1. General Statement

As a responsible employer, the College is committed to building a discrimination-free institution and ensuring dignity at work. Sexual Harassment violates the rights, dignity and reputation of the individual, undermines the environment necessary for the advancement of learning, and will not be tolerated. The Sexual Harassment Handling Procedures set out below have been established to deal with and resolve such kind of complaints against an employee.


2. Scope

This policy applies to sexual harassment complaints that are made against staff members by:

2.1 other staff members, or
2.2 students, or
2.3 outsiders. (Outsiders’ complaints shall be directed to the Human Resources Office which shall refer the same to the Committee for Sexual Harassment Complaint for further handling in the manner provided hereinbelow.)

3. Definition

A person sexually harasses another person if
3.1 The person:
3.1.1 Makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favors, to the other person; or
3.1.2 Engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the other person (including making a statement of a sexual nature to that person, whether the statement is made orally or in writing), in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated; or
3.1.3 Engage in a conduct that contravenes Article 29 of Measures of Guangdong Province for the Implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection Women's Rights and Interests.

3.2 The person, alone or together with other persons, engages in conduct of a sexual nature which creates a sexually hostile or intimidating learning or work environment for the other person.

For the avoidance of doubt, let it be emphasized that the entire relevant record and the totality of circumstances will be considered in determining whether a case constitutes sexual harassment. Some examples of conduct/behavior which may possibly constitute sexual harassment are set out below for reference:

3.2.1 Unwelcome sexual advances - e.g. leering and lewd gestures, touching, grabbing or deliberately brushing up against another person;
3.2.2 Unwelcome requests for sexual favors in exchange for preferential treatment - e.g. suggestions that sexual co-operation or the toleration of sexual advances may further an employee's career or help improving a student's academic grades, etc.;
3.2.3 Unwelcome verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature - e.g. sexually derogatory or stereotypical remarks, emails, SMS, those made on internet, or visual presentation in the work place or in the classroom; persistent questioning about a person's sex life; and
3.2.4 Conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for work or study - e.g. sexual or obscene jokes, displaying sexist or other sexually offensive pictures or posters.

4. Procedures

4.1 Informal Procedures

4.1.1 The sooner a complaint of sexual harassment is made and dealt with by the College authority, the better it is for all parties concerned. When a person feels being sexually harassed, he or she is advised to first try and seek an informal resolution as soon as possible. Informal resolution procedures are designed to put a stop to the discrimination or harassment through private conciliation rather than public sanctions.

4.1.2 Where the complainant is an employee, he/she should, if possible, discuss the matter first with his/her immediate supervisor or head of department. In the case of student complainant, the head of Student Affairs Office or the Programme Director should be approached with a view to resolving the matter informally. In the meantime, a written record should be submitted to the Human Resources Office by the person receiving the complaint for reference and record. Such written record shall be kept by the Human Resources Office for a period of 10 years after final settlement of the complaint by way of informal procedure and shall only be accessible to the Working Group of Human Resources.

4.1.3 Very often, face-to-face communication between/amongst the parties concerned can help resolve the problem amicably. If need be, mediation which is a voluntary process through an independent third party or mediator, may also be an effective means to help the parties in dispute to reach a voluntary agreement for resolving the problem. To enhance the transparency of the mediation, a HR Officer may be invited at the parties’ election to monitor and record the proceedings.

4.1.4 If an informal resolution is achieved, the parties involved are strongly advised to keep a record of any agreement reached in writing for future reference.

4.1.5 The use and application of informal procedures is subject to the following principles:

(a) Sufficient written advance notice shall be served on the accused and the complainant and shall in no event be less than 7 days before the meeting or proceedings.
(b) The identities of the parties involved and witnesses, evidence adduced, outcome of the proceedings shall all be kept in strict confidence and shall,subject to paragraph (d) below, not be disclosed without the joint consent of the complainant and accused.
(c) The parties involved in the informal procedures shall be duly advised at the outset that the entire proceedings will be recorded for the avoidance of doubt and dispute and that such records shall be regarded as personal data and given the relevant protection and kept in the manner and for the duration in accordance with the domestic law of China.
(d) Both the complainant and accused shall be entitled to have access to the official records of the proceedings including the evidence adduced thereat save and except otherwise agreed between them. Any other person desirous of gaining access to such record shall be required to show cause and shall be allowed to have access to the same subject to the approval by the President or his designated deputy.
(e) The records aforesaid shall be kept by the Human Resources Office in the manner set out hereinabove.

