It is recognized that there may be a variety reasons why a member of the RFA would need to have a meeting with a University Administrator during which normal workplace dialogue would occur. However, situations may arise when a member of the RFA is called to participate in an interview with her/his Dean, the VP Faculty Affairs, HR or another member of the University Administration, or with an external investigator in matters related to investigations into various kinds of complaints/concerns. In such cases, the RFA member may be called as a complainant, respondent or witness.
In accordance with our collective agreement, RFA members are entitled to have an RFA representative (an advocate) in attendance at any such meeting. The role of the advocate in such meetings is to ensure that the members’ rights under the Collective Agreement are upheld.
Rights and Obligations
Investigations in which RFA members could be involved may be relate to Article 20 of the Collective Agreement which deals with discipline; University policies related to Civility, Discrimination and Harassment; or under Section 32 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. These investigations are usually initiated by the Dean of the member’s Faculty or by the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services Office. Investigations may be conducted internally by a University administrator with the support of Human Resources or externally by a legal firm whose specialty it is to carry out such activity.
As is the case in all employment circumstances, RFA members as employees of the University have an obligation to participate in such investigations when called upon to do so. However, in discharging this obligation, RFA members have rights including the right to representation from their Association in the form of advocacy as noted above.
In other words, investigations where the University is gathering information (for example, related to a civility and/or harassment/discrimination complaint in which a member is the complainant, respondent or a witness) and matters related discipline are examples of such meetings where a member would wish to have RFA representation. At any other type of meeting with a person(s) from the University administration, an RFA member may decide that the meeting has developed in such a way that he/she requires a consultation an RFA Executive member or with the RFA’s Executive Director. In this case, the RFA member may adjourn the meeting until s/he has had the opportunity to speak with someone from the RFA Executive or an RFA advocate.
Invitations to attend a fact-finding process as described above are sent to the RFA member by the Administration. The member may or may not be given a very general indication of the reason and nature for the request to meet. Included in the invitation must be a statement telling the RFA member that s/he is entitled to have an RFA representative (advocate) attend any such meetings.
RFA members have the right to decline RFA advocacy support. If the member decides to waive her/his rights to have an RFA advocate accompany her/him to a meeting, the member will be asked at the beginning of the meeting to sign a waiver. If, at any point during the investigation process, the member changes her/his mind, s/he can so indicate to the investigator and the process will be immediately suspended until that member can request and the RFA can arrange for an advocate.
Under normal circumstances, the VP Internal for the RFA is copied on all requests sent to RFA members to participate in investigations. If the member notices that such notification has not been so copied, the member should contact the VP Internal, RFA her/himself. It is the responsibility of the VP Internal, RFA to arrange for an advocate for the member.
The Association highly recommends that members avail themselves of the RFA advocacy service from the onset of any fact-finding/investigation process.
An RFA advocate has been trained by the Association to support every aspect of the involvement of members during the course of such investigations. That advocate will meet with the member to explain the investigation process, and the rights and obligations during the course of the process. The advocate will also ensure that the member is as informed as possible of the complaint that is driving the investigation; the member’s role in that investigation; what form responses can take; and the mutual scheduling of the actual interviews based on the investigator’s, the member’s and the advocate’s availability. The RFA advocate will be present during the actual interview to ensure that the member is supported and her/his rights are protected under the terms of the RFA Collective Agreement.
The advocate can also access legal advice should that kind of assistance prove necessary as the process unfolds.
If you are convened to such an interview and you would like to have an advocate assigned to support you, please contact RFA Vice-President Dr. Kileen Tucker-Scott.
Article 20 of the collective agreement
RFA – RU Representation protocol
Selected University Policies (Civility & Discrimination and Harassment)
University OHSA Section 32 (bill 168) policy