Discrimination and Harassment Policy
It is the policy of the University to maintain an educational and work environment free from all types of discrimination and harassment; an open environment which values and protects individual dignity and the integrity of human relationships. Accordingly, all forms of discrimination against or harassment of any member of the University community whether based on race, color, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, Vietnam or disabled veteran status or other characteristics recognized legally as unacceptable are prohibited.
The educational process at the University is based on mutual trust, freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression, and the absence of intimidation and exploitation. Such an atmosphere of respect and regard for individual dignity among members of the academic community is essential if the University is to function as the center of academic freedom and intellectual advancement. In addition, the University has a compelling interest in assuring the provision of an environment in which learning and work may thrive. Such an environment requires free and unfettered discussion of the widest possible nature, one which encourages expression of all points of view. Assertions regarding any of the characteristics listed above should be directly related to the exchange of ideas, ideologies or philosophies. Any such assertions that constitute sexual or other forms of harassment will not be tolerated.
What are Harassment and Sexual Harassment
Legal basis. The following definitions of sexual harassment are provided with reference to and are intended to be inclusive of the provisions of federal and state civil rights acts including Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, state code as well as applicable case law.
Harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to the status of having one (1) or more of the characteristics set forth above by an individual or by that individual’s relatives, friends, or associates, if the conduct also:
- has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment;
- has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance;
- otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities;
- has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or otherwise study or learning environment;
- has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s study or learning experience; or
- otherwise adversely affects an individual’s educational opportunities.
Sexual Harassment. Maryville University will not tolerate verbal or physical misconduct by any administrator, supervisor, faculty member, staff member or student which constitutes sexual harassment of any faculty/staff member or student as outlined in the EEOC Sex Discrimination Guidelines. Sexual harassment is defined as:
- when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic work;
- when submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
- when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or ability to learn or creating a hostile or offensive working or academic environment.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individual.
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic work (Section 1604.11 of the EEOC Guidelines on Sex Discrimination).
Examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
- unwelcome sexual propositions
- graphic comments about a person’s body
- sexually suggestive objects or pictures in the workplace or classroom
- sexually degrading words to describe a person
- derogatory or sexually explicit statements about an actual or supposed sexual relationship
- unwelcome touching, patting, pinching or leering
- derogatory gender-based humor
Such conduct, whether intended or not, constitutes sexual harassment and is illegal under both State and Federal law. Violations of this policy will not be permitted. Any faculty, staff or student who violates this policy will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal. Maryville University treats all sexual harassment complaints seriously and expects that anyone who raises a harassment issue will act responsibly, recognizing the sensitivity of such matters for all concerned and the possible consequences. The University will investigate all complaints of sexual harassment made in accordance with this procedure. The University will endeavor to preserve confidentiality to the extent it does not interfere with the investigation or impair anyone’s rights and will endeavor to handle all complaints in a sensitive manner.
How To Make A Complaint
|Complaints that may be addressed under this policy include complaints based on the conduct of University students, faculty and staff members and other persons acting in official University capacities. Individuals who believe that they have been harassed or discriminated against should address their concerns to the appropriate administrative official at the University as set forth below.|
|Faculty or Staff Member||Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer or Vice President for Administration and Finance|
|Student||Dean of Student Life or Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer|
For more information about making a complaint, please go to the end of this document. If the appropriate administrator is the subject of the harassment or discrimination allegations the complainant should direct the complaint to one of the other appropriate administrators.
Official allegations of harassment or discrimination are to be made to the appropriate administrator in writing within 90 calendar days of the allegedly harassing or discriminatory event. The complaint must include the following information: name, address, and telephone number of the complainant; the nature of the complaint; date(s) and location(s) of the alleged occurrences(s); evidence on which the complaint is based; and the redress sought by the complainant. Prior to or at any time after the submission of a complaint, the complainant may seek confidential advice and guidance from a University Civil Rights Ombud as provided below.
The appropriate administrator shall have 20 calendar days in which to conduct an investigation of the complaint. The appropriate administrator may act as investigator or may arrange for another individual to act as investigator in the matter. The investigator shall be familiar with the appropriate sanctions that might be imposed against the individual against whom the complaint is made in the event that harassment or discrimination is found to have occurred. The investigator’s report will be provided to an officer of the University or supervisor with the requisite authority to impose such sanctions.
The purpose of the investigation is to establish (1) whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that the alleged violation of the policy has occurred; (2) the factual circumstances surrounding the claim; and (3) the appropriate sanction to be imposed on an individual found to have engaged in prohibited conduct. The investigator shall promptly provide the person against whom the complaint is made with a copy of the formal complaint and shall notify the appropriate officer of the University or supervisor of the nature of the complaint and of the identity of the parties.
In conducting the investigation, the investigator may interview the complainant, the person against whom the complaint is made, and any other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge. At all times, the investigator shall take steps to maintain strict confidentiality. The parties and any notified officer of the University or supervisor shall maintain strict confidentiality as well.
The investigation shall afford the person against whom the complaint is made an opportunity to respond to the allegations of the complaint. The person against whom the complaint is made may seek confidential advice and guidance from a University Civil Rights Ombud as provided below in paragraph 126.96.36.199. The investigator shall be in communication with the complainant until the complaint is resolved. The complainant shall be informed of general actions taken but shall not be informed of specific conversations held with the person against whom the complaint is made.
