Grievances and Discrimination Complaint Procedures

13.01 RESOLUTION OF GRIEVANCES

Continuous, frank, and considerate communication between employees and their supervisors is expected. It is hoped that such a relationship will either avoid or solve most grievances that may arise. If, however, a grievance develops, it should be resolved as quickly as possible at the lowest possible level of supervision.

All employees have the right to discuss grievances concerning their welfare with their most immediate supervisor, and to secure due consideration and a fair adjustment. Supervisors, for their part, are expected to give each employee due consideration without harassment or threat of retaliatory action.

In the event that informal discussion does not resolve a grievance, the following procedure shall be utilized if the employee elects to seek further consideration of the matter.

13.02 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

(Revised Board of Trustees, 6/7/11)

Definitions - A policy interpretation grievance is an allegation by an employee (full or part-time) that the terms and conditions of that specific individual's employment by the College have been materially adversely affected by a violation, misinterpretation, misapplication, or nonapplication of written Board and/or College policies, rules, and regulations.

A disciplinary grievance is an allegation by an employee (full or part-time) that disciplinary action (including but not limited to termination of employment) taken by the College with respect to that employee was in violation of or arose out of the misinterpretation, misapplication, or non-application of written Board and/or College policies, rules, and regulations.

Unless and until modified or reversed at Steps One, Two, or Three, disciplinary action shall become effective at the time that notice thereof is given by the College (or the employee's supervisor).

Grievance Review Committee - At the commencement of each academic year, a Grievance Review Committee shall be appointed by the President to act as the final reviewer of decisions appealed from Step Two of the Grievance Procedure. The Committee shall consist of (a) six standing members, consisting of two regular, full-time employees in Salary Plan A (the "Plan A Members"), two regular, full-time employees in Salary Plan B (the "Plan B Members"), and two members of the Administration (the "Administrative Members"), and (b) one ad hoc member who shall be a Vice President and Campus Director (or his/her designee) of a campus other than the campus from which the grievance originated. In the case of a grievance filed by an employee in Plan A, or by employees in Plan A and Plan B, the grievance shall be heard by the Plan A Members, the Administrative Members and the ad hoc member. Similarly, in the case of a grievance filed by an employee in Plan B, the grievance shall be heard by the Plan B Members, the Administrative Members and the ad hoc member. In the case of a grievance filed by an employee in Plan C, the grievance shall be heard by Plan A Members or Plan B Members whose Plan contains the position corresponding to that held by the employee, the Administrative Members and the ad hoc member. The President has the authority to appoint an interim replacement for any Committee member(s) who temporarily is unable to serve.

In the event that (a) a grievance is filed jointly by employees from more than one campus, or (b) the grievance involves a Vice President and Campus Director, or the grievance is designated in writing by the President as involving matters of sufficient seriousness to so warrant, the President may substitute for the Vice President and Campus Director an individual of his/her own choosing, selected from within or without the College community.

The Committee shall be vested with the necessary authority to issue final and binding decisions on behalf of the College. The Committee shall appoint a Chairperson from among its standing members and shall establish such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to carry out its functions. A majority of those members of the Committee who are empowered to review a specific grievance shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting such a review. If less than a majority of the committee members who participate in a review at which a quorum is present vote to modify or reverse the decision rendered at Step Two, that decision shall stand.

The Committee shall prepare a written report of its findings with respect to each grievance presented to it. Such report shall briefly summarize the grievance and shall set forth the Committee's conclusions and decision, briefly stating the reasons therefor. One copy of such findings shall be mailed to the employee (by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested), one copy shall be delivered to the President, and one copy shall be retained in the Committee's files for seven (7) years or for such other period as the Committee or Board deems appropriate. Decisions of the Committee shall not set a precedent as to other grievances.

Exclusions - In lieu of this procedure, complaints relating to alleged illegal employment discrimination shall be processed in accordance with the PROCEDURE FOR THE RESOLUTION OF EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMPLAINTS, 13.04 of this Section. In addition, complaints pertaining to sexual harassment shall be processed in accordance with the PROCEDURE FOR THE RESOLUTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE, 13.05 of this Section. Moreover, subject to the above, any employee who files a grievance pursuant to this Section XIII shall be deemed to have waived any right he/she otherwise might have to seek separate review or reconsideration pursuant to Section XII of corrective or disciplinary action.

