A. Affirmative Action Grievance Procedures: Procedures to Investigate Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment
Revised February 2014
Georgetown University complies with federal laws and regulations and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act and acts in accordance with the University’s Affirmative Action Plan. Therefore, the University has established these grievance procedures for the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action (“IDEAA”) to review, investigate, and resolve alleged violations of the University’s Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination in Employment and Non Discrimination in Education Policies, Affirmative Action Policy, the Policy Statement on Harassment, and the Policy Statement on Sexual Misconduct.
These procedures cover allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment in employment or education on the basis of age, color, disability, family responsibilities, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, matriculation, national origin, personal appearance, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status and other factors prohibited by law.
These internal Grievance Procedures to Investigate Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment provide a mechanism for faculty, staff, students, third parties and applicants for employment and admission to receive a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution on grievances of discrimination, harassment, and related retaliation. Proceedings involving grievances of sexual misconduct shall be conducted by officials who receive training on issues related to sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence (including domestic violence and dating violence) and stalking and how to conduct a grievance process that protects the safety of injured parties and promotes accountability.
With respect to allegations of sexual misconduct, these procedures apply to situations in which a faculty or staff member is the accused. Students may also use these procedures to address off-campus behaviors, which may violate the policies on harassment and discrimination as they relate to educational and employment opportunities. If a student is the accused, the disciplinary codes of conduct of each of the campuses shall govern. If an outside third party is the accused, IDEAA may refer the grievance to an appropriate authority for resolution and coordinate necessary corrective actions. A complainant may report a violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct to IDEAA or any Deputy Title IX Coordinator identified below, regardless of the identity of the accused individual or the place of occurrence of the alleged conduct, and IDEAA or the Deputy Title IX Coordinator will ensure that the report is forwarded to the correct individual.
The University strongly encourages any victim of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and/or related retaliation to report the incident and seek redress through IDEAA’s Grievance Procedures. The University will provide a prompt investigation and thorough and careful resolution.
Complainants are encouraged to exhaust these procedures with regard to any grievance before pursuing remedies outside the University. However the University acknowledges the rights of Complainants to seek redress from any external enforcement agency including the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Complainants may also file a criminal complaint with the Metropolitan Police Department. The filing of an external complaint or investigation will not preclude the University from investigating and addressing issues or concerns raised to the University.
It is a violation of this policy to file a discrimination or harassment complaint for the purpose of injuring the reputation or causing harm to another person. Without minimizing the injury that can be suffered by the victim of discrimination or harassment, the University also recognizes that the filing of a discrimination or harassment complaint can have serious consequences for the person accused. That person, too, has rights that the policies on discrimination and harassment must preserve and protect. Therefore, any person who abuses this policy by knowingly filing a false complaint will be subject to discipline if IDEAA determines that the complaint was filed in bad faith. This provision is not meant in any way to discourage legitimate complaints. All complaints will be treated as confidential, as described further below.
IDEAA expects complainants, respondents, and witnesses who participate in this process to maintain confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of grievances. IDEAA will preserve the confidentiality of information provided in connection with a grievance to the extent possible, consistent with the goals of a prompt and thorough investigation and resolution as well as compliance with the law. Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) / Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) at all times in the course of investigations. All publicly available records required to be maintained by law will omit the names and other personally identifiable information about complainants and other victims who choose not to file a grievance, to the extent permissible by law.
3. Requirements for Filing Greievances
- Any applicant for employment or admission, current or former employee or student, or third party (hereinafter referred to as “Complainant”) of Georgetown University may file a discrimination or harassment complaint with IDEAA. With respect to complaints of sexual misconduct where the accused is a student, a Complainant should contact the Deputy Title IX Coordinator of the student’s campus who will explain the process for filing a complaint.
- Complainants must file a grievance in writing within 180 days following the alleged act of discrimination, harassment, or related retaliation or the date on which the Complainant knew or reasonably should have known of the act. Nevertheless, individuals are encouraged to report acts immediately in order to maximize the University’s ability to obtain evidence, and conduct a thorough, impartial investigation. Failure to report promptly may impair the University’s ability to enforce its policies. IDEAA may, in its sole discretion, review grievances filed after one year under special circumstances.
