Duquesne University Faculty, Administration, and Staff Investigation of Complaints Procedures for the Review of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Discrimination
In its ongoing effort to seek equity in education and employment and in support of federal and state anti-discrimination legislation, Duquesne University provides internal complaints procedures for the equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of sexual misconduct.
The University’s internal complaints procedure is one of several options open to Duquesne University employees who believe they have been the victims of any type of sexual misconduct. The University’s Faculty, Administration, and Staff Investigation of Complaints Procedure for the Review of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct provides a mechanism through which the University seeks to identify and eliminate incidents of sexual misconduct.
This internal grievance procedure is also followed in addressing other complaints of discrimination, such as gender, race, color, disability, age, religion, national origin, and marital status.
Responsibility of the University
The University recognizes and readily accepts its responsibility in this regard and believes that the internal complaint process will benefit the faculty, staff, and administration through a process of investigation and resolution of problems without resort to the frequently expensive, time-consuming procedures of state and federal enforcement agencies or courts. Though the University encourages use of its internal processes, employees may instead choose to file a complaint with an outside enforcement agency, such as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance of the Department of Labor. The choice of which of these complaint procedures to use is solely that of the individual. If at any time the complainant chooses to file a formal complaint with a state or federal agency or to start a court action, any internal investigation underway on the same complaint will be terminated without conclusion. Likewise, when there is a pending external investigation before a city, state, or federal agency, no new complaints, related to the original complaint, can be filed with the University while the original complaint remains external and unresolved, except under circumstances requiring immediate attention. To enforce the external complaint provision, it is necessary that the Affirmative Action Office be kept abreast of the status of complaints.
Employees who believe they are the victims of sexual misconduct may utilize either the informal or formal complaint processes. If the alleged circumstances require immediate attention due to concerns for safety or other factors, appropriate measures will be initiated in a timely fashion. Such measures might include pre-decisional relief (e.g., temporary relocation of the reporting party to a new work site). Such relief is available when both the complainant and the respondent agree in writing to the relief or in extenuating circumstances. The Affirmative Action Office must have discussed the situation and alternative solutions with both parties and with the department head of the area(s) in which the employees work and secured written agreement from the complainant, respondent, and department head(s). In extenuating circumstances, the appropriate Vice President must have approved in writing the proposed pre-decisional relief. Such relief shall be designed so as not to alter the condition of employment of an employee.
All aspects of the investigative process will be confidential to the extent possible. All affected parties will be expected to cooperate fully with an investigation and to comport themselves with discretion to maintain and preserve the confidentiality of the process.
Access to Information and Assistance
The Affirmative Action Officer shall receive any complaint of alleged sexual misconduct, shall assist the complainant in defining the charge, and shall provide the complainant with information about the various internal and external mechanisms through which the complaint may be filed. The Affirmative Action Officer shall have access to all relevant information and shall have the right to interview witnesses and others perceived to have pertinent information.
INFORMAL GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
The Affirmative Action Officer will meet the complainant for an informal hearing of an alleged violation. Under this informal procedure an employee has decided to attempt to resolve the problem through the Affirmative Action Officer initiating discussion with the individual claimed to be responsible for the discriminatory action, that individual’s supervisor, and other appropriate persons. Resolution at the informal level focuses on addressing behavior perceived as offensive with the complainant stating specifically why it is viewed as inappropriate and offensive. At this informal stage, every effort will be made by the Affirmative Action Officer to determine the validity of the complaint presented. Issues of concern that could rise to a complaint may be reported to the supervisor or administrator to seek resolution before the issue(s) escalates and requires more formal attention.
If within 15 working days resolution of the complaint is reached to the mutual satisfaction of both complainant and respondent, the Affirmative Action Officer shall close the case, sending a written notice to that effect to the complainant and respondent. The written notice, a copy of which shall be attached to the original complaint in the Affirmative Action Officer’s file, shall indicate the agreement reached by complainant and respondent and shall be signed and dated by the complainant, the respondent, and the Affirmative Action Officer.
