Guidelines for Responding to Complaints of Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
Seton Hall University ("University") prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of a person’s membership in a legally protected class. Two separate University policies address different forms of discrimination. The Policy Against Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, and Retaliation ("Sexual Misconduct Policy") deals with sexual misconduct and gender-based discrimination. The Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation ("Anti-Discrimination Policy") concerns forms of discrimination that do not involve sexual misconduct or other forms of gender-based discrimination.
These guidelines apply to allegations of violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Anti-Discrimination Policy, as well as to the University's Conscientious Employee Protection Act Policy ("CEPA Policy") by members of the University community, including Trustees, Regents, officers, faculty, administrators, staff members, employees, applicants, vendors, and guests. These guidelines apply to violations that occur on- and off-campus, including internships, clinical and student teaching placements and other events that adversely impact the educational or working environment. These guidelines do not apply to matters where an undergraduate or graduate student is a respondent.
I. Pre-Complaint Resolution Strategies
Individuals may elect, but are not required, to bring their concerns to the person allegedly responsible for the behavior or action. In some matters, self-corrective measures may be taken when those persons who are alleged to have engaged in the behavior or action become aware of how their actions or behaviors are being received. The matter may be concluded by mutual consent at this point. However, the University recognizes that such a strategy may be inappropriate or ill-advised in some circumstances, including in matters that involve sexual misconduct. At all times, individuals have the option to file a complaint alleging violations by faculty, administrators, or staff with the Director of EEO Compliance, Title IX Coordinator (Director) which will be reviewed in accordance with these Guidelines. Complaints involving allegations of violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy by faculty, administrators, or staff should be brought to the attention of the Title IX Coordinator. In the case of allegations of violations by students, complaints should be brought to the attention of the appropriate Deputy Title IX Coordinator.
The purpose of these Guidelines is to set forth the general procedures that the University may follow when responding to complaints of policy violations by faculty, administrators, or staff involving unlawful discrimination or harassment and/or retaliation under the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy, Anti-Discrimination Policy, or the CEPA Policy. These Guidelines do not replace, abridge or supersede the Student Code of Conduct. These Guidelines are meant to describe generally the University's procedures for responding to complaints and conducting investigations of complaints, where necessary. The University may, in its sole and exclusive discretion, deviate from these Guidelines.
The President has delegated to the Director the responsibility for assuring the University’s compliance with anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, anti-retaliation and whistleblowing laws and regulations, including the review of complaints and the maintenance of an effective and impartial complaint review process. These Guidelines are under the jurisdiction of the Director and may be updated and revised by the Director, as needed.
III. Types of Complaints
The types of complaints to which these Guidelines apply include:
1.) Allegations of discrimination based upon membership, or the perception of membership, in any legally protected class, including but not limited to the following:
- Handicap and/or Disability
- Temporary disability and pregnancy
- National Origin, Nationality or Ancestry
- Veteran's Status or Military Service
- Marital Status (including civil union and/or domestic partnership)
- Domestic Violence Victim
- Atypical Hereditary Cellular or Blood Trait
- AIDS and/or HIV status
- Genetic Information
2.) Allegations of retaliation for making a complaint, participating in an investigation or otherwise engaging in legally protected activity under the University’s Sexual Misconduct or Anti-Discrimination policies.
3.) Allegations of retaliation for making a complaint, participating in an investigation or otherwise engaging in legally protected activity under the University's CEPA Policy. This policy does not apply to the underlying complaint that forms the basis for the alleged retaliation, which will be handled by appropriate University personnel.
Retaliation against any individual covered under these Guidelines who has filed a complaint, participates in the review/investigation process or has otherwise exercised any legally protected right is strictly prohibited. Anyone who engages in retaliatory conduct will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including separation from the University.
IV. Procedures for Reviewing Complaints
- An individual may file a complaint with his/her supervisor, Human Resources, the Director, or through Ethics Point. Supervisors and Human Resources personnel who receive complaints shall immediately notify the Director. The complaining party is encouraged to put the complaint in writing. A complaint should be made promptly to ensure that an expeditious review can be performed.
- The aggrieved person is referred to as the “Complainant” while the person alleged to have engaged in the wrongful conduct is referred to as the "Respondent."
- Within five (5) business days after receipt of the complaint by the Director, the Director will determine, in his/her discretion, whether the complaint falls within the Director’s authority and notify the Complainant.
- Within five (5) business days after notification to the Complainant that the complaint falls within the Director’s authority, as described above, the Director, in consultation with appropriate University personnel, will evaluate the complaint and determine whether an investigation and/or other action is necessary. Although consultation with University personnel is called for under these Guidelines, the determination of whether an investigation is necessary remains at all times with the Director.
