HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY (GP 18)

Date

April 26, 1988

Revision Date

May 20, 2021

Number

GP 18

Mandated Review

May 20, 2026

Policy Authority: General Counsel and University Secretary

Associated Procedure(s):  Human Rights Procedures 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Pursuant the university’s obligations under the provincial Human Rights Code, GP 18 establishes the Human Rights Office (“HRO”) to provide education, advice, and resources to members of the university community about discrimination based on personal characteristics to contribute to the reduction and prevention of discrimination. The procedures to the policy establish mechanisms for addressing concerns about discrimination:

Informal Consultation with the Director of the HRO.

Filing a Complaint

A.     Preliminary Review for scope. If the complaint is rejected on a preliminary review, written reasons will be provided by the Director, which is appealable to the General Counsel & University Secretary.

B.      If the Complaint is accepted:

Informal Resolution

  • Begins with an Informal Inquiry where the Director has discussions with each party to attempt to resolve the dispute.
  • May include Mediation which requires the consent of both parties, can be facilitated by the Director

Formal Resolution

  • Starts with a Request for Investigation which the HRO will direct it to the Responsible Office for the Respondent, for action.
  • Investigation will follow the established processes of the Responsible Office and in accordance with procedural fairness requirements.
  • Corrective/Disciplinary Measures are implemented in accordance with applicable university processes, including the Student Conduct Policy and/or any relevant collective agreement or employment policy or contract.

GP 18 establishes a Human Rights Policy Board which is advisory to the Director and has Terms of Reference at Appendix B to the Policy. The HRO will report annually through the President to the Board of Governors.

1.0     PREAMBLE

1.1     Simon Fraser University (“the University”) is committed to providing a healthy, safe, and respectful learning, teaching, research, and work environment that allows for the full and free participation of all members of the University Community and in which Discrimination is neither acceptable nor tolerated.  As an academic institution, the University promotes teaching, scholarship and research, and the free and critical discussion of ideas.

1.2     The University acknowledges that power differences exist between or among faculty, staff, and students.

1.3     The University acknowledges the diversity of its members and recognizes that Discrimination, when it occurs, will impact each person differently, informed by social identities, vulnerabilities, and position within the university’s structures and hierarchies. The University also recognizes that the intersection of personal identities that are protected by the Human Rights Code with social identities and vulnerabilities that are not protected by the Code or this policy, such as migration status, linguistic identity, socio-economic status, and previous experiences of oppression and trauma, will necessarily make each person’s experience of Discrimination unique.
 

2.0     PURPOSE

2.1     The purpose of this policy is to instill and cultivate institutional, collective, and individual responsibility for creating and maintaining a healthy, safe, and respectful learning, teaching, research, and work environment and, specifically to:

2.1.1     increase awareness of Discrimination and to reduce or prevent its occurrence through education and training;

2.1.2     establish a process for addressing incidents of Discrimination that occur between, by, and of members of the University Community;

2.1.3     establish informal processes for resolving Complaints; and

2.1.4     assign responsibility for managing and responding to Discrimination when it occurs and for responding to and managing Complaints.
 

3.0     SCOPE AND JURISDICTION

3.1     This policy applies to and prohibits Discrimination by a member of the University Community against another member of the University Community, that it is reported to the Human Rights Office within one year of the last alleged incident of Discrimination, and that is alleged to have occurred:

3.1.1     on any property that is controlled by the University and used for University purposes; or

3.1.2     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

3.1.3     using the University’s Information and Communications Technology resources; or

3.1.4     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.

3.2     This policy also applies to and prohibits discriminatory conduct against a member of the University Community by a person who is not a member of the University Community, which occurs on any property controlled by the University and used for University purpose.  In such cases the University will, within the limits of its legal right to do so, endeavor to restrict that persons’ access to, or remove that person from, University property.

3.3     This policy is not to be interpreted or applied as derogating from the University’s right as an employer to investigate and, where warranted, to take action against an employee for

Discrimination against another member of the University Community, wherever it occurs, if there is a nexus to the workplace.

