Harassment at the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces - Questions and answers

From: National Defence

The following are frequently asked questions about harassment at the Department of National Defence and in the Canadian Armed Forces.

How does the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) address harassment?

For occurrences of workplace harassment and violence involving a DND employee, the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Program applies.

The Defence Administrative Order and Directive (DAOD) 5012-0 on Harassment Prevention and Resolution and the DND/CAF Harassment Prevention and Resolution Instructions address workplace harassment. Early resolution is encouraged and the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved is provided.

Ethical guidelines relating to harassment issues can be found under the Defence Ethics Programme.

What should I do if I feel harassed?

There are many options, ranging from very informal self-help to a formal harassment complaint. You can contact a local CCMS agent for assistance with any of these options:

  • Address the problem with the respondent in person. Some issues can be resolved between the 2 parties, to the satisfaction of both, before having to submit a complaint. Talk to a CCMS agent to discuss whether this option is appropriate in your situation. A CCMS agent can provide you information on the submission process for Harassment Complaints and can guide you through the complaint submission process. While they will not prepare a complaint on your behalf, they can assist you in understanding your roles and responsibilities as well as those of the Respondent and the Responsible Officer (RO)
  • Report the incident to your supervisor, Chain of Command and/or Unit Harassment Advisor. They can use their powers of remedy and resources for collaborative resolution
  • Request coaching, mediation or facilitation through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. A CCMS agent can assist you in making an informed decision about ADR services and can help you initiate this process and connect you with an on-site ADR practitioner
  • File a formal harassment complaint. All formal complaints must be submitted in writing. The complaint should be submitted to your immediate supervisor, Commanding Officer, or the Unit Harassment Advisor.

If your immediate supervisor or Commanding Officer is the respondent, the complaint should be submitted to the next superior in the Chain of Command. The complaint should explain your specific concerns about the alleged harassment situation. A CCMS agent can assist you with this process.

What should I do if I am accused of harassment?

If you’re accused of harassment you should:

  • If approached directly by an offended party, thank the person for sharing this information with you and try to clarify the situation. Be receptive and try to find out in the offended party’s view, what you’re doing that is offensive
  • Inform your Chain of Command and seek guidance from a CCMS agent. You should also consider engaging in informal resolution processes to resolve the matter
  • Request an assisting officer if you are named as a respondent in a harassment complaint. It is advisable that you are accompanied and supported by someone during the process

For civilians, you may be assigned your Workplace Relations Advisor by your unit. Their role is to provide you with advice and guidance with the process without speaking on your behalf.

What are the consequences for harassment?

When a CAF member is found to have committed harassment, it is the responsibility of the Responsible Officer to decide what administrative, restorative and/or disciplinary action is to be taken.

Administrative action can vary from:

  • initial counselling
  • recorded warning
  • counselling and probation
  • removal from the immediate workplace
  • release

A Responsible Officer oversees harassment prevention for their organization and must immediately intervene to resolve any harassment situation. The Responsible Officer remains neutral throughout the process to ensure that all parties are treated fairly.

What should I do if I witness a colleague being harassed?
If you witness harassment, approach your supervisor, manager or Responsible Officer. You have a responsibility to create a respectful work environment and you have a moral obligation to others in the workplace to take action.
What training is available regarding harassment?
All CAF members receive harassment prevention and resolution training. All new recruits receive instructions and lessons on harassment prevention while units conduct annual briefs. Other courses are available through the Learning and Career Centres.
As a leader, supervisor or manager, what resources are available to me to prevent harassment in my section, and restore the workplace after an incident of harassment has taken place?

You should consult your Unit Harassment Advisor for resources on preventing harassment. All complaints should be taken seriously since they can damage relationships in the workplace. As a leader, supervisor or manager, you have a responsibility to create and maintain a positive, harassment-free workplace.

Information on how to help restore the workplace is also available from the Government of Canada Restoration of the Workplace Guide.  

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