- A grievance must be filed in writing with IDEAA at M-36 Darnall Hall, electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (202) 687-7778.
4. Provisions on Time Limits
All of the time limits contained within these grievance procedures may be extended solely at the discretion of IDEAA. Any party requesting an extension must do so in writing. In cases of sexual misconduct complaints, IDEAA will make every effort to be reasonably prompt in investigating and resolving complaints. A typical investigation will conclude within ninety days from receipt of the grievance. IDEAA’s investigation may be temporarily delayed while criminal investigators gather evidence. In the event any time frames need to be extended, IDEAA will inform both parties.
5. Retaliation Prohibited
University policies prohibit retaliation, harassment, or other adverse action against an individual for making a complaint in good faith, assisting in an investigation, opposing harassment/discrimination or otherwise exercising rights protected by law. University policies further prohibit taking any adverse academic or employment related action against an individual based on an unsubstantiated allegation or rumor of Prohibited Conduct. Retaliation should be reported promptly to IDEAA or the Deputy Title IX Coordinators and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The University encourages individuals to make good faith reports.
6. Administrative Review
IDEAA has the authority to initiate an administrative review at any time when, in the judgment of the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity (who is also the Title IX Coordinator), such action is warranted. A department head or other University official may also request IDEAA to conduct an administrative review, if this official becomes aware of alleged discrimination, harassment, or related retaliation. In cases where IDEAA conducts an administrative review and a respondent is identified, IDEAA will proceed to Step II of the Procedures for Processing Grievances below.
7. Conflict of Interest
If there is a conflict of interest between the fact-finder or decision-maker and the Complainant or the accused (hereinafter referred to as the “Respondent”), the Director of Affirmative Action Programs will designate an alternate fact-finder or decision-maker. If the Director of Affirmative Action Programs has a conflict of interest, the Vice President of IDEAA will designate an alternate fact-finder or decision-maker. If the Vice President of IDEAA has an actual conflict of interest, the matter shall be referred to the Office of the President, which will designate an alternate fact-finder or decision-maker.
8. Procedures for Processing Grievances
- IDEAA staff shall schedule an intake meeting with a potential complainant in order to provide the individual with a general understanding of the relevant policy and this grievance procedure, as well as University support resources, as appropriate. The intake meeting may also involve a discussion of any interim measures that may be appropriate concerning the individual’s academic, University housing, and/or University employment arrangements.
- At the request of the individual, IDEAA staff shall proceed to Step I Mediation, or the Step II Investigation process detailed below. Mediation shall not be used to resolve allegations of sexual misconduct, except in instances of alleged sexual harassment where both the individual and the accused request to proceed to Step I Mediation. If the individual wishes to proceed with Step I Mediation or Step II Investigation, then IDEAA staff will meet with the respondent (hereinafter, the “Respondent”) to provide the Respondent a general understanding of the relevant policy and this procedure.If the individual does not wish to pursue resolution or requests that his or her complaint remain confidential, IDEAA staff will inform the Complainant that the University’s ability to respond may be limited. In certain circumstances, IDEAA may determine that a Step II Investigation is necessary, even if the Complainant elects a different course of action. In such cases, the Step II Investigation will proceed as an Administrative Review, as outlined above.In the event the Respondent is a member of a collective bargaining unit, IDEAA will coordinate with Human Resources or the appropriate administrative unit to ensure that all required notices are provided to the union. Questioning of a witness or party who is a member of a collective bargaining unit will proceed in accordance with applicable law, policies, and collective bargaining agreements.
- Step I. Mediation
- IDEAA shall propose mediation to a Complainant desiring to resolve a dispute between himself/herself and a potential Respondent. If the Complainant agrees to mediate, the potential Respondent will be informed about the issue and asked to participate in mediation. If there is no agreement to mediate, the Complainant may proceed to Step II. In cases where sexual misconduct is alleged related to a student, IDEAA will not offer mediation to resolve Complainant’s allegations, except in instances of alleged sexual harassment where both the Complainant and the Respondent request to mediate, and the Complainant will not be asked to resolve his or her concerns directly with the alleged perpetrator.
