A Resource for Supervisors

Vancouver Island University is committed to providing an environment that is free of harassment and other forms of discrimination. As an employer and a service provider, VIU must deal with human rights issues by endeavoring to prevent discrimination from occurring and by responding promptly and effectively to address any complaints of discrimination and harassment.

VIU has a Human Rights Policy and Procedure in place to guide responses to complaints of discrimination and harassment. The Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Director has been designated to receive complaints and to assist students, instructors and staff to deal with human rights issues. Information on contacting the Director is included in this Guide.

As a manager or supervisor, you have a special responsibility to proactively prevent and respond to incidents of harassment. This Guide is intended to help you understand that responsibility and to provide a resource for you in fulfilling it.

Why You?

Our Policy says: The academic and administrative leadership is responsible for maintaining a fair and equitable educational and work environment, free of discrimination and harassment.

This clause acknowledges that in law persons in positions of authority, which includes managers and supervisors, must take action if they know, or ought to know, that a discriminatory act has occurred. If they fail to do so, the employer will likely incur liability.

What You Can Do...

As a Manager / Supervisor

There are many ways that managers can demonstrate their commitment to discouraging and preventing discrimination and harassment:

Publicize Human Rights Policy and Procedures

Educate all students and employees — education is the key to prevention

  • Hold education/training sessions on discrimination and harassment.
  • Encourage employees to explore and address the issues in ways which allow everyone to participate in solving problems.

Stop harassment that you are aware of — be proactive

  • Stop harassment directed toward individuals—such as offensive jokes and remarks—by stating clearly that it is not appropriate, not acceptable, and violates policy. Be clear that this behaviour could be subject to discipline.
  • Remove visual and print materials that are demeaning to any group; ensure that this material cannot be posted or circulated in the workplace.
  • Approach students and employees if you have reason to believe that harassment is occurring. Do not wait for a crisis.
    Be sensitive and supportive when speaking to people about harassment or discrimination.
  • If you are aware that an individual is being harassed but has not made a complaint, you should still take action. Bring staff together to discuss your expectations regarding appropriate conduct or work with the individuals involved.

Ensure full and prompt attention to any complaints of discrimination and harassment

  • Provide support to complainants and explain the options available for redress.
  • Watch for reprisals against anyone making a complaint or acting as a witness.
  • Provide full assistance to discrimination and harassment investigators assigned to investigate complaints under the Policy.

Follow up

  • Keep a detailed record of actions taken.
  • Ensure that the problematic behaviour has ceased. Keep in touch with the complainant after the complaint has been resolved and confirm that no retaliation has occurred.

Encourage students and employees to report harassment

  • Be sure that everyone knows their rights and the complaint procedures.
  • Have resource material available.
  • Explain the range of discipline which can be applied when discrimination and harassment occur.
  • Refer students and employees who describe involvement in an harassment situation to the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Office. Provide the Director's name, location, and phone number.

Model appropriate behaviour

  • Set an example of the type of behaviour you expect from staff in your department or faculty.

Maintain confidentiality

  • Protect the reputation and privacy of parties involved by maintaining confidentiality, even among other supervisors and managers.

Know internal and external resources

  • Consult with the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Office about support resources available for counselling individuals experiencing harassment and about resources available to help the respondent (e.g. counselling, education).

Things To Avoid

The following are common mistakes made by those with responsibility for preventing harassment in the workplace and/or classroom:

  • dissuading the complainant from complaining about his or her situation;
  • overreacting by taking action before the investigation is completed;
  • not telling the alleged harasser the specific allegations;
  • not providing the alleged harasser an opportunity to respond;
  • interfering with the investigation;
  • asking everyone in the workplace or classroom if they have any complaints about an alleged harasser when one person has made accusations;
  • not consulting with the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Director before taking action when aware of actual or potential harassing situation;
  • making broad promises about confidentiality.

Contact The Director

Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Director
Vancouver Island University
Building 300, Room 100

Nanaimo Campus and by appointment at the other campuses:

Phone: 250.740.6440
Email: HumanRights@viu.ca