“It is the Policy of Seneca College that all employees and students have a right to work and study in an environment that asserts the personal worth and dignity of each individual.
In order to achieve this objective, Seneca College will not tolerate any form of discrimination and/or harassment in its employment, educational, accommodation or business dealings. Every member of the College community has the right to file a complaint of discrimination/harassment.”
- Board of Governors
The Preamble of the Ontario Human Rights Code states, in part:
“It is public policy in Ontario to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law, and having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and able to contribute fully to the development and well-being of the community and the Province…”
This policy shall apply where there exists a negative work or study environment or potential adverse impact on individuals' work or study performance, or on their work or study environment. Incidents occurring off-campus which have no or little likelihood of any impact on the work/study environment at the institution should be pursued through the Human Rights Commission or other external procedures. Harassment and/or discrimination that occurs on-campus, off-campus, at College-related social functions, in the course of work or academic assignments/placements off-campus, during work or academic-related travel, by telephone and/or electronic communication, is included.
Seneca College is committed to preventing behaviour which results in discrimination and/or harassment, as defined in this policy and the Ontario Human Rights Code, of any member of the college community.
The College, through the Student Conduct Office is responsible for communicating to all employees, students, clients, the public, and/or contractors that harassment and discrimination are prohibited. This includes ongoing proactive education/prevention campaigns. The Student Conduct Office is also responsible for communicating, monitoring, implementing and enforcing, where necessary, all aspects of the policy and procedures.
The primary purpose of this policy and attached procedures is to encourage the parties to resolve their disputes, where possible, through informal resolution and/or mediation. However, it is understood that where it is found that a violation of the Policy has occurred, the College may take appropriate action, including discipline, as defined in the section on Procedures.
Where, as a result of a College investigation, systemic bias is determined within any College policy, procedure and/or practice, remedial actions may include amendments, revisions, or elimination of existing College policies, procedures, or practices.
All employees and students of the College are responsible for maintaining and promoting an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment and for promptly reporting any incidents that they believe to be acts of discrimination or harassment. The College recognizes its responsibility to deal quickly, fairly, and effectively with harassment and discrimination should it arise.
Any member of the College community is welcome to seek advice or assistance from, or file a complaint with the Student Conduct Office.
A person who knows of or is in possession of information of harassment and/or discrimination contrary to this Policy and has the authority to penalize or prevent the conduct, or the continuation or repetition of the conduct and fails to use that authority will be considered responsible for failing to exercise his/her authority and in violation of this Policy. A person in authority is defined as any member of the administration of the College or other such persons who are designated legally responsible and accountable for the protection of persons covered by this Policy.
This Policy is supplemental to any other legal right or remedy that the College may have in conducting its affairs, whether as an educator, employer, owner of property or pursuant to any contractual relations. This Policy is not intended to be a substitute for the normal exercise of management or operational functions by the College, but rather is to provide a mechanism to deal with situations where the treatment of members of the College are at issue and complaints are made. It is understood, that the College may continue to exercise all of its pre-existing legal rights without recourse to this Policy or may assume the role of complainant where circumstances warrant.
While individuals are encouraged to seek advice and counsel regarding possible violations of this policy, it is requested that the confidential nature of the complaint be maintained throughout the process by any person(s) with knowledge of the complaint.
The policy will include coverage of:
for all of the following grounds: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offenses, marital status, family status, the receipt of public assistance in the area of housing accommodation, mental or physical disability, union or non-union membership, political affiliation, and student/staff/faculty associations.
These will be referred to from now on as the "PROHIBITED GROUNDS". The College reserves the right to rely upon the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code with respect to legally permissible exceptions to the prohibited grounds.
This Policy is intended to foster a balance between academic freedom and freedom from Discrimination/Harassment. The College strives for a learning, teaching and work environment which promotes inclusion, understanding and respect for all Students and Employees.
It is the College's objective to ensure that curriculum, teaching and promotional materials reflect our College community. Where teaching and/or promotional materials are being developed and/or utilized, every effort shall be made to portray and acknowledge the diversity of Canadian society. Materials that may contain discriminatory bias and stereotypes must be used exclusively for the purpose of ensuring that members of the college community become open-minded, discerning, critical and analytical thinkers, aware of historical and current values, attitudes and behaviours.
