PRP 6814 - Harassment and Discrimination Policy

PRP 6814 - Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Repeals PRP 2010 / Revision PRP#6814

Reviewed and approved by President’s Executive Staff 12/5/11, Reviewed and approved by AFSCME 2/20/12, Reviewed and approved by SCUPA 2/28/12, Reviewed and approved by Meet and Discuss 10/22/12 and
Endorsed by FORUM 11/14/12

Effective date of implementation: November 16, 2012
Issued by David L. Soltz, President

Rationale and Policy

Central to the mission of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is the establishment and maintenance of an environment in which the dignity and worth of all individuals within the institutional community are respected. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each person on campus to respect the personal dignity of others and to demonstrate a basic spirit that precludes unlawful harassment and discrimination. While the university is committed to freedom of thought, discourse, and speech and the attainment of the highest quality of educational and academic pursuits, the university is compelled to establish this policy on behaviors that would interfere with these freedoms.

Unlawful harassment or discrimination in any context is unacceptable but of particular concern to an academic community in which students, faculty and staff must rely on bonds of intellectual trust and dependence. Therefore, unlawful harassment or discrimination will not be tolerated. Those inflicting such behavior on others are subject to the full range of institutional disciplinary actions, up to and including separation from the university, but also any legal action that may accompany such acts.

The policy is available at the Office of Social Equity located in Warren Student Services Center, Room 043 and on the Bloomsburg University of PA web page at http://www.bloomu.edu/policies_procedures

Telephone: (570) 389-4553
Electronic Mail: socialequity@bloomu.edu
Office Hours are: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Definitions

  • 1) Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other harassing or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:

Quid Pro Quo

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or educational advancement, or evaluation, or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or educational advancement, or evaluation.
  • Hostile Environment

  • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or physical conduct of a sexual nature when such conduct is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive so as to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance, educational performance, or creating a hostile or offensive environment.
  • Sexual Violence

  • Sexual harassment also includes acts of sexual violence. Sexual violence is defined as physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. A number of acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.
  • Unwelcome behavior occurs when the individual did not solicit or invite conduct, and particularly if s/he indicates that s/he finds the conduct undesirable or offensive. Acquiescence or failure to complain does not mean that the conduct is welcome. However, if an individual actively participates in sexual banter or discussions without giving an indication that s/he does not like it, it will more than likely not meet the definition of “unwelcome.”
    • 2) Racial Harassment –Harassing or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her race, color, national origin or ethnicity, and that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment, which substantially limits or interferes with work or educational performance, or substantially limits or interferes with an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.
    • 3) Disability Harassment – Harassing or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her disabling mental or physical condition, and that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment which substantially limits or interferes with work or educational performance, or substantially limits or interferes with an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.
    • 4) Religious Harassment – Harassing or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her religion and/or religious beliefs and that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment, which substantially limits or interferes with work or educational performance, or substantially limits or interferes with an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.
    • 5) Discrimination – Actions based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, or veteran status that are sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so as to have the effect of substantially limiting or interfering with one’s employment or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment or educational environment.

    A. Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Procedures

      1) Informal Complaint Resolution (Step One)

      Given the variety of behaviors covered by this policy, complainants may elect to begin the complaint process with either the informal complaint resolution or the formal complaint resolution. If the complainant elects to begin with the informal complaint resolution, he or she does not waive his or her right to proceed to the formal complaint resolution process should he or she elect to do so. Unsigned written or anonymous oral complaints shall not be processed nor believed to have merit.

      The purpose of the informal complaint resolution is to encourage the reporting of complaints concerning harassment or discrimination and to facilitate satisfactory resolution of the complaint without undue anxiety and provocation for the parties involved. An individual making a harassment or discrimination complaint does not have to speak first with his or her supervisor or the accused. However, he or she is encouraged to do so with the assistance of his or her advisor (who may be a Bloomsburg University employee or another student as outlined in the paragraph below) in the presence of the Director of Social Equity.

