Discrimination and harassment

As members of the USask community, everyone shares the responsibility for creating and maintaining a supportive and inclusive environment. Health-harming behaviour, such as discrimination and harassment, is not tolerated. We are living and working in a time when open discourse about human rights is paramount. This open dialogue is critical as we work to prevent discrimination and harassment. As a result, USask openly acknowledges that discrimination and harassment are pressing safety issues that require a robust response.

The University aims to ensure a respectful, healthy and safe environment which is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. This requires more than compliance with laws and policy—it involves commitment and enacting necessary values such as: encouraging trusting relationships, demonstrating fairness and kindness, and setting a high standard for moral behaviour. All members of the USask community have a responsibility to live USask's values and reflect them back in our daily interactions and decisions.

USask offers a safe and confidential environment to raise and discuss matters of discrimination and harassment through Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services (DHPS).

What are discrimination and harassment

Pursuant to the Saskatchewan Employment Act, employees have a right to a healthy and safe work environment free from discrimination and harassment. The Act includes the following categories of harassment.

Harrassment

Harassment includes any inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action, or gesture by an individual toward another individual or others that is either:

  • made on the basis of race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, physical size or weight, age, nationality, ancestry, or place of origin (also referred to as Discrimination under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018; or
  • adversely affects the worker’s psychological or physical well-being and that the person knows or ought reasonably to know would cause the worker or learner to be humiliated or intimidated; and
  • that constitutes a threat to the health or safety of the worker or learner
    • For this type of harassment to be established, the following must exist:
      • repeated conduct, comments, displays, actions, or gestures;
      • a single, serious comment, display, action, or gesture that has a lasting, harmful effect on the worker

Sexual harrassment

Any conduct, comment, display, action, or gesture by a person towards a worker or learner that:

  • is of a sexual nature; and,
  • the person knows or reasonably ought to know is unwelcome
Some situations of sexual harassment may include:
  • any implied or express threat of reprisal for refusing to comply with a sexually-oriented request
  • unwelcome remarks, lewd jokes, innuendos, propositions, or taunting about a person’s body, attire, sex, or sexual orientation
  • displaying or sending pornographic or sexually explicit or offensive pictures or materials via text, hardcopy, video, or other multimedia platforms
  • unwelcome physical contact/touching
  • unwelcome invitations or requests, direct or indirect, to engage in behavior of a sexual nature; and/or
  • refusing to work with or have contact with an individual because of their sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation

Discrimination and harassment are not:

  • day-to-day management or supervisory decisions, like directing the workforce and assigning work. However, managerial action(s) must be carried out in a manner that is reasonable and not abusive;
  • job assessment and evaluation (feedback and dialogue regarding performance);
  • demands for academic excellence and/or reasonable quality of work;
  • workplace inspection and/or investigations;
  • organizational changes;
  • implementation of appropriate dress codes;
  • progressive and/or just-cause disciplinary action;
  • physical contact necessary for the performance of the work using accepted industry standards;
  • conduct which all parties agree is inoffensive or welcome; and,
  • debate, conflict or disagreements in the workplace that do not meet the threshold of discrimination and/or harassment.

Prevention

Reducing and eliminating discrimination and harassment

The foundation of prevention is respect for others, even if we don’t understand or agree with their opinions or values. Behaviours that help eliminate and reduce discrimination and harassment include:

  • taking respectful action to resolve interpersonal problems at the onset of problems arising;
  • when experiencing someone's behavior as problematic, letting the person know how you feel and asking them to stop the behaviour;
  • being sensitive to the impact you have on others and being willing to alter or eliminate problematic behaviors;
  • consider offering an apology if your actions have had a negative impact on someone; and,
  • Employees can speak with your People Leader if you are experiencing or witnessing acts of discrimination and harassment;
  • students can reach out to Student Affairs and Outreach for assistance.

If you are not able to respectfully and safely confront the individual directly, speak with your People Leader about accessing support. If that is not feasible, Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services offer other avenues for resolution such as:

  • providing an overview of your rights, responsibilities and potential avenues under relevant USask policies and applicable legislation (in the employment context);
  • identifying a variety of options for possible informal resolutions;
  • pursuing or addressing the issue or concern through relevant USask policies or procedures;
  • filing a formal complaint based on USask’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy;
  • pursuing the complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and/or employment legislation, seeking the assistance of an Occupational Health Officer (in the employment context), and/or exercising any other legal rights pursuant to the law.

Reporting an incident

Discrimination and harassment are preventable. USask strongly believes that raising awareness – along with a proactive and supportive reporting culture – is the best road to prevention, but no institution can do this alone. It will take all of us — staff, faculty and students — to create positive change.  

