Chairs' and Directors' Guide to the SFU Human Rights Policy

This guide is intended as a quick point of reference should any of the people in your unit request assistance with a problem related to discrimination or harassment.

The Human Rights Office is located at AQ 3045. Kristen Woo, Director, Human Rights office, is available by appointment to provide you with advice and guidance on a full range of human rights issues that may arise in your unit.  She can be reached at 778.782.4446 and same day appointments are usually available.

SFU Human Rights Policy

The SFU Human Rights Policy covers discrimination and discriminatory harassmen:

A. Discrimination

Discrimination means intentional or unintentional differential treatment based on one or more of the personal characteristics protected by the British Columbia's Human Rights Code for which there is no bona fide or reasonable justification, and which imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantages on specific individuals or groups as defined by the B.C. Human Rights Code. Currently, the grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Code are: age, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and in case of employment, also includes unrelated criminal convictions and political belief.

Moreover, SFU is under a legal duty to accommodate individuals who are members of groups named in the Code. The extent of the duty to accommodate is up to the point of undue hardship.

B. Harassment

Harassment is any behaviour that satisfies one or more of the following definitions:

Harassment related to a personal characteristic protected by the Code is a form of discrimination under this Policy. It means behaviour directed towards another person or persons that is:

  • abusive or demeaning; and
  • includes a direct or indirect reference to a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code; and
  • would be viewed by a reasonable person experiencing the behaviour as an interference with their access to a university service or their participation in a University-related activity, or which leads to or implies job or academically related adverse consequences for the person harassed. 

Sexual harassment is behaviour of a sexual nature:

  • by a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that the behaviour is unwelcome; and
  • that results in adverse consequences for the person harassed, such as interference with their access to a university service or their participation in a University-related activity, or which leads to or implies job or academically related adverse consequences.  


The SFU policy will be triggered if all of the following criteria are met:

  • both of the parties (the complainant and the respondent) are employees or students;
  • the last incident of alleged discrimination or harassment occurred within the preceding twelve (12) months ;
  • the behaviour is alleged to have occurred:
    • on any property that is controlled by the University and used for University purposes; or
    • at or during an in-person or virtual meeting, event, or activity that is sponsored by or under the auspices of the University, or in furtherance of University business; or
    • using the University’s Information and Communications Technology resources; or
    • when the Respondent was in a position of power or influence over the Complainant’s academic or employment status at the time of the reported incident.
  • the behaviour, if true, would constitute a contravention of the policy by meeting the definition of discrimination or harassment in the policy.

Behaviours which do not qualify:

1. Behaviours which do not constitute discrimination:

  • English language proficiency requirements;
  • acceptance into programs based on the acquisition of a certain GPA;
  • programs and initiatives aimed at the amelioration of the social condition of groups which have been the subject of historic disadvantage;
  • actions which are justified because they are absolutely necessary (such as the requirement of a bus driver to meet certain visual standards).

If someone seeks your advice:

  • your role is to be impartial: do not take sides;
  • do not decide immediately that you believe or disbelieve allegations you hear;
  • ask questions and ensure you have a clear understanding of the nature of the complaint; listen and carefully record information;
  • do not take action or give assurances about what will happen on the basis of allegations alone;
  • if you believe that a person's safety might be in jeopardy you must take action to address that threat by reporting the safety issue to your supervisor;
  • ask the complainant how they want to handle the situation: one person may want advice on how to deal with the matter themselves, another might ask you to intervene (if the person wants your intervention they must be willing to have their name revealed);
  • seek advice from the Human Rights Director if you are unclear about how to proceed;
  • inform all parties that they have the right to representation from their union or association.

Services offered by the Human Rights Office:

  • confidential advice to people who believe they are the target of discrimination or harassment;
  • advice to SFU members who may be experiencing harassment or discrimination off-campus (however, we cannot intervene in such a situation);
  • advice to managers/supervisors dealing with allegations in their departments;
  • advice to people who have been accused of discrimination or harassment by a fellow employee or student;
  • mediation;
  • educational seminars on harassment, human rights, conflict in the workplace, etc.

We do not offer:

  • advocacy
  • counselling
  • anonymity (if a complainant wishes the Office to intervene in the resolution process)

Procedures available under the policy

Informal procedures include:

  • consultation, discussion of strategies and/or referrals to on or off campus resources which may assist complainants in dealing with the situation independently;
  • consultation with managers/supervisors who are trying to assist in the resolution of a situation within their department;
  • mediation, with the agreement of both parties.

Formal procedures include:

  • Request for Investigation

If an informal resolution process has not been attempted or has failed, either party may make a written request for investigation and submit it to the Human Rights Office who will direct it to the University administrative responsible office for the Respondent.

  • Investigation

The investigation will follow the established processes of the Responsible Office and in accordance with procedural fairness requirements. For more information, please consult the Human Rights Procedures.