- If both parties agree to mediate, IDEAA’s staff or a representative chosen by IDEAA will conduct the mediation within a prompt and reasonable time frame.
- If a mutually acceptable resolution is achieved through mediation, a written agreement between the parties will reflect the resolution and shall be signed and dated by the parties. Copies will be provided to both parties and IDEAA will monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement by both parties. The case will then be closed.
- If mediation fails, IDEAA will inform the Complainant about the option to proceed to Step II.
- All Complainants and Respondents have a right to end the Step I Mediation process at any time and can ask in writing for IDEAA to begin a Step II Investigation.
- Step II. Investigation by IDEAA
- An individual or group of individuals may initiate a formal complaint by providing IDEAA a written and signed statement and any supporting documentation detailing the allegations of discrimination, harassment or related retaliation and identifying the individuals who engaged in the alleged conduct (the Respondent(s)).
- IDEAA shall provide the Respondent and his/her supervisor, if applicable, a copy of the formal complaint and its supporting documents. The Respondent shall have an opportunity to submit a written response to the allegations and any supporting documents within twenty days of receipt of the formal complaint and its supporting documents. The Complainant will be provided a copy of this response and given the opportunity to submit a written rebuttal to Respondent’s statement within ten days of receipt of the response. Respondent will be given a final opportunity to respond in writing to Complainant’s written rebuttal within ten days of receipt of the rebuttal. Both Complainant and Respondent may present evidence and identify witnesses who can provide information relevant to the allegations.
- IDEAA shall within a prompt and reasonable time frame investigate the complaint and shall have access to all necessary information to do so and the opportunity to interview witnesses, as well as Complainant and Respondent.
- Upon completion of the investigation, IDEAA shall prepare a written report. IDEAA uses the standard of preponderance of the evidence to ascertain if the University’s policies have been violated. IDEAA shall maintain documentation to support the findings in its report, including, as applicable written findings of fact, and at the discretion of IDEAA, transcripts, and audio recordings.
- Step III. Notification
- When IDEAA finds that no violation of policies governing harassment or discrimination has occurred, IDEAA will provide notice of the results to the parties on the same day, which shall be within thirty days of the conclusion of its investigation. Such notification will include an explanation of the appeal procedures in Step V.
- When IDEAA finds that a violation of policies governing harassment or discrimination has occurred, IDEAA will:
- Provide notice of the results to the parties on the same day , to the extent consistent with the confidentiality accorded to University personnel actions, and within thirty days of the conclusion of its investigation. Such notification will include an explanation of the appeal procedures in Step V.
- Forward its report to the Respondent’s Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President, or his or her designee, or other University officials on a need-no-know basis, consistent with the above provisions addressing confidentiality.
- Direct that prompt remedial action be taken to correct the situation. Any sanction that is fair and proportionate to the violation may be imposed. In determining an appropriate sanction, any record of past violations of University policies, as well as the nature and severity of such past violations, may be considered. Sanctions will be determined with consideration given to applicable University policies.
- Step IV. Corrective Action
If corrective actions are imposed, IDEAA shall monitor their implementation. The appropriate Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President shall ensure that the approved corrective actions are smoothly implemented and take measures to protect against retaliatory actions related to the allegations resulting in the corrective actions.
- Step V. Appeal
An appeal may be made by Complainant or Respondent within 14 business days of IDEAA’s notification of the results.
- Grounds for Appeal.
There are certain limited circumstances under which a case may be appealed. The appellant must demonstrate:
- A material failure to follow these Grievance Procedures during the investigation.
- Significant evidence was not considered, which would have altered the outcome of the investigation. The other party (ies) will be given a chance to respond to the request for an appeal within  business days. The Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, or her/his designee, will determine whether the request for an appeal is warranted. The parties will be informed of the decision within ten business days of receiving the request for appeal.
- Appeal Procedures
- If the request for an appeal is granted, IDEAA shall notify the appropriate Vice President, Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President. This notification shall include a copy of the formal complaint naming the Complainant and Respondent and will explain the grounds on which the appeal was granted.