4.1.6 If the matter fails to be resolved by informal procedures, the complainant may elect to lodge a formal complaint to the College authority, which shall then be dealt with in accordance with the steps below.

4.2 Formal Procedures (appendix I_ Flow chart of Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints)

4.2.1 Committee for Sexual Harassment Complaint(hereinafter “CSHC”)

4.2.1.1 Terms of Reference of CSHC

CSHC is appointed by the President for a term of two years and charged with the following duties:

(a) To formulate policy initiatives in the area of sexual harassment;

(b) To investigate and adjudicate complaints about or other matters related to Sexual Harassment referred by the Human Resources Office or the Students’ Affairs Office and make the necessary findings and recommendations;

(c) To promote awareness of the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures in the College;

(d) To consult and advise appropriate committees and office of the College on matters related to Sexual Harassment.

(e) To submit a report to the President as and when necessary.

4.2.1.2 Membership Composition of CSHC

(a) Chairman: a professor
(b) Co-chairman: a senior administrative staff-person or a senior faculty member
(c) Secretary: Director of Human Resources
(d) Members: representatives of academic divisions and teaching units
(e) Co-opted members: such person(s) as CSHC shall from time to time appoint as they see fit

In reality, the majority of victims in sexual harassment cases are females. Accordingly, it is appropriate that at least half of the Committee's membership is constituted by female staff members who have not been previously involved in the making of any sexual harassment complaint.

4.2.2 Filing a Complaint

Any individual complaining of sexual harassment is required to file a formal complaint in writing to the CSHC. The complaint in writing must contain the full name and e-mail address of the complainant with sufficient particulars in support of the allegation so as to facilitate the CSHC’s investigation, if any. For the avoidance of doubt, let it be emphasized that anonymous complaints will not be entertained. Likewise, any complaints not providing sufficient particulars may be regarded as having been made frivolously and may not be entertained. With a view to ensuring impartiality and objectivity in handling a formal complaint, Committee members who have been approached or involved in the informal resolution stage shall be excluded from participating in the formal procedure and adjudicating in respect of the same complaint. All complaints properly made will be taken seriously and processed with due expedition and appropriate confidentiality, sensitivity and discretion. The CSHC is expected to start the investigation within two weeks of the receipt of a formal complaint made in compliance with the requirements set out hereinabove.

4.2.3 Investigation

Upon receipt of a complaint, both the accused and the complainant were requested to submit a written declaration of willingness of being investigated, then CSHC shall appoint a vetting panel consisting of two of its incumbent members to conduct a preliminary investigation of the case, which shall include confidential interviews with persons identified by the complainant as material witnesses to the alleged harassment. The preliminary investigation shall focus on the matters set out hereinbelow. The vetting panel shall report to CSHC the outcome of its investigation as soon as practicable. A formal hearing of the case will not be conducted if one of the following conditions occurs:

(a) the members are satisfied that-
(i) the complainant has had actual knowledge of the Sexual Harassment complained of for more than 2 years immediately preceding the date upon receipt of the complaint; and
(ii) there are no special circumstances which explain the delay in making the complaint;
(b) the complaint is made anonymously;
(c) the complainant cannot be identified or traced;
(d) the complainant or accused has ceased to be a College staff member or student save and except where special circumstances exist to justify the intervention by CSHC;
(e) the complaint, or a complaint of a substantially similar nature, has previously been inquired into by CSHC and CSHC has decided that the Sexual Harassment complained of was not committed;
(f) the members are satisfied that the disciplinary offence complained of is trivial; or
(g) the members are satisfied that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith.

4.2.4 Formal Hearing by CSHC

(a) Within four weeks after receiving the preliminary investigation report from the vetting panel and upon being satisfied that the relevant complaint does not offend any of the restrictions set out in 4.2.3, the CSHC should conduct a formal hearing within three weeks after receiving the complaint and issue a written notice not less than 7 days before the hearing to the complainant and the accused. The hearing process is intended to provide a reasonable degree of confidentiality for both the accused and the complainant without the formality of a legal proceeding. The emphasis is on reaching an early resolution in a fair and even-handed manner. Depending on the complexity of each case, it is expected that the formal hearing will normally be completed in two months' time.

