CUASA Member Conduct Policy
Adopted on March 24, 2022
Approval Authority: CUASA Council
Mandatory Review Date: March 2025
1.1 CUASA recognizes that harassment and discrimination erode the ability of individuals to meaningfully exercise their associational rights and in turn erodes the Association’s collective power. All individuals are entitled to fully participate in the Association’s affairs without fear of harassment. As a result, CUASA is committed to working towards providing individuals with an environment in which members are treated with dignity and respect.
1.2 CUASA recognizes that as a labour union, it is a political organization, and it is necessary to protect the freedom of expression in order to properly advance the interests of its membership. Furthermore, CUASA is a labour union of academic professionals and as such, academic freedom remains of the utmost importance. These values must be considered together with the need for individuals to be free from harassment in union activities. Harassment does not include legitimate political debate and the exercise of academic freedom.
2.1 This policy governs the interactions between CUASA bargaining unit members while they are engaging in Association activities, including but not limited to, attending:
- town halls;
- picket lines; and
2.2 Online activity, such as posting intimidating comments on social media or sending inappropriate emails, will also be covered by this policy so long as it is between CUASA members.
3.0 Definition of harassment
3.1 Harassment is defined as conduct that is known to be, or ought known to be, unwelcome.
3.2 Harassment is an expression of perceived power and superiority by the harasser(s) over another person or group. Harassment may be based on one of the following (though it does not have to be): sex, race, creed, colour, religion, ethnic origin, place of origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, disability, language, age, social and economic class, or activism and participation in a union.
3.3. Harassment is unwelcome, unwanted and uninvited. It may be expressed verbally or physically, is usually coercive and it can occur as a single incident or on a repeated basis. It comprises actions, attitudes, language or gestures, which the harasser knows or reasonably ought to know are abusive, unwelcome or wrong. It may include but is not limited to:
- Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos, taunts or other discriminatory communication in any media, including online media;
- Insulting or malicious gestures or practical jokes which cause someone embarrassment or discomfort;
- Ridiculing, degrading or expressing hatred or intolerance, whether verbally, in writing or physically;
- Display of offensive material/pictures or graffiti;
- Placing unreasonable limitations on someone because of a perceived need (e.g. disability, pregnancy, etc.);
- Leering (sexually suggestive staring);
- Defamation of religious imagery;
- Mockery of religious practices, customs or religious wear;
- Demands for sexual favours;
- Unnecessary physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching;
- Reporting continuous baseless complaints against an individual(s) in the Association;
- Making comments about one’s appearance or personal life; or,
- Expressing or promoting racial hatred.
4.0 Bullying and Personal Harassment
4.1 Bullying or personal harassment are defined as actions which degrade or demean an individual including but not limited to: mobbing, offensive, malicious and/or cruel behaviour with the aim to humiliate, intimidate, undermine or destroy the character or confidence of an individual or group of individuals. Bullying and personal harassment may include an abuse of power or perceived power by one person or group over another that degrades an individual. Bullying behaviour is often persistent and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single incident. This is normally carried out by an individual who ought reasonably to have known that his/her actions are unwelcome or unwanted. It can also be an aspect of group behaviour. The policy includes any member in any type of relationship, for example domestic, intimate or common law partnerships.
Some examples of bullying and personal harassment include but are not limited to:
- Abusive and offensive language;
- Spreading rumour or innuendo;
- Unfair blame for mistakes;
- Practical jokes;
- Outbursts or displays of anger directed at others;
- Targeting of an individual through persistent, unwarranted criticism;
- Belittling or disregarding opinions or suggestions; or,
- Public criticism.
4.2. Context is important in understanding bullying, particularly verbal communication. There is a difference between friendly insults between long-time work colleagues and comments that are meant to be, or are taken as demeaning.
5.0 Sexual Harassment
5.1 Sexual harassment violates personal integrity, the dignity of individuals and groups and fundamental rights. Sexual harassment occurs when an individual engages in sexually harassing behaviour or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome and that:
- Interferes with the participation in an Association-related activity for the person harassed; and/or,
- Is associated with an expressed or implied promise of consequences for the person being harassed (including reward, reprisal, or conditions of Association participation); and/or,
- Provides a basis for Association-related decisions affecting the person harassed; and/or,
- Creates an abusive, demeaning, or threatening environment for the person harassed; and/or,
- Excludes the person harassed from rights and/or privileges to which they are entitled.