      If a complainant so desires, s/he may waive the informal resolution process and proceed directly to a formal investigation. The Office of Social Equity is designated as the office of referral for information and advice, unless the complaint is against a member of that office. In that case, the complainant should contact the university president. If a complainant desires, s/he may be accompanied to the Office of Social Equity by another Bloomsburg University employee or another Bloomsburg University student who may advise and assist the complainant throughout the resolution process. The advisor can be an advocate of her/his choice and can include, but is not limited to, a faculty member, an Area Coordinator from Residence Life, Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Director of Women’s Resource Center, the Chairperson of LGBTA Commission or the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women.

      The complainant (and the advisor) may choose to discuss the complaint with the accused in the presence of the Director of Social Equity in order to reach resolution of the complaint. (In the event that the accused should be from the Office of Social Equity, the complainant may choose to discuss the complaint in the presence of the President.) If the accused is a member of a collective bargaining unit and so desires, a union representative who may advise and assist her/him throughout the resolution process may accompany the accused to the Office of Social Equity. If the accused is not a bargaining unit member and so desires, another Bloomsburg University employee or another Bloomsburg University student who may advise and assist her/him throughout the resolution process may accompany her/him to the Office of Social Equity. The advisor can be an advocate of her/his choice and can include, but is not limited to, a Residence Hall Director, or the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women. Informal advisors will not inform other university employees of the complaint. However, officials of collective bargaining units may, at the request of the complainant and if the accused is informed, perform informal investigatory assignments. However, there is no obligation on the part of the accused to participate in the informal resolution process.

      All communications from the Office of Social Equity will be confirmed in writing only to the extent that the dates and times of meetings, the names of individuals present, and whether or not a resolution to the complaint was reached are defined. None of these confirmatory documents shall be a part of either person’s personnel files and due process
      protection will be afforded both parties.

      Personal legal counsel for either party may not be present during either informal or formal complaint resolution.

    2) Formal Complaint Resolution (Step Two)

    If the complaint cannot be resolved informally, the complainant may file a formal complaint against the accused. Except when the accused is in the Office of Social Equity, the Office of Social Equity will make formal complaint forms available to all offices and departments as noted above. Formal complaints will be investigated and resolved in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

  • a. Complaints against a university employee: Complaints against a university employee are filed with the Office of Social Equity, which is responsible for initiating the formal resolution process. The Director of Social Equity will conduct one or more investigation meetings. Formal complaint forms must be filled out and submitted to the Office of Social Equity prior to the investigation meeting(s).

    If the accused is a Vice-President, the complainant shall file with the Office of Social Equity who will investigate and the Office of the President shall make a final determina-tion. Should the accused be from the Office of Social Equity, the Office of the President shall investigate and make a final determination. If the accused is the University President, the Office of Social Equity will communicate and cooperate with the Office of Chief Counsel, PASSHE, to identify the individual or office who will investigate the specific complaint.

    The Director of Social Equity will conduct individual investigation meetings with the complainant, the accused, (with their respective advisors if they so desire), and any witnesses who can corroborate or clarify the facts.

    The investigation meeting(s) will commence within ten working days after the Director of Social Equity notifies the accused absent extenuating circumstances.

    The Director of Social Equity will then forward her or his report along with evidence gathered during the investigation meeting(s) to the supervising Vice-President of the accused, or in the case of faculty, to the President for review and resolution. All investigations of faculty shall proceed in accordance with Article 43 of the Collective Bargain Agreement.
    Any formal action against a party as a result of the factual findings in the submitted report shall be taken in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement or the Code of Student Conduct.

