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Policy Details

5 -16.1

Administrative policy and procedures regarding complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment, with the exception of gender-based

(A)    Policy Statement.

 

(1)     It is the policy of the university to provide a mechanism for achieving equitable and expedient resolution to complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment based on protected categories:  race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, genetic information, age, military status, identity as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era, recently separated veteran, or other protected veteran.  It is a violation of university policy, and federal and state laws for anyone to engage in unlawful discrimination/harassment, as defined by rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code. The university is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and harassment, wherever they occur in the university community, by investigating, and when appropriate, taking corrective action as a result of violations of this policy.  Violations may lead to disciplinary action, which may include separation from the university.

 

(a)     Retaliation.  Retaliation against a person filing a complaint or against others participating in an investigation is prohibited, per rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code.

 

(b)     Complaints are to be made in good faith. If the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action determines that a complainant knowingly falsely accused another of harassment, appropriate sanctions will be recommended against the complainant.

 

(B)    Eligibility.  All students, faculty, staff, independent contractors, guests, visitors, applicants, and university recognized student organizations. 


(C)    Definitions.

 

(1)     The “office of equal opportunity/affirmative action”, or “EO/AA”, is the university department responsible for administering this policy.  The office is located within the division of human resources. 

 

(2)     A “complaint” of unlawful discrimination/harassment is defined as an allegation of a violation of university policy, “University policy regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment,” rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code.

 

(3)     A “complainant” is defined as any individual who has initiated a complaint for administrative investigation.  A university department may also serve as a complainant on behalf of individual(s) or a protected class.

 

(4)     A “respondent” is defined as any individual and/or unit or department who has been accused of unlawful harassment/discrimination.

 

(5)     An “investigator” is an office of equal opportunity/affirmative action staff member and/or facilitator who to conducts the investigation.

 

(6)     An “affirmative action facilitator” is a liaison between the administrative unit and office of equal opportunity/affirmative action.

 

(D)    Implementation. 

 

(1)     Where to file. Generally, complaints of alleged violations of this policy must be reported to the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action or a designated facilitator. 

 

(a)     However, because of the nature of certain offenses and specific regulation under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, complaints regarding gender discrimination, gender and sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct by staff, students, and visitors will be investigated in accordance with rule 3342-5-16.2 of the Administrative Code.

 

(b)     In the event a complainant files a complaint for unlawful discrimination or harassment based upon multiple protected classes that includes one of the offense specified in paragraph (D)(1)(a) of this rule, the complaint will investigated in accordance with both this rule and rule 3342-5-16.2 of the Administrative Code. The results of both will be included in the findings issued pursuant to paragraph (E) of this rule.

 

(c)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action may initiate an investigation without a specific complainant if it is made aware of allegations, or has reason to believe, that rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code has been violated.

 

(2)     Time periods to file. Complaints must be reported to the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action within thirty (30) business days of the alleged act or discovery of the alleged act, with the exception of complaints regarding gender discrimination, gender and sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct which must be submitted to the Title IX coordinator/deputy coordinator in accordance with rule 3342.5-16.2 of the Administrative Code.

 

(3)     Right to file with external agencies. A complainant also has the right to file a complaint against the university with external agencies including the Ohio civil rights commission (employees alleging discrimination; students alleging disability discrimination) within one hundred eighty (180) days, the equal employment opportunity commission (employees alleging discrimination) within three hundred (300) days, and the department of education office for civil rights (employees and students alleging discrimination) within one hundred eighty (180) days.  The timeline is based on the alleged act or the discovery of the alleged act.  However, it is recommended that the complainant first exhaust these internal complaint procedures described in this policy.

 

(4)     Confidentiality. The university will make every reasonable effort to honor the confidentiality and privacy of all parties involved to the extent legally allowed in accordance with FERPA, the Ohio Public Records Law and other applicable laws. 

 

(5)     Timely cooperation is expected of all involved parties throughout the complaint process. All parties are expected to be respectful of one another’s privacy and to discuss the case,  only with those who have a need to know.

 

(a)     For employees, reasonable administrative time-off shall be permitted for a complainant, respondent, and fellow employees who are asked to participate in and attend an investigation session.  The employee(s) shall notify their supervisor in writing as early as possible.  The supervisor will comply with the employee’s request but shall maintain the right to establish a reasonable time to schedule a meeting during the work day.  The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action, as well as other units involved in the complaint process, will document the date(s) and time(s) of such meetings.

 

(E)    Complaint procedures.  It is important to process a complaint as expeditiously as possible.  The number of business days indicated below at each level shall be the intended timeline.  The time specified, however, may be extended by written notice from the investigator to the complainant and respondent.  In all cases, a person who (1) reports or complains, (2) participates in an inquiry or investigation, or (3) is accused may be accompanied by an individual of their choice who shall be permitted to attend, but not participate in the proceedings.  Respondents represented by legal counsel are to advise the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action in advance of the meeting.  Legal counsel may advise their client, but may not participate in the meeting.

