Discrimination Complaint Procedures


Procedures for Discrimination and Harassment Complaints

The following procedures are designed to provide an internal process for the handling of complaints involving claims of discrimination or harassment. Such claims may arise from violation of federal or state statutes or University policy or regulations. In addition, a complaint may be filed with state and federal civil rights enforcement agencies, generally within 300 calendar days of the date of the alleged discriminatory event.

Any complainant who believes that he or she is a victim of discrimination or harassment in violation of University policies may initiate a complaint under the policies by bringing the matter to the attention of any one of the following: Director of Diversity and Equity Programs, appropriate Dean, appropriate Vice President or Associate Vice President, or supervisor.

Complainant(s) are encouraged to file as soon as possible following the alleged discriminatory act; however, complainant should file no later than ninety (90) days following the complainant's first knowledge of the alleged discriminatory act. The Complainant should understand, however, that the state civil rights agency, CHRO, has a three hundred (300) days time limit for filing a claim of discrimination and that filing a complaint under this SCSU policy does not affect that timeline.

Individuals filing complaints internally will be 1) informed of and provided a copy of University policies on non-discrimination and/or sexual harassment 2) asked if they wish to pursue the complaint on an informal or formal basis, and 3) advised that they have the right not to be retaliated against for bringing the complaint and that the University will not tolerate retaliation. Individuals will be further advised that they have the legal right to file a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U. S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour division, and any other agencies, state, federal, or local, that enforce laws concerning discrimination in employment. When appropriate, the ODE may also recommend confidential counseling or other support services that provide victim assistance.

If the complaint is initially received by another university official, it shall be promptly forwarded to the Director of Diversity and Equity Programs. If the complaint is verbal, the person receiving the complaint shall make a written summary and request that the complainant sign it. Any supervisor who has witnessed or becomes aware of the alleged occurrence of discrimination or harassment, or who receives a complaint of discrimination or harassment, involving a person within their purview is required to report the matter to the Director of Diversity and Equity Programs and to take prompt corrective action as appropriate. Failure of the supervisor to report the incident or take appropriate corrective action shall be a violation of this policy and shall constitute misconduct subject to disciplinary action.

The Director will review the complaint and, at this stage or at a later stage after further investigation, determine whether the acts complained of, as stated by the complainant, constitute a violation of the University's Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies, and if not the complainant will be so informed. The Director may still recommend that informal resolution be pursued, particularly in the situation where the Director determines that the complaint involves unprofessional or other objectionable behavior, but not discrimination or harassment on the basis of a protected class category as defined in the Policy. If the Director determines the alleged acts may constitute a violation of the policy, investigation will proceed as set forth in the Formal Process below, unless the matter is satisfactorily resolved through the Informal Process.

Informal Process

In some circumstances informal resolution of a complaint agreeable to both parties may be more satisfactory than proceeding directly to a formal complaint. Under this policy, there are essentially two types of informal resolution: (1) with complainant's agreement, an informal resolution by the appropriate Dean, Associate Vice President or Vice President, and/or (2) mediation between the parties arranged by the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs.

In the informal process of resolution with the department head or supervisor, appropriate Vice President or Dean or other designated university official, he/she takes some action to eliminate the causative factors precipitating the original complaint, stop the offending behavior, and resolve the complaint in a manner that is equitable and timely to all parties. In this case, however, the university official taking this action is required to promptly inform the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs of the allegations as well as how he/she proposes to eliminate or resolve the situation resulting in the complaint.

In appropriate cases, the complainant and respondent may agree to pursue mediation and the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs will arrange for a mediator who is mutually acceptable to both parties. The mediator will consult with and advise both the complainant and the respondent about the mediation process. If the mediation results in a mutually acceptable agreement, copies of the agreement will be forwarded to the Director of Diversity and Equity Programs for review and monitoring. If the mediation does not result in an agreement, the case will be returned to the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs to proceed through the formal process.

Formal Process

If the informal process is unsuccessful or if the Complainant wishes to proceed directly to the formal process, the complainant must file a written complaint. The written complaint should follow the format in the Discrimination Complaint Form.

