Reporting Discrimination and Harassment
The Western Human Rights Office (HRO) is here to help. We provide advice and support to all members of Western's campus community: students, staff, faculty, and leaders.
Contact HRO to report:
- Human rights-based harassment and discrimination, such as sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, islamophobia, xenophobia, antisemitism, and ableism.
- Concerns related to non-human rights-based harassment, such as personal harassment or workplace harassment, may also be reported.
Steps for Reporting
You may make an anonymous report, however, this may limit the ability of HRO and Western to respond and take action.
The Human Rights Office will be in touch with you to offer information and support. In most cases, HRO will offer you a confidential consultation meeting. You should hear from HRO within 48 hours.
HRO will explain the options available to you under the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy:
- Alternate resolution
- Formal complaint and request for investigation
We can also help you explore other ideas or options for support.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you file a report, it will be sent to the Human Rights Office. You will be offered a consultation to discuss the concern(s) and incident(s), ensure you are offered supports and resources and that you understand your options under Western’s Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
If you are making a report to support someone else, we will ensure you are provided with information to share with your friend or colleague.
A report also provides valuable information to Western. Reports can help identify themes, areas of concern and provide direction to support future programming and education needs.
Anyone who has experienced or witnessed behaviour(s) or concern(s) about human-rights related matters or personal/workplace harassment can make a report.
Western’s jurisdiction under the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy extends to students, staff and faculty members from the main campus. Matters involving the affiliated colleges will be assessed for jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis. The Office of Human Rights can assist in directing you to the most appropriate policy and/or procedure.
Yes. Racism falls under Western’s Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy because race and race-related grounds are protected under human rights law.
Other human rights protected grounds are ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion, spiritual belief), sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status and disability.
We understand that incidents of racism (or and/or sexism, ableism, etc.) are often about structural and institutional policies and procedures. In these cases, we will not only review the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy with you so that you understand your options where you have been directly impacted by structural policies or practices but, we will also discuss with you and consider other options to address (or begin to address) concerns. Often this means connecting you (or our office reaching out) to University leaders. When you report structural and systemic concerns, they can spark and help guide broader conversations and actions. It is not always the case that you must initiate your own complaint to see action or resolution.
The Human Rights Office will receive and review your information as soon as possible. You can expect to receive a reply within 48 hours (or two business days).
Unless your report identifies immediate safety related concerns, no action based on your report will be taken until you have a chance to speak with an HRO representative.
Please note that if your safety or the safety of others is at risk, you should contact Campus Safety and Emergency Services - call extension 83300 or call 911.
All reports will be maintained by HRO in accordance with our confidentiality practices. Records of reports are kept for five years unless they proceed to a formal complaint. Records related to formal complaints (and investigations) are kept for 10 years.
We understand that coming forward to talk about what you have experienced or witnessed can be difficult. We hope you will find our office to be welcoming and focused on how we can best support you.
You will be provided with meeting time options. Please choose a time that works best for you. Meetings are typically one hour in length but, we always try to leave a bit of extra time just in case it is needed. You will be invited to share only information that you feel comfortable sharing. You are welcome to bring a support person with you (for example, a friend, family member, colleague, employee representative). If you need any accommodations for our meeting, please just advise us.
Note: Due to COVID, we are currently meeting over telephone or Zoom. You may choose your preferred way to meet.
We will listen to your concerns and provide you with information about Western’s Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policies and procedures and the options available. Where we suggest another policy or that a referral to another office might be helpful, we will explain why that is and we can help connect you directly to a representative from that office. We often make referrals to services and supports such as the Office of the Ombudsperson, Accessible Education, Student Support and Case Management, and Employee Well-being. We also encourage individuals to reach out other sources of support such as peer groups, employee groups or the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
We have a (virtual) open door. You are always welcome to reconnect with us. We understand that it can take time to make a choice about how to proceed. You do not need to make any immediate choices about procedures when you meet with the Human Rights Office. You can take time consider your options.
Will you share my report with anyone, particularly with the person or people that I am reporting? Is my report kept confidential?
In most cases, we will not share, or forward information contained in your report without your consent to do so. However, if your report identifies immediate safety-related concerns, we may have to contact the appropriate authorities (often, Campus Safety and Emergency Services) to ensure the health and safety of campus members. Please review our confidentiality statement.
Can you explain the difference between an anonymous and a confidential report? Other than immediate health and safety concerns, would the Human Rights Office ever need to share information?
Confidentiality is different from anonymity.
The Human Rights Office keeps all reports and the details contained in them (for example, the names and identifying details about involved persons) confidential. Confidentiality means that, should we need to share information, we will do so discreetly and only share as much information as is necessary, and only with those who need to know to address, review and/or resolve the concern.
