COMPLAINTS REGARDING HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
York University strives to provide an environment wherein all students, faculty and staff are able to learn, study, teach and work, free from sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is:
1. Unwanted sexual attention of a persistent or abusive nature made by a person who knows or ought to know that such attention is unwanted;
2. The making of an implied or expressed promise of reward for complying with a sexually oriented request;
3. The making of an implied or expressed threat of reprisal, in the form of actual reprisal or the denial of an opportunity, for refusal to comply with a sexually oriented request;
4. Sexually oriented remarks and behavior which may reasonably be perceived to create a negative psychological and emotional environment for work and study.
Examples of unwanted sexual harassment include: Unwanted sexual or sexually suggestive comments including jokes and name-calling, unwanted or unnecessary touching or physical contact, Making gestures or touching oneself suggestively in front of others, Using social media or texting to post pornography, images, words etc., Spreading sexual rumors, Demanding dates or hugs, Making threats, Using derogatory or insulting language about a person’s gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation
Incidents of sexual harassment shall be investigated and dealt with by the University in accordance with the guidelines and procedures put in place for that purpose from time to time. Students, faculty and staff who, it is determined, have sexually harassed another member(s) of the University community will be subject to such discipline and sanctions as are appropriate in the circumstances, including but not limited to discipline and sanctions provided for in Presidential Regulations (in the case of students), and relevant collective agreements.
What can you do if you think you are being sexually harassed?
York University takes sexual harassment very seriously. The policy covers all students, faculty, and staff. That means that as a member of the York University community, you have a right to be free from sexual harassment on all of York’s campuses.
When experiencing harassment, you may be in a vulnerable situation and afraid to speak out or remain silent for fear of reprisal. You do not have to verbally object to an act of harassment for it to be considered harassment. These situations are still sexual harassment and contravene the Ontario Human Rights Code and York University Policy.
If you or someone you know is being harassed and you are able to do so safely:
Ask the person to stop their comments or behavior.
Ask a person in a position of authority (such as a professor, a supervisor, a course director, or a manager) to step in and stop the comments or behavior from happening.
If the harassment continues or is not being dealt with appropriately, or you are uncomfortable approaching someone in a position of authority, call the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (REI) for free and confidential information and guidance
The Centre for Sexual Violence, Response and Education facilitates support, services and accommodations for those who have experienced sexual violence for all York students, staff and faculty.
York University affirms that the racial and ethno-cultural diversity of its community is a source of excellence, enrichment and strength.
York University affirms its commitment to human rights, and, in particular, to the principle that every member of the York community has a right to equitable treatment without harassment or discrimination on the grounds prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code, including race and ethnicity.
York University acknowledges its on-going responsibility to foster fairness and respect, to create and maintain a positive working and learning environment and to promote anti-racism
If you believe you are experiencing or have witnessed a form of racial discrimination or harassment:
Address the person directly if it is safe and if you are comfortable to do so
Notify your manager, supervisor, professor, residence don/co-coordinator and/or Dean with your concerns
If applicable, inform your union representative
Contact the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion
Anyone in the York community who infringes a right protected by the Ontario Human Right Code shall be subject to complaint procedures, remedies and sanctions in the University's policies, codes, regulations and collective agreements as they exist from time to time, and to such discipline (including rustication or discharge) as may be appropriate in the circumstances.
Complaints of harassment and discrimination are beginning to be treated far more seriously than they ever have been previously. Particularly post-secondary institutions are beginning to realize that failure to deal properly with such complaints may make the institution liable. This policy is put in place by the University to provide a method by which they will deal with complaints of harassment against their employees, including faculty, staff, and teaching assistants. It is the responsibility of the University to ensure an environment which is in accordance with the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code as well as the Universities' policies.
The existence of these procedures are not intended to extinguish rights and remedies available under the law to any of the parties concerned. Complaints of harassment against students are dealt with under Presidential Regulation #2. Most University employees are represented by a union and their behaviour and conditions of work are subject to the Collective Agreement negotiated between their Union and the University. While unions have the obligation to represent their members they are also some of the leading organizations around issues of harassment and discrimination. Especially in more formal complaints you can expect that unions will have representation there to ensure that their members are being treated according to the agreement.
For the purpose of this procedure, a complaint about harassment or discrimination on a prohibited ground includes a complaint that harassment or discrimination has occurred because of the race, ethnicity, and country of origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability of the complainant. Complaints of harassment are often facilitated through, or with the assistance of employees from one or more of the following campus centres: the Centre for Persons with Disabilities, the Centre for Human Rights and/or the York Federation of Students.