The Office of Diversity and Equity Programs will notify the respondent in writing that a complaint has been filed and provide him/her with a copy of the complaint with any attachments, the discrimination and or sexual harassment policy. Respondents shall be informed of the allegations and be given an opportunity to respond orally or in writing.

Within fifteen (15) calendar days of filing of the formal complaint, the Director of Diversity and Equity may afford the parties an opportunity to mediate a resolution to the complaint. The university will designate an individual who has been trained to mediate such complaints.

If the complainant or the respondent decides not to participate in mediation or if the mediation is not successful, the Director will further investigate the complaint. The investigation may include, but not be limited to, interviewing witnesses deemed appropriate and obtaining written statements, propounding written questions, reviewing any documents or files deemed relevant, and interviewing the parties to the complaint.

The Office of Diversity and Equity Programs shall issue a written report of findings, including recommended action(s), to the President within ninety (90) days of receipt of the formal complaint. The complainant and respondent shall be notified in writing of the findings by the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs. If the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs finds a reasonable cause to believe that a violation of this policy has occurred, the complaint will be referred to the appropriate member of management for a decision on what, if any, further action is warranted, including whether to pursue formal disciplinary action up to and including termination. The process for disciplinary action will be governed by the applicable sections of the collective bargaining agreement, the personnel policies if no collective bargaining agreement is in effect, or for students, the disciplinary articles of the Student Code of Conduct.

This procedure for formal investigation of complaints regarding violations of the policies governing discrimination and harassment shall be conducted in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements of the University.

Procedure for Review of Findings (applicable to AAUP members only)

Within ten (10) calendar days of receiving the notice of the findings from the Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs, a faculty member who brought the complaint may request a review, by the Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Review Committee, of an ODE finding that the discrimination or sexual harassment policy has not been violated. If the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs finds that the policy has been violated, and the respondent is also an AAUP member, that faculty member may also request review by the Committee. The request for review must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs and include a statement describing in detail the grounds for the review request. The grounds for review will be limited to a) violations of complaint procedures; and b) additional evidence, which was not available during the investigation. The findings of the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs will be binding on all parties unless the complainant or the respondent files a request for review within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the findings.

Upon receiving the written request, the Director of Diversity and Equity Programs shall forward copies of the request to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Labor Relations or designee, and the SCSU-AAUP President or designee. If a request for review is filed, the complainant and respondent shall have access to all relevant documents to the extent permitted by law. Access shall include, but not be limited to, all documents presented to or considered by the Committee.

Within thirty (30) days of filing the request for review, the Panel shall be convened for the purpose of reviewing the findings and recommendations of the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs. The Committee shall consist of three members selected from a volunteer panel of reviewers who will serve two-year terms. The panel will include SCSU full-time faculty members, members of the administration, and individuals from other campus constituencies. When a Committee must be convened, one faculty member, one member of administration, and one member from one of the other campus constituencies will be selected. Every effort will be made to rotate the selection of Committee members. The panel of reviewers will be given an orientation on the nature of the review process, and prohibited forms of discrimination, including harassment.

The Committee's responsibility will be to review the complaint and the ODE findings and recommendations and submit a report to the President. The proceedings of the review panel are informal. The Committee should not consider cumulative, repetitious, or irrelevant evidence. In discharging their duties, the Committee may interview the principals in the specific complaints, review complaint records, and have access to additional relevant records, which may not already be included with the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs file.

Within thirty (30) days of convening, the Committee shall forward their findings and recommendations to the President in writing.

Upon receipt of the Committee's report, the President will make the final decision as to the disposition of the complaint. The President will give written notice of his or her decision to the Complainant, the Respondent, the Committee, and the ODE within thirty (30) calendar days of the receipt of the Committee's report. If the President's decision upholds a recommendation that action(s) are required to remedy a violation, the President will refer the matter to the appropriate university administrator who will decide what further action is warranted, including any disciplinary action.

Filing a False Complaint

Any member of the University community who knowingly files a false complaint of discrimination or harassment, or who knowingly provides false information to or intentionally misleads any University official who is investigating a complaint, is subject to disciplinary action.