Policy 67 - Sexual Harassment

Approved Administrative Committee 944.2

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The policy is under review. The University reaffirms its commitment to maintaining an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination.

A person who wishes to obtain information on the prevention of harassment or discrimination or find out about the process for filing a complaint can contact one of the harassment and discrimination resource centres on campus:

For students: Office for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment, Student Academic Success Service (SASS) http://www.sass.uottawa.ca/prevention/

For employees: the Employee Health, Wellness and Leave Sector of Human Resources Servicehttp://www.hr.uottawa.ca/

For contractors, visitors or volunteers: contact the person responsible for the contract of service, volunteer activity or reason for the visit.

PREAMBLE

1. Whereas the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, provides that one of the University of Ottawa's objectives is to promote the advancement of learning and the dissemination of knowledge;

and whereas the Ontario Human Rights Code, 1981, provides inter alia that every person who is an employee has a right to freedom from harassment in the workplace because of sex;

and whereas, in recognition of its responsibility to have an appropriate environment for the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the University has made a commitment to create an atmosphere of reciprocal respect among members of the University community;

and whereas, the University recognizes as well that all members of the University community are entitled to a working and learning environment which is pleasant, professional, and promotes due respect of and regard for the rights and feelings of all;

and whereas romantic or sexual relationships between faculty members and students or between supervisors and employees or students are ones in which a power differential may exist;

and whereas an abuse of that power differential creates a negative environment for work and study and casts doubt on the validity of the consent to such relationships;

the University therefore strongly disapproves of romantic or sexual relationships between faculty members and students or between supervisors and employees or students, and expects members of its community to refrain from engaging in them;

the University affirms that sexual harassment is a negation of reciprocal respect in addition to being a violation of the fundamental rights, dignity and integrity of the person and that it undermines the environment required for the advancement of learning and the dissemination of knowledge.

DEFINITION

2. Sexual harassment is:

 

  • a) unwanted sexual attention from a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that such attention is unwanted; or

     

  • b) implied or expressed promise of reward for complying with a sexually oriented request; or

     

  • c) implied or expressed threat of reprisal or actual reprisal for refusal to comply with a sexually oriented request; or

     

  • d) a sexual relationship which constitutes an abuse of power in a relationship of trust; or

     

  • e) a sexually oriented remark or behaviour which may reasonably be perceived to create a negative psychological and emotional environment for work or study.

COMMITTEE ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT (CSH)

STRUCTURE

3. The Committee is chaired by the Secretary of the University.

4. Each of the groups listed below must forward five nominations to the Secretary of the University, who then appoints members of the Committee as follows:

 

  • a) Administrative Committee - two people

     

  • b) Students' Federation - one person

     

  • c) Graduate Students' Association - one person

     

  • d) Support Staff Executive Committee - three people

     

  • e) 772A, 772B - one person

     

  • f) Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa (APTPUO) - one person

     

  • g) Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) - two people

     

  • h) Clinical professor - two people

5. Appointments are for a period of two years.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

6. The primary mandate of the Committee is to develop and coordinate an education and awareness program on campus relating to sexual harassment.

7. The Committee must, in addition,

 

  • a) maintain confidential records;

     

  • b) make recommendations with respect to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure;

     

  • c) provide an investigative and hearing process for the settlement or determination of sexual harassment complaints;

     

  • d) report its activities annually to the Administrative Committee.

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

GENERAL

8. The Chair of the Committee on Sexual Harassment must appoint a Sexual Harassment Officer whose duties include counselling and recommending on matters related to sexual harassment as well as investigating under the authority of the Chair of the Committee on Sexual Harassment or Dean where appropriate.

9. In a case of suspected or alleged sexual harassment, the offended party may contact the Sexual Harassment Officer for advice or to make a verbal or written complaint.

10. Any complaint should be made as soon as possible but in any event, unless exceptional circumstances exist, a complaint will not be considered if it is made more than six months after the alleged incident.

11. A complaint may be made by either the individual or individuals who have been directly affected by the alleged sexual harassment or by any person who has actual knowledge that sexual harassment has taken place.

12. The Sexual Harassment Officer must, within five working days of the receipt of complaint, arrange a meeting with the complainant in order to obtain information to confirm and clarify the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, and determine whether there is a need to refer the matter to another appropriate body. In the case of a complaint made verbally, if the matter cannot be resolved informally, the Sexual Harassment Officer assists the complainant with the written form. No further official steps may be taken unless the complaint is in writing and signed by the complainant.

13. The Sexual Harassment Officer then forwards to the person against whom the complaint is made (hereinafter referred to as the respondent) a copy of the written complaint filed, any additional information obtained from the complainant and a request that the respondent reply to the complaint in writing within five working days. The Sexual Harassment Officer may assist the respondent in the preparation of a response.

14. If a response is received, the Sexual Harassment Officer forwards a copy of such response to the complainant and the complainant has five working days to reply in writing. The Sexual Harassment Officer may assist the complainant in formulating a reply.

15. Except where the Sexual Harassment Officer is absolutely convinced that there is no possibility of settlement by agreement or withdrawal, the Sexual Harassment Officer will convene a meeting with the parties to attempt a settlement.

16.a) The Sexual Harassment Officer files as soon as possible, but in any event within thirty days of receipt of the complaint, a report with the Chair of the CSH, setting out all of the information obtained as well as copies of all documentation filed by both parties and recommending:

 

  • i) that no further action be taken because the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or vindictive, or because the conduct complained of cannot reasonably be said to fall within the definition of sexual harassment as set out in section 2; or

     

  • ii) that no further action be taken because a settlement has been reached; or

     

  • iii) that a Complaint Panel be appointed.

