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What to do if...I have been accused of sexual harassment?

Recognize that it is a serious matter

Know your rights. You have a right to know who made the complaint and the nature of the allegations. You have the right to present your version of the events. You may retain a legal representative at any time.

Obtain professional assistance from your union, association or any other professional assistance as need be.

Avoid, if the circumstances permit, all contact with the complainant. Such conduct might be perceived as harassing behaviour. Do not act in any way that could be perceived as an act of retaliation against the complainant.

Keep it confidential. Confidentiality is mandated by internal policies on sexual harassment. The confidential nature of the complaint resolution procedures protects the interests of the complainant as well as your interests and fosters a safe environment for a mediated resolution or agreement to occur.

Do find out about the complaint procedures. Cooperate and take part in the process. Respond to the allegations. Behave professionally throughout the process.

Consider whether an agreement is possible to resolve the complaint. You need to be satisfied that a settlement is in your best interests. You voluntarily choose to agree to a settlement; it is never forced upon you.

Apologize if you recognize that you engaged in inappropriate conduct. An apology can go a long way in resolving issues. A sincere apology includes acknowledgement that you engaged in the behaviour, an acknowledgement of the impact of the behaviour on the complainant and a commitment to avoid repetition of the behaviour in question.