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Policies

Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure

COMPLAINTS AGAINST FACULTY OR STAFF

Preliminary Counseling and Guidance

Lewis & Clark College is determined to provide an environment free of discrimination and harassment. The term “harassment” here includes all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment. This process is to be used for complaints against faculty or staff to resolve charges of discrimination and harassment based upon actual or perceived race, color, sex, religion, age, marital status, national origin, the presence of any physical or sensory disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other basis protected by applicable local, state or federal law.

In the case of a student complaint of disability discrimination, please refer to the Disability Grievance Procedure in the Pathfinder (CAS), What’s What (Law School) or The Navigator.

Any member of the College community who feels that he or she has been subject to discrimination or harassment is encouraged but not required to notify the offender firmly and promptly that his or her behavior is unwelcome and inappropriate. It is recognized that power and status disparities may make such a discussion difficult.

Any faculty or staff member who believes they are a victim of discrimination or harassment is encouraged to contact EASE, our employee assistance program (800 654 9778) for confidential counseling regarding the matter. Any student who believes they are a victim of discrimination or harassment is encouraged to contact the Counseling Service http://www.lclark.edu/offices/counseling_service/ for counseling regarding the matter.

The complaint procedure set forth below should be used if a victim is interested in the matter being investigated as a violation of College policy. Once reported to the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources the College may be required as a matter of law to investigate. While the College will attempt to maintain confidentiality to protect the parties during the investigation, complete confidentiality is often impossible to achieve. Also, it is important to understand that the College’s interest in maintaining confidentiality is for the protection of the parties involved, not out of any interest in silencing the victims of inappropriate conduct. Victims of harassment or discrimination are free to discuss the matter with others, but are encouraged to seek professional counseling help and exercise due care for the rights of others.

As a less formal alternative to reporting a matter to the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources any person who feels s/he has been discriminated against or harassed by a faculty or staff member may consider conferring with an Ombudsperson from the Office of Ombudsperson (Campus Phone 7336). Discussions with an Ombudsperson are confidential. An Ombudsperson is not authorized to conduct investigations of complaints they receive.

Both the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and the College Ombudsperson are conversant with the Discrimination and Harassment Policy, the Sexual Harassment Policy and these complaint procedures. The Ombudsperson will provide relevant information to any member of the Lewis & Clark College community. The Ombudsperson can also offer guidance on the various options and resources available to address the situation.

If a complainant prefers that an investigation be conducted the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources will act as the intake person. If for some reason a complainant does not want to confer with the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources but wants to file a complaint he or she should confer with the appropriate Dean or Vice President for his or her area.

Complaint Procedure

The College is obligated to investigate allegations of a violation of the Discrimination and Harassment Policy and the Sexual Harassment Policy. For this reason, the College may be obligated to move forward with an investigation, even when a person with a complaint simply wants to be heard, but does not want a formal investigation. If a complainant is not sure whether to file a complaint with the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources he or she may consult with an Ombudsperson.

The allegations may have to be pursued to protect the well being of the parties or others in the community and fulfill compliance obligations. Every effort will be made to keep the parties apprised of the progress of the process.

The College may investigate suspected instances of discrimination and harassment even when individual complaints are not made. If a supervisor or other managerial employee has reason to believe that an environment of harassment exists, or that any other provision of this policy is being violated, appropriate action may be taken.

Mediated Resolution

In many cases, the parties concerned may desire an informal resolution of allegations of discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment. An informal resolution is one in which a satisfactory solution to the issue is agreed upon, generally with no formal investigation, findings or unilateral disciplinary action. Problems are sometimes easier to resolve when an informal atmosphere encourages people to identify the difficulty, talk it out, and agree on how to deal with it.

The person receiving the complaint may explore whether the parties wish to seek an informal resolution or whether they wish to proceed directly to the investigation and subsequent finding as to the complaint.

An informal resolution typically includes the appropriate Dean or Vice President or his/her designee meeting separately with the complainant and the accused, discussing the problem, possible violation(s) of policy and possible solutions, mediating to establish satisfactory conditions for further College-related interactions, and coordinating on-going steps to assure a successful resolution.

An attempt at a mediated resolution is recommended but not required prior to an investigation of the complaint.

After a complaint is received an investigator may be appointed. The investigator will ordinarily notify the accused that he or she has been named in a complaint and describe the nature of the complaint.

Confidentiality

Discrimination and harassment are particularly sensitive issues. The investigator has the discretion to make inquiries of people other than the complainant and the accused to obtain a full understanding of the facts.

These confidentiality provisions are not intended to silence victims, but rather to protect parties and the integrity of investigations into alleged discrimination and harassment. The College is very sensitive to the need for victims to discuss incidents of discrimination or harassment with counselors, trusted advisors and friends as part of the recovery process. However, complainants are encouraged to allow the College to investigate and take appropriate corrective action rather than using negative publicity to expose or punish parties involved.