  • b. Complaints against students: Complaints against students are also made to the Office of Social Equity. A report shall be forwarded to the Office of Student Life and action will be taken in accordance with the Code of Conduct and “Statement of Hearing Procedures” policies. If the accused is from the Office of Social Equity, the Office of the President shall investigate and make a final determination.
  • B. Protection of Both Parties
  • 1. Notice. When the formal investigation process has begun with the filing of a written complaint, copies of the complaint will be forwarded to the accused. If the allegations are not substantiated, the accused shall be informed in writing by the Director of Social Equity.
  • 2. Abuse of Reporting. False and malicious accusations of harassment or discrimination will not be tolerated and those individuals making them may be subject to university sanctions.
  • 3. Retaliatory Actions. Retaliation by the accused or any other university employees and students against the complainant as a result of filing a harassment or discrimination complaint will not be tolerated and the individual will be subject to university sanctions.
  • 4. Suspension from Employment. If warranted, the President may suspend the accused from his or her primary duties and responsibilities to protect the complainant or prevent harm to others. The suspension will remain in effect until the matter is resolved. Such suspension will be in accordance with the appropriate collective bargaining agreements.
  • 5. Failure to cooperate with investigation. If the accused elects not to cooperate with the investigation, the Social Equity Director shall complete the report based on the information in his/her possession.
  • 6. Confidentiality and Completed Report. During the complaint process, the university will make every effort to assure confidentiality and protect the due process rights of both individuals. Both individuals shall be fully informed of the steps taken during the complaint procedures by the Director of Social Equity who conducts the investigation. In addition, both parties shall be informed within ten working days of the completed report and whether the report has been forwarded to the appropriate vice president or the president. In the event that the complainant may be subject to disciplinary action, a copy of the report will be promptly provided to that individual.
  • 7. Unfounded Report. If the matter is determined as unfounded after the conclusion of an investigation by the Director of Social Equity, the Office of the President or the individual’s supervising Vice-President will issue a letter to that effect and the matter will be deemed closed.
  • 8. Notification to Complainant. The complainant shall receive a letter at the conclusion of the investigatory process with a decision made by the President or Vice-President. The letter will outline whether the charge was determined to be founded or unfounded. If founded, the letter will not list specific disciplinary actions which are part of an individual’s personnel file.
  • C. Sanctions

    In all instances, the President or supervising Vice-President retains the sole power and discretion to take formal disciplinary action against an employee or student. Individuals who are found to have violated this policy will be subject to disciplinary actions as set forth by the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, Board of Governor Policy, University Policy, or Code of Student Conduct. Such action against employees could include, but is not limited to, an informal oral reprimand, a written reprimand or other disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Such action against students can include a verbal warning, a written warning, a disciplinary warning, disciplinary probation, disciplinary probation/suspension in abeyance, suspension as expulsion.

    D. Right of Appeal

    A three-member President's Appeal Board will be appointed annually by the Office of the President. The appeal board will be comprised of a faculty member, an administrator and a staff member. The complainant and the accused shall be entitled to one written appeal of any decision rendered. Appeals must be based only on new evidence (not considered during the investigation), evidence leading to accusations of an inappropriate investigation, or evidence leading to possible denial of due process rights. Such appeal will be heard by the President's Appeal Board, which will forward its recommendation to the President. Appeals shall be filed no later than ten days after the date the decision was rendered. All faculty appeals shall be done in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    E. Policy Applicability

    Individuals are encouraged to use these complaint procedures but are not required to do so and may choose to pursue other civil and legal options. Individuals may choose to pursue their complaint through the appropriate Collective Bargaining Agreement grievance procedures. Furthermore, complainants may choose to make use of the procedures of external agencies, i.e. the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

    These Bloomsburg University harassment/discrimination procedures set forth are not intended to interfere with any legal rights under the statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the United States of America. In addition, it is not intended to interfere with any rights an employee may have under their appropriate collective bargaining agreement.

    F. Time Frame

    In order to give the complainant time to finish a class, a semester, a particular job assignment, an evaluation period or any other similar reason, the complainant may file a formal complaint of harassment or discrimination up to one hundred and eighty days following the alleged incident of harassment or discrimination.

    Formal complaints filed within this period will be investigated even though the complainant has terminated her or his association with the university.

    G. Posting of the Policy

    This policy shall be available at the Office of Social Equity in the Waller Administration Building, Room 103.

    H. Consensual Relationships: Rationale and Policy

    The university's educational mission is promoted by professionalism in interpersonal relationships. Since professional relationships are central to the mission and goals of the university, it is essential to establish a standard of expected conduct in these relationships. Personal relationships should not be allowed to conflict with the academic and professional integrity of these interpersonal relationships or to interfere with an individual's work or educational experience.

