If you believe that you have experienced discrimination or harassment or you are concerned that a complaint might be made against you, there are a number of things that you can do:
- seek advice and clarification from a Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Adviser
- seek support from a friend or a counsellor
- speak or write to the person with whom you have a concern
How can an adviser help?
It is common to feel extremely distressed when faced with discrimination or harassment concerns and often people find it hard to know where to go and what to do. By speaking to an adviser early you may be able to achieve some immediate relief and in many cases facilitate a speedy resolution.
Advisers are trained to listen to your concerns and help you clarify whether the concerns that you have raised constitute discrimination or harassment and explain the University's procedures for dealing with such matters. If these procedures are not appropriate they will refer you to a more appropriate source of support.
An adviser can help you to decide on the kind of action that you might take and support you in that action. This may include various forms of local action, conciliation or the making of a formal complaint.
It is natural to seek support from friends and colleagues and talk to them about your situation. Allegations of discrimination and harassment are extremely serious and care must be taken to ensure that in the course of seeking support you do not place yourself at risk of defamation. An adviser will help you understand how to receive the support you seek without any risks of defamation.
Counsellors provide a confidential space for you to talk about any concerns and can provide invaluable help in dealing with any distress you may be experiencing.
To protect yourself from defamation:
- allegations should be made honestly and in good faith
- allegations should be made using an appropriate process
- speaking or writing directly to the person is not defamation
- speaking to appropriate University personnel in private is not likely to be defamatory
Often the behaviour of concern to you was not intended to disadvantage or offend you. Speaking directly to the person can often resolve the matter successfully. If you wish to deal with the matter yourself but do not feel able to do so in person you can write to them.
When raising concerns in writing ensure that the person is the recipient. Either deliver it personally or send it by registered mail.
When making allegations avoid emotive or accusatory language. Describe incidents in as much detail as possible and any facts as you recall them. Describe how you were affected by the person's behaviour and what you are seeking. Keep a copy of the letter and maintain strict confidentiality.
It may be appropriate to approach a teacher, manager, supervisor, or Head of Department in private to raise your concern and find out what can be done about it.
They may refer you to an adviser to explore your options under the University's Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Procedures in addition to any actions they may suggest.