General Rules

  1. The statement of the grievance shall be submitted within twenty (20) working days of the incident, or within twenty (20) working days of the date an employee could reasonably be expected to have first knowledge of the circumstances leading to the grievance.
  2. The statement of the grievance shall be limited to a single grievance, shall clearly state whether it is a policy interpretation grievance or a disciplinary grievance, and shall remain unchanged through each step of the procedure.
  3. Any settlement, withdrawal or disposition of a grievance at any step shall not constitute a binding precedent with respect to any similar grievances subsequently filed in the future.
  4. The employee shall have the right to have representation, at his or her own expense, at any and all proceedings throughout the grievance procedure.
  5. Each Vice President and Campus Director and the Human Resources and Legal Affairs Department in the Office of the President shall maintain grievance log books. Each grievance filed shall be dated and shall be assigned a number, including a designation indicating the type and geographical location of the grievance (100 series = policy interpretation, 500 series = disciplinary grievances) (S = Southern, T = Terry, W = Wilmington, ST = Stanton, P = Office of the President). This number shall be assigned by the Human Resources and Legal Affairs Department in the Office of the President. All action related to each grievance shall be recorded in the log book together with the date on which the action or event took place. It shall be the responsibility of each supervisor handling a grievance to promptly notify the individuals responsible for the logs of all actions.
  6. All prescribed actions and time commitments shall be strictly adhered to. Failure by the employee to take action within the time prescribed will result in dismissal, with prejudice, of the grievance and adherence to the decision reached at the prior step without further appeal of any kind.

Step One:The employee shall file the grievance in writing, on the form provided, with the appropriate Dean, Director, or Business Manager. The employee shall forward a copy of the grievance to the Chief Legal Counsel, Office of the President. The statement of the grievance must set forth (a) the nature of the grievance, (b) a statement that informal discussion has failed to satisfactorily resolve the grievance, a statement that all intermediate supervisors (if any) have been notified in writing that a formal grievance is being filed. Step One grievances relating to employees in the Office of the President shall be filed with the appropriate Department Head. Grievances must be filed within the time period set forth above.

Receipt of the grievance shall be acknowledged in writing as soon as possible. A decision by the Dean, Director, or Business Manager (concurred in by the Chief Legal Counsel in the case of (a) below) with whom the grievance is filed that the issue raised (a) is not a grievance as that term is defined in this Section XIII, or (b) already is the subject of another pending grievance filed by the same employee, or has been resolved against the employee in a prior proceeding instituted pursuant to either Section XII or this Section XIII, is not reviewable. If the grievance is not barred for a reason(s) described in (a) through above, the Dean, Director, or Business Manager with whom the grievance has been filed may proceed to investigate it. In such event, a conference shall promptly be scheduled with the employee. Due consideration shall be given to the grievance and every effort shall be made to arrive quickly and fairly at an equitable solution. The decision of the Dean, Director, or Business Manager and his/her justification for it, shall be in writing and a copy shall be given or mailed to the employee and to the Chief Legal Counsel and Associate Vice President for Human Resources within ten (10) working days after receipt of the grievance. In the event a decision is not given or mailed to the employee within the ten (10) working days, the employee may immediately submit an appeal at Step Two.

Step Two: If the employee is dissatisfied with the decision rendered at Step One, he/she shall have the right to request a review by the Vice President and Campus Director. Any such request must be: in writing, on the form provided; signed by the employee; and received by the Vice President and Campus Director within fifteen (15) days of the date of the decision rendered at Step One. The employee shall forward a copy of the request to the Chief Legal Counsel and Associate Vice President for Human Resources. Upon such request being properly filed, the Vice President and Campus Director shall investigate the grievance as he/she deems appropriate and shall render a decision in writing, with his/her justification for it, within twenty (20) working days of the filing of the request. In the event a decision is not rendered within the twenty (20) working days, the employee may immediately submit an appeal at Step Three. Step Two grievances relating to employees in the Office of the President shall be reviewed by the President.

