Human Resources

Willamette University Institution-Wide Policy

Procedural guidelines for addressing complaints of harassment involving staff or faculty at Willamette University

The following are to be used as procedures for addressing complaints that a faculty or staff member has violated Willamette's harassment policy. If you are still unsure of what constitutes "harassment," please consult the University's Human Resources department. These procedures do not apply to allegations of student-student harassment. Student to student harassment is addressed under the standards of conduct for students of Willamette University within the Student Rights and Responsibilities policy as well as the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures for Students.

If a person believes that they have been harassed by a staff or faculty member, they should ask that staff or faculty member to stop the harassing behavior immediately, if he or she can do so safely. Willamette's harassment policy and these procedures address complaints of harassment based on race, color, sex, religion, age, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation or any other basis protected by applicable local, state or federal law.  "Harassment" as described, is a form of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Failure to respond to written or verbal concerns of sexual discrimination or harassment, or, failure to report incidents of sexual discrimination or harassment, is a violation of University policy.

Duty to Conduct Inquiry
If a harassment complaint is reported to the Director of Human Resources, or any other appropriate University official, the University may proceed to conduct an inquiry, even if that is not consistent with the complainant's wishes. An official inquiry is intended to protect the well being of involved parties, others in the community, and the University at-large.

Willamette may investigate suspected instances of harassment even if 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 the University's policy prohibiting harassment is being violated, it should be reported immediately to the Director of Human Resources.

Procedures for Reporting Harassment
Any staff member, faculty member or student who believes they have been harassed by an employee of the University is encouraged to report the issue immediately to the Director of Human Resources. Alternatively, a report can be made to the claimant's supervisor, Vice President or Dean responsible for the accused offender's department. You may be asked to provide the information in writing.  Reports can also be made through the University's web-based sexual misconduct reporting form.

A staff member, faculty member, or student may contact the Director of Human Resources without first contacting other officials identified above. Any party may have an advisor or advocate in these proceedings, however the advisor or advocate may not participate in, or represent, a complainant in this process. Efforts will be made to ensure the confidentiality of the information received as a part of the process. 

Supervisors and other University officials receiving complaints of potential harassment are required to consult with the Director of Human Resources, or a responsible Vice President or Dean, immediately upon receiving a complaint. A supervisor should not attempt to resolve a complaint of harassment without assistance from the Director of Human Resources.

Preliminary Review
Upon receiving a complaint, the Director of Human Resources will make a preliminary determination as to whether or not the complaint is appropriately brought under the process for addressing violations of the University's harassment policy.  The Director shall convey that preliminary determination to the complainant. The Director of Human Resources may choose to refer the complaint to a designee if warranted. If the complainant disagrees with the determination by the Director of Human Resources, the complainant may appeal this decision under the Procedures for Reconsideration to the Universities Title IX Coordinator within ten (10) working days of the date on the notice received of the determination.  The Title IX Coordinator will either affirm the Director's determination, or remand the complaint back to the Director of Human Resources to proceed with further review, which may include direction that a third party conduct a renewed and independent inquiry.  The Title IX Coordinator's decision will be delivered within ten (10) working days of receipt of any appeal, and the decision is final.

Procedures for Informal Complaint Resolution Option
The parties concerned may request an informal resolution of allegations of harassment. An informal resolution is one in which a satisfactory resolution to the issue is reached, usually without a 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 an investigation and subsequent finding.

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 University-related interactions, and coordinating on-going steps to foster a successful resolution. In all cases, the Director of Human Resources should be consulted before addressing a complaint.

An attempt at a mediated resolution is recommended but not required prior to an investigation of the complaint. In addition, informal resolution may not be appropriate under certain circumstances, even with agreement on the part of the complainant.  

Procedures for determining if a violation has occurred
Should a complainant choose not to use informal complaint resolution then the Director of Human Resources will proceed with an inquiry, unless the University chooses to use a third party investigator to perform the inquiry. The investigator will ordinarily start the process by notifying the accused that he or she has been named in a complaint; describe the nature of the complaint, and advising him or her of any restrictions about appropriate contact with the complainant.  

The purpose of an investigation is to establish whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the alleged harassment policy violation has 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. An advisor or advocate may not participate, or represent in this investigation process. The specific allegation(s) shall be given to the accused in writing. The accused must be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the allegations.