3.4     Complainants who pursue redress or resolution under other internal University procedures such as a collective agreement, or through another University Policy such as the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education and Support Policy (GP 44) may not pursue the same matter under this policy.

3.5     This policy does not prevent a member of the University Community from filing a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal or pursuing a criminal, or civil, or other remedy.
 

4.0     DEFINITIONS

4.1     See Appendix A for the definitions of words used in this policy and its associated procedures.
 

5.0     POLICY

Prohibited Conduct

5.1     Discrimination is unacceptable and prohibited conduct that, if found to have occurred, may result in a range of corrective measures or disciplinary sanctions including, where appropriate, dismissal or permanent suspension.

5.2     Retaliation is unacceptable and prohibited conduct that, if found to have occurred may result in a range of corrective measures or disciplinary sanctions including, where appropriate, dismissal or permanent suspension.

5.3     Making a deliberately misleading Complaint is unacceptable and prohibited conduct that, if found to have occurred, may result in a range of corrective measures or disciplinary sanctions.  Making a report about Discrimination based on a genuinely held but mistaken belief that Discrimination occurred in not considered to be deliberately misleading

Education and Prevention

5.4     The University will implement and actively promote education, awareness, and training to prevent and address Discrimination.  Specifically, in collaboration with relevant partners, the Human Rights Office will:

5.4.1     develop, coordinate, promote, implement, and oversee a proactive and sustained education plan for members of the University Community, designed to reduce and prevent Discrimination; and will provide education for the University Community about their responsibilities under this policy and the Human Rights Code, including the Duty to Accommodate;

5.4.2     facilitate the inclusion of educational materials related to Discrimination in student and employee orientation;

5.4.3     be a resource to individual faculty members, departments and faculties who are developing related course and program curriculum;

5.4.4     strongly encourage all members of the University Community to be knowledgeable about and to contribute to the reduction and prevention of Discrimination, and to participate in the education and training offered; and

5.4.5     act as an information office and resource for members of the University Community.

Addressing Complaints – General Principles

5.5     All members of the University Community will be treated equitably under this policy.

5.6     Having regard to the safety, comfort, and well-being of the Complainant, efforts at informal resolution and problem-solving will normally be made first when addressing a Complaint.

5.7     The University will respond to Complaints in an objective, fair, and timely manner.  Individuals exercising their authority and discretion under this policy will do so in conformity with the principles of procedural fairness and in accordance with a relevant collective agreement or other applicable University policy or procedure, including notice requirements, timelines, and other related process issues.  In particular:

5.7.1     All parties will be informed of the provisions of this policy and of the procedures available to them under it.

5.7.2     A Complainant who wishes the University to assist in the resolution of a Complaint must be prepared to be identified to the Respondent.

5.7.3     A Respondent shall be informed of the Complaint and all parties must be given the opportunity to present evidence in support of their positions and to defend themselves.

5.7.4     All parties may be represented or accompanied by a support person, and/or a representative of their Constituency Organization throughout the procedures under this policy.

5.8     This policy is not to be interpreted, administered, or applied in such a way as to detract from the rights and obligations of those in supervisory positions to take reasonable action to manage the workplace and the learning environment, and to direct employees and Students.

5.9     This policy is not to be interpreted, administered, or applied in such a way as to infringe upon the legitimate exercise of Academic Freedom by a member of the University Community.  As part of their teaching and research activities, members of the University Community are entitled to engage in frank discussion of potentially controversial matters which are related to their subjects.  This freedom must be based on mutual respect for the options of other members of the academic community.
 

6.0     ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

6.1     All members of the University Community are responsible for establishing and maintaining a respectful working and learning environment free from Discrimination.

6.2     All University employees who are in supervisory positions, whether in academic or non-academic units, bear primary responsibility for establishing and maintaining a respectful working and learning environment free from Discrimination.  Deans, Chairs, Directors, and others in supervisory positions are expected and required to act on this responsibility, whenever necessary, and without regard to whether a Complaint has been filed in the Human Rights Office.  In fulfilling their responsibilities, those in supervisory positions are encouraged to consult with any one or more of the following offices, as applicable:  Human Rights Office, Faculty Relations, Human Resources, and the Office of Student Support, Rights, and Responsibilities.