- In the event an investigation is determined to be necessary, the Director may act as the Primary Investigator and, in consultation with appropriate University personnel, will appoint a Co-Investigator. When the complaint involves a student as Complainant, the Co-Investigator may be appointed from the Division of Student Services. The University may, in its sole discretion, elect to retain an external Investigator(s). When an investigation of the complaint is going to be conducted, the Director will notify the Respondent, in writing, of the complaint and describe the general nature of it. The Respondent may provide a written response to the complaint.
- The Investigator(s) may, in his/her/their discretion, share documents and/or information gathered in the course of the investigation on a need to know basis.
- Truthfulness and cooperation from all participants in the investigation is expected at all times.
- Although the Investigator(s) may elect to record witness interviews, investigation participants are prohibited from recording any aspect of the investigation.
- In the course of the investigation, the Investigators have the discretion to take any action deemed necessary to conduct a prompt, fair, and impartial, prompt, investigation including, but not limited to, interviewing and/or obtaining written or recorded statements from the Complainant, the Respondent and others and reviewing documents (including electronically stored information).
- The Complainant and Respondent may be accompanied by another individual from the University community for the sole purpose of providing support. The support person may not have personal knowledge of or involvement in the matter being reviewed. Respondent’s supervisor may not serve as a support person.
- In accordance with the Violence Against Women Act in matters arising under the Sexual Misconduct Policy each party shall be afforded timely notice of meetings and hearings, equal opportunity to participate, the ability to select any support person of one’s choosing, including an individual or attorney from outside the community, equal access to information used during meetings and hearings, and simultaneous notification of determinations, sanctions, and the rationale therefore.
- A support person is not permitted to participate in the investigation by, for example, asking or answering questions or interfering with the University's investigation.
- Investigations will be completed as promptly as possible and consistent with applicable legal requirements. The time to complete an investigation may vary depending upon the allegations, the number of individuals involved, and the complexity of the issues raised. The Investigators will keep the Complainant and Respondent apprised of the status of the investigation.
- In evaluating the evidence and assessing credibility, the Investigators will use a “more likely than not” standard to find facts and determine whether a violation of University policy has occurred. The factual findings of the Investigators are final and are not subject to appeal.
- The Investigators will prepare a report, which will be provided to appropriate University personnel. Neither the Complainant, the Respondent nor any participant in the investigation will be entitled to receive a copy of the report, except as otherwise provided herein.
- Within ten (10) business days following the completion of the investigation, the Complainant and Respondent will be advised verbally of the findings at separate meetings with appropriate University personnel. A confirming letter may be provided.
- After completion of the investigation, a determination will be made by appropriate University personnel (such as the supervisor, division head, HR, and in the case of faculty, under the appropriate Faculty Guide) regarding resolution of the matter and the necessary responsive action, if any. No appeal is permitted.
V. Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Mediation is encouraged as a first step toward resolution of a complaint. Because each matter is unique, however, mediation may not be appropriate in all situations. For example, complaints alleging sexual assault may not be mediated.
- Both the Complainant and the Respondent must agree to mediate the matter before mediation can proceed. The mediation process may commence any time after a complaint is made or during the investigation of a complaint.
- The Director and appropriate University personnel must approve the use of mediation and any resolution reached because of mediation.
- Mediation should be completed within twenty (20) business days of the agreement to mediate.
- The Complainant, Respondent or mediator may terminate the mediation and proceed in accordance with the procedures set forth in these Guidelines. In the event that mediation is not successful, and an investigation follows, the Director may serve as the Investigator notwithstanding his/her role as the mediator.
VI. Confidentiality and Recordkeeping
Confidentiality and discretion by those who participate in an investigation are recommended in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation and the privacy of individuals. The University will use its best efforts to treat all complaints and mediations as confidential to the extent possible and in accordance with the law. However, the University does not guarantee confidentiality and information and documents may be shared by the Investigators and/or mediator(s), as necessary, with participants and others. Copies of complaints, mediation agreements and investigation reports will be maintained by the Director. These records are to be maintained and treated as confidential to the extent possible and in accordance with the law. The contents of these records will be discussed or shared on a need to know basis.
VII. Reporting and Resource Information
Reports of actions by an employee, a professor, or a vendor of the University at any location, should be made to:
Lori A. Brown
Director of EEO Compliance, Title IX Coordinator
Office of EEO and Title IX Compliance
Presidents Hall, Rm. 4A
Phone: (973) 313-6132
- Ethics Point. Employees can make a report through Ethics Point, a confidential and anonymous reporting service via their website or by phone at 1 (888) 236-7522.
- The Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling for employees. More information is available via their website or by calling (877) 622-4327.
Revised and approved by Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., Interim President, on the recommendation of the Executive Cabinet on August 30, 2018.
August 30, 2018