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Arrow RIT Policy Prohibiting Discrimination And Harassment
Policy

The RIT community is committed to a diverse and dynamic learning, working, and living environment.

RIT will not discriminate in terms and conditions of employment, admission, and participation in programs or residential life.

RIT prohibits discrimination and harassment on campus, or at any RIT activities off campus, by its administrators, faculty, staff, students and student organizations, and external organizations and individuals in their operations with RIT.

RIT defines discrimination as behavior which uses age, citizenship, color, creed, culture, including deaf culture, disabilities, gender, marital status, national origin, political affiliation or preference, race, or sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as a basis for:

  • making hiring or admission decisions at RIT,
  • determining participation in programs at RIT or sponsored by RIT,
  • making decisions affecting an individual's employment or advancement, grade or academic standing, or access to any benefit or privilege at RIT, or
  • administering disciplinary processes except where distinctions are bona fide or otherwise permitted or required by law.

RIT defines harassment as conduct, communication, or physical contact which is unwelcome and has the purpose or effect of:

  • unreasonably interfering with an employee's or student's work, academic activities, or residential life at RIT, or participation in RIT sponsored programs or events, or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile or abusive environment for an employee or student at RIT or in RIT sponsored programs or events.

RIT is committed to an environment which encourages, promotes and protects free inquiry and free expression. Members of the RIT community have the right to hold, express vigorously, defend and openly promote their ideas and opinions. The RIT Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment is not intended to restrict freedom of speech or any form of artistic or visual expression.

The policy is also not intended to restrict discussion and debate in the classroom or academic forum. Protecting these values does not include protecting acts of discrimination or harassment.

Making an intentionally false charge of discrimination or harassment or retaliating against someone who has made a charge is as serious an offense as discrimination or harassment and is prohibited.

Definitions and Explanations

Hostile Environment:

A hostile environment involves conduct, communication or physical contact:

(1) which is severe or pervasive enough to make a reasonable person believe that the environment is intimidating or abusive, or (2) which unreasonably interferes with the person's work or academic performance, his or her campus living environment or his or her participation in RIT sponsored activities. Generally, there must be a pattern of behavior for it to be determined that an individual has created an intimidating or abusive environment for another person in violation of this Policy. It is possible, however, for one action to be so severe that it can constitute discrimination or harassment within the meaning of this Policy.

RIT Supervisor:

In this Policy and in the approaches to resolution described below, the term "RIT Supervisor" is defined as any person in a position at RIT which requires him or her to supervise other individuals and to write performance evaluations on them, whether or not this Supervisor supervises any of the parties involved in an allegation of discrimination or harassment. This definition does not include the Student Ombudsperson, the Chair of the Commission for Promoting Pluralism, or the Director of the Center for Women and Gender.

An RIT Supervisor who talks to a complainant must make clear to the complainant before the complainant states his or her complaint that if the allegation turns out to be, in the opinion of the RIT Supervisor, sufficiently serious as to merit investigation and action even though the complainant would prefer not to proceed, that the investigation will have to go forward. It should be uncommon that this course of events would occur, but individuals should understand that it is possible, given the Institute's legal obligations and its goal of assuring a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

Confidentiality:

Confidentiality will be maintained by RIT Supervisors consistent with a thorough investigation and resolution of the allegation. It should be understood, however, that in order to investigate an allegation of discrimination or harassment and in order to take action to resolve any wrongdoing or misunderstanding, it will be necessary for the investigating RIT Supervisor to share information with a limited number of other people. Information concerning an allegation of discrimination or harassment will be shared only as necessary in order to resolve the situation successfully. If the RIT Supervisor is going to do anything other than counsel the complainant, people who "need to know" include the accused person who must (1) receive notice that a complaint has been made; (2) be told the evidence against him or her and be given an opportunity to respond and; (3) be told about his or her rights and responsibilities. Others who may be informed of some information about the allegation include people who are possible sources of information concerning the facts and RIT Supervisors whose responsibilities include investigating, dealing with' or correcting the situation.

It is also possible, in the event some disciplinary action is taken as a result of the complaint, that the accused individual may choose to grieve or appeal the disciplinary action and that the complainant may be asked to participate in that process.

Following a determination by an RIT Supervisor (Administrative Action) or Hearing Panel in response to an allegation that the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment was violated, or a determination on appeal or through grievance, the complainant and the accused will be informed in a confidential manner of the decision.

Records:

  • Allegations: Allegations of discrimination or harassment involved in cases handled in the Mediation, Administrative Action, and Hearing Panel Approaches, whether instigated by the complainant or by an RIT Supervisor, as well as the results of these approaches, will be recorded in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File.
  • Agreements: A record of any agreement which results from Mediation will also be kept in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File.
  • Violations: Findings of violations of this Policy and any disciplinary sanctions imposed will be recorded in the official personnel file or student record of the person found to have violated the Policy.