6.3     The Director is responsible for facilitating the implementation of this policy and the procedures under it and is responsible for supervising the Human Rights Office and its activities.  The Director and the Human Rights Office will:

6.3.1     implement and actively promote education, awareness, prevention, and training to address Discrimination;

6.3.2     act as an information office and resource for members of the University Community;

6.3.3     provide safe, timely, ongoing, and confidential assistance and support, referrals, and information to a member of the University Community who has been affected by Discrimination;

6.3.4     receive Complaints;

6.3.5     provide informal resolution processes, where appropriate, to resolve Complaints;

6.3.6     facilitate, in accordance with the procedures under this policy, the University’s response to Complaints that have not been resolved through informal resolution processes; and

6.3.7     systematically collect data and maintain annual statistics, without identifying information, for the purposes of community education and for reporting to the University Community.

6.4     If either the Complainant or Respondent request an investigation, the Responsible Office will respond to the request in a timely manner and will oversee and manage all further steps in relation to the Complaint, as set out in the procedures to this policy.

6.5     The General Counsel and University Secretary is responsible for:

6.5.1     determining an appeal of a decision made by the Director; and

6.5.2     appointing the members of the Human Rights Policy Board, after receiving the applications of interested individuals, consulting with Constituency Organizations, and taking into account the diversity of the University Community.

6.6     The Human Rights Policy Board, appointed by the General Counsel & University Secretary, is an advisory body comprised of faculty, staff, and students and is responsible for matters within its Terms of Reference, as set out in Appendix B.
 

7.0     ANNUAL REPORT

7.1     The Human Rights Office will report annually through the President to the Board of Governors on the implementation of this policy.

7.2     The Director is responsible for collecting and aggregating data and preparing the annual report in consultation with the Human Rights Policy Board.  

7.3     The annual report will include a summary of:

7.3.1     the educational activities of the Human Rights Office,

7.3.2     the number and types of Complaints made to the Human Rights Office and the method of resolution, and

7.3.3     progress made towards achieving the objectives of this policy.
 

8.0     RELATED LEGAL, POLICY AUTHORITIES AND AGREEMENTS            

8.1     The legal and other University Policy authorities and agreements that may bear on the administration of this policy and may be consulted as needed include but are not limited to:

8.1.1     Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210

8.1.2     University Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 468

8.1.3     Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 165

8.1.4     SFU’s Information Policies (I10)

8.1.5     Code of Faculty Ethics and Responsibilities (A30.01)

8.1.6    Bullying and Harassment Policy (new – TBA)

8.1.7     Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education, and Support Policy (GP 44)

8.1.8     Response to Violence and Threatening Behaviour (GP 25)

8.1.9     Conflict of Interest Policy (GP 37)

8.1.10     Student Conduct Policy (S 10.05)

8.1.11     Collective agreements and relevant human resources policies
 

9.0     ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY

9.1     The information and records made and received to administer this policy are subject to the access to information and protection of privacy provisions of British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the University’s Information Policy series.
 

10.0     RETENTION AND DISPOSAL OF RECORDS

10.1     Information and records made and received to administer this policy are evidence of the University’s actions to address Discrimination.  Information and records must be retained and disposed of in accordance with a records retention schedule approved by the University Archivist.
 

11.0     POLICY REVIEW

11.1     This policy must be reviewed at least once every five years.
 

12.0     POLICY AUTHORITY

12.1     This policy is administered under the authority of the General Counsel and University Secretary.
 

13.0     INTERPRETATION

13.1     Questions of interpretation or application of this policy or its procedures shall be referred to the General Counsel and University Secretary whose decision shall be final.
 

14.0     PROCEDURES AND OTHER ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTS

14.1     Appendix A contains the definitions applicable to this policy and its associated procedures.

14.2     Appendix B contains the terms of Reference of the Human Rights Policy Board.

14.3     Appendix C contains the Guidelines for Investigations by External Investigators.

14.4     The procedures for this policy are: Human Rights Procedures.