-solving options or refer you to other University resources.  You may be invited to submit further relevant information to your complaint which will trigger a reconsideration of the first review.

If your complaint appears to fall within the scope of Policy 67a, you can request an informal or the formal resolution option.

Among the available informal resolution options, some are:

  1. With the support of the HRO, you may address the concerns with the Respondent (i.e., the other person(s) involved in the complaint), where appropriate
  2. You can request mediation or other alternative resolution options

Mediation is a process in which two parties (you and the Respondent) try to resolve the complaint with the help of a neutral third party (the HRO or an external mediator).

You can choose to proceed with a formal resolution process at any time, including if an informal resolution option fails. The HRO will inform the Appropriate Authority (i.e., the person in a position of authority over the Respondent) of the receipt of a formal complaint, and a summary of the complaint and any supporting documents will be sent to the Respondent involved. The Respondent can respond to the complaint in writing, within ten (10) working days of receiving the summary. If the Respondent does not provide a response, the assessment will continue regardless. 

Once your initial complaint and any response(s) have been received, the HRO will assess all of the information to determine: 

  1. If it does not consist of harassment or discrimination
  2. If it would benefit from mediation 
  3. If it requires investigation

You and the Respondent will be informed of the assessment in writing once it is competed. If the complaint requires no further action, the HRO will close the file. 

If the HRO decides that the complaint is outside the scope of Policy 67a, and you disagree with this decision, you may ask the HRO Director to review the assessment.  

The HRO Director’s decision is final and will be communicated to you and the Respondent in writing.

If the HRO decides that the complaint requires investigation, an Investigator (HRO investigator or external Investigator) will be assigned. Potential witnesses may be contacted by the Investigator.   

Once the investigation is completed, a Copy of the confidential “Final Investigation Report” is sent to you, the Respondent, and the HRO Director. The HRO Director will send a copy of the Final Investigation Report to the Appropriate Authority.

The Appropriate Authority reviews the Final Investigation Report. When the Report indicates that Policy 67a has been breached, the Appropriate Authority decides on the imposition of any necessary remedial measures. The Appropriate Authority will follow up with everyone involved, as needed.  When the Report indicates that Policy 67a has not been breached, no remedial measures follow from the process.  See other actions below.  
Here are examples of possible remedial measures:

  1. A letter of apology.
  2. Participation in educational sessions on harassment and discrimination.
  3. Participation in coaching sessions to improve communication or conflict resolution skills.
  4. Prohibited or restricted access to the University’s campuses.
  5. Disciplinary measures, such as reprimand, suspension, dismissal, or expulsion.

Depending on whether you are a student, employee, Faculty or another type of uOttawa community member, there are other campus resources that may also help you with the situation you have experienced. For example, employees may also have the option to access to the University of Ottawa’s Human Resources Office. 

In addition to filing a complaint with the HRO, we remind you that can also take your complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario under the Human Rights Code or take other legal action on your own or with the help of legal services. 

For more information, please consult Policy 67a, Procedure 36-1, Procedure 36-2, and APUO Collective Agreement. 

Contact us

Human Rights Office

1 Stewart St.
(Main Floor – Room 121)
Ottawa, ON, Canada
K1N 6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5222
Email: [email protected]

Office hours

Monday to Friday, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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