Upon the expiration of the 20 calendar day period the Investigator shall have an additional 10 calendar days to produce a written report summarizing the findings of fact and providing recommendations as to the appropriate administrative action to be taken. This report will be provided to the parties, to the appropriate officer of the University or supervisor and to the President of the University. If sanctions are imposed, this report will become a part of the personnel file of the individual against whom the complaint was made.
Recommended sanctions may include, but are not limited to, written reprimand of the person against whom the complaint is made, suspension or dismissal of the person against whom the complaint is made; a change of grade or other academic record, a change of course section, a change of reporting line for an employee, or any other appropriate sanction(s) under the circumstances. Sanctions will be imposed in accordance with the provisions set forth in the Faculty Policy Manual, the Staff Policy Manual or the Student Policy Manual, as applicable.
Employee Feedback Line
A confidential employee feedback system is available through an external service to provide an additional means of addressing sensitive workplace issues, including, but not limited to: safety and security, accounting and auditing improprieties, fraud, theft, substance abuse, embezzlement, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Callers are allowed to communicate anonymously with designated members of the University management and to access a confidential response. Concerns reported to the feedback line will initially be referred by the external service to the Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer who will direct the concern to the appropriate University official. Issues concerning financial improprieties will be directed by the Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer to the Chair of the Board of Finance & Audit Committee for investigation. A copy of all reported concerns will also be forwarded to the attorney designated by the University who will report as needed to the President and to the Chair of the Board of Trustees concerning the nature and resolution of concerns.
Student concerns are most appropriately addressed to the Dean of Student Life or Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer (188.8.131.52 Redress of Complaints). Where appropriate, student concerns brought to University attention will be forwarded to the attorney designated by the University who will report as needed to the President and to the Chair of the Board of Trustees concerning the nature and resolution of concerns.
Maryville University will not retaliate or permit retaliation against an individual who makes a report of any form of prohibited discrimination or harassment, including sex discrimination or sexual harassment. Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy. Unlawful retaliation includes taking some kind of negative action against students or staff who file a complaint pursuit to this policy, or assist in the investigation process. Retaliation not only harms the individuals directly affected by it, but also undermines the confidence of others in a fair complaint resolution process. Any person found to have retaliated against another individual involved in an investigation of prohibited discrimination or sexual harassment shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment or student discipline, in accordance with University policies.
The Appeals Process
If either party disputes the findings or is dissatisfied with the recommendations of the Investigator’s report, they may appeal such findings by filing a written appeal with the President of the University within 15 calendar days of receipt of the written report. The President of the University will review the record of the matter and will reach a final determination as to any action to be taken within 10 calendar days of receipt of the appeal.
The determination of the President of the University is final and may only be addressed further by petition to the appropriate grievance committee of the party who remains dissatisfied. Rules governing the grievance committees of faculty, staff and students are provided in their respective policy manuals.
Civil Rights Ombuds
The President of the University shall appoint a Civil Rights Ombuds from among members of the University community on an as needed/requested basis. The Ombud acts as an advisor and advocates for any member of the University community who has concerns regarding discrimination or harassment. The Ombud shall have background and training in issues of civil rights and shall be appointed as needed/requested. In addition to the role as advocate and advisor, an Ombud is charged with monitoring the University’s compliance with civil rights laws, rules and regulations.
The role of the Ombud is to assist students, faculty, staff and any other member of the University community to informally resolve conflicts, complaints and disputes of many kinds. The Ombud office does not have disciplinary authority. When an individual has or wishes to file a complaint, the Ombud will provide counsel and assistance to the complainant if the complainant so requests. The Ombud shall also be available to assist individuals against whom allegations are made. In addition the Ombud shall advise individuals in supervisory roles in resolving harassment complaints informally.
In dealing with harassment issues, the Ombud can assist by:
- Explaining the University policies and procedures regarding harassment;
- Helping individuals to understand their rights;
- Helping individuals evaluate a wide variety of options for informally resolving harassment complaints;
- Serving as facilitators between the parties in an effort to help them reach an agreement about future interactions, if either party does not wish to meet face-to-face;
- Serving as mediator, with the consent of both parties; or
- Referring individuals to other campus resources when appropriate, e.g., for counseling.
The Ombud can assist those seeking to stop the harassing behavior of another by identifying strategies that can be used to communicate with the individual about their behavior. The practice of confidentiality is a guiding principle in the work of the Ombud. While absolute confidentiality cannot be legally guaranteed, if an individual who reports an incident of harassment does not wish to be identified, the Ombud will attempt to address the problem in a way that is acceptable to that individual without revealing that person’s identity. However, in situations in which the Ombud perceives that someone may inflict harm on self or others, confidentiality cannot be assured. In addition, when the Ombud receives multiple complaints about the same individual, or about other potentially significant violations of University policy, the Ombud is obligated by law to notify an appropriate University official.
Records of informal complaints and action taken in response to informal complaints shall be maintained by the individual Ombud and shall not be distributed or disseminated.
All complaints may be reported to the Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer who serves as the Title IX Coordinator for Maryville University:
Ms. Jacqueline Plunkett
Gander Hall, Room 137
Student complaints may also be reported to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students:
Dr. Nina Caldwell
University Center 102
Employee complaints may also be reported to the Vice President for Administration and Finance:
Dr. Larry Hays
Gander, Room 136A