A copy of the report is sent to the complainant and the respondent.

b) Where the respondent is a member of APUO, the following provisions apply.

 

  • i) If the Sexual Harassment Officer determines that 16.a)i) or 16.a)ii) applies, he or she will inform the complainant and the respondent of his or her determination in writing, and the file will then be closed.

     

  • ii) If the Sexual Harassment Officer determines that neither 16.a)i) nor 16.a)ii) applies, but that the complaint should be dealt with further, he or she, pursuant to 39.5.6 of the APUO collective agreement, forwards the appropriate documentation to the member's Dean, the Chief Librarian or the Director of the Career and Counselling Service, who then proceeds with an investigation pursuant to 39.1.2 of the agreement. The Sexual Harassment Officer notifies the complainant and the respondent that the matter has been referred to the Dean, the Chief Librarian or the Director of the Career and Counselling Service.

17. In the event that the recommendation is to appoint a Complaint Panel, the Chair immediately appoints three members of the CSH and nominates one of the appointees to the chair.

18. The Complaint Panel invites the complainant and the respondent to appear before it to submit any additional pertinent documentation and make oral submissions. Such meeting will be held on a mutually convenient date, but in any event within twenty working days of the appointment of the Panel.

19. The Complaint Panel must determine whether the acts complained of constitute sexual harassment and, if so:

 

  • a) recommend appropriate disciplinary action, if any;

     

  • b) recommend any other measures it considers appropriate for remedying or mitigating any academic or employment harm or disadvantage suffered by any person as a result of the sexual harassment.

20. The report of the Complaint Panel must be in writing and delivered to the Chair of the CSH within ten working days of the meeting referred to in paragraph 18. The report must provide:

 

  • a) a summary of the relevant facts;

     

  • b) a determination as to whether the acts complained of constitute sexual harassment as defined in article 2;

     

  • c) recommendations as to appropriate disciplinary action and other measures which in its opinion are necessary in the circumstances.

21. If the report of the Complaint Panel contains any recommendations, the Chair must forward a copy of the report to the Administrative Committee for appropriate action.

APPEALS

22. In the event that the Sexual Harassment Officer recommends that no further action be taken pursuant to sub-paragraph 16.a)i) the complainant has the right to appeal such a decision by forwarding to the Chair a notice to that effect within ten working days of the receipt of the Sexual Harassment Officer's report.

23. The notice of appeal must clearly set out all of the factors relied on by the complainant in disputing the recommendation made.

24. In the event that a notice of appeal is filed, the Chair appoints a Complaint Panel pursuant to paragraph 17.

25. The Complaint Panel will, after the expiry of the time granted to the respondent to reply to the notice of appeal, review all the material considered by the Sexual Harassment Officer as well as all other material filed to determine whether the grounds of appeal reasonably establish that the Sexual Harassment Officer was in error in making his or her recommendation and that the appointment of a Complaint Panel should have been recommended.

26. a) The Complaint Panel notifies the parties in writing of its decision within five working days, and if the Panel agrees with the complainant that the Sexual Harassment Officer should have recommended the appointment of a Complaint Panel then the matter proceeds in accordance with paragraphs 18, 19 and 20.

b) When the respondent is a member of APUO, the following replaces the provisions of 26.a). The Complaint Panel notifies the parties in writing of its decision within five working days. If the Panel agrees with the complainant that the Sexual Harassment Officer should have forwarded the file to the Dean, the Chief Librarian or the Director of the Career and Counselling Service pursuant to 39.5.6 of the APUO collective agreement so that an investigation pursuant to 39.1.2 could be carried out, the Panel orders that this be done.

27. If the Panel confirms the Sexual Harassment Officer's recommendation, the complaint file will be closed and no further action may be taken by the complainant pursuant to this policy.

28. Nothing in this policy prevents a complainant from seeking redress in any court and/or through the Ontario Human Rights Commission in addition to or instead of following the procedures outlined above. The University's procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment are carried out independently of any investigations being or to be conducted by any outside agency.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

29. For the purpose of this policy, disciplinary action includes but is not limited to an apology, reprimand, transfer, suspension, expulsion or dismissal, depending on the seriousness of the conduct, the respondent's connection to the University, the respondent's prior record and any mitigating factors, it being understood that any disciplinary action must be undertaken in conformity with the procedures set out in the relevant collective agreement or University policy.

30. Any disciplinary action taken against an employee or a student may be subject to a grievance or an appeal in accordance either with the procedures set out in any applicable collective agreement or with the policies and procedures of the University.

CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS

31. Any complaint received pursuant to this policy must be considered to be strictly confidential and all committee members are under a duty to take all necessary steps to maintain such confidentiality. In particular, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Committee must ensure that:

 

  • a) any reports of the Sexual Harassment Officer or reports of the Complaint Panel required to be considered by the CSH be amended so as to protect the identity of the complainant and of the respondent;

     

  • b) all procedures and deliberations of the Complaint Panel be held in camera.

RIGHTS OF COMPLAINANT AND OF RESPONDENT

32. The filing of a complaint of sexual harassment is the right of every member of the University community and may be exercised without fear of reprisal or threat thereof. In addition, the mere fact that a complaint has been filed against an individual does not, in and of itself, constitute grounds for disciplinary action against that individual.

EXCEPTION

33. No exception may be made to this policy without the written consent of the Administrative Committee.

Revised March 17, 1998

(Office of the Vice-President, Governance)

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