The policy and procedures, within the work/study environment will apply to the college community:
Visitors, contractors, and/or suppliers of services who attend a Seneca College campus location will be subject to complaints if they engage in prohibited conduct. All contractual relationships entered into by the College will be governed by a standard contract compliance clause stating that contractors must comply with this Policy and the Ontario Human Rights Code, including co-operating in investigations. Breach of the clause may result in penalties, cancellation, or debarment if a contractor is found in violation of this Policy or the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Documented and substantiated complaints may result in discipline of an employee, up to and including dismissal, and/or academic discipline of a student, up to and including withdrawal from the College.
All members of the College community have the right to file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in order to preserve their rights under the Code. The Code requires complaints to be filed with the Commission within six months of the occurrence of the facts upon which the complaint is based, unless the Commission is satisfied that the delay was incurred in good faith and no substantial prejudice would result to any person affected by the delay.
All employees and students of the College community are required to participate in the proceedings as outlined in the Procedures attached to this Policy as part of their contractual obligation with the College. However, it does not preclude the right of the College or an individual to seek other legal options.
The Student Conduct Office will annually prepare a report for the College Board of Governors with aggregate complaint and resolution data, in accordance with privacy considerations. The report will include a brief summary of any changes made to College policy and procedures over the past year plus any significant amendments under consideration.
All records of meetings, consultations, discussions or communications, including investigation, mediation, resolution and Complaint Review Board (i.e. conversations, documents, identities of the parties) will be kept on confidential file in the Student Conduct Office.
The goal of these procedures is to encourage the parties to resolve their disputes, where possible, through informal resolution and/or mediation.
No adverse action will be taken against a person or a group without their knowledge where there is an alleged breach of the Discrimination/Harassment Policy (hereafter referred to as the "Policy"), unless notification to the individual and/or group would cause the College to violate specific legal obligations with regards to the dignity, safety or security of its constituent(s).
Parties to a complaint will have a reasonable opportunity to dispute, correct or contradict all allegations, present arguments and evidence in support of his or her position throughout all stages outlined in these procedures.
All parties to a complaint may be represented by an agent of their choice. It is understood that OPSEU is the exclusive bargaining agent for employees covered by the Support Staff and/or Academic collective agreement(s).
Every individual who files a complaint, participates or co-operates in an investigation, provides information relevant to a complaint, or acts in any role under the policy and/or these procedures has a right to do so without reprisal or threat of reprisal.
Abuse of Policy/Procedures
Malicious complaints or inappropriate breaches of confidentiality will be considered violations of the Policy. Any individual or group that makes a frivolous, vexatious, false or bad faith complaint pursuant to this Policy for the purpose of harming another individual or group, breaches the Policy and may be disciplined.
Nothing in the Policy or these Procedures precludes a member of the College community from seeking alternate routes (eg. Collective Agreement(s), Ontario Human Rights Commission, Courts, etc.).
However, it is understood that once the College is aware that a human rights complaint may exist, it has an obligation to proceed to investigate the complaint in order to ensure that any alleged discrimination or harassment will not continue to take place.
It is further understood that if a complainant files a grievance under a Collective Agreement, alleging discrimination or harassment, the College reserves the right, during the grievance process, to refer the matter to the Student Conduct Office for investigation and resolution commencing at the Formal Complaint stage (Section 9) as outlined in these procedures.
Any confidential complaint made to and filed with the Student Conduct Office shall be deemed to have been made or filed without prejudice. The complaint so made or filed shall not form the subject matter of a complaint against the person making or filing the original complaint.
Where immediate action is required in the enforcement of this Policy, the Executive Committee will act on the recommendations of the Student Conduct Office.
Where the complaint is specific to a College policy, practice or procedure, the Student Conduct Office will have the responsibility to investigate and determine a resolution to situations in which College practice and/or procedure violates this Policy.
Throughout these procedures, all information collected remains confidential in the Student Conduct Office, except when disclosure is required to investigate and/or resolve a complaint; or when disclosure of information or the giving of evidence is required, such as grievance arbitrations, Ombudsperson, Ontario Human Rights Commission and/or judicial proceedings.
