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Respectful University

Category: Governance
Number: GOV-100-015
Audience: All University employees, Students and Third Parties
Issued: December 19, 2006
Revised: September 15, 2020
Owner(s): AVP (Human Resources)
Approved by: Board of Governors
Contact: Coordinator, Respectful University Services, phone: 306-585-5400, email: respect@uregina.ca

Introduction

The University of Regina is committed to a climate in which students, faculty and staff are provided with the best possible conditions for learning, living and working, including an environment that is dedicated to excellence, equity and mutual respect. The University of Regina realizes this vision by establishing employment and educational practices that respect the dignity of individuals and make it possible for everyone to live, work, and study in a positive and supportive environment, free from harmful behaviours such as Discrimination and Harassment.

This document sets out the University’s policy on, and response protocol for, allegations of Discrimination and Harassment.  The purpose of this policy is to:

  • develop and support a respectful workplace and learning environment that values diversity and inclusion, fosters respect, and does not tolerate discrimination and/or harassment;
  • outline rights, responsibilities, and types of behaviour which fall within the scope of this policy;
  • make provision for support services, including training and awareness initiatives, to promote a respectful workplace and learning environment; and
  • outline procedures for handling and resolving complaints when this policy is breached.

This policy does not cover:

  • allegations of Sexual Harassment against individuals who are not employed by the University – such allegations will be subject to the Sexual Violence/Misconduct Policy and the procedures thereunder; or
  • issues of academic integrity and general academic supervision, which may be covered under other policies and procedures of the University.

This policy is the framework for detailed procedures (See Respectful University Policy Procedures) designed to provide individuals with multiple options for resolving concerns or complaints of Harassment and Discrimination, including a complaint and investigation process, as well as alternate resolution options.

This policy applies to any person under the University’s direction or who has a relationship with the University and who subjects a student, employee or any other member of the University community to Discrimination or Harassment in the context of a University matter or activity, whether the Discrimination or Harassment is alleged to have occurred on or off University property. This includes: (i) students; (ii) employees (faculty, staff, and student employees); (iii) persons who teach and conduct research at the University; (iv) members of the Senate, Board of Governors or other committees of the University; (v) Visitors, guests, coaches, clients, customers, suppliers, and volunteers; (vi) course and program participants and (vii) contractors, subcontractors and/or their employees.

Third parties are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with this policy. Compliance with this policy shall be deemed to be an implied term of all contracts and agreements with the University and is a condition of access to the University.

Policy

The University is committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and respectful environment in which all members of the University community can live, work, teach, research, learn, and study, and otherwise participate in activities connected to the University in a collegial environment of mutual respect, free of discrimination and harassment.

Harassment and Discrimination are, fundamentally, a selective denial of the basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect. The University will not tolerate or condone discrimination and/or harassment, and will take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent this type of behaviour and to stop it if it occurs.

The University is committed to:

  • ensuring that those who report incidents of Discrimination or Harassment are given the opportunity to be heard and are supported (including the provision of and/or referral to counselling and medical care, and the provision of appropriate and reasonable academic and other accommodation). They will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect throughout the process of disclosure and institutional response;
  • recognizing that those who have been subjected to Discrimination or Harassment need to be supported, empowered, and might require different services, resources, and supports;
  • ensuring that its prevention and response efforts and supports take an anti-oppressive and trauma-informed approach so that all University community members can access these supports and services;
  • ensuring that people who have reported Discrimination or Harassment can choose culturally relevant processes in regards to alternative resolution and the continuum of recovery - for example, traditional Indigenous-centered approaches;
  • addressing Discrimination and Harassment through the Office of the Coordinator, Respectful University Services including by:
  • prevention and awareness education, training and programming for faculty, staff and students; and
  • providing information to the University community about Discrimination and Harassment on campus through the coordinated collection and reporting of data while maintaining confidentiality.
  • ensuring natural justice and procedural fairness for Respondents during the investigation and adjudication process.

This policy is in effect at all times - fifty-two (52) weeks per year, seven (7) days per week, twenty-four (24) hours per day, and is not limited to working days.

The University and all members of the University community share the responsibility of establishing and maintaining a climate of respect within this community, and to address any situations in which respect is lacking. This means not engaging in, allowing, condoning or ignoring behaviour contrary to this policy.

The University will act promptly and efficiently to deal with conduct in breach of this policy. It will endeavour to ensure that individuals who believe that they have been subjected to Harassment or Discrimination are able to express concerns and register complaints without fear of retaliation or reprisal. The University will exercise care to protect and respect the rights of both the complainant and the respondent.

If third parties invited to the University engage or participate in the harassment of an employee and/or student, the University may have limited ability to investigate or control their conduct. However, the University shall take reasonably practicable action to stop or reduce the risk to its employees/students of being harassed by third parties.

