Skip to main content
McMaster University Menu Search
Photo of McMaster Arch

Raise a Concern or Complaint

Learn more about the processes of the Policy and where you can go to raise a concern or a complaint.

Where do I go if I have a concern/complaint?

The Intake Offices

You have the option of contacting one of the following 3 offices to get advice on your concern or complaint. EIO is the only office available to all campus members. Please see below for further information about which office is available to you. Some offices are only available to certain members of the community.

EIO Equity and Inclusion Office

(formerly Human Rights and Equity Services)

Available to all members of the University Community

ELR Employee/Labour Relations, in the Office of Human Resources Services

Available to employees in the University community

FHSPO Faculty of Health Sciences Professionalism Office

Available to all members of the University community in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Alternative Points of Access

Instead of contacting an Intake Office, you have the option of speaking with:

Icon of a Person of Authority

Person in Authority

a Person in Authority such as a workplace supervisor, Assistant Dean, department Chair, etc.

Icon of Office Door

University Office

a University office you trust for support or advice such as the Ombuds Office, Chaplaincy Centre, Student Wellness Centre, Residence Life Office, etc.

Icon of People

Other Individuals

Other individuals, groups or associations you trust for support or advice (such as a union, faculty association, student association, etc.

A comprehensive list of resources, supports, and alternate avenues for redress is available here.

Understand the Limits to Confidentiality and Reporting Requirements

Individuals on campus have different reporting duties that may limit their confidentiality. Please ask the Person or Office what their level of confidentiality is before disclosing your concern or complaint.

Procedural Guidelines

Confidentiality, Privacy, and Reporting Requirements

Intake Offices and Persons in Authority endeavour to provide a high level of confidentiality; however, offices on campus have different reporting requirements that may limit their ability to guarantee complete confidentiality. Additional information about limits to confidentiality is available here.

Data Sharing and Record Keeping

As part of the University’s internal responsibility to maintain an environment free from discrimination and harassment, information shall be shared between the Intake Offices and/or Security Services. This information is shared on a need-to-know basis only; for example, when there are reports of a poisoned environment and/or issues that endanger the health and safety of an individual or community.

All documents pertaining to advice or assistance provided by an Intake Office, University Office and/or Person in Authority will be retained for 7 years after last use in a confidential and secure storage location.

Interim Measures

At any stage of the procedures in the Policy, you may request that temporary steps be taken in order to ensure your health and safety. The relevant Associate Vice-President will determine the appropriate interim measures, taking into account the nature of the complaint.

Interim measures shall not be construed as evidence of guilt or as a violation of the Policy.

Protection from Reprisal

The University prohibits reprisal or threats of reprisal against any member of the University community who makes use of the Policy or who participates in any related concern or complaint process. Reprisals or threats will be subject to sanctions.

Time Limitations for Bringing Forward a Concern or Complaint

You are encouraged to raise a concern or complaint at the earliest opportunity, but should do so within one year of the date on which the last incident of discrimination, harassment and/or sexual harassment is alleged to have occurred.

Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints

If at any stage of the procedures in the Policy, it is determined that a complaint is frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith, or without sufficient factual basis, the Complainant will be advised of this in writing, and with reason(s). If the Complainant pursues the matter to a Hearing and the Tribunal also finds the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or made in bad faith, the Complainant could be subject to sanctions under this Policy.

The Procedures of the Policy

The Policy sets out the processes available to you in dealing with your concern or complaint. You are welcome to have a support person with you at all stages of the process that you choose.

1) Consultation Without Making a Complaint

  • If you have a concern about comments and/or conduct you have experienced that you feel may be in breach of the Policy, you are encouraged to raise your concern with an Intake Office, Person in Authority or University Office.
  • The Person/Office you speak with may offer advice and assistance, and will identify resources to support you in addressing your concern or in pursuing a complaint.
  • If you choose to raise your concern with a Person in Authority or University Office, that Person/Office must talk with an Intake Office about the general nature of your concern without disclosing identifying information.
  • Individuals on campus have different reporting duties that may limit their confidentiality. Ask the Person/Office what their level of confidentiality is before disclosing your concern. There may be certain circumstances where the Person/Office is required to take action even if you decide not to file a complaint.

2) Informal Complaint and Resolution Process

  • The Intake Coordinator or Person in Authority with whom you have raised your complaint may attempt, with your consent, to resolve your complaint through informal means.
  • The Informal Resolution Process will not determine whether the Policy has been violated, but rather assist the parties to a complaint to resolve the concern through means such as dialogue, clarification of issues, and/or informal mediation, if applicable.
  • If you choose to raise your complaint with a Person in Authority or University Office, that Person/Office must talk with an Intake Office. The Person/Office will talk about the general nature of your complaint without providing identifying information.
  • If resolved, this will be reported to EIO without identifying information.
  • If your complaint is not resolved informally within 30 business days, you will have 5 business days to decide whether to file a Formal Complaint or not to proceed.
  • You may choose to file a Formal Complaint without attempting an Informal Resolution Process.

3) Formal Complaint and Investigation Process

  • If you decide to file a Formal Complaint, you must complete a Formal Complaint Intake Form detailing the complaint in writing, a copy of which will be provided to the Respondent(s).
  • Following submission of your Formal Complaint:
    • Mediation will be offered to you and the Respondent(s). If mediation is not accepted and/or is not successful, your Formal Complaint will be investigated.
    • You may request Interim Measures be taken in order to protect your health or safety and to safeguard your environment.
    • The Investigator will meet with you and the Respondent(s) separately, as well as with any witnesses.
    • The Investigator will write an Investigation Report which will identify you as the Complainant and will name the Respondent(s); summarize the allegation(s) and evidence; and determine whether there has been a violation of the Policy.
    • You and the Respondent(s) will receive a letter from the appropriate Associate Vice-President about the outcome of the Investigation and any consequences, and you will be provided with a copy of the Investigation Report.
    • You and the Respondent(s) must indicate in writing whether you accept the outcome.
    • If there is a finding of Policy Violation and you and/or the Respondent(s) do not accept the outcome, the matter will be referred to a Tribunal Hearing.
    • If there is a finding of No Policy Violation, you will have the option of referring the matter to a Tribunal Hearing.

4) Tribunal Hearing

  • This Formal Hearing is conducted by the Board-Senate Hearing Panel for Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Harassment, and is normally open to the public; however, you can request that the Hearing be closed.
  • A Tribunal report will identify you and the Respondent(s), the complaint and the resolution.
  • The Tribunal report will be provided to you and the Respondent(s), EIO, as well as to the President, the appropriate Vice-President and appropriate Associate Vice-President.