To the extent possible, where a complaint is substantiated, the College's objective is to restore complainants to the position they would have been in had the discrimination/harassment not occurred. Options may include, but are not restricted to, a written apology (a letter acknowledging responsibility for the policy violation and regret for the harm that was caused); restoration of employment position or academic status; review of marking a student's assignment/test; and, provision of counselling.
In appropriate circumstances, alternative procedures designed to be responsive to cultural differences may be considered if both parties agree to their use.
In compliance with the College's responsibility and legal liability, managers are required to deal quickly, fairly, and effectively with actual situations of harassment and/or discrimination arising in their work or academic area.
Upon gaining knowledge of perceived violations of this Policy, managers, after consulting with the Student Conduct Office, will discuss with any alleged violators the requirement to adhere to the College's standards regarding harassment and discrimination. Managers will direct the persons involved to desist from actions which may violate the policy. Managers will inform them of the possible disciplinary consequences of such violations and where warranted, disciplinary action shall be taken.
Managers will also inform the alleged victim of this Policy and Procedure of their right to use other alternative routes. Managers will report all incidents of perceived discrimination/harassment to the Student Conduct Office, including instances which required disciplinary action.
When managers have knowledge of a threat to a College member's personal safety or security, they will report the situation directly to the College Manager of Security.
Seneca College is committed to providing a safe and secure work and study environment. (Personal Safety/Security Threats Policy 1998) A personal safety/security threat is defined as a situation which may be in the form of an assault, sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm, threat of assault, uttering threats of death/damage, harassment (criminal) of an individual, or any other act that constitutes a violent act as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada and/or any action that would constitute workplace violence as determined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A threatened individual or any person who becomes aware of a safety/security threat to any other person on the campus is responsible to immediately obtain help from site security or the police. All situations must be reported to the College Manager of Security or designate.
Where it is deemed to exist that a threat to the personal safety/security of any member of the College community, the college may suspend the alleged violator(s).
Where an alleged violator is an employee of the College, suspension shall be with pay and benefits, and without loss of employment status until such time as an investigation can be completed.
Where the alleged violator is a student of the College and providing they are participating in these procedures, the College will endeavour to provide alternative arrangements for academic/experiential studies in consultation with the program faculty and administrator(s). Wherever possible such alternative arrangements shall be provided while the investigation is ongoing. Where such alternative arrangements are not possible during the investigation and where no violation of the Policy is established, the College will provide equivalent alternative opportunities at no additional costs to the student.
Where an alleged violator is not an employee or student of the College, he/she shall be denied access to College property and related activities.
Where a person believes that a violation of the Policy has occurred, he/she may seek confidential advice from the Student Conduct Office, request informal intervention and/or file a formal complaint with the Student Conduct Office. However, it is understood that these procedures do not preclude an individual from exercising other legal or contractual rights.
Reports of alleged violations should be directed to the Student Conduct Office, which will act as agent for the College throughout the complaint process.
A College complaint may be initiated where allegations or violations of this policy are reported and there is no individual complainant(s).
A complaint must be filed within six months of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, unless the delay was incurred in good faith and no substantial prejudice will result to any person affected by the delay.
Formal complaints of alleged violations shall be recorded in writing.
Two or more complaints alleging a violation engaged in by the same person, or having facts in common, may be dealt with in the same proceeding.
While parties are encouraged to seek advice and counsel, it is requested that the confidential nature of the complaint shall be maintained throughout the process by any person(s) with knowledge of the complaint.
A person who is the subject of a complaint made under this procedure and who has reason to believe that the complaint is vexatious, in bad faith, or itself a form of harassment, has the right to file a complaint.
A complainant may, at his or her discretion, decide to withdraw a complaint at any point in the procedure. However, it is understood that the College may pursue a complaint in order to comply with its legal obligations.
Upon receipt of information alleging Discrimination or Harassment, the Student Conduct Office will initiate a preliminary review to determine if the situation is within the purview of the Student Conduct Office and shall advise a complainant if:
Where the Student Conduct Office advises a complainant to withdraw a complaint or to seek alternative routes, the complainant shall be advised in writing of the reasons and alternative procedures within or outside the College system.