    Specifically, sexual relationships between a university employee and any person(s) s/he supervises are inappropriate and unethical. This category includes, but is not limited to, relationships between persons in which one partner possesses power over the other partner in relation to his or her conditions of employment or education.

    Although the university cannot enforce absolute prohibition against such relationships, the university community bears a responsibility for maintaining a professional climate free from harassment. Therefore, any employee in a supervisory role who enters into a sexual relationship with a student or another employee enters into that relationship with risk. These persons will be subject to scrutiny if a complaint of harassment is leveled against the "supervisory person" by the "subordinate person" or if a third party brings a complaint.

    I. Complaints

    An individual who has been involved in a consensual sexual relationship who experienced discrimination as a result of that relationship would file a complaint following those procedures outlined in Section A of the Harassment Complaint Procedures.

    J. Third Party Complaints

    Instances may arise when the harassing or discriminatory conduct of a university employee or student interferes with a third party's work or educational environment at the university. In these instances, third party complaints will be investigated. Faculty and staff members who wish to file complaints will follow those procedures outlined in Section A of the Harassment or Discrimination Complaint Procedures.

    K. University Training

    The University Harassment & Discrimination Training Program for students, faculty and staff members is an on-line program located at http://training.newmedialearning.com/psh/bloomsburgu/

    Appendix

    I. Definitions:

    Complainant: The person who is alleging the occurrence of harassment and/or discrimination.

    Advocate for the Complainant: A person from the Bloomsburg University community (employee or student) who can advise the Complainant and be present when the Complainant files an Informal or Formal complaint. Examples include (but are not limited to): a faculty member, an Area Coordinator from Residence Life, the Director of the Women’s Resource Center, The Chairperson of the LGBTA Commission, or the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women. The advocate is strongly encouraged to keep all information about the complaint confidential.

    Accused: The person whose actions are alleged to have violated the harassment and/or discrimination policy.

    Advocate for the Accused: A person who can advise the Accused and be present during the resolution process. The Advocate must be from the Bloomsburg University community (employee or student) or, if the Accused is a member of a collective bargaining unit, a union representative. The advocate is strongly encouraged to keep all information about the complaint confidential.

    II. Summaries of Complaint Processes Per Policy

    1. Complaints against: University students
    File complaint at: The Office of Social Equity
    Process: The Director of Social Equity will conduct investigation meetings within 10 working days of informing the Accused of the complaint absent extenuating circumstances. After investigating the complaint, the Director of Social Equity will forward his or her report and any evidence gathered to the Office of Student Life. Action will be taken in accordance with The Code of Conduct and Statement of Hearing Procedures.

    2. Complaints against: A University Employee (except Vice Presidents, individuals from the Office of Social Equity, or University President)
    File complaint at: The Office of Social Equity
    Process: The Director of Social Equity will conduct investigation meetings within 10 working days of informing the Accused of the complaint absent extenuating circumstances. After investigating the complaint, the Director of Social Equity will forward his or her report and any evidence gathered to the Accused’s supervising Vice- President, or in the case of an accused faculty member, to the Office of the President, for review and resolution. All investigations of faculty will proceed in accordance with Article 43 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Any formal action to be taken against a party as a result of the report and gathered evidence will be taken in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

    3. Complaints against: A University Vice President
    File complaint at: The Office of Social Equity
    Process: The Director of Social Equity will conduct investigation meetings within 10 working days of informing the Accused of the complaint absent extenuating circumstances. After investigating the complaint, the Director of Social Equity will forward his or her report and any evidence gathered to the Office of the President for review and final determination.

    4. Complaints against: An individual from The Office of Social Equity
    File complaint at: The Office of the President
    Process: The Office of the President will conduct investigation meetings within 10 working days of informing the Accused of the complaint absent extenuating circumstances. After investigating the complaint, the University President will make a final determination.

    5. Complaints against: The President of the University
    File complaint at: Office of Social Equity
    Process: The Office of Social Equity will inform the accused of the complaint absent extenuating circumstances and communicate and cooperate with the Office of Chief Counsel, PASSHE, within 10 working days to identify the individual or office who will investigate the specific complaint.