PRP 6814 (prior version) - Harassment and Discrimination Policy

PRP 6814 (prior version) - Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Repeals PRP 2010

Amended; Reviewed by Meet and Discuss, AFSCME, SCUPA, and the Forum

(Spring Semester, 2003)

Effective date of implementation: April 21, 2003

Issued by Jessica S. Kozloff, President

Rationale and Policy

Central to the mission of Bloomsburg University 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 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.

Harassment or discrimination in any context is reprehensible but of particular concern to an academic community in which students, faculty and staff must rely on bonds of intellectual trust and dependence. Therefore, 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 Office of Social Equity is located in Room 043, Warren Student Services Center.

Telephone: (570) 389-4553 | rwislock@bloomu.edu
Office Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Definitions

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

  • 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, or
  • Such conduct, of a severe and pervasive manner, has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's work performance or educational experience; creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work/educational environment.
  • Unwelcome behavior is if 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) Harassment - a person engages in harassment when, with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he/she:

    • Engages in inappropriate physical behavior including but not limited to striking, shoving, and kicking or otherwise subjects others to physical contact, or threatens to do the same; or
    • Follows a person in or about a public place or places; or
    • Engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose. Depending on its severity, a single act may constitute harassment.
    • 3) Racial Harassment - Verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her race, color, national origin or ethnicity, and that is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment, which unreasonably interferes with work or educational performance, or negatively affects an individual's employment or educational opportunities.

      4) Disability Harassment - Verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her disabling mental or physical condition, and that is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to have the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment which unreasonably interferes with work or educational performance, or negatively affects an individual's employment or educational opportunities.

      5) Religious Harassment - Verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her religion and/or religious beliefs and that is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to have the effect of creating am intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment, which unreasonably interferes with work or educational performance, or negatively affects an individual's employment or educational opportunities.

      6) Discrimination - Actions based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, disability or veteran status or those that are prohibited by collective bargaining agreements or other State System documents, that are sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to have the effect of substantially 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)

      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 must be an individual from within the university community and can include, but is not limited to, a faculty member, a Residence Hall Director, Director of Personnel, or the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women.

      The complainant (and the advisor) will 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 will 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 must be an individual from within the university community and can include a Residence Hall Director, Director of Personnel, 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 encouraged, 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 defines the dates and times of meetings, the individuals present and whether or not a resolution to the complaint was reached. 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 as noted above when the accused is in the office of social equity, the Office of Social Equity will make formal complaint forms available to offices and departments across campus. 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 an investigation meeting or meetings. Formal complaint forms must be filled out and submitted to the Office of Social Equity prior to the investigation meeting(s).
        In the event that 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 determination. Should the accused be from the Office of Social Equity, the Office of the President shall investigate and make a final determination.
        Individual investigation meetings will be conducted by the Director of Social Equity with both the complainant, the accused, (with their respective advisors if they so desire), and any witnesses who could corroborate or clarify the facts in question.
        Investigation meeting(s) will commence within ten working days following notification by the Director of Social Equity to the accused.
        The Director of Social Equity will then forward her or his report to the accused's supervising vice-president, or in the case of faculty, to the president for review and resolution along with the evidence gathered during the investigation meeting(s). All investigations of faculty shall proceed in accordance with Article 43 of the Collective Bargain Agreement.
        Any formal action to be taken 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 should also be 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." Should the accused be 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 employee against the complainant as a result of filing a harassment or discrimination complaint will not be tolerated and the individual will also be subject to university sanctions. Reasonable action shall be taken to assure the complainant and those involved with an investigation on his or her behalf will suffer no retaliation from the accused or others within the university.

      4. Suspension from Employment. In certain circumstances to protect the complainant or to prevent harm to others, the vice-president, or in a case involving a faculty member, the President, may at any time during the complaint process suspend the accused from his or her primary duties and responsibilities 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 complaint process , the university will make every effort to assure confidentiality and, at the time of the formal hearing, protect the due process rights of both individuals. Both individuals shall be fully informed of the steps taken during the course of 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, 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

      7. Unfounded Report. If the matter is determined as unfounded after the conclusion of an investigation by the Director of Social Equity, then 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. Within ten (10) working days of the conclusion of the investigatory process and a decision by the president or appropriate vice president, the complainant shall receive a letter regarding whether the charge was judged to be founded or founded. If founded, the letter will not specify 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 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.

      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 receipt of a report. 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 the complaint through their appropriate collective bargaining agreement grievance procedures. Furthermore, complainants may choose to make use of the procedures of external agencies i.e. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Civil Rights. For disciplinary cases, Managers should pursue the matter through the Merit System Principles Procedure before proceeding to an external agency.

      Upon notice that a complaint has been filed with an outside agency, the procedures in this policy are temporarily suspended.

      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. Action under this policy will not be taken if the accused has terminated his/her association with the university.

      G. Posting of Policy

      This policy shall be available at the Office of Social Equity, room 115, 2nd Floor, Waller Administration Building and on the university web page at http://www.bloomu.edu/about/govern/pol_idx.htm.

      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.

      A. 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.

      B. Third Party Complaints

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