- Is my Concern a Human Rights Issue?
You may bring forward a concern or complaint under the Carleton University Human Rights Policies and Procedures if the discrimination and/or harassment are based on:
race sex ancestry sexual orientation place of origin age colour marital status ethnic origin disability citizenship family status creed gender identity* political affiliation or belief record of offences (where a pardon has been received) receipt of public assistance
Sometimes discrimination is easy to spot. If a person comes right out and says you weren’t hired because of the colour of your skin or the place you were born, you know this is discrimination. But discrimination is not always so direct. An employer might say you did not get the job because “you wouldn’t fit in”. Or someone might stare at you or touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. In other cases, a long-standing practice or policy could unintentionally discriminate against members of a particular group. For example, at one time police forces had height requirements that excluded most women and people of certain races.If you believe you are being discriminated against on any of the grounds listed above, you can do something about it. The University’s Office of Equity Services (421 Tory Building) has advisors ready to help you resolve harassment or discrimination concerns or complaints.
- Should I Complain?
If you are treated in a way you feel is unfair, try talking to the people involved. What might seem at first to be discrimination may simply be a misunderstanding. If these steps don’t get results, you can bring your concerns to Equity Services or your local manager. “Local manager” means your Director or Dean/ Librarian, or the Vice-President responsible for your area.You should bring your concerns forward in a timely fashion (within 12 months of the discrimination or harassment having taken place). You may apply for an extension to the 12-month deadline in writing to the University Secretary. The University Secretary will grant extensions only in exceptional circumstances.
- Will My Concerns be Kept Confidential?
Yes, your concerns are kept strictly confidential. Once you enter the formal stages of a complaint, however, the complaint manager must inform the respondent of your complaint. All parties to a complaint must treat all information as strictly confidential.
- How Do I Present My Concerns?
You should first seek advice from an advisor in Equity Services or from your local manager about your concern. Informal resolution is the first step in dealing with any concern. An advisor from Equity Services will assist you. Equity advisors can discuss a variety of possible solutions with you. Mediation may also be an option if both parties consent.If informal resolution fails, you may file a formal complaint.
If you file a complaint you are called “the complainant”. The person you claim is discriminating against you is called “the respondent”. A “respondent” can be an individual, a group of people, an organization or a corporation. You play an important role in the investigation of your human rights concern or complaint. There are several things you should do to help you present your case as clearly as possible.
- Be specific (try to recall exact words, gestures, details about what happened).
- Keep a diary and write down any incident you believe might be related to your concerns.
- Record dates times, places, and actions you took to resolve the problem while these are fresh in your memory.
- List all possible witnesses.
- Save physical evidence such as notes, emails, memos, reports or offensive material.
Your diary and records may reveal patterns of behaviour and provide an investigator with evidence.
- Am I Obliged to Confront the Person Mistreating Me?
No. You are not obliged to confront anyone. It is perfectly natural for you to feel confusion, pain, guilt, anger, powerlessness, or fear. Equity Services advisors and local managers understand that you may not always be able to “talk things out” with the people who have hurt you or who hold positions of power over you.
- What Happens after I File a Formal Complaint?
- A complaint manager is appointed to administer your case.
- The complaint manager consults with Equity Services to assess the legitimacy of your complaint before taking any further action.
- The complaint manager then informs both parties to a complaint of all charges and evidence.
- Both parties have a right to have someone represent them.
- The University may take interim measures to guarantee safety.
- The parties may jointly request mediation at any point following a request for action.
- The parties receive summaries of each other’s documented claims and arguments.
- The complaint manager decides whether formal investigation is necessary.
- If there is an investigation, an investigator is normally someone from outside the University.
- The parties have a right to reply to the investigator’s report and suggest a remedy or discipline.
- The complaint manager takes a final decision to validate or dismiss the complaint.
If the investigation proves your complaint is valid, you may request a remedy to correct damage to you. This damage may be to your career, your health, reputation or finances.
If the investigation dismisses your complaint, the respondent may request a remedy to correct damage to him/her.
- Will I Lose My Job or Fail My Courses if I Complain?
No. You should not be afraid of someone retaliating (or threatening to) if you file a complaint or act as a witness in an investigation. The University considers such behaviour a serious offense. If you have any concerns for your safety report these immediately to an Equity Advisor, a member of University Safety or the complaint manager. Any person whose action obstructs the application of the Human Rights Complaints Procedures or who breaks an undertaking of agreement will be subject to discipline.
- Can I Drop My Complaint if I Decide Not to Go Through With It?
You may decide to drop your complaint at any time. Equity Services advisors will not act on your case without your consent. You make all the decisions about how to proceed with your case. In rare cases where a withdrawn complaint has brought very serious issues to light, the University may proceed with the case on its own behalf.
- What is a Frivolous or Vexatious Complaint?
This refers to a complaint lacking any substance or designed only to harm the respondent. It is a serious offense to file such a complaint.Experience shows that only very rarely do individuals abuse a human rights policy. Early assessment and advising by Equity advisors, together with fair and careful investigative procedures are designed to prevent such abuse.
- What Other Avenues are Available?
You have the right to take your concern or complaint to a lawyer, your union or the Ontario Human Right Commission.
Note: This plain-language guide is only a general outline of the conflict resolution and complaint procedures in the University’s Human Rights Policies and Procedures. For more detailed information on these procedures see below.