Where the Student Conduct Office determines that a complaint is not based on any of the prohibited grounds, the complaint shall be terminated subject to appeal to the Chair of the Complaint Review Board. (See Section 12)
While the goal of these procedures is to encourage parties to resolve their disputes either informally or through mediation, the College may be obligated to exercise its authority to initiate more formal intervention, where in the opinion of the Director, Student Conduct Office (hereafter referred to as the "Director"), the dispute falls within one of the following areas:
Where there is reason to believe that there is a violation of the Policy, but where the situation could be remedied by informal resolution, the Student Conduct Officer (hereafter referred to as the "Officer") or designate shall meet with each party involved and attempt to effect a settlement of the complaint informally. The Officer or designate will provide impartial counselling to all parties in the dispute, including advice on external means of redress available (e.g. Courts, Human Rights Commission, Collective Agreement).
Where the parties to the complaint agree to a resolution, it shall remain confidential, be documented, filed with the Student Conduct Office and the complaint considered resolved.
In the absence of an agreed-upon settlement reached informally by the Student Conduct Office, the complainant(s) may withdraw the complaint, request mediation or file a formal complaint.
In the absence of an agreed-upon settlement reached informally, the complaint may proceed to mediation at the request of the complainant, respondent and/or Officer.
Mediators shall be designated after consultation with the local union(s), student federation council(s) and administration of the College. It is understood that the Student Conduct Office will provide ongoing training and assistance to internal mediators.
The Mediator shall be selected, on a rotating basis, subject to availability, from the list of internal experienced mediators, after consultation with the parties. The Student Conduct Office will be responsible for coordinating the meeting between the Mediator and the parties involved. Mediation shall normally be conducted within 5 working days after informal resolution was attempted.
The Mediator shall meet with the parties involved, provide both parties an opportunity to present the relevant facts and assist them in arriving at a mutually agreeable solution, in order to effect a settlement of the complaint.
Where the parties to the complaint agree to a resolution, it shall be documented, signed by the parties, filed in the Student Conduct Office and the complaint considered resolved.
It is further understood that all discussions throughout mediation are privileged, will remain confidential and will not be used in the event a formal complaint is pursued.
If the complaint is not resolved through informal resolution or mediation, a formal complaint may be filed or if the complaint is one that the College has determined is not appropriate for informal resolution or mediation, the formal complaint process shall be initiated.
Upon receipt of the formal complaint, the Director shall assign an investigator, and notify all parties in writing that the formal complaint and investigation process has commenced (See Section 10 - Investigation).
The Director will provide the respondent with the written official complaint outlining the details of the complaint within 5 working days from the last date of mediation or from the date an official complaint was received in the Student Conduct Office.
The Investigator will conduct an investigation of the allegations giving rise to the complaint. The Investigator will meet with the respondent(s), complainant(s), persons that may have information relevant to the complaint and any other person(s) requested by either the complainant or respondent that may have additional information for the purpose of determining the facts and providing all reasonable opportunity for any information to be included in the investigation report.
Within 60 working days of being appointed, the Investigator shall compile a draft Investigation Report.
Both the complainant and respondent will have the right and responsibility to provide all information as accurately as possible, including dates, times, location of the allegations and any other information that would assist in the investigation.
The Investigator may request:
In the event of a complaint alleging personal safety or security threat, the Investigator will have the authority to contact and consult with any law enforcement or other appropriate agency, for the purpose of completing his/her report.
The Investigator may enter college property at any reasonable time in the presence of Security personnel, for the purpose of investigating a complaint. Where such an investigation involves a search of the work area of an employee or the study area and/or locker of a student, while prior notice of such a search need not be given, reasonable effort will be made to conduct the search in the presence of the employee or student.
Any search shall be recorded and documented by Security personnel or, where necessary, by the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Where a complaint alleging Personal Safety/Security Threats is made, the investigation shall be given priority and shall be conducted and a recommendation rendered within 10 working days.
The Investigator shall provide a copy of the draft report to each of the complainant(s) and respondent(s), who shall have 10 working days in which to notify the Investigator, in writing, of any errors or omissions in the report in the description of the facts or allegations provided by each of them to the Investigator.
