Discrimination & Harassment Complaint Resolution Procedure
Discrimination & Harassment Complaint Resolution Procedure
These procedures apply to all complaints of illegal discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, and retaliation in which the alleged perpetrator is a University of Idaho employee, contractor, or volunteer. Complaints against University of Idaho students are investigated by the Office of the Dean of Students in consultation with the Director, Human Rights, Access and Inclusion (“Director”).
These procedures include general policies and procedures, which apply to all investigations and the following complaint resolution options: (1) informal resolution; or (2) formal complaint investigation. Throughout these procedures, supervisor, department chair, dean, faculty member and unit manager are collectively referred to as "supervisor."
A. GENERAL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
1. Complaints and Reports of Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation. In all cases, complainants should be encouraged to put their complaints in writing. If a complaint is oral, the Director will prepare a statement of what it determines the complaint to be and will obtain verification from the complainant that the statement adequately sets forth the complaint. Consistent with the UI's legal duty to investigate, the Director reserves the right to investigate and resolve a complaint or report of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation regardless of whether the complainant wishes to pursue the complaint. The Director also reserves the right to report allegations of criminal behavior to the appropriate law enforcement officials.
2. Jurisdiction. Prior to initiating an investigation, the Director will make an initial determination of whether the complaint falls within the purview of the Office of Human Rights, Access, and Inclusion (“HRAI”), i.e., whether the complaint involves allegations of illegal discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment or retaliation, on the basis of a protected class. If the Director determines that the complaint does not fall within HRAI’s purview, s/he will refer the complainant as appropriate.
3. Choosing the Appropriate Resolution Process. Complainants will be informed of the availability of informal and formal resolution processes and will be directed to the website link for complaint resolution procedures. A printed copy can be provided upon request. The Director, in consultation with the complainant, will determine in each case whether the informal or formal resolution process is appropriate, based on the particular circumstances of the complaint. Generally, conduct of a more severe and pervasive nature will require use of the formal resolution process. At any time during the complaint resolution process, the Director may, at his or her discretion, determine that either an informal or formal resolution process is more appropriate and implement it. In addition, if the informal process does not resolve the complaint within a reasonable amount of time, the Director may implement the formal process.
4. Confidentiality. The Director will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individuals against whom the complaint is filed, and the witnesses, in a manner consistent with its legal obligations to investigate, to take and follow through with appropriate action, and to comply with discovery obligations in the course of litigation and to disclose records under the public records laws. The Director will advise all witnesses and parties to protect the confidentiality of matters pertaining to its investigation, including the fact that an investigation is being conducted. Violation of this confidentiality by any party involved may result in disciplinary action.
5. Retaliation. The Director will advise all witnesses, the complainant, and the respondent of the University's policies prohibiting retaliation against persons who in good faith file a complaint of discrimination or harassment or participate as a witness.
6. Prompt Investigation and Remedial Action. In all cases, the Director will begin investigation promptly upon receipt of the written complaint or verification that the summary of an oral complaint is accurate.. The Director may prepare an investigation timeline, which may be updated as needed, and will keep parties and supervisors reasonably informed of the status of the process. Whenever possible, investigations and reports should be completed, and results communicated to the parties, within sixty (60) days of the initial complaint. When deemed necessary to protect the physical safety or emotional well being of the complainant or witnesses, to prevent disruption of the workplace, or to facilitate the investigation, the Director, Human Rights, Access and Inclusion, in consultation with HRS and the supervisor, may recommend immediate action, including transferring or placing an employee on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
7. Documentation: The Director will maintain appropriate documentation of all aspects of the complaint and investigation process.
8. Reports. At the conclusion of either the informal or formal process, the Director will prepare a written report summarizing relevant findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendations. Recommendations are developed in collaboration with the supervisor. The report or a summary of the report will be submitted to the Provost and Executive Vice President if regarding a faculty member, the Office of General Counsel, the Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Services for classified and exempt staff, the supervisor, and the Dean/Unit Head as applicable. The Director also will provide the report or a summary of the report to the parties.
9. Response to report of Findings: A party who contests the Director’s findings of fact, conclusions, or recommendations of the investigation may file a written response with the Director within ten (10) working days of the date the report or report summary was mailed or delivered to that party. The response will be submitted to the Provost and Executive Vice President if regarding a faculty member, the Office of General Counsel, the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources if regarding exempt or classified staff, the supervisor, and the Dean or unit head. The Director may submit a written reply to the response within ten (10) working days of receipt if s/he determines that a reply is appropriate. Faculty and staff who wish to appeal specific disciplinary action should refer to the appropriate grievance procedures in the Faculty/Staff Handbook. All parties will be advised in writing of their response and appeal rights at the time they are presented with the final written report.