Central Confidential Discrimination and Harassment File:

Throughout this Policy, reference is made to the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File. This File, separate from the employees' personnel files and the students' official records, is maintained at two sites: in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for those records, as specified in this Policy, which result when a student is the accused person; and in the Office of the Director of Human Resources for those records, as specified in this Policy, which result when an employee is the accused person. At both sites, the File is to be kept strictly confidential by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Director of Human Resources.

Access to entries in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File will be controlled by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Director of Human Resources. RIT Supervisors or Vice Presidents may request that the File be examined for entries regarding an individual student or employee when such information is relevant to the resolution of a pending case. Individual students or employees may also request that the File be examined and that they be informed of any entries pertaining to themselves as an accused, provided that the names, but not the existence of, complainants who requested confidentiality will be withheld if not previously disclosed to the accused.

The records in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File will be reviewed annually by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Director of Human Resources, and records older than 10 years will be destroyed.

Private Notes:

Individuals involved in any of the processes for resolution of allegations, informal or formal, may take private notes of meetings, actions, agreements, or any other aspect of the process. These notes may not be requested as evidence, by either party, in any subsequent internal RIT procedures.

Procedures

Seeking Advice:

Resolving issues of discrimination or harassment often starts with parties seeking advice on what is and is not unacceptable behavior. Advice can come from many sources. However, the Institute feels it is important that the complainant or accused receive information and assistance from individuals who are knowledgeable in addressing issues of discrimination and harassment.

The Institute has designated the Chair of the Commission for Promoting Pluralism, the Student Ombudsperson, and the Director of the The Center for Women and Gender as the general advisors to all employees and students on issues of discrimination and harassment. These advisors will assist individuals with understanding the approaches available to resolve a complaint.

Seeking advice from the Chair of the Commission for Promoting Pluralism and/or the Student Ombudsperson and/or the Director of the The Center for Women and Gender or using the Informal Approach of an exchange solely between the people involved or with any third party will not result in a record being kept by the Institute in the employee's personnel file or the student's file, or in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File.

Approaches to Resolution:

When a student is accused, approaches available for resolution include the Informal Approach, the Mediation Approach, and the RIT Student Conduct Process as contained in the RIT Policies and Procedures Manual and in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.

When an RIT employee is accused, approaches available for resolution include the Informal Approach, the Mediation Approach, the Administrative Action Approach, and the Hearing Panel Approach.

Informal Approach
Any person who feels that another RIT community member violated the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment can directly discuss the behavior perceived to be offensive and/or unwanted with the other individual or with any third party in order to try to resolve the problem and see that it does not occur again. The approach can be in person or in writing. A statement of facts and of feelings about these facts together with a request that specific behavior be stopped is suggested most likely to be effective.

The complainant may want help in dealing with someone's behavior. The complainant may request a third party either to meet with the accused alone or to meet with the complainant and the accused to discuss the behavior and ways to resolve the situation.

A complainant who chooses to involve an RIT Supervisor in an Informal Approach to resolution must be aware of the special responsibility of RIT Supervisors as defined in this Policy (see DEFINITIONS: RIT Supervisor, page 2).

Neither the President nor the Vice Presidents nor the Student Conduct Officer for students may serve in the capacity of a third party in an Informal Approach to resolution because, if the Administrative Action or the Hearing Panel Approach or the RIT Student Conduct Process is subsequently used, these individuals may be called upon to determine the action to be taken against the accused, should discrimination or harassment be found.

This Informal Approach, like all approaches discussed, in an option. No records or sanctions result from using the Informal Approach to resolution. The complainant may, however, choose to use another approach.

Mediation Approach
The complainant or accused may request an Institute mediator to assist in resolving the complaint. Mediation is a voluntary process and involves both parties agreeing to meet together with a neutral person identified and trained by the Institute as a mediator. The objective of mediation is to work out a written agreement, between the accused and the complainant, regarding future behavior.

The Director of Human Resources and the Vice President for Student Affairs will maintain the list of Institute mediators. The request for mediation must be in writing and signed by both parties and sent to the Director of Human Resources (when an employee is accused) or the Vice President for Student Affairs (when a student is accused). A mediator can be selected by the parties or, if the parties so choose, assigned by the Director of Human Resources or the Vice President for Student Affairs.

The mediator will outline the process to both parties. No other parties are to participate in the mediation other than the mediator, the complainant, and the accused.