Step Three: If the grievance is not resolved at Step Two, it may be appealed to the Grievance Review Committee (the "Committee") by filing a Notice of Appeal (which shall state the basis of the grievance in reasonable detail) with the Vice President and Campus Director or President (in cases of employees in the Office of the President). Any Notice of Appeal to the Committee must be: in writing, on the form provided; signed by the employee; and filed with the Vice President and Campus Director or the President (as the case requires) within ten (10) working days of the date of the decision rendered at Step Two. The Vice President and Campus Director shall forward a copy of his/her decision and justification for it and the Notice of Appeal from the employee (to which any relevant documents may be attached as exhibits) to the President within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt by the Vice President and Campus Director of the Notice of Appeal. The Vice President and Campus Director shall also forward copies of these documents to the Chief Legal Counsel and Associate Vice President for Human Resources. The Notice of Appeal and the decision of the Vice President and Campus Director together with other documentation of the grievance shall be transmitted to the Chairperson of the Committee by the President within ten (10) working days of receipt. Grievances relating to employees in the Office of the President shall include the President's decision and justification for it, and the Notice of Appeal (to which any relevant documents may be attached as exhibits).

The Committee shall review the grievance by examination of the data submitted and shall take one of the following actions within thirty (30) working days after the Notice of Appeal to the Committee is received by the President:

  1. Uphold the decision rendered at Step Two.
  2. Modify or countermand the decision.
  3. Decide to hold a hearing.

If the Committee decides that a hearing shall be held, the employee shall be notified of the date, time, and place. To the extent practicable, the hearing shall be held within thirty (30) working days of the date of mailing of the notice of hearing to the employee. (The decision of the Committee shall be rendered within forty-five [45] working days of the conclusion of the hearing.)

All decisions of the Committee shall be final and shall be in writing addressed to the employee, the Vice President and Campus Director and the President with a copy to the Chief Legal Counsel and Associate Vice President for Human Resources. Written notice of the Committee decision shall be mailed or delivered to the employee within five (5) working days after that decision has been reached.

To assure the objectivity and fairness of all deliberations by the Committee, employees shall refrain from communicating with its members individually regarding grievances.

13.03 OUTLINE OF PROCEDURE FOR RESOLUTION OF GRIEVANCES

Step One

A. Employee presents grievance in writing to appropriate Dean, Director, or Business Manager. Grievances in the Office of the President shall be presented to the appropriate Department Head.

B. Employee receives written decision within ten (10) working days.

Step Two

A. Employee may appeal Step One decision to Vice President and Campus Director within fifteen (15) working days of date of decision. Appeals in the Office of the President shall be made to the President.

B. A written decision shall be rendered within twenty (20) working days of receipt of appeal.

Step Three

A. Employee may appeal Step Two decision to the Grievance Review Committee. Appeal must be received within ten (10) working days of Step Two decision.

B. Within thirty (30) working days of receipt of appeal, the Committee shall review the grievance and:

  1. Uphold the decision, or
  2. Modify or countermand it, or
  3. Decide to hold a hearing which shall be held within thirty (30) working days of date of mailing of hearing notice to the employee.

C. All decisions of the Committee shall be final.

13.04 PROCEDURE FOR THE RESOLUTION OF DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE

Introduction

It is the policy of the College that no employee shall be subject to unlawful employment discrimination in recruitment and subsequent placement, training, promotion, compensation, continuation, probation, discharge, and other terms and conditions of employment over which the College has jurisdiction. The College does not tolerate discriminatory conduct and is firmly committed to resolving complaints of discrimination in a prompt and equitable manner.

As a result, the College has adopted the following procedures to provide an internal mechanism to resolve complaints of discrimination. These procedures shall be utilized whenever an employee is accused of discrimination by another employee, student, or third party in violation of the College's Statement of Nondiscrimination Policy. Except for the College's Procedure for the Resolution of Sexual Harassment Complaints Against an Employee, and requests for workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities, the following serves as the method for determining whether or not an employee has violated the College's Statement of Nondiscrimination Policy. All disciplinary action imposed as a result of this procedure, up to and including termination, shall be final and not subject to the grievance or pre-termination procedures set forth in Section XII or Section XIII.