 

(1)     Informal resolution/pre-complaint counseling procedure.

 

(a)     The complainant must contact the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action and express a desire to file a complaint with the office.  The preferable method is to provide the complaint in writing.  The complaint should specify the conduct at issue and the protected class(es) on which the alleged discrimination is believed to be based.  A complaint form is available on the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action website.

 

(b)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action and/or the area affirmative action facilitator is available to provide information, guidance, and direction to resolve complaints.  A complainant shall be provided an opportunity to discuss their complaint and determine if the complaint falls within the scope of the university policy regarding nondiscrimination, rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code.

 

(c)     Informal resolution may first be attempted by a complainant at the unit level by contacting the appropriate supervisor or administrator over the academic unit, residence hall, or administrative office.

 

(d)     If the supervisor or administrator is the alleged harasser, the complainant may attempt resolution with the next level of supervision or contact the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action.

 

(e)     A complainant has the right to report the complaint and pursue informal resolution directly through the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action.

 

(f)      If informal resolution is not reached, complainants may initiate a formal complaint through the appropriate administrative unit and process, which may include the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action or the office of student conduct.  Refer to chapter 4 of the policy register for student conduct procedures.

 

(g)     The complainant at all times has the right to concurrently file a report with the university police or appropriate law enforcement agency, and/or utilize additional university policies and processes; for example, the student academic and nonacademic grievance procedures, or the student conduct procedure.  If the complainant decides to utilize additional university resources, each process will operate in accordance with its own procedures, separate from the procedure provided in this policy.

 

(h)     The informal resolution process shall be completed within sixty (60) calendar days.

 

(2)     Formal discrimination complaint.

 

(a)     If informal resolution is not reached, or not attempted, the complainant(s) may initiate a formal complaint action by notifying the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action of their intent to do so, preferably by submitting the “internal complaint of discrimination form” available through the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action. 

 

(i)      Anonymous and indirect reports will be reviewed to determine if enough credible information has been provided to substantiate a complaint.  If it is determined that an investigation is appropriate, the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action may initiate an investigation without a specific complainant.

 

(b)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action shall notify in writing the appropriate administrative party of the written complaint and the respondent within ten (10) business days from the date of the filing of the complaint.

 

(i)      If a supervisor or administrator is named in the complaint, resolution will be attempted with the next level of supervision or administration.

 

(ii)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action shall notify the respondent of the complaint, provide the respondent with a copy of the complaint, and inform them of the right to present their case during the investigation. The respondent shall be given ten (10) business days to provide a statement in response to the complaint.

 

(iii)    Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to be accompanied and advised by an advocate during the complaint process.  If the complainant or respondent wishes to exercise this option, they are to provide notice to the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action prior to the scheduled meeting informing the office who they will be accompanied by.

 

(c)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action and/or designated facilitator shall have sixty (60) calendar days to investigate the complaint.  During this period, and with the consent of both the complainant and respondent, the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action may suspend the investigation in order to initiate and implement a problem resolution strategy.  If additional time is needed to complete the investigation, both parties will be notified.

 

(d)     Completion of investigation – employee, university department, or student organization as respondent:

 

(i)      Upon completion of the investigation, the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action will provide the appropriate administrators, the respondent, and the complainant with a written summary of the investigation findings.  If a violation of the university discrimination policy is found, the summary will include proposed recommendations to resolve the complaint.  The recommendations should include corrective, remedial, and/or preventative action.

 

(ii)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action’s written summary will serve as the university’s administrative disposition of the complaint.  It is the appropriate administrative unit’s responsibility to accept the proposed recommendations or suggest modifications in conjunction with the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action. The resolution will be documented by the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action and submitted to the vice president of human resources.  Such terms of the agreement may then be subject to review by the responding department’s vice president.  However, a vice president may review and initiate proposed recommendations at any time during the process. 

 

(iii)    The responding department shall, in a timely fashion, advise the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action what sanctions will be implemented and report on the progress of implementing the sanctions.

 

(e)     Completion of investigation – student as respondent:

 

(i)      If the respondent is a student, a formal complaint will initiate an investigation as described above and result in a student conduct hearing.  This process is contained in the code of student conduct. 

 

(ii)     The complainant and accused will be given equal and timely access to information that will be considered by the hearing panel in making its decision.

 

(iii)    Both the complainant and accused may bring a person of their choosing to accompany them through the disciplinary process.  This person may attend the hearing, but may not participate.

