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Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy and Complaint Resolution Procedure

I. Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Non-Harassment, and Non-Retaliation and Reporting

Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of protected status (see Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity for a definition of "protected status") are strictly prohibited. Persons who engage in such conduct are subject to discipline up to and including termination or dismissal.

Preventing prohibited discrimination, harassment, and retaliation is the responsibility of all members of the College Community. All College employees, supervisors, and administrators who have not been designated as confidential employees because of professional or pastoral confidentiality, are considered responsible employees under the policy and must immediately report any complaints, reports, observations, or other information of alleged discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, to the designated coordinator, even if that College employee is investigating the alleged discrimination as part of the College's student or employee disciplinary process. Supervisors and employees should also provide complainants with information for filing a complaint of discrimination.

The College will respond to reports of perceived prohibited conduct in an adequate, reliable, impartial manner, as set forth below. If the College determines that discrimination, harassment, or retaliation has occurred, appropriate corrective and remedial actions will be taken.

 

II. Scope

This policy applies to reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of protect status, other than discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of sex or gender, which are governed exclusively by the College's Sexual Misconduct Policy.

This policy governs reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in all the College's programs and activities and applies to all members of the College Community. It applies to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that occurs on campus, during or at an official College program or activity (regardless of location), and to off campus or online conduct when the conduct could deny or limit a person's ability to participate in or benefit from the College's programs and activities.

 

III. Prohibited Conduct

A. Discrimination

Discrimination is adverse treatment of an individual based on protected status. It is a violation of this policy to discriminate on the basis of a protected status in any of the College's programs and activities. A list of protected statuses is located in the Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity.

B. Harassment

Harassment consists of unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an employee, student, or other member of the College Community, including third-parties, because of protected status. Harassment constitutes a form of prohibited discrimination if it denies or limits a person's ability to participate in or benefit from the College's programs and activities ("discriminatory harassment").

Examples of conduct prohibited by this policy may include, but are not limited to, inappropriate gestures, inappropriate written or electronic material, threats or intimidating or hostile conduct, physical acts of aggression, assault, or violence, criminal offenses, jokes or pranks, name-calling, offensive objects or pictures that are hostile or demeaning with regard to a person's protected status or have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, abusive or offensive working or academic environment.

C. Retaliation

The College prohibits retaliation against anyone for reporting discrimination or harassment, assisting in making a report, cooperating in an investigation or proceeding or otherwise exercising his or her rights or responsibilities under this policy and applicable federal, state, and local laws.

Retaliation prohibited by this policy consists of materially adverse action, such as disparaging comments, uncivil behavior, or other negative treatment of an employee, student, or other member of the College Community because a report has been made pursuant to this policy or because an individual otherwise cooperated with the College's investigation.

D. Sexual Misconduct

The College's Sexual Misconduct Policy governs the reporting, investigation, and determination of reports of sex and/or gender discrimination and other forms of sexual misconduct.

All reports of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence; domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking; and related retaliation will be investigated and resolved pursuant to the College's Sexual Misconduct Policy.

 

IV. Investigation and Resolution Procedures

A. Commencement of Investigation

When a report of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation is received, the report will be referred to the appropriate College official for investigation and resolution as set forth in this policy, depending on the nature of the complaint and status of the parties. The College strives to resolve complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation within 60 days of a report. if, based on the complexity of the complaint, time to resolution will exceed 60 days, the reasons will be communicated to the complainant and the respondent. If any person involved in investigating or resolving reports of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation under this section determines that they cannot apply them fairly because of a conflict of interest, another individual will be designated to fulfill their responsibilities. The College will not delay its investigation of discrimination complaints, even if an outside entity or law enforcement agency is investigating a complaint involving the same facts and allegations, and the College will not wait for the conclusion or outcome of a criminal investigation or proceeding to begin an investigation required by this grievance procedure.

Examples of possible interim protective measures during the pendency of an investigation may include, but are not limited to, any necessary counseling, academic support or transcript modification for students, and schedule adjustments of academic, extracurricular, employment, or other activities. Any adjustments will be designed to minimize the burden on the complainant's access to the College's educational, employment or other programs.

B. Content of Investigation

Under the formal complaint resolution procedure, the College official who received the complaint will investigate or designate an investigator to investigate the report. During the investigation, both the complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to identify witnesses and evidence. Investigations will be handled discreetly, with information shared only with those persons who need to know the information in order for there to be a full and fair investigation. The College may impose interim protective measures during the pendency of the investigation to protect and separate the parties. The potential need for interim protective measures will be discussed with the parties.

C. Informal Resolution

The complainant or respondent may request to resolve the complaint informally. If both parties voluntarily agree to attempt informal resolution, the process will be facilitated by the College official identified as responsible for coordinating the College's response or a designee, depending on the nature of the complaint. At any point during the informal process, either party may initiate the formal complaint procedure. An informal resolution process will not delay the College's duty to conduct a prompt investigation of a complaint of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

D. Resolution

The investigator will prepare a written notification that summarizes the results of the investigation. Other College administrators may be consulted by the investigator at this stage, as deemed appropriate. The investigator's notification will include a final determination as to whether or not the complaint is substantiated based on a preponderance of the evidence standard. Put another way, the investigator will determine whether it is more likely than not that discrimination, harassment, or retaliation occurred.

