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Bullying and Harassment Policy, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. If I file a complaint about bullying, harassment and/or discrimination, how will SFU protect me from retaliation?
Retaliation is a serious matter and is prohibited conduct. Acts of retaliation that are brought to the attention of the University will be investigated and, if substantiated, the perpetrator will be held accountable.
2. How can an SFU community member who reports bullying and harassment be confident that the University will act?
The University has a legal obligation to act when bullying and harassment is brought to the attention of the Responsible Office. The action taken by the Responsible Office will depend on the circumstances of each case. Responses are on a continuum, from informal discussion and resolution processes, to investigations and corrective measures or discipline.
3. How does this proposed policy address the power imbalance in cases where a student raises a concern about a faculty or staff member?
The University is aware of concerns about power imbalance and has therefore developed a process by which the University takes the complaint forward on the student’s behalf. Once the student makes a Report the process is actioned by the University through the appropriate office (such as Human Resources or Faculty Relations). The Responsible Office will take the necessary steps to manage the Report through to completion. This process ensures that a student (or other complainant) does not need to manage the process themselves or engage directly with the alleged harasser or engage directly with a union that represents the faculty or staff member. Unions, including the Faculty Association, are separate bodies that are distinct from the University.
4. Will investigations about bullying and harassment be done by internal people or by external investigators?
The Responsible Office will determine whether to appoint an internal or an external investigator. Some of the factors that impact that decision include the level of factual and/or legal complexity of the allegations and whether the severity of the incident would create the prospect of the Respondent facing serious discipline if the policy was found to be violated by their behaviour.
5. Will the Bullying and Harassment Policy require the Responsible Office to complete the investigation, and the decision-maker to render their decision, within a specified period of time?
The University understands that the process of resolving complaints can be distressing and difficult for the individuals involved. While the University will strive to complete investigations and render decisions as expeditiously as possible, it is difficult to provide for a specific timeline in the Bullying and Harassment Policy as the circumstances of what occurred, and the complexity of the complaint, will vary from case to case. The University will abide by any timelines required by collective agreements or set forth in other applicable University policies.
6. If I file a complaint about bullying and harassment, will I be informed of the outcome, including whether the Respondent was disciplined?
The University is subject to privacy laws, and Complainants and Respondents have rights under those privacy laws. SFU will provide Complainants with information about the outcome of their complaint to the extent that an outcome directly affects them (e.g. where measures are implemented for their safety, such as a no-contact order) and with whatever information complainants would have the right to obtain under freedom of information laws, without requiring the Complainant to file a freedom of information request.
7. How will the University address multiple, or repeated, complaints made about the same person over time?
Each complaint must be determined on the merits of that specific complaint. However, the Responsible Office will be aware of repeated complaints made against the same Respondent. Where a student is the subject of multiple complaints, the Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct will address the matter. Where an employee is the subject of multiple complaints, the Responsible Office and the employee’s supervisor can exercise action to manage the workplace or learning environment.