All staff, faculty and students who experience or witness an act of discrimination or harassment have an obligation to report the situation. Doing nothing is not a neutral act as it puts targets at a disadvantage.

Protecting human rights – through proactive health, safety and wellness measures – on our campus requires serious commitment and a strong internal responsibility system where all staff, faculty and students understand they have a shared role to play. 

Ways to report

1. Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services

Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services is aligned with USask values: collegiality, fairness and equitable treatment, inclusiveness, integrity, honesty, ethical behaviour, and respect. Preventing discrimination and harassment is a primary focus.

For general DHPS inquiries, including options other than making a formal DHPS complaint, start an inquiry ticket.

If you feel you are experiencing or witnessing acts of discrimination and harassment, know that you can change the situation

Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services (DHPS)
(306) 966-4936
Contact DHPS

  1. Read through the DHPS policy and procedures to ensure your complaint fits within the policy parameters.
  2. Confirm your complaint is about:
    1. an individual with standing at USask
    2. a situation or set of situations where you have evidence (emails, text or other messages), or you can describe the situation/s with some measure or detail, including dates
    3. personal harassment (definition, including sexual harassment), and/or
    4. discrimination (harassment based on prohibited grounds: age, sex, race, etc.)
  3. A date, location and time of each specific allegation/incident.
  4. If there is more than once incident, number them by date.
  5. If the matter involves multiple incidents, provide a dated event timeline.
  6. Names and contact information of all persons involved who may have heard or seen the conduct under question.
  7. Supporting evidence, if available (i.e., documents, journals, notes, reports, physical evidence, electronic communications, pictures, etc.).
  8. Specific elements of the policy pertinent and applicable to your allegations.
  9. The impact of the alleged events.
  10. If applicable, explain what actions have been taken and/or are there others (internal or external to USask) previously involved in addressing your allegations? If so, provide details.
  11. If you would like to speak about alternatives for completing a formal complaint, please contact

    Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services (DHPS)
    (306) 966-4936
    Contact DHPS

  12. You can expect to hear from the DHPS in a timely fashion.

Independent third-party support service

DHPS seeks to create a safe and confidential space for reporting discrimination and harassment. Together with our consultants from 360 Workplace Solutions we use a mindful and compassionate approach to inquiries and complaints and seek to offer clarity and transparency on what to expect from our services. 

Offering an array of specialized services, 360 Workplace Solutions is comprised of experienced investigators, lawyers, mediators, trainers, policy developers and psychologists.

USask works with 360 Workplace Solutions to provide three main services to DHPS:

  • respond and support to inquiries about discrimination and harassment
  • respond and support formal complaints alleging discrimination and harassment
  • provide awareness and education about discrimination and harassment

Employees and students may lay a formal complaint (when having experienced actions, comments, displays, and gestures of discrimination and harassment) using the DHPS Complaint Ticket.

  • DHPS/360 Workplace Solutions will respond without delay indicating receipt of the complaint.
  • DHPS/360 will complete a pre-assessment of the formal complaint which will be provided to a Senior Administrator (along with the formal complaint) for consideration and determination of next steps as per the policy and policy procedures.

2. Safe disclosure reporting line

In addition to the contacting DHPS, the University has an anonymous safe disclosure reporting system. Reports of alleged discrimination and harassment can also be made online at Confidenceline or by phone at 1-844-966-3250. 

Reporting anonymously can assist the University in evaluating and informally intervening (preventative workshops, awareness and education, etc.); however, for a formal investigation to occur, the DHPS online complaint form is required wherein you must disclose your full name and submit a fulsome account of the situation.    

You are encouraged to provide your full name if a matter poses a serious threat to your health and safety, is potentially criminal in nature or where circumstances may lead University officials to suspect intervention and educational activities may not prevent the alleged discrimination and harassment from recurring.

Resources

USask offers a safe and confidential environment to raise and discuss matters of discrimination and harassment through the office of Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services (DHPS).

Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services supports USask principles:

  • academic freedom
  • collaboration
  • commitment to community
  • different ways of knowing, learning, and being
  • diversity, equality, and human dignity
  • excellence
  • healthy work and learning environment
  • innovation, curiosity, and creativity
  • openness, transparency, and accountability
  • reconciliation
  • sustainability

We know it can be difficult to report harassment for fear of retaliation. Please be aware that all complaints of harassment in good faith are protected acts and strict protocols are in place to prevent you from being penalized or retaliated against in any manner.

Education and awareness opportunities

DHPS offers scalable education and awareness training for employees. Please contact the DHPS Office to inquire about training for your staff. You may also speak to your HR SBA about your training needs and they, along with DHPS, will assist you in selecting education and awareness that suits the needs of your staff.