Mediation, if successful, will include a record of agreement prepared by the mediator and signed by both parties. Copies of this signed agreement will be sent to both parties. If either party is an employee, the Director of Human Resources will be sent a copy by the mediator, to be maintained in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File, separate from the employee's official personnel file. If either party is a student, the Vice President for Student Affairs will be sent a copy to be maintained in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File, separate from the student's official student record.

The mediator's role is to serve as a neutral party assisting the complainant and accused to arrive at a written agreement. The mediator does not keep a copy of the agreement nor enforce the agreement. The mediator cannot appear as a witness if either party later pursues a formal complaint or appeal or grievance.

If either party feels dissatisfied during mediation, the arrangement can be broken and another resolution approach pursued.

RIT Student Conduct Process (When a student is accused)
When the accused is a student, refer to the policy on RIT Student Conduct Process contained in this Manual and in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook where the procedures for handling complaints, taking administrative action, and appeal of such actions are presented.

Administrative Action Approach (When an employee is accused)
There may be times when the complainant or the accused is not satisfied with the results of Informal attempts to resolve a situation or does not want to use the Mediation Approach. There may also be times when an RIT Supervisor may believe that in order to further the Institute's goal of providing a discrimination and harassment free workplace, it is necessary for him or her to proceed on his or her own initiative to resolve a situation.

In these cases, the complainant or the accused can request an RIT Supervisor, or if the allegation is sufficiently serious, an RIT Supervisor can decide at his or her own discretion, to investigate and take appropriate action concerning an incident of possible discrimination or harassment by a faculty or staff member. The Supervisor shall, after establishing that the facts and circumstances warrant an investigation, use the investigatory and disciplinary practices regularly used by the Institute in other employment matters. Such an investigation and the subsequent action, if a violation of this Policy is found, will be undertaken in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources. The Supervisor will tell the complainant the result of the investigation and, if a violation of this Policy has been found, whether disciplinary action will be taken against the accused. Generally, the complainant will not be told the specific disciplinary actions, if any, to be imposed.

In cases where disciplinary practices are used by the Institute and disciplinary action results, the employee who is disciplined must use the applicable Institute grievance procedure if he or she wants to question the action taken, rather than use the appeal process set forth below in the section dealing with Hearing Panels.

If either the complainant or the accused requests, the RIT Supervisor handling an allegation of discrimination or harassment will refer the case to the Hearing Panel Approach described below rather than proceed to address it by means of the Administrative Action Approach set forth in this Section.

Hearing Panel Approach (When an employee is accused)
I
f the complainant wants to have his or her allegation that an Institute faculty or staff member has violated this Policy determined by a Hearing Panel, the complainant must prepare a written complaint that indicates the alleged discriminating or harassing behavior.

The complaint should include, where applicable:

  • a chronology of events
  • all relevant facts
  • the name(s) of any witness(es) to the behavior or the incident(s)
  • in the case of harassment, a statement indicating whether the accused was told that the behavior was unwelcome.

The complaint must be signed and forwarded to the Director of Human Resources who will conduct an initial discussion with the complainant to establish that the facts and circumstances warrant a formal investigation.

After this discussion if the facts and circumstances warrant a formal investigation and the complainant chooses to pursue this action, the Director of Human Resources will:

  • notify the accused that an official complaint has been received
  • deliver a copy of the formal complaint to the accused and complainant
  • present an outline and explanation of procedures for resolution
  • provide to the accused and the complainant the names of the members and alternate members of the Institute Hearing Board who are eligible to serve on the hearing panel.

Within five class days of the decision to proceed with a formal complaint, the complainant and accused will be required to indicate to the Director of Human Resources any Hearing Board members whom they do not want to serve as members of their hearing panel. From the remaining names, the Director of Human Resources will select two members who, with the Director of Human Resources, will serve as the panel. The panel will convene within 15 class days of the receipt of the complaint.

Prior to the hearing date, the accused and complainant must submit to the Director of Human Resources any written documentation or statements that they feel are appropriate to the case. All witnesses to be called at the hearing must be identified by the parties and made known to the parties before the hearing.

The Director of Human Resources will notify the accused, the complainant, and all witnesses identified of the date of the hearing. All hearings will be conducted in a private session. The complainant and the accused will have the right to be accompanied by a personal advocate of their choice who is either an employee or student of the Institute. The advocate cannot be an attorney. Each party may also have a personal advisor present. The personal advisor may be an attorney, but the attorney's role will be limited to advising his or her client. All hearings will be tape recorded by the panel; no other tape recording will be permitted. The audio tape will be supplemented by a single fixed camera video tape if one is requested by either party. If a sign language interpreter has been requested by any participant, the interpreter will appear on the video tape.

Hearing Process:

The accused and the complainant will be present during the entire hearing. The Director of Human Resources will outline the hearing process and read the allegation aloud.

