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STATEMENT OF POLICY ON

DISCRIMINATION AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Eastern Connecticut State University

 

 

1.  Statement

a)                  It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University that unlawful discrimination be prohibited. Consequently, it shall be a violation of University policy for any member of the University community to discriminate against any individual with respect to any terms, conditions, or privileges relating to employment or attendance at the University because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation or any other conditions established by law.

 

b)                  Sexual harassment is a type of discriminatory behavior.  It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University that no member of the academic community may sexually harass another.  The following definition of sexual harassment, consistent with federal and state laws, is adopted to help individuals recognize such behavior.

 

c)                  Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual factors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly a term or condition of an individuals’ employment or academic performance or advancement; 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic decision effecting such individual; or 3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.

 

d)                  Gender harassment is a form of sexual harassment that consists of discriminatory behavior towards an individual based on gender.  It includes the use of sexist language, illustrations, examples, and gestures that demonstrate discriminatory behavior.

 

2.  Procedures for Discrimination & Sexual Harassment Complaints

The following procedures are designed to provide an internal process for the handling of complaints involving claims of discrimination or sexual harassment.  Such complaints may stem from any alleged violation of federal or state statutes of University regulations. It shall be the policy of the University to treat all investigations under these procedures as personnel matters requiring the strictest confidence.

 

A.  Definitions

1)      Complainant.  Any member of the ECSU community who files a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint.

2)      Respondent.  Any non-student employee(s) of ECSU who becomes the subject of a discrimination or sexual harassment complaint.

3)      Informal Complaint.  A complaint requesting a resolution agreeable to both parties which guarantees anonymity of the complaint and witnesses to the respondent.

4)      Formal complaint.  A complaint that may result in an imposed resolution and which does not guarantee anonymity of the complaint and witnesses to the respondent.

5)      Non-discrimination-Sexual Harassment Committee.  The committee responsible for the investigation of discrimination or sexual harassment complaints.

6)      Sitting Committee.  A subgroup of the Non-discrimination/Sexual Harassment Committee which investigates formal complaints.


 

 

B.  Non-discrimination/Sexual Harassment Committee

The primary vehicle for investigation of internal complaints is the campus-wide Non-discrimination/Sexual Harassment Committee, from which membership of the Sitting Committee (Sec. C.3.c.) shall be drawn.  The campus-wide Non-discrimination/Sexual Harassment Committee shall consist of the following members:

 

1)      Four faculty members nominated by the applicable collective bargaining agents, if they choose to exercise this option, and endorsed by the University Senate; two members (one male and one female) from the instructional faculty; and two members (one male and one female) from the administrative faculty.  Should an applicable collective bargaining agent decline the above option, the University Senate shall elect members from that agent’s unit.

 

2)      Two members (one male and one female) from the unclassified management group, appointed by the University President.

 

3)      Two members (one male and one female) selected from the student body by the Student Senate, at least one of whom should be a member of a protected class.

 

4)      Whenever temporary conditions require that any of the above members cannot serve, the appropriate appointing authority shall select an alternate of the same sex.

 

5)      The Director of the Women’s Center, who shall serve in an ex-officio nonvoting capacity, and only in cases involving sexual discrimination or harassment.

 

6)      The Executive Dean or designee, who shall act as nonvoting convenor of the Committee, and shall maintain all records of Committee activity.

 

7)      In the event any employee union refuses to participate in the appointment of members to the Committee, any formal investigations as described below will be conducted only by the unclassified management group representative(s) if a member of that union is involved either as a respondent or complainant.

 

8)      All voting members shall serve until replaced by their respective appointing authorities.

 

C.     Procedures

1.  Intake

a)                  Individual’s suspecting harassment or discrimination, or considering the filing of a complaint, may go either to the AA/EEO Officer or directly to any member of the Non-discrimination/Sexual Harassment Committee.  Members of the community considering complaints against students may file in accordance with the Campus Rights and Responsibilities document and not in accordance with these procedures.

 

b)                  At this state, individuals will be: 1) informed of University Policies on non-discrimination and/or sexual harassment; and 2) asked if they wish to pursue a complaint on an informal basis.

 

c)                  Individuals will also be 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.

 

d)                  Filing of a complaint should be made as soon as possible, but must be made within thirty days of the occurrence of the alleged act of discrimination or within thirty days of the complainant’s knowledge of the alleged act.  State statutes provide for time frames not exceeding ninety days for the filing, processing, and resolution of such matters.  The complaints may be made on either an informal or formal basis.  The decision to file rests solely with the complainant, and the complainant shall be referred to the appropriate investigator.

 

2.  Informal Process

a)                  If the complainant elects the informal process, the AA/EEO Officer, or other designee of the President, shall act as investigator.

 

b)                  During the course of the investigation, the identities of the complainant and witnesses shall be withheld from the respondent upon request, and meetings shall be conducted separately or together, depending on the status of such request.

