JSU Staff Handbook

Staff Handbook PDF


6.3.4 Procedures for Resolving Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination Complaints

A.  Persons to Contact
All complaints of sexual harassment or gender discrimination must be submitted to the University’s Executive Director of Human Resources.  For resolution in accordance with these procedures, within five (5) business days of receipt of complaints of sexual harassment, the Executive Director of Human Resources  shall submit to: (1) the Vice President of Academic Affairs all complaints whereby the alleged offender(s) holds academic rank; (2) the Vice President for Business and Finance all complaints allegedly committed by an agent(s) or employee(s) of vendors, independent contractors, or others who do business with the University, or by any other non-employee; and (3) the Vice President for Student Life should review all complaints allegedly committed by a student of the University.  For resolution in accordance with these procedures, the Executive Director of Human Resources shall retain a copy of all written complaints of sexual harassment, even where the original complaint has been forwarded to a different divisional authority. 
 
Student complaints of sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination by students in educational programs or activities should be brought to the attention of the Vice President for Student Life. 
 
Designees may be appointed for varying terms by the Executive Director of Human Resources, Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Student Life, or the Vice President of Business and Finance after consultation with the appropriate Vice President responsible for the supervision of the unit that employs the Designee.
 
Employees are encouraged to consult with the Executive Director of Human Resources if they have any questions regarding this Policy, including but not limited to, the appropriateness of filing a complaint.  The Executive Director of Human Resources, as appropriate, may attempt to resolve the issues prior to the filing of a complaint by the employee.
 
If a Vice President, the Senior Advisor to the President or General Counsel is the subject of a complaint, the complaint shall be filed with the President.  With respect to such complaints, the President or his/her authorized Designee shall determine the most appropriate manner to investigate and resolve the complaint consistent with the remaining provisions of this Policy.
 
B.  Required Information
A complaint must be in writing and include the name(s), date(s), time(s), description of specific incident(s), and any other information on which the complaint is based.  The complainant must sign the complaint and if determined necessary by the University in order to resolve the complaint be willing to be identified to witnesses and to the person against whom the complaint is directed.  Anonymous complaints, like untimely complaints, will still be investigated within the University’s discretion, but not necessarily pursuant to this policy.
 
C.  Time of Filing
A complaint must be filed within 30 calendar days following the date of the alleged misconduct.  If, however, an individual reasonably believes that he or she may be the subject of an adverse personnel action in violation of this Policy, a timely complaint must be filed within 30 calendar days after the employee received actual knowledge that the adverse action would be taken, or within 30 days after the effective date of such adverse action, whichever is earlier.  For the purposes of this paragraph, the term "adverse action" shall include the failure to hire, firing, the failure to promote, demotion, and all forms of disciplinary action.
 
D.  Interim Remedial Action
Promptly upon notification of a complaint, the Executive Director of Human Resources or the assigned Designee will discuss with the complainant the nature of the complaint and will determine whether interim remedial measures should be taken to alleviate problems or conflicts pending an investigation and resolution.  Such measures may involve either the complainant or the accused (the "subject") and may include a transfer, reassignment of duties or reporting requirements, mandatory administrative leave with pay, or other appropriate measures.  Such measures shall not be considered disciplinary action against any person and may only be taken with the concurrence of the Senior Advisor to the President and Executive Director of Human Resources after consultation with the General Counsel.  Additionally, transfers made pursuant to these policies and procedures are not subject to the University’s Transfer Policy.
 
Promptly upon the filing of a complaint by a student, the Dean of the College shall notify the Vice President for Student Life, and shall discuss the complaint with the complainant.   Promptly thereafter, the Dean and Vice President for Student Life shall consult with the Vice President of Academic Affairs. If the alleged offender is a University employee, the Vice President of Academic Affairs shall promptly confer with the Senior Advisor to the President, Executive Director of Human Resources, and General Counsel to determine whether interim remedial measures should be taken to alleviate problems or conflicts pending an investigation and resolution. Such measures may involve either the complainant or the subject and may include class reassignments, a transfer from teaching to administrative, research, or other non-teaching duties, administrative leave (with pay), or excusable absences from class and/or class assignments. Such measures, however, shall not be considered disciplinary action against any person and may only be taken with the concurrence of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, after consultation with the General Counsel.
 
E.  Investigation
The Executive Director of Human Resources will conduct and manage the investigations of all sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints regarding non-academic employee-related issues. The Vice President of Academic Affairs will conduct investigations of all sexual harassment or discrimination complaints involving employees of academic rank.  The Vice President for Student Life will conduct investigations into complaints where misconduct was alleged to have been attributable to a student.  Alleged misconduct of persons who are neither employees nor students will be investigated by the Vice President for Business and Finance.
 
At the election of the Executive Director of Human Resources, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Student Life, or the Vice President of Business and Finance, as appropriate, the investigation may be delegated to an appropriate Designee.  No Designee, however, shall be permitted to investigate any matter or consult with any potential complainant without first receiving training of a type and duration specified by the Executive Director of Human Resources. Such training shall be completed within 30 days after the selection of the Designee, if such Designee did not have prior training.
 
