Committee Against Sexual Harassment - Frequently Asked Questions


1) What is sexual harassment?

There are two forms of sexual harassment. The first is any unwelcome sexual behaviour or conduct which is offensive, humiliating or intimidating. The second form can be an environment where there are actions, languages or pictures of a sexual nature that make it hard for you to do your work or studies. This is called "a sexually hostile environment".


2)  What types of behaviour could amount to sexual harassment?

Any sex-related language, action or physical contact could amount to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be through spoken words, e-mails, letters, phone calls and the like. Examples include telling unwelcome sex jokes, sending offensive porn e-mails, and making unwelcome gaze of a sexual nature.


3)  Does there have to be more than one incident for it to be considered sexual harassment?

No. Even one single incident can constitute sexual harassment.


4)  Does it have to be intentional for it to be sexual harassment?

No. Sexual harassment can be intentional or unintentional. Having no intention to harass is not a defence in sexual harassment cases.


5)  Is it possible for a person to be sexually harassed by someone of his/her gender?

Yes. Sexual harassment can happen regardless of the gender of the parties.


6)  Is there a time limit for lodging a complaint?

The filing of a complaint should normally be made within 90 calendar days of the incident. However, the Panel Convenor may consider a complaint which is out of time if he/she considers that it is fair to do so.


7)  How can one lodge a complaint?

Any staff member or student of the University who wishes the University to initiate an investigation into an act of sexual harassment should file a written complaint with the Panel Against Sexual Harassment. The officer designated by the Panel Against Sexual Harassment may help to record an oral complaint which has to be signed and confirmed by the complainant. Under normal circumstances, attempts at conciliation do not require the filing of a written complaint.


8)  What information does one need to provide in the letter of complaint?
One needs to provide the following:
-  details and dates involved; 
- your personal information (name, department/unit, contact information, etc.)
- name of the complainee(s) and contact information;
- information supporting your claim of sexual harassment;
- details of any detriment or emotional disturbance that the complainant has suffered because of the harassment; and
- information about witness(es), if any.

Will what one says to the investigation team be kept confidential?

Yes. In the conciliation, complaint investigation and appeal processes, every reasonable effort shall be made to ensure confidentiality and to protect the privacy of all parties in accordance with existing University policies and applicable laws.



What can one do if one is badly treated for initiating or participating in the conciliation or complaint investigation processes?

No staff member or student of the University shall be subject to victimization or reprisal for initiating a good faith complaint, for participating in conciliation, for providing information in the complaint investigation processes, or for participating in the formal disciplinary procedures. Victimization is also prohibited by law. One can report any case to the Panel Against Sexual Harassment for investigation.