After the allegation is read, the complainant will have the opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the complaint and any evidence that may be available.

The panel and the accused will have the opportunity to question the complainant and the witnesses.

The accused will then have the Opportunity to refute the charges or present any contrary evidence.

The panel and the complainant will have the opportunity to question the accused and the witnesses. An opportunity will be given for the complainant, the accused, and the witnesses to present additional evidence.

The hearing panel will have sole discretion to adjourn and/or end the hearing.

Findings:

Within 5 class days of the hearing, the hearing panel will issue a written summary of their findings and their conclusion as to whether:

  • · the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment has been violated, or
  • · the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment has not been violated;

The hearing panel will give the summary document to the Vice President of the division in which the accused is employed. A copy of the document will be forwarded to the complainant and to the accused.

If a violation of the policy is found, the Vice President will review the summary of the panel, the official personnel file of the accused, and other records of discrimination or harassment complaints against the accused. Within 5 class days from the findings being issued, action against the accused will be determined. The Vice President, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources, will determine the disciplinary action that will be taken by the Institute and will communicate this action, in writing, to the accused, with a copy to the Director of Human Resources. The Vice President will tell the complainant whether disciplinary action will be taken by the Institute. Generally, the complainant will not be told the specific disciplinary sanctions, if any, to be imposed.

If the Director of Human Resources is the complainant or the accused, the role assigned in these procedures to the Director of Human Resources will be fulfilled by a designee of the Provost, or if the Provost is the complainant or the accused, by a designee of the President.

If the accused is a Vice President, the President will receive the findings from the hearing panel and issue the appropriate action. If the President is the accused, the Board of Trustees will serve as the hearing panel and will decide on the action to be taken

The role of the Vice President is to determine the action to be taken and not to rule on whether the policy has been violated. This is the responsibility of the hearing panel.

If a violation of the policy is found, a copy of the complaint, the summary of the hearing panel, and the details of any disciplinary actions will be placed in the accused employee's official personnel file.

If a violation of the policy is not found, a record of this result will be placed in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File in the Office of the Director of Human Resources.

In all cases, all other documentation, including the panel's tape recording, will be placed in the central, confidential Discrimination and Harassment File in the Office of the Director of Human Resources. This file will be destroyed after 10 years from the date of the complaint.

Appeal to the President of the Institute (When an employee is accused):

In cases other than when the accused is the President, an appeal to the President may be initiated as follows:

Following a Hearing Panel decision and the determination of the action to be taken, an appeal can be initiated by the accused or the complainant. An appeal shall be limited to a review of the record only on one or more of the following grounds:

  • to determine whether the process was conducted fairly in light of the charge and evidence presented
  • to determine whether the finding was based on substantial evidence that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support the conclusion
  • to determine whether the sanctions imposed were appropriate for the violation
  • to bring new evidence which was not brought out in the original hearing process and which is sufficient to alter the decision
  • to determine whether the hearing panel or the Vice President was biased or unable to consider the case objectively

The written appeal must be received by the President's office within 20 class days from the date the Vice President issued action against the accused.

The President's office will send a copy of the appeal to the hearing panel that served on the complaint, the Vice President of the division in which the accused is employed, and the opposing party in the original complaint.

Any of these individuals can submit a written statement, concerning the grounds of the appeal, to the President.

The President will conduct an investigation, as he or she deems necessary, concerning the grounds of the appeal.

The President will issue his or her findings within four weeks from the day the appeal was received. The written decision will be sent to the accused and the complainant, the Vice President of the division in which the accused is employed, the Director of Human Resources, and the hearing panel.

The President's decision will be final.

Dismissal:

The dismissal of a tenured faculty member, or of an untenured or educational development faculty member before the expiration of an appointment, will not occur directly as a sanction under the procedures set forth in this Policy. However, as part of the sanction imposed upon a faculty member as the result of a finding of having violated this Policy, an RIT Supervisor can indicate his or her intention to initiate the process of dismissal of the faculty member for cause under the regular Institute procedures. Such process may commence after any appeal or grievance concerning the original determination is completed, provided that a violation of this Policy is upheld. In such cases, the Dismissal Review Committee shall take as a given the factual finding, made pursuant to this Policy, that the RIT Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment has been violated and shall limit their considerations to whether or not the conduct found to have occurred merits dismissal.

The dismissal of a staff member, or the dismissal of an untenured or an educational development faculty member at the expiration of an appointment, can occur directly as a sanction under the procedures set forth in this Policy.

The dismissal of a student can occur directly as a sanction imposed under the RIT Student Conduct Process through which complaints against students are handled.

Approved April 13, 1994
Last Revised January 20, 1999