# 2014-174 - Harassment


Case Summary

F&R Date: 2015–02–12

The grievor submitted two harassment complaints against two employees (the respondents) concerning the manner in which they interrupted and halted a meeting the grievor was chairing. Before responding to the complaints, the Responsible Officer (RO) conducted a ‘mini investigation' by obtaining statements from the two respondents and by seeking information from the grievor's Director. The RO obtained confirmation from the grievor's Director that the two respondents had the authority to halt the meeting. The RO conducted a Situational Assessment (SA) and found that the actions of the respondents were not improper and did not constitute harassment.

The grievor argued that the RO did not conduct a full and objective investigation and had breached his rights to procedural fairness. He submitted that there were numerous witnesses who could have also been interviewed, and that he did not receive full disclosure of all documents the RO considered in making a decision. He requested a full and impartial investigation of his complaints, full disclosure and reasons for the RO's conclusions.

Before rendering a decision, the Initial Authority (IA) requested that a Harassment Advisor (HA) conduct a new SA regarding the two complaints submitted by the grievor. The HA found that the complaints did not meet the definition of harassment as the allegations lacked the element of “improper conduct.” The IA denied the grievance, stating that, in accordance with the policies, a RO must complete a SA to determine whether all elements of a complaint are included and whether the allegations as stated meet the definition of harassment. The IA pointed out that, in accordance with the independent HA's review of the complaints, the grievor's allegations did not meet the definition of harassment.

The Committee had to determine whether the two harassment complaints submitted by the grievor were dealt with by the RO in accordance with applicable policies.

Defence Administrative Orders and Directives 5012-0 – Harassment Prevention and Resolution, together with the Canadian Forces Harassment Prevention and Resolution Guidelines (hereinafter “the guidelines”), provide the policy and process to follow when a complaint of harassment or abuse of authority is received from a Department of National Defence employee or a Canadian Armed Force member. The guidelines also set out the process for a RO to follow when a harassment complaint is received in order to determine whether, at face value, the allegations would constitute harassment.

While the Committee acknowledged that it was within the RO's prerogative to investigate, it concluded that the RO did not fully understand the purpose and differences between a SA and a harassment investigation. In this case, the Committee concluded that the RO's investigation was not conducted in accordance with the guidelines in that neither the grievor nor the respondents were provided with the embedded fairness safeguards found in the guidelines. For example, the RO did not disclose to the grievor the Respondents' statements; nor did he afford him the opportunity to respond to these testimonies. The Committee found these breaches to be fatal.

As a result, the Committee re-examined the harassment complaints to determine whether the respondents' actions met the harassment criteria. The Committee found that the allegations, as stated in the complaints, do not meet the definition of harassment at face value and therefore, any further investigation requested by the grievor was not warranted.

The Committee recommended to the Chief of the Defence Staff that the grievance be denied.

CDS Decision Summary

CDS Decision Date: 2015–10–06

The CDS agreed with the Committee's findings and recommendation that the grievance be denied. The CDS did not agree with the Committee's finding that the environment was toxic, but he determined that it was problematic, obviously because of a lack of leadership, as well as a misconception of the responsibilities and communication channels in the organization when the events took place.

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