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Guidelines For Complaints Alleging Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

The purpose of these guidelines is to define the procedures to be utilized for reportng, investigating and resolving complaints alleging discrimination of any kind, sexual misconduct, harassment and retaliation.  These guidelines apply to complaints originated by students, faculty, administrators, staff members and all other employees of Felician Unversity, as well as guests and vendors.  The guidelines are also applicable to complaints by, or about, conduct of the members of the Unversity community during Unversity-sponsored actvities, including but not limited to, internships and professional placements such as student teaching and clinical practica.

I. Initiating a Complaint of Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination or Harassment

Complaints can be filed by directly contacting the immediate supervisor, a member of the President’s Council or Human Resources, or by submitting a completed Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaint Form to the Office of Human Resources. Complaints of sexual misconduct/discrimination/ harassment should be filed within 180 calendar days of notice of the event(s) that gave rise to the complaint. Filing a complaint with The Felician Unversity Office of Human Resources does not preclude the individual from filing a complaint with an external agency nor does it extend time limits with those agencies.

If, for any reason, you feel you cannot follow the above steps, or do not want to give your name, call the Corporate Responsibility (CRP) Help Line. The telephone number of the CRP Help Line is 1-866-225-3253.

Individuals who wish to make a complaint of discrimination, harassment or retaliation should:

  1. Talk with the responsible party or seek to resolve the situation in consultation with their supervisor and/or Unversity Human Resources representative.
  2. If the issue is not resolved, contact the Office of Human Resources to complete a Sexual Misconduct/Discrimination/ Harassment Complaint Form.
  3. Provide witnesses and/or documentation from individuals that have first-hand knowledge of the situation.
  4. Respect the confidentiality and reputation of all parties.
  5. Keep the investigator informed of any new concerns or actions taken against the complaint during the investigation.

II.   Responsibilities for Resolving Complaints

A. Duty to Act

  1. Any supervisor, including faculty supervisors; chair/director; or faculty member who becomes aware of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that Sexual Misconduct/Discrimination/Harassment/Retaliation has occurred will notify the Office of Human Resources, by ensuring that a Sexual Misconduct/Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaint Form or other appropriate documentation is filed as soon as is practicable, but in any event, no later than five working days after becoming aware of the information. The Complaint Form/documentation will initiate collaboration between the Office of Human Resources and complainant to determine how to proceed with addressing any potential discrimination/harassment/retaliation.
  2. Corrective action may be imposed on any individual who has a duty to act in any situation of potential discrimination, harassment or retaliation and who fails to respond in a manner consistent with the provisions of the applicable policies, procedures, and these guidelines.

B. Supervisors, Managers, Department Chairs/Directors Responsibilities

  1. Contact the Unversity Human Resource Representative and with their collaboration, assess the situation to determine if it can be resolved internally.
  2. Address all concerns promptly and thoroughly.
  3. Respect the confidentiality and reputation of all parties.
  4. Refer individuals to available Unversity resources if counseling assistance is needed.
  5. If the situation cannot be successfully resolved, the complaint must be referred within five days to the Office of Human Resources or Compliance for investigation.

C. Office of Human Resources

  1. Conduct all investigations following these guidelines.
  2. Maintain data established by policy regarding complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
  3. Collaborate with departments to reduce/eliminate instances of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
  4. Communicate investigation findings to the appropriate unit or higher-level administrator, complainant and accused.
  5. Issue appropriate actions steps and/or corrective measures.
  6. Monitor action steps and/or corrective measures to ensure behavioral change and compliance.

III. Investigating Complaints of Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination or Harassment

Any supervisor, chair/director, faculty or staff member who becomes aware of an allegation will notify the Office of Human Resources about the allegation by ensuring that a Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaint Form or other appropriate documentation is filed within five working days of becoming aware of the allegation. The complaint form/documentation will initiate the process and the Office of Human Resources will determine how to proceed with resolving the complaint.

IV. Investigator Duties

  1. Investigations will be conducted by the Office of Human Resources. Individuals will be informed of the investigation and its progress on a timely basis.
  2. The investigator will review the procedures for filing a formal complaint with the complainant, if this has not yet been initiated.
  3. The investigator will discuss the following with the complainant and accused:
    1. The behaviors and any related issues that gave rise to the complaint.
    2. The policy under which the complaint is brought and these investigation guidelines. Copies of both will be provided.
    3. The Unversity has a compelling obligation to address complaints and suspected instances of discrimination and harassment. The Unversity is not precluded from taking any action it deems appropriate, including informing the accused of the allegations and pursuing an investigation even in cases when the complainant is reluctant to proceed. The complainant will be notified in advance when such action is necessary.
    4. The manner and frequency with which they will be updated about the status of the investigation.
    5. The importance of confidentiality during the investigation. To the extent possible, the Unversity will make every reasonable effort to conduct all proceedings in a manner that will protect the confidentiality of all parties. Parties to the complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect for the reputation of all parties involved.
    6. Unversity policy and state and federal law prohibit retaliation against an individual for reporting discrimination/harassment or for participating in an investigation. The Unversity will not tolerate retaliation of any form against any faculty, staff, student, or volunteer who files a complaint, serves as a witness, assists a complainant, or participates in an investigation of discrimination or harassment. Retaliation is a serious violation that can subject the offender to sanctions independent of the merits of the discrimination/harassment complaint. Allegations of retaliation should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.
  4. A representative of Human Resources will ensure that the Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaint Form is completed. A written complaint form is not necessary if sufficient information has been provided to the investigator to allow an investigation to proceed.
  5. The appropriate supervisor, in collaboration with the representative from the Office of Human Resources and the complainant, will determine if special provisions are necessary to ensure that no discrimination, harassment or retaliation occurs against the complainant while the investigation is pending.