The Initial Complaint:
Depending on who the harassment complaint is against, you should bring it to the attention of one of the following offices or people:
• Chair of the department or dean of the faculty involved
• Supervisor of the division where the employee works
• One of the Centres dealing with harassment complaints as described above
Complaints will always be forwarded to the senior manager of the area. If you have not already contacted the Centre, an appointment will be made for you, and documentation of the discussions you have had with your original contacts will be forwarded there. In cases where the complaint is on more than one ground of discrimination or harassment you will be given the opportunity to choose which Centre you would like to have deal with the complaint. If you should decline to meet with the Centre then a memorandum stating this will be written up and recorded in the Centre and a copy also sent to you.
Determination by the Centre:
After meeting with the Centre, a preliminary determination about your complaint shall be made, based on the information you have provided. They will determine whether your complaint:
• Is based on facts which have occurred more than six months prior to the lodging of the complaint
• Is one which might be resolved informally by the complainant
• Is one which might be resolved by mediation
• Is one which might not be resolved informally but which requires a formal complaint and investigation
• Is vexatious or made in bad faith
Informal Resolution is a resolution of matters raised in a complaint which does not involve mediation or a formal complaint, but is brought about through such means as advice to the complainant, informal meetings between the parties or others, or referral to counseling.
The Centre will assist in any or all of these elements of informal resolution. All advice given to the complainant will be recorded in a memorandum, prepared by the Centre and signed by the Complainant. Parties to the resolution may include the complainant, respondent, representatives of the respondent's Union, and the University as represented by the appropriate manager. Copies of any memorandum of settlement will be given to all parties involved and filed in the Centre.
Mediation is an alternate form of dispute resolution wherein the parties agree to the referral of the matters in an issue to a third party - the mediator - who helps the parties resolve the outstanding issues and records the resolution in an agreement which is binding on the parties.
If the informal resolution is not possible and the respondent has yet to be informed of the complaint, upon referring the matter to the next step, the Centre will send a copy of the complaint to the respondent.
If the Centre and both the complainant and respondent feel the issue may be dealt with through mediation, the Centre will find a suitable mediator and assist in co-coordinating a meeting between the parties involved.
Parties to the mediation may include the complainant, respondent, representatives of the respondent's Union, the University as represented by the appropriate manager and a representative of any department which the resolution may effect. Whether the mediation is successful or unsuccessful it will be recorded in a memorandum by the mediator and signed by the parties. Copies of the memorandum will be sent to the parties involved as well as filed in the Centre.
Formal Complaint and Investigation:
A Formal Complaint is one which is in writing and signed and which has not been resolved informally or through mediation. Where the complaint is unable to be resolved formally or through mediation, the Centre will, upon request, assist the complainant in preparing a Formal Complaint. A copy of this Complaint will be forwarded to the University President or the Vice President in charge of the area where the respondent is employed.
An investigator will be appointed to look into and report on the facts surrounding the Formal Complaint.
While the investigation is taking place remedial action may be taken to ease the environment in which the alleged harassment or discrimination is taking place. This may involve a transfer of section, reassignment of advisor or other temporary actions. The investigator shall provide a draft report within ninety days of being appointed and a copy shall be given to both the complainant and the respondent.
The complainant and respondent shall be given one week in which to notify the investigator of any omissions or errors in the description of the facts or allegations provided by each to the investigator. A final report shall be prepared and given to the complainant, the respondent, the overseeing Vice-President, and the Centre which initiated the complaint.
Within twenty days of receiving the report the President or Vice-President shall make a decision on what action, if any, is required. A copy of this decision shall be sent to the relevant Centre, the respondent, the complainant, and any of their representatives. Any decisions requiring action shall be imposed immediately according to University rules and in accordance with applicable Collective Agreements.
A complaint may be resolved informally or through mediation at any point in the proceedings, if agreed to by both the complainant and respondent. Upon mediation commencing, all formal complaint and investigatory proceedings will be put on hold until the mediator records either a successful or unsuccessful mediation.
All memoranda and reports made in the course of a complaint shall be considered confidential to the parties involved and to those who, in providing advice and carrying out duties related to the case, have a need to know of their existence and content.
If circumstances warrant, or if the parties both agree, the Vice-President may extend any time limit related to the case, provided that all reasonable attempts continue to be made to bring the matter to conclusion and that no party is unduly prejudiced by such an extension.