 

c)                  The AA/EEO Officer shall be empowered to weigh all evidence pertaining to the complaint, discuss settlement offers, and, with the consent of both parties, propose tentative settlements to the University President or designee.  Such proposed settlements are to be filed within thirty calendar days of the filing of the complaints.

 

d)                  Final resolution shall consist of agreement in writing by the University President or designee and both parties if the resolution involves the imposition of discipline.  Other resolution may be expressed as written or verbal agreements.  Resolution at this stage may involve the introduction of educational programs as part of the agreement settlement.

 

e)                  If no resolution is possible, the complainant and respondent shall be so advised by the AA/EEO Officer, and the complainant shall be informed of the right to proceed to the formal stage.

 

3.  Formal Process

a)                  If the complainant has elected the informal stage initially, filing of a formal written complaint must be made no later than two weeks following the complainant's receipt of notification of non-resolution from the AA/EEO Officer.  If the complainant elects the formal process initially, filing must take place no more than thirty-calendar days following the complainant’s knowledge of the alleged discrimination or harassment.

 

b)                  The filing of the formal complaint shall be submitted to the AA/EEO Officer or any committee member and must contain a complete statement of alleged instances of discrimination or harassment and must be shown to the respondent.   The withholding of the identities of the complainant and witnesses to the respondent is not guaranteed at this step.

 

c)                  Upon filing of the formal complaint, the full committee shall convene and shall serve as designee of the University President in its appointment of the Sitting Committee, which will investigate the complaint.  The Sitting Committee shall consist of two managers and two members of the affected groups, as listed above, if they choose to exercise this option.  In appropriate cases the full committee shall seek to appoint a sexually and/or racially balanced Sitting Committee.  If the complainant and respondent are from the same group, the Committee shall consist of four members; if from different groups, the Committee shall consist of six members.  The Sitting Committee shall conduct its activities in accordance with the collective bargaining contract under which the respondent is governed.  If either the respondent or complainant's group has no representatives to the Sitting Committee, the Sitting Committee will be composed of two managers and two members not from the respondent or complainant’s group.

 

d)                  Once the membership of the Sitting Committee is determined, its make-up will be communicated to the complainant and respondent, both of whom will have the opportunity to disqualify one voting member each.  If either the complainant or respondent exercises the above option, the full Committee will seat an appropriate alternate. 

 

e)                  The Sitting Committee is empowered to gather all pertinent information and shall conduct investigatory interviews as necessary.  Both complainant and respondent shall be permitted to bring representatives to any interviews or meetings, and appropriate University supervisors shall be permitted to attend as observers if the complainant and/or respondent select representatives.  In addition, the Sitting Committee may obtain written and/or verbal statements from individuals named as witnesses by either complainant or respondent.

 

f)                   Following conclusion of the investigation, the Sitting Committee shall make a recommendation to the University President for resolution. Copies shall be sent to the complainant and respondent.  Such recommendation shall be made no later than sixty calendar days from the filing of the formal complaint.  If either party has disqualified a member of the Committee per section C.3.d. above, the recommendation must be sent to the President within 67 calendar days.

 

g)                  The Sitting Committee is empowered to make the following recommendations to the President or designee:

1)      Recommendations for negotiated resolution containing the written concurrence of the complainant and respondent.

2)      Imposition of employee discipline in accordance with the appropriate collective bargaining contract.

3)      Statement on non-resolution if a deadlock occurs.

4)      Dismissal of complaint on basis of insufficient evidence or lack of validity.

 

h)                  The President or designee shall review the recommendation of the Sitting Committee and take action as appropriate within fourteen calendar days of receipt.  The President’s decision shall be communicated to the respondent and complainant within fourteen calendar days of receipt and within constraints of the appropriate collective bargaining contract.  In an emergency, this deadline may be extended fourteen additional calendar days.

 

4.  Appeal

a)      If the President imposes a disciplinary sanction on the respondent following the recommendation of the Sitting Committee, the respondent may file a grievance in accordance with the appropriate collective bargaining unit contract.

 

b)      The complainant shall be notified of any change in sanctions resulting from such grievance.

 

5.  Retaliation

a)      No individual involved in the process shall suffer retaliation as a result of such participation.

 

b)      Complaint of retaliation may be filed either during the course of an investigation or following the

conclusion of the initial complaint process.

 

6.  Evaluation of Procedures

a)      These procedures shall be evaluated annually by a committee consisting of the AA/EEO Officer and the Director of the Women’s Center.  In addition, the current classified bargaining agents, the Student Senate, and the University Senate may elect one person each.  All members of the committee shall serve until replaced by their respective appointing authorities. 

 

b)      The review committee shall send any recommendations for change in writing to the President, after review and comment by the University Senate and appropriate collective bargaining units.

 

 

2/97

Rev.7/02