No individual shall be subject to retaliation at any time for making a complaint of discrimination or for participating in these procedures. It is a violation of College policy for any member of the College community to retaliate against the Complainant, any individual who participates in any discrimination investigation or proceeding, or against the Respondent who has been accused of engaging in discrimination. While all discrimination allegations will be reviewed in accordance with these procedures, the College community is advised that a claim of discrimination is not proof of prohibited conduct. Anyone who believes that he/she has been subject to retaliation arising from discrimination allegations is encouraged to report such behavior to a College official as set forth below. Accusations of retaliatory conduct are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Making a false or malicious accusation of discrimination and/or retaliation is also prohibited by the College. A student or employee who is found to have made an allegation of discrimination against an employee that is intentionally false, or made in reckless indifference or disregard for the truth, shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion.

Additionally, at any stage of these procedures, the Vice President and Campus Director, or the Vice President for Human Resources for employees working in the Office of the President, shall have the authority to take any and all reasonable steps necessary to protect all parties involved under these procedures from further discriminatory conduct and/or retaliation. The occurrence or non-occurrence of any protective measure initiated by the Vice President and Campus Director, or the Vice President for Human Resources, is neither an indicia of guilt nor innocence under these procedures. Any such steps taken by the Vice President to protect members of the College community from further discriminatory conduct and/or retaliation shall be final pending the resolution of the allegation as set forth under these procedures.

Furthermore, these procedures, and all aspects thereof, will be kept confidential to the maximum extent provided by state and federal law, including, but not limited to, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and relevant employee privacy protections. The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to complaints in a confidential manner. Complainants, however, are advised that the College's ability to investigate and to respond to complaints may be limited in circumstances where the Complainant does not wish to disclose his or her identity. The College reserves the right to notify law enforcement authorities about allegations of discrimination upon reasonable belief that such incidents rise to the level of criminal activity. The use of these procedures does not preclude a Complainant from seeking recourse through the appropriate state or federal criminal law enforcement agencies at any time.

Reporting Procedures

The College encourages any person who believes that he/she has been subjected to discrimination by a College employee to report the offensive conduct to a College official as soon as possible. For purposes of these procedures, a College official shall include any supervisor, administrator, Public Safety Officer or the College's Civil Rights Coordinator.

In addition to the foregoing individuals, students who believe that they have been subjected to discrimination by an employee may also report such incidents to any faculty member or academic counselor on the campus of the student's enrollment.

The College's Civil Rights Coordinator shall be notified of all claims of discrimination involving a College employee as soon as reasonably practical. The Civil Rights Coordinator shall promptly appoint a Civil Rights Review Officer (“Review Officer”) from the campus where the conduct is alleged to have occurred or within the Office of the President to investigate the claim. The Review Officer shall advise the alleged offender that a complaint of discrimination has been filed against him/her and explain the College's prohibition against retaliation. The Review Officer shall document receipt of the complaint by letter or other written communication to the alleged offender and to the Complainant, a copy of which shall also be provided to the Director of Human Resources on the campus where the violation is alleged to have occurred, and the College Civil Rights Coordinator. The Review Officer shall investigate the complaint to determine whether or not there are sufficient grounds to support a charge of discrimination in violation of Section 1.00 of this manual. The Review Officer shall encourage and/or assist the Complainant to reduce his/her claims to writing, which shall serve as the basis for the complaint of discrimination. Whenever possible, the investigation shall include interviews with both parties involved in the complaint and/or may include interviews with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have relevant knowledge of the incident. The Review Officer shall also have access to such written documents in the possession of the College, including personnel records, that he/she believes may contain relevant information or which may lead to the discovery of relevant information.

The Review Officer shall make a written determination regarding whether or not sufficient evidence exists which, if true, would constitute discriminatory conduct in violation of Section 1.00 of this manual. All evidence shall be viewed by the Review Officer in the light most favorable to the Complainant when making the determination of whether or not a claim has been stated or substantiated. The determination shall be made within ten (10) working days following the Review Officer's appointment, include the grounds and findings upon which the determination was based, and be delivered to the parties, the Campus Director of Human Resources, and the College Civil Rights Coordinator. In extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to those incidents that require evidence gathering by law enforcement officials, the Review Officer may extend the ten (10) working day deadline to make the determination. The parties, as well as the Civil Rights Coordinator, shall be notified in writing by the Review Officer about the reasons for the delay and the time frame in which the determination shall be made.