An anonymous report means that the person who made the report chose not to provide their name and/or contact information. In these cases, we review the report and consider whether any action can be taken. Western’s ability to respond to anonymous reports may be limited.
The Human Rights Office may also need to share information with the responsible University leader(s) to address or resolve concerns that may have an on-going or wider impact. Our decision to share information is guided by principles of health and safety and Western’s responsibility to maintain academic and workplace environments free of harassment and discrimination. Any time HRO shares information in this way, we do so prudently, discreetly and with a commitment to supporting the confidentiality of the individual who made the report. For example, HRO may directly contact the University leader to summarize the concern and provide advice or support on resolving it, rather than simply forwarding your report. Some examples are:
- Reports related to graffiti or posters will be shared with Campus Safety and Emergency Services and Facilities Management.
- Reports related to classroom or lab settings may be shared with the appropriate Dean's office and/or academic leadership.
- Reports related to social media or electronic communications may be shared with Communications and Public Affairs and/or Western Technology Services.
- Reports related to general student well-being, particularly where supports may be required, may be shared with Student Experience (Student Support and Case Management).
In these cases, HRO makes every effort to protect details that would identify the person(s) who reported the concern(s) or incident(s), unless we have the expressed consent of the individual to do so.
We understand the urgency of addressing matters of harassment and discrimination. We will make every effort to connect with you to discuss options and next steps as quickly as possible.
However, HRO is not an emergency service. In an emergency, please contact Campus Safety and Emergency Services or London Police by calling 911.
Learn about other crisis support services, or about the Employee (and family) Assistance Program (EAP) for faculty and staff members.
Western's Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy specifically prohibits reprisal and retaliation. You should not experience any repercussions for speaking out, reporting a concern, or for seeking support and advice. If you believe you are experiencing reprisal or retaliation, please reach out to the Human Rights Office.
I'm not sure if Western's Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy applies. I don't know where to turn.
Contacting the Human Rights Office is a good start. We will do our best to provide support and let you know about the options available to you. We will make referrals to other campus supports, as appropriate.
If you are a student, contacting Student Support and Case Management is also a good option.
A report connects you with the Human Rights Office. In most cases, no action will be taken based on a report. Instead, you will be contacted (where you have provided contact information) and offered a consultation with HRO to discuss the incident(s) or concern(s) that you experienced or witnessed and to learn about your options under Western's Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
A Complaint and Request for an Investigation means that you want the University to know and take action to investigate an incident(s) or concern(s) that you experienced or witnessed. To make a Complaint and Request for Investigation, you are not required to contact and/or consult with the Human Rights Office. However, people often choose to have a consultation to discuss the concerns, understand the options and procedures under the Policy, receive other resources and referrals. HRO is also able to review your draft complaint or other materials. Please note that a Complaint and Request for Investigation is one option under Western’s Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy. The other option is Alternate Resolution.
To file a Complaint and Request for Investigation, your complaint is sent to the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Human Resources (email@example.com). A complaint must contain the following elements:
- Be in writing
- Be within the jurisdiction of Western (i.e., those involved are employees or students at Western. Note that the Affiliated Colleges each have their own policies and procedures)
- Fall within the scope of the policy
- Be filed within one year from the date of the last incident
- Provide sufficient details and information (names of involved parties, dates, times, places of incidents and enough information for the respondent to reply to the allegations. Please see section VII, 3 of the Procedures for Policy 1.35- Non-Discrimination/Harassment.
The AVP-HR office will review the complaint and determine whether the matter may proceed to investigation under the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy. In some cases, complaints are referred to other University officials for investigation. For example, a matter may be referred to proceed under the Code of Student Conduct (where there is a student respondent) or pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (where there are health and safety concerns related to harassment or violence in a workplace).
Both the Human Rights Office and/or the office of the AVP-Human Resources are available to answer any questions you have about the process for complaints and about requesting an investigation.
If an investigation concludes that a breach of the Non-Discrimination and Harassment policy has occurred, the appropriate discipline process will apply.
In the case of an employee, the employee's contract and/or collective agreement would guide the discipline process. In the case of a student, the Code of Student Conduct would apply. A range of potential discipline outcomes is possible, depending on the nature of the concerns and the outcome of the investigation.
Experiencing or witnessing discrimination and harassment is difficult. Your feelings and emotions are valid, and we understand that your needs may change during this time. When you meet with HRO, we will ask you about your safety and well-being. Should you need support, the Human Rights Office will help connect you with someoneyou can talk to who is a trained support professional.
Students can access a suite of services through the Student Support and Case Management office.
If you feel there is an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of any member of the campus community, or if you become aware that any member of the campus community is a victim or perpetrator of violence report this information to the Campus Safety and Emergency Services (ext. 83300) or call 911 in an emergency.