- The first thing we recommend is that you take care of yourself. Seek the love and support you need. Once you feel like you are ready to deal with this absolutely unnecessary intrusion in your life, take some time to consider what you would like to see happen and your ideal outcome.
- You may also want to consider obtaining early legal advice or even retaining counsel, should you already be certain that you wish to proceed through the justice mechanism.
- Tap into the ‘whisper network’ to find out if your human resource is reliable and also whether the person engaging in the misconduct has a prior history of such behaviour.
- Start recording the conduct you considered offensive and unwelcome as and when they happen, including details such as date, location, witnesses, and impact.
- Speak to people you know and trust about the incident/s contemporaneously.
- Maintain a Date/ Event table in an email to yourself, which provides time stamps. It comes in handy should you need to refresh your memory or have to give numerous statements in the stages of reporting and investigation should you choose to formally complain.
Tap into the 'whisper' network. Make contemporaneous notes. Look for allies. Get professional help.
- If you are comfortable with it,consider speaking directly with the person to convey to them that their behaviour was unwelcome and ought not to be repeated.
- If this conversation does not go well, or you do not feel comfortable having it, you can speak with a manager, staff representative, staff counselor or somebody you consider an ally.
- Should none of these individuals at your office present realistic options, you can contact the Ombudsperson for mediation services. They are neutral persons, maintain no records, and can usually guarantee a high level of confidentiality.
- You can seek an informal resolution through their intervention, which creates an opportunity for confidential one-on-one conversations which may get the behaviour to cease.
- With the exception of cases involving threats to personal safety and security, the informal route allows for confidentiality. Please note this is not the same as anonymity.
- In cases of risk to life, injury,personal safety and security, you should report the matter right away to your closest security officer, ideally the chief of security, and proceed as they advice.
- Should the informal efforts not yield an acceptable outcome, you may consider officially reporting the conduct to human resources and immediate supervisors. Be prepared to have the matter taken out of your hands.
- Once your complaint triggers a formal resolution process, you will ideally not be required to interact with the person engaging in the prohibited conduct. You can seek other measures that you deem necessary.
- In order to not engage in several emotionally exhausting narratives of your experiences, you may wish to prepare a written statement of the events, detailing how you felt and responded to the unwelcome behaviour. Attach the Date/ Event table that you have prepared.
- The HR may institute an investigation, in consultation with the senior management of your organisation,based on the seriousness of the conduct you reported. Investigation maybe conducted internally by a panel or through persons that are independent or external or both.
- You will be interviewed. Be prepared. Keep your notes handy. Have a list of potential witnesses. You can ask for your lawyer or staff representative or a trusted person to be present. You can ask for the interview to be organised at a place of your convenience.
- From this point on, please be ready to not know what is going on. The progress, usually slow, is not reported to the complainant. You may not even know if and when others are interviewed. You will not automatically be given a copy of the response of the person accused.
- You may be informed when the report is completed and submitted to the persons or panel identified in the relevant policy for consideration. The report is supposed to be based on a legal evidentiary standard of 'balance of probability', also called 'preponderance of evidence'. It is much lower than that of “beyond reasonable doubt” used in criminal trial, but absent better training, most investigators tend to apply 'clear and consistent' standard.
- Once the responsible person/s or panel receives a report of findings, they usually have a fixed amount of time to decide on whether to (a) dismiss your complaint; (b) handle the matter at the duty station; or (c) escalate to the main office of human resources for disciplinary recommendations.
- This can be a tough decision to wait for. And an especially hard one to receive if your complaint is dismissed. Please ensure you have the support of a circle of people you love and trust around you, you may need them.
- If the report bore out your complaint, the management may decide to address the matter internally. You will be notified when this decision is reached and implemented, although not necessarily informed of the administrative sanction imposed.
- In case the matter is escalated to the head office of HR, it can take longer still to arrive at a decision. It usually means that the conduct was serious enough to merit instituting formal disciplinary action which is beyond the purview of the duty station managers.
- Any of these outcomes amount to an administrative decision which you can challenge should you be dissatisfied with it. It is also possible that in earlier stages of the process, you receive interim decisions which have the potential to impact the final outcome and can also be challenged through the escalation procedure.
- At this stage, it is most advisable to seek legal assistance. Approach your union for recommendations on representation. Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA) provides free legal advice to most UN staff members, and in some instances even interns.
- Note that every step from here on forward has well defined and tight time limits. Each of these deadlines have the potential of derailing your entire claim.
- The first port of call in UN Secretariat is something called a Management Evaluation Unit (MEU). Most UN organisations have them a version of them. Other IOs may have similar bodies intended to seek a non-adversarial resolution.
- Based on the recommendation of the MEU, you will have to decide whether you wish to further the matter before an administrative tribunal. Most UN bodies use the United Nations Disputes Tribunal/ Appeals Tribunal. Other IOs such as the IAEA and WIPO use the International Labour Organisations Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT).