VII. 712 - Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy & Complaint Procedures
Approved by Board of Trustees 5-16-14, Updated 10-1-15, Updated 9-1-16
I. General Statement
Drury University is committed to providing an academic and employment environment in which students and employees are treated with courtesy, respect, and dignity. Accordingly, the University prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, color, veteran status, national origin, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation or any other legally protected characteristic (collectively, “protected classes”) in matters of admissions, housing, services, any aspect of the employment relationship, and in the other educational programs and activities that the University operates (collectively, “programs and activities”).
Harassment is any unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to a person on the basis of a protected class. Harassment that is based on a protected class constitutes a form of prohibited discrimination when it denies or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs and activities.
Examples of behaviors that could be deemed harassment as defined above include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Written or verbal abuse or threats
- Crude comments, jokes, or innuendo
- Taunts or intimidation
- Shouting, bullying or ridiculing
- Undermining of performance
- Offensive phone calls, texts or photos
- Touching, hitting or other physical contact
These complaint procedures are applicable to complaints alleging discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of a protected class, except those complaints falling under the Title IX: Sexual Misconduct Policy, and include complaints made by University employees and students against faculty, staff, students, supervisors, co-workers, or non-employees (such as vendors). All individuals involved in processing complaints under these procedures will be trained in complaint investigation and are knowledgeable about the University’s obligation to comply with Federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the University’s programs.
III. Filing a Complaint
The University has designated the following administrators to coordinate inquiries regarding its efforts to carry out this policy, to comply with federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination, and to receive complaints of discrimination and harassment.
Coordinator - Non-Discrimination / Harassment & Title IX
Associate Vice President of Human Resources
900 North Benton Avenue
Burnham Hall – Room 107
Springfield, MO 65802
Deputy Coordinator - Non-Discrimination / Harassment & Title IX
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
900 North Benton Avenue
Burnham Hall – Room 204
Springfield, MO 65802
Deputy Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment & Title IX
Executive Vice President for Student Affairs / Dean of Students
900 North Benton Avenue
Findlay Student Center – Room 201
Springfield, MO 65802
Any employee or student who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of a protected class may initiate a complaint by filing a written complaint with the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment detailing: (1) the date(s) and time(s) of the alleged conduct; (2) the names of all persons involved in the alleged conduct, including possible witnesses; (3) pertinent facts of the incident; and contact information for the complainant so that the University may follow up appropriately. If the complaint is to be filed against the Coordinator then the complaint should be filed with one of the Deputy Coordinators specified above.
Administrators, supervisors and faculty members who receive a report or complaint of discrimination or harassment, or witness what they perceive to be discrimination or harassment, are mandated to immediately report such information to the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment. Staff members and students who witness what they perceive to be discrimination or harassment, or receive other information regarding an incident of discrimination or harassment, are encouraged to report such information to the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment.
Complaints of discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of disability, age, sex, race, color, or national origin may also be filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, One Petticoat Lane, 1010 Walnut, Suite 320, Kansas City, Missouri 64106, (816) 268-0550.
IV. GOOD FAITH COMPLAINTS
Good faith complaints of discrimination and harassment will be investigated under these procedures. However, knowingly making a false complaint or report is prohibited, and those who do so will be subject to disciplinary action.
Employees and students can make good faith reports and complaints about discrimination and harassment without fear of reprisal. Retaliation by any person against a person filing a complaint, making a report, or participating in an investigation is absolutely prohibited and will result in disciplinary action.
The University endeavors to maintain confidentiality with respect to the complaint and investigation to the degree that it can be maintained while conducting a thorough investigation, but the University may be hindered in its ability to investigate a complaint if the person bringing the complaint requests complete confidentiality.
To enable confidentiality, those processing the complaint and all parties to the investigation must maintain the confidentiality of information obtained during a complaint, including the name of the person who filed the complaint and other information received during the processing of the complaint.
Drury University will thoroughly and promptly investigate all complaints of discrimination and harassment. The investigation will be governed by the forthcoming procedures.
A. Commencement of the Investigation
After receiving the complaint, the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment will give a copy of the complaint to the appropriate Deputy Coordinator (as appropriate depending on whether the respondent is a student, staff member or faculty member) (“Investigating Officer”) who will review the complaint and commence an investigation as soon as practicable but not later than seven (7) days after the complaint is made. During the course of the investigation, the Investigating Officer may consult with appropriate University personnel and outside counsel.
B. The Content of the Investigation
During the investigation, the complainant will have the opportunity to describe his or her allegations and present supporting witnesses or other evidence. The respondent will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations and present supporting witnesses or other evidence. The Investigating Officer will review the statements and evidence presented and may, depending on the circumstances, interview others with relevant knowledge, review documentary materials, and take any other appropriate action to gather and consider information relevant to the complaint. All parties and witnesses involved in the investigation are expected to cooperate and provide complete and truthful information.
During these conversations with the complainant and respondent, informal resolution methods may be considered and discussed but the complainant is not required to accept any informal resolution. If an informal resolution is reached, it will be documented and signed by both parties and the matter will be deemed resolved.
If the complaint is not resolved informally and the Investigating Officer determines there are genuinely disputed material facts requiring resolution, an evidentiary hearing will be held before a panel of three hearing officers selected by the Investigating Officer. The hearing officers will be chosen from a pool of faculty members and staff designated by the President. When a faculty member is the respondent, the three hearing officers will all be faculty members as well. When a staff member is the respondent, at least two of the hearing officers must be staff members. When a student is the respondent, at least one of the hearing officers must be a faculty member. The panel shall select one of its members to preside over the hearing. The Investigating Officer will identify for the panel those genuinely disputed facts requiring resolution. The panel will review the statements and other evidence gathered by the Investigating Officer during the investigation. Both the complainant and respondent will be given an equal opportunity to address the panel. The panel may ask questions of the complainant and respondent, but the complainant and respondent will not be permitted to question each other. In its discretion, the panel may hear live testimony from witnesses, in which case any questioning will be conducted by the hearing panel itself.
The hearing panel shall resolve genuinely disputed material facts under a preponderance of the evidence standard. The hearing panel will not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence, and may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every effort will be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available. The hearing panel will provide a written statement of its findings of fact to the Investigating Officer. If such an evidentiary hearing is held, both the complainant and respondent will have similar and timely access to any information that will be used at the hearing.
C. Non-Attorney Support Person For Cases Involving Students
During the investigation process, both a student complainant and a student respondent may ask a non-attorney support person from the University community to accompany him or her to meetings with the Investigating Officer and to any evidentiary hearing. The support person must be an administrator, faculty member, staff member, or fellow student. In cases involving multiple student complainants or student respondents, the non-attorney support person cannot be another complainant or respondent. The non-attorney support person does not serve as an advocate on behalf of the complainant or respondent, and he or she must agree to maintain the confidentiality of the process.
D. Interim Measures
At any time during the investigation, in consultation with the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment, the Investigating Officer may determine that interim remedies or protections for the parties involved or witnesses are appropriate. These interim remedies may include, but are not limited to, separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between the parties, suspending an employee with pay, or making alternative class-placement or workplace arrangements. Failure to comply with the terms of these interim remedies or protections may constitute a separate violation of the Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy.
E. Findings Of The Investigation
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigating Officer will prepare a written report. The written report will explain the scope of the investigation and whether any allegations in the complaint were found to be substantiated by a preponderance of the evidence. The written report will incorporate any findings of fact resulting from an evidentiary hearing.
The preliminary report will be submitted to the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment. The Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment may accept the preliminary report, request to review additional information, including summaries of party/witness statements or other information, or return the preliminary report for further investigation. After the review of the written report is complete, the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment will, for both the complainant and respondent, prepare and deliver a written determination of the complaint. The determination will be one of three outcomes:
1. Finding “No Violation”
If there is a determination that the behavior investigated did not violate the Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy, both parties will be so informed.
2. Finding “Inappropriate Behavior Not Rising To the Level of a Violation”
There may be a determination that the behavior investigated did not violate the Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy, but was inappropriate, unprofessional, or violated some other University policy. The Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment may determine that such inappropriate behavior merits discipline, ongoing monitoring, coaching, or other appropriate action. If so, the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment may refer the matter to any appropriate administrator, dean or other manager for further proceedings or disciplinary measures consistent with University policy.
3. Finding “Violation”
If there is a determination that the behavior violated the Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy, the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment, in consultation with any appropriate administrator, dean, or other manager, will determine appropriate corrective and disciplinary action to be taken. In addition, the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment will implement reasonable and appropriate measures to ensure that the complainant is not subject to further harassment and to remedy the effects of any discrimination or harassment that may have occurred. Remedial steps may include, but are not limited to, counseling or training, separation of the parties, and/or discipline of the respondent, including written reprimand, suspension, demotion, termination, or expulsion in accordance with University policy. Remedial steps that do not directly affect the respondent shall be redacted from the respondent’s copy of the written summary of findings.