Allegations of Harassment or Discrimination arising during co-op placements, internships, fieldwork, or practica shall be dealt with cooperatively between the University and the applicable agency according to University policy and procedures governing such placements.

 

Examples of Harassment

Sexual Harassment

Without in any way attempting to limit or define all circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, this Policy identifies the following conduct or behaviours which may be considered as sexual harassment depending on the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

  • refusing to work with or have contact with employee/students because of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation
  • unwelcome, graphic, suggestive or demeaning remarks, jokes, innuendos, propositions, taunting or other types of verbal abuse of a sexual or sexist nature (including about an individual’s appearance, body, attire, characteristics, sex or sexual orientation) directed at an individual or group
  • offensive or derogatory language alluding to a person’s private life or sexual behaviour or orientation by innuendo, jokes, or remarks
  • engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome
  • making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit to the individual, and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome
  • a direct or implied threat of reprisal for refusing to comply with a sexually orientated request
  • pressing an individual to accept unwelcome invitations, including telephone calls, letters, or emails
  • compromising invitations and provocative suggestions
  • unwanted requests for sexual favours
  • leering, ogling, or other sexually oriented gestures
  • deliberate physical contact to which the individual has not consented or had the opportunity to object to, and/or the alleged harasser knows or ought reasonably to know is unwelcome, including unnecessary or inappropriate touching and/or offensive gestures
  • sexual assault (an offence under section 271 of the Criminal Code of Canada)
  • the production, display, or distribution of pornographic or other sexually explicit, offensive or derogatory pictures or material

It is recognized that all individuals can suffer Sexual Harassment and that Sexual Harassment can also occur between individuals regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or relationship status.

Personal Harassment

Personal Harassment involves repeated conduct or a single, serious incident that causes a lasting harmful effect on another individual. It is the misuse of power or position to persistently criticize and condemn or to openly humiliate and undermine an individual.

Examples of Personal Harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Verbal or written abuse or threats, or physically abusive or aggressive behaviour such as pushing, hitting, finger pointing or standing close to an individual in an aggressive manner
  • Insulting, derogatory or degrading comments, jokes or gestures
  • Personal ridicule or malicious gossip
  • Unjustifiable interference with another's work or work sabotage
  • Interference with or vandalizing personal property
  • Repeated or continuous incidents of yelling, screaming or name-calling
  • Repeated or continuous threats to terminate employment or contracts for reasons unrelated to performance
  • Repeated or continuous threats to withdraw funding, scholarships or advancement opportunities for reasons unrelated to performance
  • Comments addressed to a person which have the effect of undermining a person's role in the workplace or classroom
  • Repeated remarks, gibes or insults in reference to personal traits or appearance
  • Intrusion by pestering, spying or stalking, or invasion of privacy causing physical or mental distress
  • Pressure to become involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour
  • Messages to or about a person, including voice mail, email, online chat or posted on a website, that are offensive, insulting or cause discomfort
  • Posting or display of materials, photos, images, and/or graffiti, including by electronic means, which may cause humiliation, offence or embarrassment (except where such display is for academic purposes and is a legitimate exercise of academic freedom and expression in teaching and research)
  • Insulting a person by use of degrading comments or obscenities
  • Making a person perform useless, humiliating or demeaning tasks that are not reasonably expected to be part of that person's employment
  • Excluding or isolating a person by making others avoid her/him
  • Unreasonably shunning a person in the workplace or classroom
  • Threatening or abusive language (oral, sign, or written, including voice mail, email, online chats and comments posted on websites)
  • Excessive criticism of a person's work or their private lives, when not related to appropriate evaluation of performance
  • Bullying: persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, abuse of power and/or unfair punitive sanctions which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated and/or vulnerable, which undermines the recipient's self-confidence and/or reduces the recipient's feelings of self-esteem and self-worth, and which may cause the recipient to suffer stress.

Harassment Based on Prohibited Grounds

Harassment Based on Prohibited Grounds is Personal Harassment that is prohibited pursuant to The Saskatchewan Employment Act and The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. In addition to the examples above, Harassment Based on Prohibited Grounds includes but is not limited to:

  • "gay-bashing", transphobia, and/or transphobic violence, including sexual violence
  • making derogatory comments, innuendos, insults, slurs, jokes, teasing, pranks or threats about a person's mental or physical disability, age, religion or religious creed, family status, marital status, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, ancestry, colour, race or perceived race, nationality, place of origin, and receipt of public assistance
  • silencing talk of racial, cultural, sexual or gender diversity
  • forcing people to disclose or hide their sexual orientation
  • defacing notices, posters or property with racist or homophobic graffiti, insignia, objects or pictures or display and/or publication of racist or homophobic material
  • hostility towards, and/or rejecting or excluding individuals or groups because of their mental or physical disability, age, religion or religious creed, family status, marital status, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, ancestry, colour, race or perceived race, nationality, place of origin, and receipt of public assistance
  • using a person's mental or physical disability, age, religion or religious creed, family status, marital status, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, ancestry, colour, race or perceived race, nationality, place of origin, and receipt of public assistance to demoralize or demean them
  • failing to provide reasonable accommodation for an individual's disability
  • intentionally creating and/or using barriers to prevent participation of a person with a disability
  • ridiculing a person for the effects that a disability, illness or medication to treat an disability or illness, have on that person's appearance and/or behaviour
  • inciting others to commit any of the above (sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada explicitly prohibit acts inciting hatred or violence towards any group on the basis of race, colour, and ethnic origin)

 

What is Not Harassment / Discrimination

This policy does not inhibit:

  • reasonable actions taken by a supervisor or other management employee relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace in regard to decisions involving work assignments, job assessment and evaluation in accordance with applicable collective agreements or other contractual obligations; or
  • reasonable actions taken by a faculty member or an administrator relating to the supervision, teaching, assessment or management of students, including with respect to their academic and non-academic performance and conduct, including in accordance with faculty, department or University policies.

The University will not condone Harassment under the guise of "strong management". However, the University will regard an assertive management, supervisory or teaching style as acceptable provided that employees and students are treated with respect and dignity.

Examples of situations that do not constitute Harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Legitimate, reasonable managerial actions relating to the management and direction of workers or the workplace
  • The legitimate right and responsibility of managers to conduct ongoing evaluation of employee performance, attendance, or discipline at work, which may include reasonable negative and constructive feedback and criticism of performance and/or may result in performance management measures and/or reasonable changes to a person's job duties or responsibilities as a result of a poor evaluation
  • The legitimate (i.e. not discriminatory, arbitrary or abusive) exercise in good faith of management's rights for operational requirements, performance management or progressive discipline (including suspension or termination)
  • Difficult conditions of employment, professional constraints, and organizational changes
  • The legitimate right and responsibility of faculty and staff members to provide constructive and fair criticism of a student's performance/behaviour, to deal with inappropriate student behaviour
  • Instructional techniques such as irony, conjecture, and refutation, or assigning readings or other instructional materials that advocate controversial positions
  • Undertaking disciplinary action for academic or non-academic misconduct
  • Demands for academic excellence or a reasonable quality of work
  • Overseeing injury and illness processes in accordance with Occupational Health and Safety and employee/students compensation legislation
  • Minor workplace issues such as disagreements and differences of opinion, matters or circumstances unrelated to employment or in the case of students' employment and/or living on campus for example, harassment that occurs during a social gathering of employees/students that is not sponsored by the University
  • Physical contact necessary for the performance of the work using accepted industry standards
  • Respectfully expressing disagreement or stating a contrary but reasonable point of view
  • The legitimate (i.e. not discriminatory, arbitrary or abusive) exercise of academic freedom, freedom of thought and inquiry, and expression in teaching and research which may result in respectful disagreements regarding beliefs or principles, including the expression of opinions, debate or critique of someone's ideas or work
  • Single incidents of thoughtless, petty or foolish words or acts that cause fleeting harm

Conduct alleged to constitute Harassment will be evaluated according to the objective standard of a reasonable person. Thus, conduct that is objectionable to some, but that is not severe or pervasive enough to create an objectively intimidating, offensive or hostile environment, is beyond the purview of this policy.

Academic Freedom

This policy shall not be interpreted, administered, or applied to infringe the academic freedom for academic staff members. When academic staff members engage in teaching, research and dissemination of knowledge, they are, therefore, entitled to the freedom to carry out such activities without arbitrary interference. The frank discussion of ideas, the pursuit and publication of research and the study and teaching of material with controversial content may not constitute Harassment.

 

Roles and Responsibilities

University's Responsibilities

The University recognizes its obligations set out in The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and The Saskatchewan Employment Act, which requires the University to promote and maintain a working environment that is free of Harassment and Discrimination.

The University will:

  • comply with human rights and occupational health and safety legislation to prevent Harassment and Discrimination and to provide a safe and healthy work, classroom, learning and research environment for the members of the University community
  • promote management support and leadership necessary to provide a safe and healthy workplace and learning environment free of Discrimination and Harassment
  • promote and support the implementation of Harassment and Discrimination prevention program(s), educational/awareness and training opportunities for faculty, staff and students
  • review the Policy every three (3) years in consultation with the Occupational Health Committee

Administrators and Supervisors will:

  • conduct themselves in a manner that promotes compliance with this policy
  • provide employees in their areas of responsibilities with adequate direction, training and instruction, and encourage them to conduct themselves in a respectful manner that is consistent with this policy
  • ensure that where it is necessary to take remedial or disciplinary action against a member of faculty, staff, student, course participant, volunteer or visitor, this is done fairly and in accordance with the disciplinary measures within relevant collective agreements and University procedures