If the complaint is substantiated, the investigator will determine what remedial measures will be taken to address the misconduct, including discipline for the respondent or initiation of disciplinary proceeding pursuant to other applicable College policies. The investigator may consult with other College administrators as appropriate when determining disciplinary actions. Substantiated incidents of conduct prohibited by this policy can lead to discipline up to and including dismissal and termination.

The investigator will communicate the final determination to the complainant and respondent in writing. The written notice will include:

  1. A summary of the allegations and facts,
  2. An analysis of the appropriate legal standards applied to the specific facts,
  3. Findings regarding whether discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation occurred using a preponderance of the evidence standard, and
  4. If a finding is  made that prohibited conduct occurred, the recommended remedies necessary to eliminate discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects will also be included.

Examples of measures aimed to eliminate discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects include, but are not limited to, counseling, academic support or transcript modification for students, and schedule adjustments of academic, extracurricular, employment, or other activities.

 

V. Special Procedure Concerning Reports against the President, a Board Member, the Investigator or Other Administrators Ranked Higher than the Investigator

If a complaint involved alleged conduct on the part of the College's President, the College's Board of Trustees will designate the investigator. Based on the information gathered during the investigation, the Board of Trustees will issue a written notice determining the outcome of the complaint. The determination of the Board of Trustees is final and not subject to appeal.

If a complaint involved alleged conduct on the part of a member of the Board of Trustees, the remaining members of the Board of Trustees will designate the investigator. Based on the information gathered by the investigation, the remaining members of the Board of Trustees will issue the written notice determining the outcome of the complaint. The determination of the remaining members of the Board of Trustees is final and not subject to appeal.

If a complaint involved alleged conduct on the part of the investigator or nay administrator ranked higher than the investigator, the College's President will designate the investigator. Based on the information gathered during the investigation, the President will issue the written notice determining the outcome of the complaint. The determination of the President is final and not subject to appeal.

The written notice after an investigation using these special procedures will include:

  1. A summary of the allegations and facts,
  2. An analysis of the appropriate legal standards applied to the specific facts,
  3. Findings regarding whether discrimination occurred using a preponderance of the evidence standard, and
  4. If a finding is made that discrimination occurred, the recommend remedies necessary to eliminate discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.

 

VI. Appeals

A. Applicability

This appeals section applies to all appeal of determination of complaints made under this policy when an employee or third party is the respondent. All appeals of determinations where a student is a respondent will be addressed pursuant to the applicable student policy.

B. Process

The complainant or respondent may appeal the outcome of a complaint only on the following grounds:

  1. There is a substantial likelihood that newly discovered information, not available at the time evidence was presented to the investigator, would result in a different decision;
  2. There was a procedural error significant enough to call the outcome into question;
  3. There was a clear error in factual findings;
  4. There was a bias or prejudice on the part of the investigator; or
  5. The punishment or corrective action imposed is disproportionate to the offense.

Appeals must be filed with the designated Appellate Officer that will be outlined in the notice of determination ("Appellate Officer") within ten (10) College business days of receipt of the written notice determining the outcome of the complaint. The appeal must be in writing and contain the following:

  1. Name of the complainant;
  2. Name of the respondent;
  3. A statement of the determination of the complaint, including corrective action, if any;
  4. A detailed statement of the basis for the appeal including the specific facts, circumstances, and argument in support of it; and
  5. Requested action, if any.

The appellant may request a meeting with the Appellate Officer, but the decision to grant a meeting is within the Appellate Officer's discretion. However, if a meeting is granted, then the other party will be granted a similar opportunity.

C. Resolution

The Appellate Officer will resolve the appeal within then (10) College business days of receiving it and may take any and all actions that they determine to be in the interest of a fair and just decision. The decision of the Appellate Officer is final. The Appellate Officer shall issue a written notice of the resolution of the appeal, including any changes made to the investigators previous written determination. The written statement shall be provided to the complainant and respondent within five (5) business days of the resolution.

 

VII. Duties and Responsibilities

The College's Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the College's compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; the Director of Student Accessibility Resources is responsible for coordinating the College's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, for students; and the Dean for Student Affairs or their designee is responsible for coordinating the College's compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for students; the Executive Director for Human Resources or their designee is responsible for coordinating the College's compliance with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act for employees.

It is the responsibility of the College official identified above to:

  1. Receive complaints made under this policy;
  2. Coordinate dissemination of information and education and training programs;
  3. Assist members of the College Community in understanding that discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are prohibited by this policy;
  4. Answer questions about this policy;
  5. Appoint investigators, or investigate, and ensure that they are trained to respond to and investigate complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation under this policy;
  6. Ensure that employees and students are aware of the procedures for reporting and addressing complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation;
  7. Oversee the implementation of the policy; and
  8. Document all reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation under this policy and establish a protocol for recordkeeping.

 

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