F. Special Procedure Concerning Complaints Against The President, The Coordinator- Non-Discrimination/Harassment,
administrators Senior To Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment
If a complaint involves alleged conduct on the part of the University President, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees will designate an appropriate person to conduct the investigation required by these procedures. The written report of the investigation will be presented to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, which will prepare and issue the written determination and implement any appropriate and reasonable measures. The determination issued by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees is final, unless the President or the complainant provides a written letter of appeal to the full Board of Trustees within ten (10) days of his/her receipt of the Executive Committee’s written determination and in accordance with Sections VIII.A. and VIII.B., below. The full Board of Trustees will issue a resolution on the matter within twenty-one (21) days and the resolution will be final and not subject to further appeal. The full Board of Trustees shall issue a short and plain, written statement of the resolution of the appeal. The written statement shall be provided to the complainant, the President, and the Coordinator – Non-Discrimination/Harassment within three (3) days of the resolution.
If a complaint involves alleged conduct on the part of the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment or any administrator senior to the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment, the President will designate an appropriate person to conduct the investigation required by these procedures. The written report of the investigation shall be presented to the President, who will appoint three (3) individuals, chosen from the pool of Deputy Coordinators and Investigators, to make a determination and prepare and issue the written determination and implement appropriate and reasonable measures. The resolution issued is final, unless the complainant or respondent provides a written letter of appeal to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees within five (5) days of his/her receipt of the written determination and in accordance with Sections VIII.A. and VIII.B. below. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees will issue a resolution on the matter within twenty-one (21) days and the resolution will be final and not subject to further appeal. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees shall issue a short and plain, written statement of the resolution of the appeal. The written statement shall be provided to the complainant, respondent, and the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment within three (3) days of the resolution. If the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment is the respondent, a copy of the resolution should also be given to one of the Deputy Coordinators to ensure it is properly filed.
G. Timing Of The Investigation
The University will endeavor to conclude its investigation and resolution of the complaint within sixty (60) days of receiving it. Both the complainant and the respondent will be given periodic updates regarding the status of the investigation. If either the complainant or respondent needs additional time to prepare or to gather their witnesses or information, they shall notify the Investigating Officer in writing explaining how much additional time is needed and why it is needed.
H. Rights Of The Parties
During the investigation and resolution of a complaint, the complainant and respondent shall have equal rights. They include:
- Equal opportunity to identify and have considered witnesses and other relevant evidence
- Similar and timely access to all information considered by the Investigating Officer and the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment in resolving the complaint
- Equal opportunity to review any statements or evidence provided by the other party
- Equal access to review and comment upon any information independently developed by the Investigating Officer
- Equal opportunity to address any hearing panel
A. Grounds For Appeal
The complainant or respondent may appeal the determination of a complaint only on the following grounds:
- The decision was contrary to the substantial weight of the evidence
- There is a substantial likelihood that newly discovered information, not available at the time evidence was presented to the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment, would result in a different decision
- These published complaint procedures were not followed and this failure was a substantial factor in the determination against the appealing party
- Bias or prejudice on the part of the Investigating Officer or Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment, or
- The punishment or the corrective action imposed is disproportionate to the offense
B. Method Of Appeal
Appeals must be filed with the President within five (5) days of receipt of the written determination of the complaint. The appeal must be in writing and contain the following:
- Name of the complainant
- Name of the respondent
- A statement of the determination of the complaint, including corrective action if any
- A detailed statement of the basis for the appeal including the specific facts, circumstances, and argument in support of it, and
- Requested action, if any.
C. Resolution Of The Appeal
The President will appoint an appeal panel, comprised of three (3) individuals selected from the pool of Deputy Coordinators and Investigators, who have no conflict of interest, and have had no involvement in the investigation or adjudication of the relevant complaint. The Appeal Panel will resolve the appeal within ten (10) days of receiving it and may take any and all actions that they determine to be in the interest of a fair and just decision. The decision of the Appeal Panel is final. The Coordinator – Non-Discrimination/Harassment shall issue a short and plain, written statement of the resolution of the appeal. The written statement shall be provided to the complainant and respondent within three (3) days of the resolution of the Appeal Panel.
Throughout all stages of the investigation, resolution, and appeal, the Investigating Officer, the Coordinator - Non-Discrimination/Harassment, and the Appeal Panel, as the case may be, are responsible for maintaining documentation of the investigation and appeal, including documentation of all proceedings conducted under these complaint resolution procedures, which may include written findings of fact, transcripts, and audio recordings. When an audio recording is used during an interview, a written summary of the interview is prepared by the Investigators and signed by the interviewee; at such time, the audio recording is destroyed.
X. INTERSECTION WITH OTHER PROCEDURES
These complaint resolution procedures are the exclusive means of resolving complaints alleging violations of the Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy, except those complaints falling under the Title IX: Sexual Misconduct Policy. To the extent there are any inconsistencies between these complaint resolution procedures and other University grievance, complaint, or discipline procedures, these complaint resolution procedures will control the resolution of complaints alleging violations of the Non-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy.