A working environment that takes care of the employees must not accept any form of harassment. All employees have a responsibility to report any harassment or other culpable act they observe.
It is important to notify your employer if you as the employee wants or sees the need for a change in the working environment in general. A negative culture or outdated practices may have taken hold within the organization.
The employer has a duty to have a system – ethical guidelines or notification procedures – for how the organization will react when harassment is observed or reported. If an employee is subjected to harassment, it is important to make use of the notification system.
Examples of notification systems for students and academic and administrative personnel:
Partial burden of proof
Provisions on partial burden of proof apply in harassment cases. As a general rule, the complainant has the burden of proving that harassment has occurred. It is often one person’s word against another’s, and it may be difficult to prove there has been harassment.
- The assessment of an incident often ends with a credibility assessment; testimony from witnesses is therefore important.
- It is difficult to get colleagues to give testimony due to fear of reprisal.
- However, it is not a requirement that witnesses have observed statements or acts. A doctor’s statement may be one form of securing evidence. Another way is when one person tells others about the details of what has happened.
- The person subjected to harassment must try to tell the person committing the act that the behaviour is unwanted. This will strengthen the aggrieved party’s credibility. Moreover, it can then be assumed that the accused person knows that repeating the unwanted act may be regarded as harassment.
False accusations must not be tolerated, and may result in disciplinary measures.