All other individuals who are involved in the complaint reporting, mediation and/or investigation process are expected to maintain strict confidentiality. They are also expected to be cooperative, honest and forthcoming if interviewed as part of a complaint investigation. A breach of these expectations by students may result in a disciplinary action. A breach of these expectations by faculty or staff may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Possible disciplinary actions for faculty members will be considered with reference to the College’s policy on termination and non renewal of faculty appointments.

Efforts will be made to ensure the confidentiality of information received as part of the College’s complaint procedure. It may be possible in some situations to attempt a confidential mediation or resolution of the complaint, to address the situation in some other manner, or take corrective action as appropriate for the situation without revealing the complainant’s identity. If, due to circumstances of the alleged discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment, it is not possible to conduct a review or resolve the complaint and yet maintain confidentiality, the investigator will ordinarily discuss this issue with the complainant. Details of the investigation will be limited to those determined to have a need to know.

Investigation

The purpose of an investigation is to establish whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the alleged policy violation has indeed occurred. In conducting the investigation, the investigator may interview and/or obtain written statements from the complainant, the accused, and other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge. The investigation must afford the accused the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Not all inappropriate conduct constitutes discrimination or harassment. When investigations identify inappropriate behaviors or actions that may not violate the Discrimination and Harassment Policy or the Sexual Harassment Policy, but violate other College policies or expectations of faculty, staff and students, these behaviors and actions may result in disciplinary action. A separate investigation may be conducted if possible College policy violations outside the scope of a discrimination or harassment complaint investigation are uncovered.

Upon the timely completion of the investigation, the investigator shall make a written recommendation to the appropriate Executive Officer.

Possible outcomes of the investigation are (a) a determination that the allegations are not warranted or cannot be substantiated; (b) a negotiated resolution of the complaint; (c) a determination that a violation of the policy has not occurred but inappropriate actions/behaviors have occurred which may merit a disciplinary action; or (d) a determination that a violation of the policy occurred

When a violation of this policy is established, the action to be taken shall be immediate and appropriate to prevent any recurrence, and shall be reasonably related to the gravity and/or frequency of the violation or violations. The College shall take whatever disciplinary action it considers appropriate under the circumstances, including but not limited to counseling, reprimand, suspension, transfer, expulsion or termination.

Possible disciplinary actions for faculty members will be considered with reference to the College’s policy on termination and nonrenewal of faculty appointments.

The appropriate Executive Officer will make the ultimate determination of the action to be taken in response to any finding of a violation of this policy. The resolution of an alleged violation of this policy shall be made as expeditiously as possible, consistent with the facts and the process. A final determination will be communicated in writing to the person alleged to have violated this policy and to the complainant. The Office of Human Resources will retain in a secure place a record of any investigation and determination as to an alleged violation of this policy.

Appeals

If either party does not agree with the determination, that party may file a grievance. Different grievance procedures apply depending on the employment status of the individual at Lewis & Clark College.

Staff members, and faculty members not otherwise covered by the Faculty Grievance Procedure listed in the Faculty Handbook, may proceed directly to step 3 of the Grievance Procedure listed in the Staff Handbook. This procedure may also be used by students who make the complaint when the student does not agree with the determination.

Faculty who are covered by the Faculty Handbook may use the Faculty Grievance Procedure in the Faculty Handbook.

COMPLAINTS AGAINST STUDENTS

College of Arts and Sciences

Policies and procedures related to accusations of discrimination and harassment made against an undergraduate student are included in the broader Sexual Conduct Policy or the Student Code of Conduct, which is found in the student handbook (Pathfinder) and the Pathfinder Online at http://college.lclark.edu/student_life/student_handbook/. The sexual harassment policy is similar to that for faculty and staff; however, given the residential context of many student to student interactions, “campus living” situations are also included as a category where the effect of sexual harassment may create a hostile campus living environment in the residence halls. These student policies outline both informal and formal resolution mechanisms. Questions or concerns may be directed to the Dean of Students.

Law School

Complaints of discrimination and harassment made against a Law School student should be reported to the Dean or his/her designee.

Graduate School

Complaints of discrimination and harassment made against a Graduate School student should be reported to the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. Complaint procedures are outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Time Period for Filing a Complaint

Prompt reporting of a complaint is strongly encouraged, as it allows for rapid response to and resolution of objectionable behavior. In the interest of early resolution and in the interests of fairness to the parties involved, any complaint must be made within two years of the last instance of the conduct alleged to have violated this policy.

Approved by the Executive Council, May 2, 2002.
Revised on June 4, 2008.

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