In most sexual harassment complaints, the complainant will have to be in some contact with the harasser. For example, if you sue someone you will have to face your harasser when you go to court.
The amount of contact with the harasser depends on how you decide to file a complaint.
Internal workplace complaint:
This depends on your employer’s workplace policy but may include discussions with the harasser through mediation or more informal meetings.
Human Rights Complaint:
If you file a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission or Canadian Human Rights Commission, you will have some choice on how much contact you have with the other person. Human Rights Commissions will give all parties a chance to participate in mediation where both parties make a good faith attempt to reach an agreement and settle the complaint. Mediation is voluntary; both the complainant and respondent can decline to participate.
Complainants can also request that mediation be done via conciliation, which is mediation that happens remotely, so the parties never have to meet in the same room. During conciliation a mediator conveys messages between the parties via phone or email.
If your complaint is not resolved through settlement at the Human Rights Commission your case may be referred to a tribunal which adjudicates human rights complaints. If your case is referred to a tribunal you will likely have to be in a room with the person named in your complaint.
If you report a crime to the police and the crown decides to press charges, at a trial you would likely be called as a witness to describe what occurred and how you were impacted. You will have to describe these events with the accused in the room however you may be entitled to a variety of protections. These may include:
- giving testimony by closed-circuit television;
- testifying behind a screen; or
- testifying with a support person nearby.
These protections must be provided to victims from certain vulnerable groups; however, other victims can ask the judge to permit them to use testimonial aids to help them feel safe while testifying. When you ask for a testimonial aid, the court must consider your security and protection as well as the requirements for a fair and open criminal justice process.