Subject: Policy on Workplace Harassment
Approved by: The President
Approval date: November 1 , 2011
Effective date: November 1, 2011
Revised: July 1, 2015; November 17, 2014; December 9, 2013; April 1, 2012
Administered by: Director, Human Resources
1 — SCOPE
This policy is applicable to all employees of Mount Allison University and relates to their interactions with other employees in the workplace.
In the case of sexual harassment, the University’s separate policy and procedures governing sexual harassment (Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Policy and Procedures), rather than this Workplace Harassment Policy, will apply.
2 — DEFINITIONS
For the purposes of this policy, workplace harassment is either personal harassment or abuse of authority as defined below.
Personal harassment means any objectionable conduct, comment or display that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be offensive to an employee whether it occurs once or on a number of occasions.
There are many reasons why personal harassment can occur including but not limited to past personal issues, jealously, gender identity and those discriminatory grounds covered under the New Brunswick Human Rights Code as referenced in the following paragraph. Though personal harassment may not occur for an identifiable reason, it is not justifiable for any reason.
Personal harassment may in some cases be discrimination on the grounds covered under the New Brunswick Human Rights Code, as may be amended from time to time. As of the date of this policy, these grounds are: race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, place of origin, age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, sex, family status, social condition, political belief or political activity.
Abuse of authority occurs where an individual improperly uses the power and authority in a position to adversely affect an employee. Examples of abuse of authority include but are not limited to such acts as public embarrassment, intimidation, threats, blackmail or coercion. The proper exercise of administrative or managerial authority is not an abuse of authority.
A complainant is an employee who makes a written complaint under Section 5.1 below that he or she has been the victim of workplace harassment.
A respondent is an employee against whom a written complaint of workplace harassment has been made as provided for in Section 5.1 below.
3 — POLICY STATEMENTS
3.1.1 Mount Allison University is committed to providing a work environment in which all employees are treated with dignity and respect by other employees.
3.1.2 Workplace harassment will not be tolerated. Where there is reason to believe that such harassment has occurred, an investigation will be conducted whether there has been a complaint or not. When an investigation finds that such harassment has occurred, appropriate corrective action will be taken.
3.1.3 The University respects the rights of all employees to seek remedies through other means such as grievances, human rights complaints, complaints to the police, and civil suits, whether the remedies provided by this policy are sought or not.
3.1.4 An employee will be given the opportunity to reply to any complaint made against them under this policy before any decision adverse to the employee’s interest is reached on the complaint.
3.1.5 The privacy of complainants and respondents will be respected and therefore all persons involved in a harassment complaint are expected to maintain confidentiality.
3.1.6 Any employee who makes a frivolous or vexatious complaint or a complaint in bad faith, or who knowingly provides false information in the course of the investigation of a complaint, will be subject to discipline.
3.1.7 Any employee who retaliates or threatens to retaliate against any person involved in a complaint process will be subject to discipline.
3.1.8 Complainants, respondents or witnesses are entitled to support or assistance from another University employee of their choice during any of the processes under this policy.
3.2 Deans and Directors
Deans and Directors are responsible for ensuring that there is no workplace harassment in their departments and, if there is such harassment, for taking the necessary steps to eliminate that harassment.
3.2.2 Informing Deans and Directors
Employees who believe that they are being harassed in violation of this policy must inform the Dean or Director responsible for their area or, if the Dean or Director is alleged to be the harasser, the supervisor of the Dean or Director, before the matter can be referred to mediation or before a formal complaint can be made under this policy. The Human Resources Consultant may also be approached for advice and assistance.
4 — INFORMAL COMPLAINT RESOLUTION
4.1 Informal Resolution – Direct Approach
Where they are comfortable in doing so, either alone or with the support of another employee, an employee who believes they have been harassed in violation of this policy is encouraged to communicate directly with the other employee or employees, firmly and respectfully letting them know that their behavior has caused offence, is unwelcome and should not be repeated.