Some examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:
- Unwelcome sexual solicitations, flirtations or advances;
- Sexually suggestive comments, gestures, threats or verbal abuse;
- Sexual assault which includes unwarranted touching or physical contact of a sexual nature or coerced consent to sexual contact;
- Inappropriate display or transmission of sexually suggestive or explicit pictures, posters, objects or graffiti;
- Leering, compromising invitations or demands for sexual favours;
- Degrading, demeaning or insulting sexual comment or content, including unwelcome remarks, taunting, jokes or innuendos about a person’s body, sexual orientation or sexual conduct;
- Misuse of position or authority to secure sexual favours;
- Persistent, unwanted attention or requests for sexual contact after a consensual relationship has ended; or,
- A course of sexualized comment or conduct that interferes with the dignity or privacy of an individual or group.
5.2 This policy is not intended to interfere with ordinary social or personal relationships among members of the Association or impinge on normal expectations of privacy. Consensual relationships are not examples of sexual harassment.
6.0 Harassment statement
6.1 To support CUASA’s efforts to provide a harassment-free environment, the Chair of a meeting or coordinator of a CUASA event will read the following statement aloud before every CUASA event to remind individuals of the conduct expected within the Association:
CUASA aims to create a harassment-free environment for all its members. Everyone is entitled to fully participate in CUASA’s activities without fear that they will be targeted, harassed, discriminated against, or bullied. Harassment weakens and divides our membership. CUASA is committed to working towards providing individuals with an environment in which all members are treated with dignity and respect.
7.0 The Investigatory Council and Appeals Council
7.1 In order to properly address allegations of harassment between members, CUASA Council will create both an Investigatory Council and Appeals Council to apply this policy on its behalf. The Investigatory Council and Appeals Council shall be considered standing committees.
7.2 The Investigatory Council has the delegated authority to:
- screen complaints to determine if they should move forward in the Complaints Process;
- refer parties to a complaint to dispute resolution at any point in the Complaints Process;
- investigate allegations of harassment;
- make findings on the presence of harassment; and
- impose penalties where complaints of harassment are founded.
7.3 Where a respondent or complainant seeks an appeal, the complaint is referred to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will review the decision of the Investigatory Council using the material that was before the Investigatory Council. The Appeals Council has the delegated authority to:
- dismiss the appeal;
- allow the appeal; and/or
- vary the penalty imposed.
7.4 In order to determine the makeup of the Investigatory Council and the Appeals Council, CUASA will form a roster of Association members. The roster will always have 9-10 members on it. These members must be trained on how to receive complaints, process complaints, investigate complaints, maintain confidentiality, and ensure procedural fairness. Individuals on the roster will be trained on both the Investigatory Council and Appeals Council processes.
7.5 For each complaint, the Investigatory Council and the Appeals Council shall be made up of three members from the roster. Members are not able to sit on both Councils at the same time for the same complaint. However, a member may be selected to sit on the Investigatory Council for one complaint and the Appeals Council for another.
7.6 Once the Investigatory Council is formed, the members on the Council will choose a Chair to lead meetings and decide on the timeliness of complaints.
7.7 Steering Committee members may form part of the roster in the event that no other members are available. Where a member of the Steering Committee is selected to sit on either one of these Councils, CUASA must limit the number of Steering Committee members to 1 out of 3 at a time on either Council.
7.8 If a complainant or respondent of a harassment complaint requests that a member recuse themself from sitting on the Investigatory Council or Appeals Council due to an alleged conflict of interest, it will be the decision of the respective Council to decide if recusal would be appropriate. Where a member is deemed to be in a conflict of interest, a new individual from the roster will be chosen. Where no conflict of interest is found, the Council will proceed forward with the complaint.
8.0 Step 1 of the Complaints Process: Reporting
8.1 Where a member or elected official believes they have been subjected to harassment from another member or elected official, they have 3 months, or 90 calendar days, from when they knew or ought to have known that the misconduct last occurred to file a complaint with a rostered member who shall preserve the complaint until a section 7.6 of this policy is duly completed and the complaint may be turned over to the Chair of the Investigatory Council.
8.2 Should a member or elected official wish to report an incident which falls outside this limitation period, the Chair of the Investigatory Council retains the discretion to either:
- admit the complaint where extraordinary circumstances are present; or
- dismiss the complaint as untimely.