If within 15 working days resolution of the complaint is not reached to the mutual satisfaction of the complainant and respondent, the Affirmative Action Officer shall advise the complainant of his/her right to proceed to the next step internally or the right to file separately with appropriate external enforcement agencies. Time limits may be extended at the discretion of the Affirmative Action Officer.
If the complainant decides to move to the formal procedure, the Affirmative Action Officer will counsel the complainant in the preparation of a written statement which will set forth the basis of the alleged violation with reasonable exactitude of detail and the remedy sought by the complainant.
FORMAL GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES:
If the complainant chooses to use 1) the Affirmative Action Office’s Complaint Procedure for the Review of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct or 2) the Internal Committee Complaint Procedure, the Affirmative Action Office shall counsel the complainant in the preparation of a written statement.
The Affirmative Action Officer shall pursue a course of action appropriate to the alleged incident. Immediate action will be taken to address allegations of serious circumstances, such as pre-decisional relief or other actions deemed appropriate, to ensure the well-being of the reporting party.
1. If the employee elects to have the Affirmative Action Officer pursue the investigation of the formal complaint, the following steps are involved:
Submission of a signed complaint identifying the conduct or other basis that constituted an alleged act(s) of sexual misconduct.
Distribution of copies of the complaint to the respondent and to the Vice President of the area in which the complaint is filed and other administrators, such as to the dean of a school and department heads.
Submission of a response to the Affirmative Action Office.
Performance of a fact-finding investigation which will include at minimum a review of written evidence and interviews with appropriate individuals. The time limits set within the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct Grievance Procedures will be observed when managing complaints involving students.
Submission of a report of findings if warranted to the appropriate Vice President. The report will indicate the scope of the investigation, will indicate whether the allegations are confirmed, and will include recommendations for action. Appropriate corrective action is determined solely by the Vice President of the area in which the complaint is filed.
The role of the Affirmative Action Officer is to serve as a neutral, fact-finding party. The Office shall review its role and the complaint process with both the complainant and the respondent.
Evidence which is collateral to the allegations of sexual misconduct and was obtained during an investigation under these procedures may be used in subsequent complaint and disciplinary procedures.
2. If the employee elects to invoke a hearing committee to pursue the investigation of the formal complaint, the following steps are involved:
- The members of the hearing committee for employee complaints will be chosen as follows: one by the complainant, one by the respondent, and a third, who shall chair the committee, chosen by the Affirmative Action Officer with agreement on the selection from the complainant and respondent.
- Should either the complainant or respondent choose not to make a selection, the Affirmative Action Officer will make the selection.
- In the spirit of collegiality, faculty shall hear faculty complaints, administrators and staff shall hear complaints filed by administrators and staff. No committee members may be from the department in which the complainant or respondent is employed.
- The employee committee proceedings shall consist of a hearing at which the complainant and the respondent each present their cases. Both parties may present written documentation during the course of the proceedings. If necessary, the committee may schedule additional hearing sessions, request additional documentation or call witnesses. Deliberations are begun when the committee is satisfied that all available necessary information has been obtained.
- The committee may find a) no reasonable cause to support the allegation of discrimination, b) reasonable cause to support the charge of discrimination. If “b”, reasonable cause, the committee will make one or more recommendations in writing to the vice president of the area in which the complaint was filed. Determination of final resolution is made by the vice president and communicated to the complainant by the vice president.
Regardless of the status of pending internal employee complaint procedures, the University reserves the right to suspend or place on immediate administrative leave any member of the campus community accused of violating the sexual misconduct policy, or to take any other interim measures the University deems appropriate, pending the outcome of an investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings. Such interim measures can include, but are not limited to, placing an employee on paid or unpaid administrative leave.
While interim measures are in effect, the employee may be required to relinquish all academic benefits, pending outcome of an investigation. Termination of employment will result in immediate loss of academic benefits. Terminated employees who are enrolled as students will be required to withdraw at the time of termination.
Retaliation against an individual who has filed a complaint or against any witness questioned during an investigation is strictly prohibited and may be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
FALSE STATEMENTS PROHIBITED
Any individual who knowingly provides false information pursuant to filing a complaint or during the investigation of a complaint will be subject to appropriate discipline, up to and including termination.