Informal Resolution Options

The College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy provides that complaints may be resolved by way of an “informal resolution”, as opposed to by way of a formal investigation.

The following are examples of informal resolution options. It is important to understand that this is not an exhaustive list of informal resolution options, and also that these options do not need to be implemented sequentially. To be effective, the informal resolution option must meet the needs and interests of those involved. Consequently, the “best” informal resolution option may be a variation of one of the listed options or a customized combination of several options.

Direct Approach

This option involves the complainant communicating to the offending party (in person or in writing) that the behaviour of concern is offensive and unwelcome, and that they want it to stop.

Students and employees are encouraged to consider taking this direct approach whenever possible; it can be the quickest, simplest , most effective and private approach. However, it can also be the resolution option that causes the most apprehension.

A discussion with the Discrimination and Harassment Office or other trusted member of the College Community, who can provide information, guidance, coaching and resources, can alleviate many of the most common concerns about the direct approach.

Third party support

An individual who prefers to deal with the situation personally but is not comfortable approaching the offending party on their own may choose to take along a trusted member of the College Community.

In this variation of the Direct Approach, the sole purpose of the third party is to provide silent support, rather than taking an active, participatory role. The presence of the third party is not meant to be intimidating or threatening; if it is perceived as such the other party may not be receptive to the resolution effort.

Note: It is important for individuals providing third party support to understand that if they are witness to inappropriate behaviour, they may be called upon as a witness in subsequent proceedings, if any. Further, it is important that before they agree to assume this role they are not already involved in the issue (a party to the process) nor an administrator who may have a formal role to play if the issue is not resolved without a formal investigation.

Third party intervention

A trusted member of the College Community may play a more active, participatory role as an intervener or intermediary. In either case, the third party is to act as a channel of communication.

As an intervener, the third party conveys the message the complainant is uncomfortable delivering personally. For example, the intervener might identify the behaviour that caused offence and ask the other person to stop.

Alternatively, the third party may act as an intermediary, conducting communication back and forth between the parties until all the issues and responses have been discussed.

Even if issues are not resolved in this fashion, the third party’s efforts often serve to reduce the discomfort that is a barrier to direct communication, paving the way for face-to-face discussion between the parties with or without further assistance.

The effectiveness of this informal resolution option is heavily dependent on choosing the most appropriate intervener/intermediary, having regard to the nature of the issue, the parties involved, the desired outcome and other relevant factors. The likelihood of successful intervention is greatly enhanced if the third party is neutral and/or trusted and respected by both parties.

Note: It is important that before the third party agrees to assume this role they are not already involved in the issue (a party to the process) nor an administrator who may have a formal role to play if the issue is not resolved without a formal investigation.

Mediation

Mediation is a structured process in which a trained mediator works with both parties in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. This process gives the parties an opportunity to be heard, and to hear what each other has to say. Even if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they will at least have a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.

Facilitated Discussion

This option involves an informal meeting(s) between the parties assisted by a neutral third party to discuss the issue(s) of concern. Depending upon the complexity or seriousness of the matter, the third party may be trained facilitator.

This option is less formal than a mediation, and is often used to restore interpersonal workplace relationships.