I am not sure if what I experienced (witnessed) is harassment, intimidation or discrimination. How do I find out?
Consult the definitions of harassment, intimidation and discrimination found on this webpage. If you are still unsure, speak with someone you trust to get an outside opinion. You can also visit the “Be in the Know” website, which describes the difference between mistreatment and a normal teaching scenario. Trust your instinct. If you don’t want to speak with anyone right away, make a log of the behaviour that you perceived as problematic. This will help to establish a pattern of abuse and will be useful if you decide to lodge a complaint at a later time. If you perceive that the behaviour is not normal, don’t let others tell you that this is part of the normal training environment. The situation may worsen if you don’t address it.
How do I know who to speak with if I experience harassment, intimidation or discrimination?
You have many options open to you. You can speak with a friend, a colleague or a supervisor - whichever one makes you more comfortable. Sometimes a simple conversation will provide clarity and help you make a decision on whether to pursue further action. If you don’t receive the information that you require in this initial conversation, there are additional resources available for you. For a list of offices that are available to hear your concern, check the “How to Lodge a Concern or Complaint” tab on this website. Please note that speaking with any of these individuals does not mean that you are obligated to make a formal complaint. The decision is entirely up to you. However, if there is a potential for physical harm to you or any other individual, the Faculty may be obligated to pursue the matter further.
Can I speak to someone without making a formal complaint?
There are many informal options available to you. You can have a confidential conversation with a friend, a teacher, a colleague, the Chair of your department, your Program Director, an Assistant Dean or a Vice-Dean. You can seek assistance through counselling or wellness resources (Student Affairs Office, Faculty Wellness Office, EDI Office). You can also speak to someone outside the Faculty of Medicine. For example, you can speak with a University of Ottawa Harassment Officer in the Human Rights Office. This conversation can be a confidential matter and you are not obligated to take the advice of the Human Rights Officer or proceed to a formal complaint.
Can I make an anonymous complaint?
Yes. You can make an anonymous complaint through the online Professionalism Reporting form (see “How to Lodge a Concern or Complaint” tab on this webpage). However, please keep in mind that this prevents the Faculty from contacting you for further information and may prevent the ability to do a thorough investigation of the incident, unless your concern was also reported by other individuals. It also prevents the Faculty from contacting you to inform you about a possible resolution to the incident.
Do I have to experience mistreatment in order to report it, or can I report something I witnessed that was not directed at me?
Yes, you can report something that you witnessed that was directed at someone else. You do not have to be the direct recipient of mistreatment to be affected by it, or to have it impact the learning and working environment.
What is the process for making a complaint?
The online Professionalism reporting form is available to all members of the Faculty. The follow-up procedure will depend on the status of the other party. If the complaint relates to a medical student or a resident, the report will go to UGME or PGME, respectively. If the respondent is a faculty member, the complaint will be handled by the Office of Professional Affairs at the Faculty. There are additional venues for lodging a concern or complaint, depending on the status of the complainant. Please see the “How to lodge a concern or complaint” tab on this page.
Will I be informed of the progress of an investigation if I lodge a complaint?
If your complaint is submitted anonymously, this will not be possible. However, if you have signed your name to the complaint, you will be kept informed about the progress of the investigation. However, due to confidentiality concerns, not all aspects of the investigation (eg. remediation plans or sanctions) will be revealed to all participants.
What if I am concerned about retaliation for lodging a concern. Will I be protected?
If your program is small, there is a reasonable chance that the person who you complained about will know the source of the complaint. If you are concerned about this, you are not required to submit a formal complaint. We will make every endeavour to keep your identify secret, and we will keep you informed on the process. This may require a delay in processing or investigating your complaint until additional complaints of the same nature are brought forward. If you experience retaliation for voicing a complaint or concern, contact the Office of Faculty Affairs or the Director of the Office of Professionalism. The situation will be investigated, and the appropriate measures taken to protect you and to remove you from the offending situation.
If I am concerned about retaliation, can I register a complaint after I am finished from the program?
It is a good idea to report an issue at the time that it happens. However, if you are concerned about retaliation, the investigation of the event can be delayed until you are no longer in the program and the offending individual has no potential to influence your career. The decision on when to pursue the complaint is up to you. However, if the nature of the complaint is sufficiently serious to endanger the training environment for you or your colleagues, this delay may not be possible. You will be informed and updated on the procedure as it unfolds.
What are the consequences if I am accused of harassment, intimidation or discrimination or if I accuse someone of harassment, intimidation or discrimination?
The consequences will depend on the nature of the complaint. Complaints are dealt with based on the Vanderbilt model (Appendix B), starting with an informal chat between colleagues for minor professionalism lapses, and leading up to formal disciplinary actions (up to and including termination or removal from the working or learning environment) for more serious infractions.
If someone identifies me as a witness, so I have to participate in the investigative process?
While your participation will help to expedite the investigation and may allow the Faculty to substantiate a complaint, you are under no obligation to participate in the process, and there will be no adverse consequences if you choose not to participate. Please note however, that this may depend on the nature of the investigation and if other agencies (e.g. CPSO) are involved.