The Complainant may appeal a determination that insufficient evidence exists to support a claim of discrimination to the Civil Rights Coordinator. An appeal must be submitted in writing within ten (10) working days following the date of the Review Officer's determination. The decision of the Civil Rights Coordinator regarding the sufficiency of the allegations, or the evidence in support thereof, shall be final.

In the event the Civil Rights Coordinator determines that further proceedings are warranted, the Complainant shall be offered the opportunity to mediate the claim or to have the matter submitted to the Discrimination Review Committee for a hearing.

Note: Mediation is not required to resolve a complaint of discrimination. The Complainant may end mediation at any time in favor of a hearing before the Discrimination Review Committee.

Mediation

Mediation is an informal and confidential way for the parties to resolve the complaint with the help of the Review Officer. The Review Officer will not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the Review Officer will help the parties work out their own voluntary solution to the complaint.
Mediation should begin as soon as reasonably practical following an election by the Complainant but in no event greater than 10 working days absent agreement by the Complainant or extenuating circumstances that make commencement of the process impractical within the 10 day limit. Except as limited by the foregoing, in the event efforts to mediate do not begin within 10 working days, then the matter shall proceed to a hearing before the Discrimination Review Committee. Examples of such mediated options include, but are not limited to:

(A) One or more meetings between the Complainant and the Respondent, mediated by the Review Officer, to discuss and resolve the complaint of discrimination to the satisfaction of both parties.

(B) In the event that the Complainant does not wish to confront the Respondent, one or more meetings in which the Review Officer meets separately with the Complainant and the Respondent to discuss options to resolve the matter. The Review Officer shall notify the parties in writing if a settlement is reached, and shall attach a proposed form of agreement for signature. The failure or refusal of a party to execute the agreement within a reasonable time shall result in the matter proceeding to a hearing before the Discrimination Review Committee.

(C) An agreement between the parties and delivered in writing to the Review Officer containing: 1) a statement describing the allegation of discrimination and requesting that such alleged conduct stop, signed by the Complainant; and 2) and acknowledgement of the complaint without admission of guilt and affirmation that the Complainant will not be subjected to discriminatory conduct in the future, signed by the Respondent.

Mediation may be discontinued: at any time by the Complainant; by the Review Officer, when he/she feels that further efforts will be non-productive; or when a voluntary agreement has been reached. The Review Officer shall prepare a written report documenting the success or failure of mediation to the Civil Rights Coordinator, the Director of Human Resources, and the parties. If the mediation results in a voluntary settlement, a copy of the agreement, signed by the parties, shall be included, together with a statement that the College considers the matter to be closed. In the event that mediation resolves the matter, all documentation arising out of the allegation of discrimination, including the mediation agreement shall be separated from the employee's personnel file. In the event mediation is unsuccessful, the matter shall proceed to a hearing before the Discrimination Review Committee.

Discrimination Review Committee Hearing

A Discrimination Review Committee shall hear and determine claims of discrimination against an employee in situations where mediation is not available, unsuccessful, or declined by the Complainant. The Vice President and Campus Director where the incident is alleged to have occurred, or the Vice President for Human Resources for claims against employees working in the Office of the President, shall appoint the three-member Committee to hear the claim. The Committee shall consist of the Civil Rights Coordinator, who shall serve as the Committee Chairperson; one Civil Rights Review Officer on the campus or within the Office of the President who was not involved in the investigation of the allegation; and one other employee from the campus where the incident is alleged to have occurred or within the Office of the President.

The College Civil Rights Coordinator shall provide written notice to the parties of the date, time and place for the hearing before the Discrimination Review Committee. Such notice shall also include the following:

  1. A copy of the complaint or a summary of the allegations;
  2. A copy of the Review Officer's report; and
  3. A summary of the rules that will govern how the hearing will be conducted.

Absent extenuating circumstances, or an agreement by the parties, the hearing shall take place within ten (10) working days following receipt of notification from the Review Officer that mediation was unsuccessful, unavailable or declined by the Complainant. The role of the Committee shall be to hear and consider testimony and other relevant, reliable evidence and make findings of fact related thereto. In addition, the Committee shall be charged with determining by a preponderance of the evidence whether or not a violation of the Statement of Nondiscrimination Policy in Section 1.00 of this manual has occurred.