If investigation identifies inappropriate behaviors, related to the incident, that do not violate the harassment policy, but violate other University policies, these behaviors may result in disciplinary action.

The investigator shall make written summary of their findings. If the Director of Human Resources delegated the investigation to a third party investigator, the summary of the findings will be conveyed in writing to the Director of Human Resources. The Director of Human resources will use a standard of "more likely to have occurred than not" to determine an outcome.  The Director of Human Resources shall communicate the outcome to the complainant and respondent in writing. 

Possible outcomes of the investigation are a) a determination that a violation of the harassment policy did occur; b) a determination that a violation of the harassment policy has not occurred but inappropriate actions/behaviors have occurred which may warrant other disciplinary action; c) a determination that the allegations cannot be substantiated.

Procedures for determination of Sanction
Any subsequent sanction to be taken shall be appropriate to prevent any recurrence, and shall be reasonably related to the gravity and/or frequency of the violation. Disciplinary action for administrative and classified staff will be considered using the guidelines in the Administrative and Classified Staff Handbook.  Determination of the sanction (disciplinary action) will be made through the appropriate Vice President or Dean, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources. Disciplinary action for faculty will be considered with reference to faculty employment policies contained in the appropriate faculty handbook corresponding to the College in which the faculty member teaches.  Disciplinary action for faculty will be made through the appropriate Dean in consultation with the Director of Human Resources.

A final determination will be communicated in writing to the complainant and the respondent. An individual who has made a report of sexual harassment may be advised of sanctions imposed against the complaint respondent when the individual needs to be aware of the sanction in order for it to be fully effective (such as restrictions on communication or contact with the individual who made the report). However, information regarding disciplinary action taken against the respondent shall not be disclosed without the complaint respondent's consent, unless it is necessary to ensure compliance with the action or the safety of individuals. In some cases, the exact nature of disciplinary action may not be completely disclosed to the complainant. From the time the outcome is sent in writing, both parties have seven (7) working days to submit a written request for reconsideration.

Request Procedures for Reconsideration
A written request for reconsideration of the determination may be made by either party to the University's central Title IX Coordinator, who is the Vice President and Executive Assistant to the President.

The written request shall set forth the procedures that allegedly were not properly handled in the investigation. Each party will be allowed to review a reconsideration request and respond to the reconsideration request in writing within ten (10) working days of when the information is sent. The Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the procedures outlined in these Guidelines were followed, and based on that assessment, may affirm, revise, reverse, or remand the decision of the Director of Human Resources. The determination concerning the request for reconsideration shall be made within a reasonable amount of time, generally within ten (10) working days. The Title IX Coordinator may extend the time of response by providing notice to the parties.  The Title IX Coordinator's decision is final.

Other considerations
Following is information intended to support your inquiry and to help you determine if you would like to file a complaint of a violation of the University's harassment policy.

Non-Retaliation
The University will not tolerate any retaliatory treatment or adverse consequences as a result of acting in good faith to report harassment or participating in an investigation.  Retaliation may subject the person who retaliates to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Counseling
Filing a complaint can be a difficult and emotional decision. Counseling resources can assist in understanding the implications of coming forward with a complaint, as well as help with the emotional impact before, during, and after an investigation. Counseling resources may also be helpful for those accused of harassment. Students are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center in Bishop Wellness Center at 503-370-6471. Any faculty or staff member who feels a need for counseling assistance is encouraged to contact the University's employee assistance program (EAP) for confidential counseling. Cascade Centers (EAP) can be reached 24 hours a day at (800) 433-2320.

Timing of the Complaint
Complaints of harassment should be made as soon as possible after the alleged harassment occurs, or within one year.  Prompt reporting provides the best opportunity for the University to conduct an appropriate and complete investigation. Generally speaking, the longer a delay in reporting, the more difficult it is for the university to conduct an investigation. Complaints bought more than one year after the last alleged conduct occurs will not be pursued.

Contact Information

Director of Human Resources
Willamette University
900 State Street, Salem, OR  97301
(503) 370-6210
www.willamette.edu/dept/hr
email:  human-resources@willamette.edu 

Vice President and Executive Assistant to the President
Title IX Coordinating Officer, Office of the President
900 State Street, Salem, OR  97301
(503) 370-6209
www.willamette.edu/about/president/
 
(Adopted March 2009)