With the concurrence of the General Counsel, an investigation may be delegated to an outside law firm or consultant. If a consultant or law firm is used to conduct an investigation, it will be selected by the Executive Director of Human Resources or Vice President of Academic Affairs, as appropriate, and its Report of Investigation may be disclosed only to the extent authorized by the Executive Director of Human Resources or Vice President of Academic Affairs, as appropriate, as well as the Sr. Advisor to the President and General Counsel.
 
F.  Methods of Investigation
The conduct of investigations must include an interview of the complainant and alleged offender and may include one or more of the following fact-finding methods:
 
  1. Review of all relevant documents, including but not limited to, employment applications, performance reviews, and records of any past disciplinary action;
  2. Interviews of co-workers, supervisors, and any other person who may have knowledge or information relevant to the allegations in the complaint; and
  3. Letters of inquiry by the investigator to those persons described in (2) above.
 
G.  Notice to Subject
Within ten (10) business days of receipt of the written complaint, the subject of the investigation must be informed in writing by the appropriate authority of the charges contained in the complaint and shall have the right to, within a reasonable period of time (as determined by the authority stated below in this paragraph), submit a written response to those charges.  The written response shall be submitted as follows: (1) for those with non-academic rank to the Executive Director of Human Resources; (2) for those with academic rank to the Vice President of Academic Affairs; (3) for students to the Vice President for Student Life; and (4) for those who are agent(s) or employee(s) of vendors, independent contractors, or others who do business with the University the written response shall be submitted to the Vice President for Business and Finance.  If the investigation has been delegated to a Designee, responses should be submitted to the Designee.
 
H.  Confidentiality
Because of the sensitivity of the information involved, any documents pertaining to sexual harassment cases and any resulting disciplinary action will be transferred to and maintained in confidential files under the supervision of the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer.
 
To the fullest extent practicable and consistent with the University’s need to investigate and take corrective action, complaints of sexual harassment will be processed confidentially.  However, the name of the complainant may be revealed, as well as all alleged material circumstances, if the University determines that such action is necessary to resolve the complaint.
 
I.  Resolution
Upon the conclusion of an investigation involving employees, a Report of Investigation shall be prepared and forwarded by the person responsible for the Investigation to the appropriate Vice President or other appropriate authority ("decisional authority") with supervisory responsibility over the organizational unit where the subject is employed or where the subject participates in a University activity, unless the person who prepared the Report is the same as the person with decisional authority.  The Report shall contain a brief description of the complaint, a statement of the methodology used to investigate the complaint, findings of material fact, and an opinion of the investigator as to whether the allegations of the complaint are sustained by the facts.  For allegations against staff employees, the decisional authority, after consultation with the Executive Director of Human Resources, Chief of Staff, and the General Counsel, shall meet with the complainant and the subject of the investigation (either separately or together) to implement remedial measures as may be appropriate under the circumstances.  If the remedial measures recommended by the University are satisfactory to both parties, the matter is considered resolved.  If not, either party may elect to submit the matter to the Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination Grievance Committee (“Committee”) (See 6.3.5 Section A&B on the next page for more detail). The request for a grievance hearing may be made by any aggrieved party, but such request must be made within 30 calendar days of notice to the parties of the University’s proposed remedial measures or notice that remedial measures were not proposed.
 
J.  Notification
In the event that allegations of sexual harassment or gender discrimination are proven to have probably occurred (a more-likely-than-not standard of proof), the decisional authority responsible for reviewing the Report of Investigation shall: (a) notify the subject of investigation of the findings and of the remedial action taken or to be taken; and (b) notify the complaining party that the allegations have been sustained and that appropriate remedial action has been or will be taken.  The complainant shall be informed of the nature of such action only in the event that the remedial action may affect the terms and conditions of the complainant’s employment.
 
In the event that the allegations are not believed to be sexual harassment or gender discrimination, the decisional authority will so notify the complainant and the subject.
 
K.  Possible Sanctions
Possible sanctions for a person found guilty of behavior in violation of this policy include but are not limited to the following:
 
  1. oral or written warning and reprimand placed in personnel file;
  2. required attendance at a training or counseling program;
  3. loss of salary or benefit, such as sabbatical, travel funding transfer, change of job, class or   residential assignment or location (i.e., removing the person from being in a position to retaliate or further harass the victim), fine, demotion, suspension, probation, termination, or expulsion.
  4. If students or student groups are guilty of sexual harassment, any of the sanctions set forth in the University Judicial Code may also be invoked.
  5. For vendors, independent contractors, and other non-employee/non-student persons or entities, the University may take any action which is not contrary to Mississippi law. 
 
L.  Alternative Procedures
If a Vice President (or person of similar rank, including the Executive Director of Human Resources) is the subject of a complaint, the President (or her authorized Designee) shall be the official to whom the Report of Investigation shall be furnished and who shall take such remedial action as may be appropriate. If the President, in his individual capacity, should be the subject of a complaint, the Executive Director of Human Resources shall notify the Commissioner and the Chairman of the Legal Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. Thereafter, such complaint shall be investigated as directed by such Legal Committee.