The Committee shall submit a written report to the parties setting forth its findings of fact and its determination as to whether a violation of the Statement of Nondiscrimination Policy has occurred within five (5) working days following the conclusion of the hearing. In the event a violation is found to have occurred, the report shall also include a recommendation of appropriate relief and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. The Committee's decision may be appealed by either party to the Vice President and Campus Director or to the Vice President for Human Resources for employees within the Office of the President. The Committee's decision shall be final unless a timely appeal is made by one or both parties. A recommendation that the Respondent be terminated shall automatically be reviewed by the Vice President and Campus Director or the Vice President for Human Resources.

Either party may appeal the Committee's decision, or any recommended relief and/or disciplinary action contained therein. All appeals shall be made in writing and delivered to the Civil Rights Coordinator within ten (10) working days following the date of the Committee's decision. Appeals shall be considered by the Vice President and Campus Director at the campus where the accused is employed or by the Vice President for Human Resources for employees working at the Office of the President. The Vice President's decision to affirm, deny, or modify the Committee's recommendations and determinations shall be based upon the record of the proceedings made by the Discrimination Review Committee. All such decisions by the Vice President are final and shall be delivered in writing to the parties within ten (10) working days following receipt of the appeal.

In the event that a violation of the Statement of Nondiscrimination Policy is determined through the hearing process, all documentation arising out of the allegation of discrimination, including any and all resulting disciplinary action imposed to resolve the matter, shall be maintained in the employee's personnel file.
(Revised Board of Trustees, 6/7/11)

13.05 PROCEDURE FOR THE RESOLUTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS

(Revised by Board of Trustees, 6/7/11)

Introduction

College employees are prohibited from sexually harassing another member of the College community while in the course and scope of his/her employment, while present on any property owned or controlled by the College, or while participating in any College-related activity or event. The College does not tolerate sexual harassment and is firmly committed to resolving sexual harassment complaints in a prompt and equitable manner.

As a result, the College has adopted the following procedures to provide an internal mechanism to resolve sexual harassment complaints. These procedures shall be utilized whenever an employee is accused of sexual harassment by another employee, student, or third party in violation of the College's Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment. These procedures serve as the exclusive method for determining whether or not an employee has violated the College's Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment. All disciplinary action imposed as a result of this procedure, up to and including termination, shall be final and not subject to the grievance or pre-termination procedures set forth in Section XII or Section XIII.

No individual shall be subject to retaliation at any time for making a claim of sexual harassment or for participating in these procedures. It is a violation of College policy for any member of the College community to retaliate against the Complainant, any individual who participates in any sexual harassment investigation or proceeding, or against the Respondent who has been accused of engaging in sexual harassment. While all sexual harassment allegations will be reviewed in accordance with these procedures, the College community is advised that a claim of sexual harassment is not proof of prohibited conduct. Anyone who believes that he/she has been subject to retaliation arising from sexual harassment allegations is encouraged to report such behavior to a College official as set forth below. Accusations of retaliatory conduct are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Making a false or malicious accusation of sexual harassment and/or retaliation is also prohibited by the College. A student or employee who is found to have made an allegation of sexual harassment against an employee that is intentionally false, or made in reckless indifference or disregard for the truth, shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion.

Additionally, at any stage of these procedures, the Vice President and Campus Director, or the Vice President for Human Resources for employees working in the Office of the President, shall have the authority to take any and all reasonable steps necessary to protect all parties involved under these procedures from harassment and retaliation. The occurrence or non-occurrence of any protective measure initiated by the Vice President and Campus Director, or the Vice President for Human Resources, is neither an indicia of guilt nor innocence under these procedures. Any such steps taken by the Vice President to protect members of the College community from harassment and retaliation shall be final pending the resolution of the allegation as set forth under these procedures.

Furthermore, these procedures, and all aspects thereof, will be kept confidential to the maximum extent provided by state and federal law, including, but not limited to, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and relevant employee privacy protections. The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to complaints in a confidential manner. Complainants, however, are advised that the College's ability to investigate and to respond to complaints may be limited in circumstances where the Complainant does not wish to disclose his or her identity. The College reserves the right to notify law enforcement authorities about allegations of sexual harassment upon reasonable belief that such incidents rise to the level of criminal activity. The use of these procedures does not preclude a Complainant from seeking recourse through the appropriate state or federal criminal law enforcement agencies at any time.