 

(iv)    Both the complainant and accused may bring witnesses to provide information during the hearing.  The findings of the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action’s investigation will be shared verbally at the hearing.  Both parties, as well as the hearing panel, will be able to ask questions of the investigator to clarify the investigation and its results.

 

(v)     The hearing panel will use a preponderance of the evidence standard in making its determination (i.e. it is more likely than not that the offense occurred, based on the evidence presented.)

 

(vi)    The outcome of the hearing, including sanctions if an accused student is found responsible, will be provided in writing to both the accused student and the complainant.

 

(vii)   Sanctions may include, but are not limited to: warning, probation, campus access restrictions, counseling referral, reflection assignment, monetary penalty (two hundred dollars maximum), no contact order, suspension, dismissal, or other as deemed appropriate.

 

(f)      If the accused is not a current student, current employee, university department, or student organization, a determination proceeding may be held pursuant to rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code.  A decision will be made and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within five (5) business days of the completion of the proceeding.  Sanctions may include restrictions on the accused’s ability to visit campus, including an order that they are no longer permitted on campus, in accordance with rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code.

 

(3)     Appeal Process.

 

(a)     Appeal process - employee, university department, or student organization as respondent:

 

(i)      An appeal of the disposition findings may be initiated by submitting a written request to the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action within seven (7) calendar days upon receipt of the findings.

 

(ii)     Upon receipt of the appeal, the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action shall notify the appropriate administrative party.  The other party shall be notified, provided a copy of the appeal and given an opportunity to respond in writing. 

 

(iii)    The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action shall have ten (10) business days to review the appeal and any appropriate documentation. 

 

(iv)    Upon completion of the appeal review, the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action will provide the appropriate administrators, the respondent, and the complainant with a written summary of the appeal determination.  If a violation of the university discrimination policy is found, the summary will include a proposed recommendation to resolve the complaint.  The recommendation should include corrective, remedial, and/or preventative action.

 

(v)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action’s written appeal determination will serve as the university’s administrative disposition of the complaint.  It is the appropriate administrative unit’s responsibility to accept the proposed recommendations or suggest modifications in conjunction with the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action. The final resolution will be documented by the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action and submitted to the vice president of human resources.  Such terms of the agreement may then be subject to review by the responding department’s vice president.  However, a vice president may review and initiate proposed recommendations at any time during the process.

 

(vi)    With the completion of the appeal determination, the internal complaint appeal procedures are exhausted.

 

(b)     Appeal process – student respondent.  If the respondent is a student, and a student conduct hearing has been held, the decision may be appealed within seven (7) days by either the complainant or the accused in accordance with the student conduct appeals procedure contained in the code of student conduct. 

 

(c)     Appeal process – visitor respondent.  If the accused is not a current student, current employee, or university department, a request for review of the determination proceeding decision may be made to vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, or their designee, in accordance with rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code.  A final decision will be made and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the request for review.

 

(F)    Recommended Actions and Sanctions. If it is found that an employee’s, university department’s, or student organization’s conduct violates the university policy, action will be recommended by the investigator to the appropriate supervising department.  Actions and sanctions may include, but are not limited to, counseling, training, oral or written warning, no contact orders, transfer, activity limitations, campus access restriction, removal of recognition, suspension, termination or expulsion.  The degree of action may be determined based on the intent and outcome of the behavior.  Sanctions shall be based on the nature and severity of the offense and the extent of the findings.  The university will ensure that all parties are afforded due process in its complaint handling.  Any sanctions will be in accordance with the provisions of the appropriate collective bargaining agreement, employee disciplinary procedure, or other appropriate university policy, and will be provided in writing to both the respondent and complainant.

 

(G)    Responsibilities.

 

(1)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action is responsible for administering this policy.

 

(2)     All members of the university community share the responsibility for reporting instances of discrimination or harassment.

 

(3)     The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action facilitators are responsible for complaint intake and providing information, guidance, and direction in utilizing the complaint procedure at the regional campuses.

 

(4)     Managers are responsible for providing information, guidance, disseminating policy, advising appropriately, and complying with timely investigative procedures.

 

(H)    The appropriate vice president, or their designee, may, on their own initiative, utilize an expedited resolution process with regard to any aspect of the complaint including any proposed recommendations with the offices of the appropriate vice presidents and/or president.  This process in so far as practicable, should take no longer than twenty (20) business days from filing.

 

(I)      Retaliation.  Kent state university prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a participates in a complaint of unlawful harassment, pursuant to rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code. 

 

 

Effective: May 19, 2014  

Prior Effective Dates: 5/20/1992, 2/11/2003, 4/21/2003, 6/1/200y, 3/5/2008, 6/5/2012  

Related Forms:

Download the EOAA Internal Complaint Discrimination and Harassment Form