Information for Supervisors

Informal Investigations

It is expected that supervisors will address any reported complaints  of workplace bullying and harassment.  They are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from their employee group, Human Resources, Academic Relations, or the Human Rights and Equity Office. 

When conducting an initial review or informal investigation of a complaint, Supervisors are encouraged to follow these guidelines:

  • Meet with the complainant and take the information presented seriously. 
  • Advise the complainant that you will be keeping a written record of what is discussed.
  • Ask for specific details about the alleged incident(s), including the following:
    • What prompted the complaint?
    • What behaviour does the complainant consider bullying or harassment?
    • When did this behaviour occur and how often?
    • Has this behaviour been directed at anyone else?
    • How has the behaviour affected the complainant?
    • How has the behaviour impacted the workplace?
    • What resolution strategies could be implemented to resolve the complaint?
  • Take detailed notes to ensure a thorough record of the complaint is documented.

A Complaint Review form is available to assist Supervisors in documenting this meeting. Personal information collected through this process is sensitive. Therefore, it is important to protect it from unauthorized collection, access, use, disclosure, and retention by others who do not need to know.

Employees have a right to employee group representation in any complaint and/or investigation process.

The Supervisor will work with the complainant and the alleged bully to develop appropriate resolution strategies.  Where appropriate, the Supervisor should contact Human Resources or Academic Relations to determine whether any disciplinary measures against the bully/harasser are appropriate in the situation.   

Formal Investigations

In some cases the initial review of the complaint will result in the creation of strategies that address the behavour and allow the complainant to find resolution.  In cases where the strategies put in place do not correct the behaviour a more formal investigation will be required.  Human Resources and Academic Relations can assist Supervisors in conducting formal investigations. 

During an investigation, Supervisors should ensure the following:

  • the employee is advised of their right to have employee group representation present at the investigation;
  • the investigation is undertaken promptly and diligently, and is as thorough as necessary in the circumstances;
  • the investigation is fair and impartial, providing fairness for both the complainant and respondent in evaluating the allegations;
  • the investigator is sensitive to the interests of all parties, and maintain confidentiality to the extent possible in the circumstances;
  • the investigation is focused on finding facts and evidence, which should include interviews with the complainant, respondent, and any witnesses;
  • detailed notes should be taken of all interviews and conversations;
  • the investigator also reviews any evidence such as emails, handwritten notes, photographs, or physical evidence such as vandalized objects; and
  • the investigation incorporates, where necessary, any need or request from the complainant or respondent to have assistance during the investigation process.
  • the information is considered sensitive and effort is made to protect it from unauthorized collection, access, use, disclosure, and retention by others who do not need to know this information, as stipulated by SFU's adeherence to BC's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Upon completion of the investigation, a report must be compiled that outlines the findings of the investigation and recommended mitigation and resolution strategies.  A copy of this report will be provided to Safety & Risk Services to enable the collection of statistics on workplace bullying and harassment incidents at SFU.

Safety & Risk Services Involvement

Safety and Risk Services will become involved when a complainant feels their complaint has not been adequately addressed at the departmental level and they have completed the Workplace Bullying & Harassment report form described above.

Upon receiving a report of workplace bullying and harassment, Safety and Risk Services will first determine whether the Supervisor was informed of the incident and what steps, if any, were taken to resolve the situation.

i. If it is determined that additional action is required, the Supervisor will be advised of such and will be advised to contact their employee group representative, Human Resources, or Academic Relations, where appropriate, to assist in the resolution of the complaint.

The identified resource group will work together with the Supervisor and/or Department Head and the complainant to develop and implement appropriate resolution strategies.  It is expected that the Supervisor and/or Department Head will prepare a summary report that outlines the recommended actions and timeframe for implementing these recommendations.  This report will be submitted to Safety & Risk Services. 

ii. If is determined that a new investigation is required, Safety and Risk Services will conduct the investigation.  Alternatively, an external investigator will be hired, as required, to conduct sensitive or complex investigations or where a perceived or real bias is identified.  Upon completion of this investigation, a report will be prepared that outlines the findings of the investigation and recommended mitigation and resolution strategies. 

A copy of the final report will be provided to the Supervisor and/or Department Head and the Chief Safety Officer. 

Resolution and Follow-up

The complainant and alleged bully will be advised when the investigation process is concluded and will be provided with a summary of the recommendations.  In appropriate circumstances, employees may be referred to SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program or be encouraged to seek medical advice.  Employees will be advised that a claim can be submitted to WorkSafeBC if a mental disorder resulting from workplace bullying and harassment is diagnosed by psychiatrist or psychologist.

If the complaint is substantiated, disciplinary measures may be implemented against the bully/harasser. 

If the complainant disagrees with the outcome of the investigation, he/she may contact WorkSafeBC.

It is strongly recommended that the Supervisor and Department Head meet to review workplace procedures to reduce the risk of any future bullying and harassment incidents in the workplace.