Reporting Procedure

The College encourages any person who believes that he/she has been a victim of sexual harassment by a College employee to report the offensive conduct to a College official as soon as possible. For purposes of these procedures, a College official shall include any supervisor, administrator, Public Safety Officer or the College's Civil Rights Coordinator.

In addition to the foregoing individuals, students who believe that they have been subject to sexual harassment by an employee may also report such incidents to any faculty member or academic counselor on the campus of the student's enrollment.

The College's Civil Rights Coordinator shall be notified of all claims of sexual harassment involving a College employee as soon as reasonably practical. The Civil Rights Coordinator shall promptly appoint a Sexual Harassment Review Officer (“Review Officer”) from the campus where the conduct is alleged to have occurred or within the Office of the President to investigate the claim. The Review Officer shall advise the alleged offender that a complaint of sexual harassment has been filed against him/her and explain the College's prohibition against retaliation. The Review Officer shall document receipt of the complaint by letter or other written communication to the alleged offender and to the Complainant, a copy of which shall also be provided to the Director of Human Resources on the campus where the violation is alleged to have occurred, and the College Civil Rights Coordinator. The Review Officer shall investigate the complaint to determine whether or not there are sufficient grounds to support a charge of sexual harassment as set forth in Section 1.02 of this manual. The Review Officer shall encourage and/or assist the Complainant to reduce his/her claims to writing, which shall serve as the basis for the complaint of sexual harassment. Whenever possible, the investigation shall include interviews with both parties involved in the complaint and/or may include interviews with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have relevant knowledge of the incident. The Review Officer shall also have access to such written documents in the possession of the College, including personnel records, that he/she believes may contain relevant information or which may lead to the discovery of relevant information.

The Review Officer shall make a written determination regarding whether or not sufficient evidence exists which, if true, would constitute sexual harassment. All evidence shall be viewed by the Review Officer in the light most favorable to the Complainant when making the determination of whether or not a claim has been stated or substantiated. The determination shall be made within ten (10) working days following the Review Officer's appointment, include the grounds and findings upon which the determination was based, and be delivered to the parties, the Campus Director of Human Resources, and the College Civil Rights Coordinator. In extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to those incidents that require evidence gathering by law enforcement officials, the Review Officer may extend the ten (10) working day deadline to make the determination. The parties, as well as the Civil Rights Coordinator, shall be notified in writing by the Review Officer about the reasons for the delay and the time frame in which the determination shall be made.

The Complainant may appeal a determination that insufficient evidence exists to support a claim of sexual harassment to the Civil Rights Coordinator. An appeal must be submitted in writing within ten (10) working days following the date of the Review Officer's determination. The decision of the Civil Rights Coordinator regarding the sufficiency of the allegations, or the evidence in support thereof, shall be final.

In the event the Civil Rights Coordinator determines that further proceedings are warranted, the Complainant shall be offered the opportunity to mediate the claim or to have the matter submitted to the Sexual Harassment Review Committee for a hearing.

Note: Mediation is not required to resolve a sexual harassment complaint. The Complainant may end mediation at any time in favor of a hearing before the Sexual Harassment Review Committee. In addition, mediation is not available to resolve claims involving allegations of sexual violence as defined by state and/or federal law.
Mediation

Mediation is an informal and confidential way for the parties to resolve the complaint with the help of the Review Officer. The Review Officer will not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the Review Officer will help the parties work out their own voluntary solution to the complaint.