(306) 966-4936
DHPS@usask.ca

Awareness self-guided course

This course provides definitions of discrimination and harassment per the Saskatchewan Employment Act. It also reviews the DHPS policy and policy procedure. Participants will learn how to be involved in prevention of discrimination and harassment, and how prevention can increase feelings of safety, security and belonging at USask.

This course will also describe how to make a formal discrimination or harassment complaint. Finally, it will overview the current USask DHPS model, which involves a third party support service to assist with intakes and inquiries, complaints, and education.

Other resources

Confidential Discrimination and Harassment Services  (306) 966-4936; 1-844-966-3250
Confidential Discrimination and Harassment Services General Inquiry General Inquiry
Confidential Anonymous Reporting Online  www.usask.confidenceline.net
Student Affairs and Outreach (mental health intake) Student Affairs and Outreach
Employee and Family Assistance Program  EFAP
Protective Services  (306) 966-5555
Wellness Resources  (306) 966-4580
Crisis Intervention Services (Mobile Crisis) (306) 933-6200 (24/7 confidential crisis support line)
Sexual Assault and Information Centre  (306) 224-2224 (24/7 confidential crisis line)
Saskatoon Police Service (306) 975-8300 (non-emergency calls)
The Listen Project
(free legal advice for survivors of sexual assault)

 1-855-258-9415
(306) 974-3333
(306) 500-6430 (text)
 listen@plea.org
The Listen Project

BURDEN OF PROOF: When an individual (complainant) makes a discrimination or harassment complaint, it is up to them to provide the compelling evidence. It is not up to the individual (respondent) who has been accused of discrimination or harassment to provide a defense. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is noteworthy here.

BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES: The balance of probabilities refers to whether there is sufficient evidence, or proof to substantiate the allegations of discrimination or harassment against an individual.

COMPLAINT: A complaint is initiated when a complainant decides to lay a formal complaint alleging discrimination or harassment against a USask employee (respondent). The complaint form must accompany the complaint and can be found on the DHPS webpage.

COMPLAINANT: The complainant is the individual making the complaint against another person, alleging they have experienced discrimination or harassment from that person.

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE REVIEW: For the purposes of a pre-assessment, documentary evidence is the written (or other) content the complainant provides with their complaint form. This is used to make an initial determination about the veracity of a discrimination or harassment complaint. This evidence should be organized and detailed with dates, times, places and names. It can include email, text or social media messages, a detailed accounting of incidence/s, audio recordings and other evidence.

REASONABLE PERSON STANDARD: The term “reasonable person” is legal in nature. It removes bias or personality from making judgements about discrimination and harassment. The reasonable person standard is applied as per the policy. It refers to how a hypothetically reasonable person would reasonably interpret or react to actions, comments, displays or gestures of discrimination and harassment. A reasonable person is deemed to have average capacity in judgement, care and skill.

RESPONDENT: When a complaint alleges discrimination or harassment, the respondent is the individual purported to have engaged in the inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action or gesture toward the complainant.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATOR: The Senior Administrator is the senior responsible leader (President, Vice-Presidents, Associate Vice-Presidents, Board of Governors, Provost, Vice-Provosts or designates). The Senior Administrator receives the formal complaint and the pre-assessment (for guidance and considerations) from the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services office (DHPS) third-party provider. The Senior Administrator follows the DHPS policy and policy procedures to address the complaint.

POLICY: The “policy” refers to the USask Discrimination and Harassment Prevention policy that has been authorized and approved by the USask Board of Governors for use when discrimination and harassment complaints are made against USask employees.

PRE-ASSESSMENT: A DHPS pre-assessment is conducted by a third-party provider and begins when a formal complaint (link to the complaint form) is laid against a USask employee alleging discrimination or harassment. The third-party uses the documentary evidence provided by the complainant for the pre-assessment. The third-party determines whether the evidence provided would meet the prima facie test, if it was corroborated.

PROCEDURES: The DHPS procedures refer to how the USask Discrimination and Harassment Prevention policy will be enacted when a discrimination or harassment complaint is made.

THIRD-PARTY: USask has contracted the third-party, 360 Workplace Solutions to respond to discrimination and harassment inquiries and complaints. 360 Workplace solutions completes pre-assessments on formal complaints and forwards the formal complaint and pre-assessment to Senior Administrators as per the policy. 360 Workplace Solutions provides education and awareness about discrimination, harassment and prevention.

Getting help

Contact Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services for a confidential consultation, or seek assistance from another university official.

Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services (DHPS)
(306) 966-4936
Contact DHPS

Reports of discrimination and harassment are handled by Coralee Pringle-Nelson and the team at 360 Workplace Solutions Ltd.