Discrimination & Harassment
- Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’m not sure I wish to file an “official” complaint? If I speak to Equity & Human Rights Services, do I need to file a complaint?
No. Equity & Human Rights Services is here to offer confidential advice and help you determine what your best course of action is. Often, individuals just want to have the opportunity to discuss the issue and get some feedback or information. It is very common for individuals to try informal steps before making a decision to file a complaint and we regularly hear back from individuals that the informal strategies they’ve tried have been successful in resolving the issue.
Q: If I come to speak to Equity & Human Right Services, will my supervisor know?
Equity and Human Rights Services guarantees the confidentiality of its services. The only exception to the confidentiality rule is when the matter brought to our attention involves danger to the person or any member of our community. We believe that the maintenance of confidentiality, both by the staff in our office and by the parties to any matter, is vital in ensuring the success of the mediation process. For more information, please review EHRS’s confidentiality information.
Q: How do I file a complaint of discrimination or harassment at Western?
Equity and Human Rights Services administers the University’s policies on discrimination and harassment. Individuals who wish to file a complaint should contact EHRS to set up an appointment. To do so, please see our contact us page for more information.
Q: Can I file an anonymous complaint?
No, all of the discrimination and harassment policies at Western require that the individual filing a complaint identify themselves.
Q: Will Equity & Human Rights Services investigate my claim of discrimination or harassment?
Equity and Human Rights Services is an informal resolution service and does not investigate reported incidents of harassment or discrimination. If a complaint is filed, informal resolution is attempted. This requires that both parties engage in mediation guided by the staff at EHRS in an effort to resolve the complaint in a manner acceptable to both parties. Many complaints are resolved at this stage. However, if informal resolution is unsuccessful, most of the applicable policies allow for an investigation. Equity and Human Rights Services retains an External Investigator to conduct all investigations of harassment and discrimination.
Q: If I file a complaint, I’m sure that the other person will be mad and “get back at me”! Is there anything I can do about this?
There are to be no reprisals or retaliation (or threats of either) against anyone who asserts their right to a harassment and discrimination free working or learning environment! A reprisal or retaliation arising as a result of a complaint is considered equivalent grounds for laying a complaint.
Q: My co-worker seems to have no idea that his behaviour is harassing me! My colleague spoke to him about some of his comments and he just laughed and said, “Everyone knows I’m just joking”!
It is not the intent of your co-worker that is the issue. Rather, at issue is the impact that his comments are having on you. His comments are unwelcome to you. Even if your co-worker believes that he is just being funny, his pattern of behaviour is having a negative impact on your working environment.
Q: What’s with all these harassment policies? Sheesh…you can’t even tell a joke now-a-days!
Certainly you can tell jokes! But, a joke doesn’t have to be racially or sexually based for it to be funny! Our classrooms and workplaces are increasingly diverse and we must be respectful of others who share our environments. There is no place for sexually and racially motivated comments or conduct (jokes included!) in the workplace.
Q: My boss is always criticizing everything I do. She frequently talks down to me and just yesterday, she asked “why do I have to be so stupid”! I don’t know what to do. I don’t even want to come into work any more!
Criticizing and belittling people may amount to general (or personal) harassment. Bullies exist in the workplace too!
Q: How long will documents related to my complaint be kept on file?
All documents related to a complaint will be retained securely and in confidence for 10 years in the Equity and Human Rights Services office.