B. INFORMAL COMPLAINT RESOLUTION
1. When a complaint is received, the Director and the complainant will review the possibility of informal complaint resolution. If the informal process is deemed appropriate by the Director and agreed to by the complainant, The Director will then perform an initial review of the complaint and discuss possible solutions with the complainant.
2. The Director will inform the person against whom the complaint is brought of its existence and allow that person an opportunity to respond.
3. The Director will perform initial fact finding through document review, interviews with the parties, and possibly interviews with witnesses, supervisors and co workers. Interviews are based on the specific information the witness has to contribute to the issues and whether such information is original or repetitive. The Director reviews all documentation provided or obtained.
4. The Director may act as a facilitator to help resolve complaints, or may request that another University office or staff member facilitate. Such informal resolution may include speaking with the respondent, the respondent's supervisor, or the parties together.
5. Informal resolution may be attained through mutual consent of the parties or through other remedial measures approved by the supervisor or unit manager, including but not limited to mandatory training, a letter of apology, separation of the parties, or disciplinary action.
C. FORMAL COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION
The Office of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion (“HRAI”) conducts comprehensive investigations of allegations of discrimination when those complaints cannot be resolved informally through consultation, review, or referral. HRAI acts as a neutral fact finder. Based on the HRAI investigation, the Director makes determinations of policy violations, and may, in consultation with the supervisor and others, make recommendations to address violations. All formal complaints must be filed in writing with the Director in accordance with this policy. Formal investigations generally follow the procedures outlined below; however, the Director retains the discretion to alter these procedures on a case by case basis.
1. Within 10 days of receipt of a written complaint, the Director will meet with the complainant to discuss the allegations, explain the informal resolution option, the formal investigation process, the principles and limitations of confidentiality, and to collect preliminary data. The Director will also advise the complainant of his or her right to take complaints outside the University, to the state and federal agencies listed below.. The University may also make temporary arrangements to separate the parties while an investigation is pending.
2. Based on a review of the complaint, all documentation provided and the interview with the complainant, the Director will determine whether the allegations and initial factual findings warrant a formal investigation. If a formal investigation is warranted, the Director will notify the respondent and the appropriate unit manager that a complaint has been filed and will be investigated. If one or more of the allegations and/or initial factual findings indicate the complaint does not state a policy violation or is more appropriately addressed by a different University office, the Director will refer that portion of the complaint to the appropriate office.
3. The Director will provide written confirmation to the complainant of the allegations to be investigated, and if applicable, which allegations the Director, has referred to another office. The Director will inform the complainant of his or her responsibilities during the investigation process, as outlined below.
4. The Director will promptly inform the respondent of the allegations in writing, HRAI’s role in a formal investigation, and the principles and limitations of confidentiality. The Director will inform the respondent of his or her responsibilities during the investigation process, as outlined below. The respondent must provide a written response to the allegations within 10 working days of receiving notice of the complaint.
5. The Director, or her or his designee(s) (collectively “investigators”) will interview the complainant, the respondent and others with relevant information. The investigators will interview individuals based on the specific information each witness has to contribute to the issues and whether such information is original or repetitive. The investigators will review all documents provided and obtained during the investigation. In determining whether University policy has been violated, the investigators will consider all facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations, including the perceptions of the parties, witnesses and others who have information about the presence or absence of the alleged conduct. . Investigators may make credibility determinations.
6. If the investigators determine there is insufficient basis to conclude that a policy violation has occurred, this will conclude the University's investigation. However, the appropriate unit manager should address conduct that does not violate the Policy, but is considered detrimental to the well being of the unit or the University.
7. The supervisor shall be responsible for implementing the investigators’ recommendations, in consultation with Human Resource Services or other University offices, as appropriate, to ensure compliance with University policies and/or contractual obligations. The HRAI will conduct appropriate oversight and follow up as deemed necessary. Corrective or disciplinary actions may include but are not limited to: mandatory education, oral and/or written reprimand, removal of supervisory responsibilities, demotion, transfer or reassignment, pay reduction, denial of pay raise, termination or other corrective actions as appropriate.
8. Copies of all reports, decisions, reprimands, and/or other resolutions by any University office or officer regarding the matter addressed by or in the investigation, or corrective action or resolution, should be forwarded to the Director to ensure proper follow-up.