Mediation should begin as soon as reasonably practical following an election by the Complainant but in no event greater than 10 working days absent agreement by the Complainant or extenuating circumstances that make commencement of the process impractical within the 10 day limit. Except as limited by the foregoing, in the event efforts to mediate do not begin within 10 working days, then the matter shall proceed to a hearing before the Sexual Harassment Review Committee. Examples of such mediated options include, but are not limited to:

  1. One or more meetings between the Complainant and the Respondent, mediated by the Review Officer, to discuss and resolve the alleged sexual harassment to the satisfaction of both parties
  2. In the event that the Complainant does not wish to confront the Respondent, one or more meetings in which the Review Officer meets separately with the Complainant and the Respondent to discuss options to resolve the matter. The Review Officer shall notify the parties in writing if a settlement is reached, and shall attach a proposed form of agreement for signature. The failure or refusal of a party to execute the agreement within a reasonable time shall result in the matter proceeding to a hearing before the Sexual Harassment Review Committee.
  3. An agreement between the parties and delivered in writing to the Review Officer containing: 1) a statement describing the alleged sexual harassment and requesting that such alleged conduct stop, signed by the Complainant; and 2) and acknowledgement of the complaint without admission of guilt and affirmation that the Complainant will not be the subject of sexual harassment in the future, signed by the Respondent.

Mediation may be discontinued: at any time by the Complainant; by the Review Officer, when he/she feels that further efforts will be non-productive; or when a voluntary agreement has been reached. The Review Officer shall prepare a written report documenting the success or failure of mediation to the Civil Rights Coordinator, the Director of Human Resources, and the parties. If the mediation results in a voluntary settlement, a copy of the agreement, signed by the parties, shall be included, together with a statement that the College considers the matter to be closed. In the event that mediation resolves the matter, all documentation arising out of the allegation of sexual harassment, including the mediation agreement shall be separated from the employee's personnel file. In the event mediation is unsuccessful, the matter shall proceed to a hearing before the Sexual Harassment Review Committee.

Sexual Harassment Review Committee Hearing

A Sexual Harassment Review Committee shall hear and determine claims of sexual harassment against an employee in situations where mediation is not available, unsuccessful, or declined by the Complainant. The Vice President and Campus Director where the incident is alleged to have occurred, or the Vice President for Human Resources for claims against employees working in the Office of the President, shall appoint the three-member Committee to hear the claim. The Committee shall consist of the Civil Rights Coordinator, who shall serve as the Committee Chairperson; one Sexual Harassment Review Officer on the campus or within the Office of the President who was not involved in the investigation of the allegation; and one other employee from the campus where the incident is alleged to have occurred or within the Office of the President.

The College Civil Rights Coordinator shall provide written notice to the parties of the date, time and place for the hearing before the Sexual Harassment Review Committee. Such notice shall also include the following:

  1. A copy of the complaint or a summary of the allegations;
  2. A copy of the Review Officers report; and
  3. A summary of the rules that will govern how the hearing will be conducted.

Absent extenuating circumstances, or an agreement by the parties, the hearing shall take place within ten (10) working days following receipt of notification from the Review Officer that mediation was unsuccessful, unavailable or declined by the Complainant. The role of the Committee shall be to hear and consider testimony and other relevant, reliable evidence and make findings of fact related thereto. In addition, the Committee shall be charged with determining by a preponderance of the evidence whether or not a violation of the Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment in Section 1.02 of this manual has occurred.

The Committee shall submit a written report to the parties setting forth its findings of fact and its determination as to whether a violation of the Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment has occurred within five (5) working days following the conclusion of the hearing. In the event a violation is found to have occurred, the report shall also include a recommendation of appropriate relief and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. The Committee's decision may be appealed by either party to the Vice President and Campus Director or to the Vice President for Human Resources for employees within the Office of the President. The Committee's decision shall be final unless a timely appeal is made by one or both parties. A recommendation that the Respondent be terminated shall automatically be reviewed by the Vice President and Campus Director or the Vice President for Human Resources.

Either party may appeal the Committee's decision, or any recommended relief and/or disciplinary action contained therein. All appeals shall be made in writing and delivered to the Civil Rights Coordinator within ten (10) working days following the date of the Committee's decision. Appeals shall be considered by the Vice President and Campus Director at the campus where the accused is employed or by the Vice President for Human Resources for employees working at the Office of the President. The Vice President's decision to affirm, deny, or modify the Committee's recommendations and determinations shall be based upon the record of the proceedings made by the Review Committee. All such decisions by the Vice President are final and shall be delivered in writing to the parties within ten (10) working days following receipt of the appeal.

In the event that a violation of the Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment is determined through this hearing process, all documentation arising out of the allegation of sexual harassment, including any and all resulting disciplinary action imposed to resolve the matter, shall be maintained in the employee's personnel file.