HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS

PR-6-15

PROCEDURAL DOCUMENT

Effective date: 06-July-17

 

Rationale

Plateau School will do its utmost to ensure that all individuals are able to work and learn in an environment free of harassment. 

Guidelines

Many harassment complaints can be resolved informally through confronting the person responsible, explaining that their behaviour is offensive and seeking an assurance that it will stop. It may be necessary to approach another staff member for support at this stage.

If the harassment is very serious, or continues after an initial confrontation about it, the person being harassed can take the following actions:

  • report it to the school management, as a formal complaint (Section 9.0)
  • report it to the police, especially if the harassment involves sexual or physical assault. Note that it is an offence that can result in a fine of up to $1000 to insult, abuse, or intimidate a member of the school staff.
  • report it to the Human Rights Commission, if the complainant doesn't want to complain to the school management, or is not satisfied with the result of an internal investigation
  • consult a lawyer and consider applying for a restraining order.

    If a member of staff is suffering harassment from a parent/caregiver, that continues despite attempts to resolve it, the member of staff or the school can serve a trespass order or apply to the District Court for a restraining order. The order prevents the harasser from making contact in any way or continuing the harassment. It can include special conditions. It is a criminal offence to breach a restraining order.

Defamation

A complaint of harassment is potentially very damaging to a person’s character or reputation. Anyone involved in a harassment complaint must maintain strict confidentiality and only discuss the complaint with those responsible for dealing with it.

One person can sue another for defamation if they believe that they made a false statement likely to expose them to contempt, hatred or ridicule and which injures their reputation. It only needs to be a statement made by one person to another.

Sometimes, the first reaction of a respondent accused of harassment is to threaten to sue for defamation. It is not defamatory for the complainant to confront the alleged harasser directly and in private, or to send them a private letter outlining the offensive behaviour. It is not defamation if the complaint is made honestly, and only to those responsible for dealing with it.

There may be a case for defamation if a complainant speaks to anyone other than the alleged harasser, or those with a genuine need to know.