- IDEAA shall then initiate the selection procedures to form a three member Grievance Panel selected from the Equal Opportunity Examining Board made up of Georgetown University administrators, faculty and staff. Grievances involving discriminatory denials of tenure, promotion or reappointment of faculty members shall be heard by panels composed of faculty or academic administrators only. The three member Grievance Panel to serve on an appeal shall be selected in the following manner:
- Within five days from the date of IDEAA’s decision to grant an appeal, the Complainant shall select one member of the Equal Opportunity Examining Board, and the Respondent shall select another.
- IDEAA shall promptly convene a meeting of these two selected panelists who shall choose the third member from the Equal Opportunity Examining Board to form the Grievance Panel.
- A member of IDEAA’s staff shall present information about the complaint to the panel members who shall recuse themselves if they have prior knowledge of the complaint, the circumstances surrounding the incidents, or any other reason which might prevent them from rendering an impartial decision. If the panelist selected by the Complainant is recused, then Complainant shall select another panelist. If the panelist selected by Respondent is recused, then Respondent shall select another panelist. If the panelist selected by the two selected panelists is recused, than the two selected panelists shall select another panelist.
- The Grievance Panel is charged with reviewing IDEAA’s investigation and determining whether the procedures were properly followed and that significant evidence was properly considered and weighed.
- The Grievance Panel shall have access to all relevant information and the opportunity to interview witnesses, including the opportunity to interview the IDEAA investigator(s), Complainant, and Respondent separately.
- The information presented to the Grievance Panel and its deliberations is confidential.
- Each party may choose an Advisor to accompany him/her to meet with the Grievance Panel. The Advisor may not speak on behalf of the party or otherwise represent the party, but may provide support and consult with the party outside of the presence of the Grievance Panel. Any party who will be accompanied by an Advisor who is an attorney must notify the Grievance Panel at least three business days prior to the meeting, so that arrangements may be made for the University’s attorney to attend.
- The Grievance Panel shall by majority vote reach one of the following results:
- support the full results of IDEAA’s investigation;
- support the results but recommend different corrective actions than those recommended by IDEAA; or
- reach different results and, if necessary, recommend different corrective actions than those recommended by IDEAA.
- Within 45 business days from its formation, the Grievance Panel shall submit a report of its results to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, or his/her designee, who will forward it with his or her approval and/or comments (if, for example, the Panel has not supported the full results of IDEAA’s investigation) to the appropriate Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President. The appropriate Executive Officer may accept the Panel’s recommendations or may reasonably modify the results with the concurrence of the Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, or his/her designee. This official’s decision is final and will be made within ten business days of receipt of the Grievance Panel’s report. IDEAA shall provide notice on the same day to the Complainant, Respondent, and his/her supervisor, if applicable, of the final result.
- If corrective actions are imposed, IDEAA shall monitor their implementation. The appropriate Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President shall ensure that the approved corrective actions are smoothly implemented and take measures to protect against retaliatory actions relating to the appeal or the underlying investigation or allegations.
- Grounds for Appeal.
- The definitions in the Policy Statement on Harassment and the Policy Statement on Sexual Misconduct are incorporated in this procedure. (Return to text.)
- If the alleged perpetrator is both a University student and an employee, IDEAA will coordinate with the student’s campus to determine the grievance procedures to apply. If an employee is the complainant and a student is the accused, the employee may consult with IDEAA in the investigation of the complaint, and IDEAA will coordinate with the student’s campus to determine any sanctions. (Return to text.)
- These procedures will proceed without a Complainant. (Return to text.)
- Where IDEAA finds a violation of the Policy Statement on Sexual Misconduct, IDEAA may notify the Complainant of the sanction or remedial action imposed on the Respondent where the sanction or remedial action relates to the Complainant. (Return to text.)
- For purposes of these procedures, if the Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President is a party to the matter, the President will be informed of the results and take the required actions. (Return to text.)
- The members of the Equal Opportunity Examining Board are selected by IDEAA and include a diverse cross section of University employees. The Faculty Senate will also appoint at least two members to this Board. (Return to text.)