8.3 Any individual related to a complaint, whether it be as a complainant, respondent, or witness, cannot sit on that complaint’s respective Investigatory Council or Appeals Council.
9.0 Step 2 of the Complaints Process: Screening
9.1 Once reported, the selected Investigatory Council must look at the complaint to see if it should continue in the Complaints Process. In doing so, the Investigatory Council must consider all the information they have before them and decide if the complaint should:
- move forward to be further investigated; or
- be dismissed where the complaint is either:
- in bad faith;
- untimely; or
- has no reasonable prospect of success.
9.2 Unless it is subject to an appeal, a dismissed complaint will not be used for any other purpose by the Association.
9.3 Where a complaint is to be dismissed, the Investigatory Council must fully articulate and provide its reasons in writing to the Complainant. The Investigatory Council must also provide the Complainant with an opportunity to make further submissions if the complaint is to be dismissed.
9.4 The Respondent may or may not be notified in writing at all about the complaint at this screening stage where the complaint is dismissed from the outset.
10.0 Step 3 of the Complaints Process: Dispute Resolution
10.1 The Confidentiality Statement at Appendix A of this Policy must be signed by the complainant, respondent, and witnesses following the screening stage. An individual who breaches this agreement may be subject to discipline under Article XV of the Constitution.
10.2 CUASA aims to resolve matters cooperatively, expeditiously, and efficiently. As a result, a complaint that is not dismissed at the screening stage may be referred to dispute resolution.
10.3 The Investigatory Council will refer a complainant and respondent to the Council’s choice of a dispute resolution mechanism. The services available could include, but are not limited to,
- discussion with Association representatives available; and/or
- discussion with a counsellor.
10.4 Dispute resolution may also be recommended by the Investigatory Council at later stages in the Complaints Process.
10.5 All information which arises in efforts to settle the dispute must be kept confidential and will not be used by either party in later steps.
10.6 Should a complaint fail to resolve at the dispute resolution stage, it will move onto the Investigation and Decision stage.
11.0 Step 4 of the Complaints Process: Investigation and Decision
11.1 The Investigatory Council will determine how much more information it needs to sufficiently decide on the complaint. The Investigatory Council is empowered to conduct interviews and gather evidence.
11.2 Once the Investigatory Council believes it has contacted all relevant witnesses and collected enough information, it will decide upon the complaint through a majority vote. The Investigatory Council will send the Complainant and Respondent a letter detailing its decision and reasoning for the complaint in writing.
11.3 If the complaint is founded, the Investigatory Council will impose discipline on the Respondent in appropriate circumstances in accordance with Article XV of the Constitution.
11.4 Where the Investigatory Council decides it is necessary, it may refer a complaint to an external investigator. The Investigatory Council retains the power to impose discipline based on the findings of the external investigator.
12.0 Step 5 of the Complaints Process: Appeal
12.1 The Complainant or Respondent may wish to appeal a decision of the Investigatory Council.
12.2 The Appeals Council will hear appeals in instances in which:
- a complainant was dissatisfied with the findings and/or the process of the Investigatory Council;
- a complainant was dissatisfied with the penalty imposed by the Investigatory Council;
- a respondent was dissatisfied with the findings and/or the process of the Investigatory Council; and/or
- a respondent was dissatisfied with the penalty imposed by the Investigatory Council.
12.3 An appeal must be filed within 30 calendar days of the Investigatory Council’s decision. The Appeals Council retains the discretion to allow an appeal outside of this limitations period where extraordinary circumstances are present.
APPENDIX A: CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT
I, ___________________, solemnly declare that I will, to the best of my abilities, keep information confidential that I come to learn throughout the course of the Complaints Process. Once a decision on a complaint is finalized through an outcome of an investigation, the terms of this confidentiality statement will no longer be enforced.
I understand that should the Association learn that I revealed confidential material relating to a complaint, I may be subject to discipline under Article XV of the Constitution.
The integrity of the Association’s investigative process must be preserved. Confidentiality ensures that individuals in the Association are not dissuaded from coming forward with complaints of harassment. I recognize that confidentiality must be maintained during the Complaints Process to protect individuals from rumours and harassment stemming from unfounded complaints.
This statement must be signed by complainants, respondents, and witnesses to every complaint that comes to the attention of the Investigatory Council following the screening stage.