Employees, Students, Course Participants, Volunteers and Visitors will:

  • conduct themselves in all activities in a manner that promotes compliance with this policy
  • recognize and support the right of all individuals to dignity at work and study and to maintain an environment in which this can flourish
  • familiarize themselves with this policy, which may include attending training appropriate to their position within the University
  • take the initiative in identifying Discrimination and Harassment and to take reasonable corrective or preventative action in accordance with this policy and its procedures

Contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and other third parties providing a service for the University of Regina will:

  • as part of their contracts, comply with this policy and all relevant health and safety legislation and University policies, procedures and programs

The Occupational Health Committee will:

  • model and promote behaviours that are consistent with this policy
  • provide advice and guidance on this policy and how it pertains to a healthy and safe university and the University's strategic plan
  • assist in ensuring that this policy is kept current and receive suggestions and recommend actions for policy/program improvements

The Coordinator, Respectful University Services will:

  • provide expertise and advice to all levels of management, faculty, staff and students on matters pertaining to Discrimination, Harassment and a respectful workplace and learning environment
  • coordinate and administer all aspects of this policy, including the maintenance of appropriate records
  • provide consultation regarding complaints and facilitate appropriate resolutions
  • investigate complaints of Discrimination and/or Harassment, preparing written reports and recommendations to the appropriate decision-maker
  • develop and deliver strategies for creating and sustaining a respectful workplace and learning environment, including educational strategies, projects, seminars and other means of promoting and awareness and understanding of Discrimination and Harassment and a respectful environment

Consequences for Noncompliance

Violations of this policy place the University at significant risk and are subject to appropriate corrective administrative or academic discipline and could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of the member's position with the University, or in the case of a student, a penalty as determined under the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy. Significant legal penalties may also be assessed under The Saskatchewan Employment Act and by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Investigations will lead to a decision on whether Harassment or Discrimination occurred and whether the complaint was made in good faith or was vexatious.

Processes

Procedure for Handling Complaints

Prompt action and early resolution efforts initiated by the impacted employee or student can be very effective to stop inappropriate, disrespectful behaviour, reduce the risk of objectionable behaviour being repeated, or escalated to a more serious level of conflict. Employees and students may choose to handle the matter on their own, or with the support of a friend or colleague. They may choose to seek the assistance of a manager, professor, coach or other person in authority. They can also seek guidance from the Coordinator, Respectful University Services.

Procedures related to this policy provide employees and students with an array of alternative self-managed and assisted resolution options, up to and including the formal complaint/investigation process.

In the event of a formal investigation, a final report will be prepared by the Coordinator or designate and distributed to the Complainant, the Respondent and appropriate Manager(s) in authority for each party.

The resolution options described in the procedures are in addition to, and not in substitution for, other internal or external options or other legal rights. This policy is not intended to discourage, prevent or preclude an individual from filing a grievance through the applicable Collective Agreement, initiating legal action (civil or criminal), or exercising any other legal rights, including:

  • Filing a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission pursuant to The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
  • Referring a complaint to the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety for resolution by an Occupational Health Officer. See Part III of The Saskatchewan Employment Act, and The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is critical in all procedures under this Policy. Because of the particular sensitivity of Discrimination and Harassment complaints, and their consequences, confidentiality is of the utmost importance and will be maintained at all times, unless the safety of members of our community are at risk or legal obligations require disclosure of information. Maintaining confidentiality benefits everyone involved in the complaint process. Those making complaints should not discuss the matter other than with the appropriate parties. Those involved in dealing with the complaints will make every effort to maintain confidentiality of information and will disclose only where absolutely necessary. Wherever possible, the complainant will be consulted before any disclosure of information is made. The importance of confidentiality will be stressed to all those involved in an investigation and everyone will be strictly required not to discuss the complaint with colleagues or friends. Breaches of confidentiality may give rise to investigation under this policy and/or the Freedom of Information Policy and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Confidentiality does not mean anonymity. In the instance of acting on a complaint, a fundamental principle is that the respondent must be informed of who has made the allegations, and the specific nature of the allegations, at the earliest possible point in the process.

Information obtained about an incident or complaint (including identifying information about any individuals involved), will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary for the purposes of investigating or taking corrective action, or is otherwise required by law.

Personal Safety

Where there exists a clear, serious, and immediate threat to safety of an individual or the community, the University has a legal duty to warn any individuals at risk. This may mean, for the purposes of safety, the procedures outlined in this policy, including confidentiality, will be set aside. In addition, action to address an urgent or emergency situation may be taken by Campus Security, the Early Intervention Team and/or senior administration in order to protect the individual and our community from such a threat.

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