4.2 Informal Resolution – Mediation
Where they are not comfortable in making a direct approach, or if a direct approach does not produce a satisfactory result, an employee may seek a resolution through mediation, without filing a formal written complaint, as follows:
a. After having informed the Dean or Director as required under Section 3.2.2, the employee shall meet with the Human Resources Consultant within four (4) weeks from the time of the most recent incident of alleged workplace harassment to request mediation. The Human Resources Consultant shall obtain details of the alleged workplace harassment, including dates, times, places and names of the person(s) involved.
b. Within two (2) working days from the date of the meeting with the employee alleging workplace harassment, the Human Resources Consultant shall inform the alleged harasser of the allegations and shall provide the alleged harasser with a copy of this policy.
c. Within five (5) working days of informing the alleged harasser of the allegations and the request for mediation, the Human Resources Consultant shall contact the alleged harasser to see whether they agree to mediation.
d. If the alleged harasser agrees to mediation, the Human Resources Consultant shall promptly consult with the parties on the choice of a mediator. The mediator must be independent of both parties. An alleged harasser’s agreement to participate in mediation is not an admission of wrongdoing for the purposes of this policy.
e. The mediation process shall be concluded within ten (10) working days of the appointment of a mediator unless both parties agree to extend this period of time.
f. Either party may stop the process at any time by providing written notice to the Human Resources Consultant.
The work of the mediator is confidential and if a resolution is achieved a written copy of the confidential resolution will be signed by the two parties. A copy will be provided to the Human Resources Consultant. There will otherwise be no formal record created with regard to the mediation process under this policy.
5 — FORMAL COMPLAINT RESOLUTION
5.1 Filing a Complaint
An employee who alleges workplace harassment may file a formal complaint as follows:
a. The complaint must be filed within three (3) months from the time of the most recent incident of alleged workplace harassment.
b. The complaint must be in writing, must be signed and must include details of the alleged workplace harassment, including dates, times, places and names of the employee(s) involved.
c. The complaint shall be filed with the complainant’s Dean or Director with a copy to the complainant’s Vice-President and the Human Resources Consultant.
d. Within two (2) working days from the date of receipt of the complaint, the Human Resources Consultant shall inform the respondent of the allegations and shall provide the respondent with copies of the complaint and this policy. If the respondent is a person in an area for which another Dean or Director is responsible, then the Human Resources Consultant shall provide a copy of the complaint to the other Dean or Director.
e. By mutual agreement of the complainant and respondent, the mediation process set out in Section 4 above may be used in an attempt to resolve the matter.
f. The respondent has the right but is not required to respond in writing to the complaint. The response, if any, shall be sent to the Human Resources Consultant who will provide a copy to the complainant and to the complainant’s Dean or Director.
g. If no response is received from the respondent within five (5) working days of being informed of the complaint, the matter will proceed to the investigation stage.
5.2 Investigating a Complaint
There will be no investigation of a complaint filed under Section 5.1 if the complainant’s Dean or Director, after an initial review of the complaint and consultation with the complainant’s Vice-President and the Human Resources Consultant, determines that a complaint is more appropriately handled under another University policy; that a complaint is not covered by this policy; that a complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious, or made in bad faith; or that the time had expired for filing a complaint. In these cases the Dean or Director will advise the complainant and respondent in writing of the decision not to conduct an investigation and the reasons for the decision.
Otherwise, the following steps shall be taken:
a. After consultation with the Human Resources Consultant, the Dean or Director shall expeditiously initiate an investigation of the complaint. Depending on the circumstances, the complaint will be investigated by the Dean or Director, another employee appointed by the Dean or Director or a person from outside the University appointed by the Dean or Director.
b. The investigator shall collect and assess the facts with respect to the allegation(s). The investigation will involve but will not necessarily be limited to interviews with both the complainant and respondent, interviews with any witnesses and documentation of the evidence gathered.
c. There is an obligation on members of the University community to cooperate in the investigation of a complaint.
d. Where the investigator is a person other than the Dean or Director, the investigator shall normally report in writing their findings to the Dean or Director no later than four (4) weeks from the date the investigation commenced. The report, in addition to a summary of the facts gathered and the process used to gather the information, will include a clear statement as to whether, in the investigator’s opinion:
- i) the allegations in the complaint are substantiated; and/or
- ii) there is sufficient evidence on which to base a finding; and/or
- iii) any behaviour constituted workplace harassment.
The investigator will not make specific disciplinary recommendations but may include recommendations for remedial actions that, in the investigator’s opinion, will assist in addressing the situation.
e. The complainant and respondent shall both be provided, in confidence, a copy of the report.
5.3 Disposition of an Investigated Complaint
Within ten (10) working days after either investigating a complaint or receiving an investigator’s report, the Dean or Director shall decide, when workplace harassment is found to have occurred, what corrective action consistent with any University regulation or applicable collective agreement is warranted. The complainant and the respondent shall be informed in writing of the decision taken and the action taken.
The decision of the Dean or Director may be appealed by either party to the complainant’s Vice-President.