The Investigator shall make any further enquiries or amendments, if required, in order to prepare a final Investigation Report addressed to the Director, with a copy sent to both the complainant(s) and respondent(s).
The Director, within 10 working days of receipt of the Investigators Final Report, shall prepare a Conduct Report which will describe what actions, if any, are required that would achieve compliance with the Policy, in respect of the complaint (eg. education, sanction and/or redress) and future behaviour and/or practices.
Where the Investigator's Final Report finds no facts to substantiate the allegations, and/or finds that the complaint was a frivolous, vexatious, false or bad faith complaint pursuant to this Policy, the Conduct Report will address what actions, if any, are required to exonerate a respondent and/or initiate other actions as deemed appropriate by the College.
It is understood, that where the Conduct Report identifies disciplinary action against a student or any employee, the decision and disciplinary action shall be conveyed, discussed and confirmed at a final meeting involving the affected parties.
For employees, the meeting may include: the respondent; the respondent's Dean/Director or designate; the respondent's agent; Director of Employee Relations or designate; and the Director of the Student Conduct Office.
For students, the meeting may include: the respondent; the respondent's agent; the Coordinator or Chair of the student's academic program; and the Director or designate of the Student Conduct Office.
The disciplinary directive shall be issued, in writing, by the appropriate Dean/Director.
A final Conduct Report, outlining all details of the resolution, shall then be provided to all parties involved in the disposition of the complaint. Where necessary, any memoranda required as a result of the recommendations in the Conduct Report may be placed in the official Student or Employee File for up to two years, subject to the provisions of a collective agreement. In all circumstances, copies of all documents, reports, memoranda shall be confidential and maintained in the Student Conduct Office for reporting and/or operational purposes.
It is understood that all documents, correspondence and discussions regarding the disposition of a complaint will be treated in confidence and all parties to a complaint are requested to maintain confidentiality to the greatest extent possible.
Within 10 working days of receiving the Conduct Report, where either the complainant or respondent allege any of the following:
i. prejudice by procedural unfairness; or
ii. determination that the complaint could not proceed as it is not based on a prohibited ground; or
iii. determination that a breach was unsupported by the facts; or,
iv. determination that a sanction was excessive or insufficient,
a written appeal, may be submitted to the Senior Vice-President (or designate) (hereafter referred to as the "Vice-President"), within 10 working days requesting a Complaint Review Board (hereafter referred to as the "Board"), outlining the reasons for the request.
It is understood that signed resolutions reached at the Informal Resolution and Mediation stage cannot be referred to the Complaint Review Board.?
The Vice-President, or designate, may constitute a Board hearing within 10 days of receipt of the request.
The Board shall be chaired by the Vice-President, or designate, and have one member selected by the complainant and one member selected by the respondent.
Where either the complainant(s) or respondent(s) do not select persons to the Board, the College will appoint persons as necessary to complete a Board of three.
The Board shall review any written submissions, investigative reports, final resolution report and any other written documentation with regards to the complaint. Depending upon the nature of the complaint, the Board may hear further submissions.
Within 30 working days of the Board being convened, the Board shall make its decision and communicate the Board's findings and recommendations to all parties involved.
The decision of the Complaint Review Board shall be final and binding on the parties. However, it is understood that:
i. any unionized employee may grieve any sanction imposed through grievance procedures set out in the Collective Agreement(s) with the College;
ii. any employee or student may consult with internal and/or external persons, including the College Ombudsperson, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, or any other person or agency who they determine would be appropriate.
The primary purpose of any actions taken in consequence of a violation of the Discrimination/Harassment Policy is to create an environment that is harassment and discrimination free.
Where it is found that a violation of the Policy has occurred, the College may take appropriate action, including discipline, but not restricted to the following:
Consequences are determined with respect to the severity of the breach and the relationship of the respondent(s) to the College.
While the Student Conduct Office is responsible for costs associated with the administration of these policies and procedures, this does not include the costs of agents, College Review Board representatives and/or legal representation for the parties to a complaint.
It is understood that extensions of time limits as outlined in these procedures are available on the agreement of the College and the parties.
Updated January 2007
Student Conduct Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maintained by: Student Conduct Office