V. Investigation Process

  1. Purpose of the investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to evaluate the allegations of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, formulate a response that addresses the facts as they are determined, and follow up to ensure that the necessary action steps are completed.
  2. Method of investigation. Depending on the facts of the case, an investigation may range along a continuum from a one-on-one conversation with the accused with an agreement as to further interactions; to an inquiry with several witness interviews. During the investigation, Human Resources may interview the parties, witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of the events and gather relevant documents. After analyzing all the information, the Human Resources will prepare a case report with findings and detailed action steps to be implemented by the department and the parties. Prior to the release of the case report, the Unversity attorney will review the report and discuss with Human Resources any procedural issues, the specific findings and necessary action steps. After this review, a written decision will be prepared and delivered to the parties. The parties will not receive a copy of the report itself. The decision issued by Office of Human Resources is final. In every case, a record must be made of the allegations, investigation, and action taken.
  3. Presence of support persons. An individual of the complainant’s and accused’s choice may accompany them at the initial interview and subsequently, as appropriate. The role of the support person would be to be present at the time of the investigation interview. The support person is not provided documentation on the investigation or allowed to interject during the investigation interview.
  4. Time period for resolution of an allegation. Investigations should be concluded within a reasonable timeframe from the date the complaint was filed. If this is not reasonably possible due to extenuating circumstances, Human Resources should inform the complainant and accused of the status of the review and an estimated conclusion date.
  5. Possible outcomes. An investigation may result in one of the following findings:
    1. A determination that there is sufficient evidence to indicate a violation of Unversity policy.
    2. A determination that there is insufficient or no evidence to indicate a violation of Unversity policy.
    3. A determination that inappropriate behavior has occurred.
    4. A determination that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that an allegation is false. 
  6. If discrimination, harassment, false allegation, inappropriate behavior, or other policy violation has occurred, the Unversity will take necessary action steps to correct the behavior. A false charge occurs when someone intentionally reports information or incidents that they know to be untrue. The department must take prompt remedial action consistent with the severity of the offense, if any, and all applicable Unversity rules and regulations. The necessary action steps for the department to take will be provided by the Office of Human Resources to the appropriate administrator who is responsible for implementation.
  7. Concluding the investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, Human Resources will inform the appropriate unit or higher-level administrator, complainant, and accused of the outcome.
  8. Confidential written report of outcomes. Human Resources will prepare a written summary of the outcome of the investigation, and inform the complainant and accused in writing of the final decision.  The parties will not receive a copy of the report itself.

VI. Corrective Action Implementation

When discrimination, harassment or retaliation is found, steps will be taken to ensure that the behavior is stopped promptly. Appropriate corrective action may range from counseling, written reprimands, suspensions, or other action up to and including dismissal, in accordance with established Unversity rules and procedures. The Office of Human Resources will monitor corrective action to ensure compliance.

VII. Confidentiality

To the extent possible, all information received in connection with the filing, investigation, and resolution of allegations will be treated as confidential except to the extent it is necessary to disclose particulars in the course of the investigation or when compelled to do so by law. All individuals involved in the process should observe the same standard of discretion and respect for the reputation of everyone involved in the process.

VIII. Academic Freedom

When the alleged discrimination/harassment takes place in an instructional setting and the accused believes the allegation of discrimination, harassment or retaliation infringes upon academic freedom, a designee from the Council on Academic Freedom and Responsibility (CAFR) will be consulted. This designee will have access to all pertinent information regarding the investigation to assure due regard for academic freedom. The designee will address concerns about the investigation process with the investigator as necessary.

IX. Record Keeping

The Office of Human Resources will maintain a written record of all witness interviews, evidence gathered, the outcome of the investigation, and any other appropriate documents. Investigation records will not be maintained in personnel files or student files unless they are part of a formal corrective action. Investigation records will be maintained in accordance with Unversity record retention schedules. When a complaint is filed outside the Unversity, information gathered in the course of the internal investigation may be disclosed to the investigating agency.

September, 2015