(b) Both the complainant and the accused shall have the right of:
• appearing before the CSHC;
• presenting evidence to the CSHC;
• calling witnesses provided that advance notice of the list of witnesses is served on CSHC and the other party to the proceedings not less than 2 days before the hearing; and
• bringing with him/her a colleague/fellow student, who may provide personal support to him/her but shall not speak on his/her behalf, when appearing before the CSHC. Each party, and any accompanying colleague/student, shall be reminded of the confidential nature of the proceedings, and the obligation to maintain confidentiality. As the formal hearing procedures are not legal proceedings, legal representation on behalf of either party shall not be allowed.
(c) The CSHC shall hear testimony from the complainant and the accused, and any witnesses proposed by either of them. In addition, it may call such other witnesses and examine such other evidence as it may deem appropriate.
(d) The complainant and the accused shall be given an opportunity to respond to any information or evidence which is put before the CSHC by either party, or by any third party, during the course of the hearing, and which in their opinion calls for rebuttal, clarification or confirmation.

4.2.5 The Investigation Report

On the basis of the hearing, the CSHC will submit a report to the President within two months of the conclusion of the formal hearing. The report shall contain finding of facts, conclusion as to whether the complaint has been proved on the balance of probabilities, and recommendations, if any. If the CSHC concludes that the accused is guilty of sexual harassment, it shall recommend to the President the appropriate penalty, which can be either one or more of the following actions:
(a) the accused shall cease the behavior that is the basis for the complaint;
(b) the accused shall refrain from further contact with the complainant, to which end CSHC may recommend that the accused or the complainant be reassigned;
(c) the accused shall undergo counseling or treatment; and/or
(d) the College shall initiate disciplinary proceedings which may result in sanctions including termination of appointment against the accused.

After receipt of the said report, the President shall decide whether to accept the recommendation made by the CSHC. If the President should disagree with such recommendation, he may substitute their decision for the same. In any event President’s decision shall be made as soon as practicable. The complainant and the accused will be informed in writing of the decision within two weeks of the making of the same.

4.2.6 Appeal

4.2.6.1 The complainant and the accused, after being informed of HRWG’s decision, may within 30 days lodge an appeal in writing setting out in details the grounds of appeal against:
 the decision solely; or
 both the decision and the penalty; or
 the penalty solely.

4.2.6.2 The appeal shall be heard and adjudicated by the Sexual Harassment Appeal Committee (“SHAC”) consisting of 3 – 5 members appointed by the President. For the avoidance of doubt, the number of such members hearing the appeal shall not be less than the number of adjudicators hearing the complaint at first instance. The decision of SHAC shall be final within the College.

4.2.7 The handling and processing of any formal complaint will be documented and put on record by the Human Resources Office. For the purpose of protection of personal data, such record shall be kept for a period of 3 years and shall be destroyed forthwith thereupon. Access to such record may be granted to the party complained against upon his or her written application to the President and subject to any reasonable conditions to be imposed by the President and in accordance with the law applicable.

5. Confidentiality

All parties involved in the complaint procedure shall ensure confidentiality of the matter. Unauthorized disclosure of any information, details, and documents pertaining to the complaints and/or handling of the complaints shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions.

6. Protection of Victims/Complainants of Sexual Harassment

All complaints of sexual harassment will be received with the utmost confidentiality. The College will not tolerate any act or threatened act of intimidation of any kind, whether physical or verbal, being made to the victims/complainants, the accused, the witnesses, or other parties related to the complaints.

7. Cases of False Reporting of Discrimination/harassment

7.1 If the CSHC, after due enquiry into a complaint of sexual harassment, concludes that the complaint has been made in bad faith or that it is found to be totally groundless, the CSHC may refer the case of false complaint to the Human Resources Office (if the complainant is a staff member) or to the Student Affairs Office (if the complainant is a student), for consideration of the taking of disciplinary action against the complainant.

7.2 Apart from the option of taking disciplinary action against the complainant of a false complaint, the CSHC may direct that a full written apology be made by the complainant to the person wrongfully accused of sexual harassment.

Appendix I_ Flow Chart of Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints

(CSHC=Committee for Sexual Harassment Complaints)

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