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University OEO Process

This section describes the formal process for resolving a complaint of discrimination, sexual misconduct, or retaliation.

Who is a "Complainant" and who is a "Respondent"?

For reference, a Complainant is the person who is reported to have been affected by discrimination, sexual misconduct or retaliation, and the Respondent is the person who is reported to have engaged in discrimination, sexual misconduct, or retaliation.

What is a Formal Complaint?

A Formal Complaint with the OEO/AA is the process used by the University to investigate whether a violation of the University’s Nondiscrimination policy has occurred. If its found that policy was violated, the University is able to take disciplinary action. As members of the campus community, most students, staff, and faculty, are entitled to be given notice of any allegations and an opportunity to respond to any allegations of potential policy violations.

How do I file a complaint?

Once OEO/AA receives your Intake Form, the information will be reviewed by our OEO staff. If your narrative states a violation of the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy, it will move on to the next stage in our process and you will meet with an OEO/AA Consultant, who will work with you to outline the allegations and file the complaint. If it doesn’t state a violation, you will receive a written Notice of Decline to Proceed. You may appeal this decision to the OEO/AA Director; you can also file again.

Can a complaint be anonymous?

No, a Complainant must be named in our Formal Complaint process. Under University policy, an individual against whom protected class discrimination or sexual harassment  allegations are made has the right to know what the specific allegations are and who made the allegations so that they can respond to those allegations, as they may be subject to disciplinary action if the OEO/AA finds that they violated University policy after conducting an investigation.

What options are available to me through OEO/AAs Formal Complaint process?

There are two options to resolve a Formal Complaint:

  • Informal Resolution: We work with you and the Respondent to find an agreed upon outcome.
  • Investigation: We collect evidence to determine if discrimination occurred.

What is an administrative complaint?

The University’s Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator can file a Formal Complaint that will initiate the OEO Formal Complaint process where the University has an interest in investigating the matter to determine or not a violation has occurred.   In most cases, a Complainant will  need to participate in the Formal Complaint process but will not be the one who initiates the formal process.  The Title IX Coordinator is filing as a University administrator and will not have any personal knowledge of the facts.

I want the OEO/AA Director to file on my behalf. What do I do?

If you want the OEO/AA Director to file on your behalf – also called an administrative complaint– the OEO/AA first needs to have enough information about your experience to determine that the reported behavior meets the definition of discrimination, sexual misconduct, or retaliation and is sufficient to state a potential violation of policy  If so, you can request that the OEO/AA review it for an administrative complaint.  Most individuals do this with OEO/AAs Intake team.  Please use this link to request an Intake appointment. [FIND LINK?]

What is the time frame for filing a Formal Complaint?

For discrimination or retaliation issues, a Formal Complaint must be filed within 180 days of the last discriminatory or retaliatory act. For sexual misconduct cases, a Formal Complaint may be filed at any time that the Complainant is participating or attempting to participate in a University program or activity. The OEO/AA director may waive these time frames at their discretion and for good cause.

When calculating dates in the OEO process, does OEO/AA use calendar or business days?

Unless specified as business days, the OEO process uses calendar dates. For example, the parties have 10 days to respond to a draft investigative report. This means that a response have 10 calendar days, even if the response is due on a weekend or holiday. A draft report issued on July 1 is due on July 11th which is 10 days from July 1 regardless of the holiday.

What does it mean when an investigation is expedited?

In some instances, the OEO may prioritize an investigation – this is known as an expedited investigation. A case may be expedited if the Respondent has been placed on some type of administrative suspension or leave. There is no guaranteed time frame for an expedited investigation or any investigation.

How long does it take for an investigation to be completed?

OEO/AA aims to be thorough in its investigations.  There are many factors that can impact the amount of time it takes for an investigation to be completed.  The complexity of the case may be influenced by the number of allegations, the number of witnesses, the cooperation of both parties and witnesses in scheduling interviews and providing evidence can all impact the amount of time it takes for an investigation to be completed. 

In sexual misconduct cases, Title IX regulations require that the University hold a hearing which also impacts the completion of the process.

What happens if a Respondent leaves the University before the investigation or hearing?

If the Respondent is no longer affiliated with the University before the investigation or hearing, the OEO/AA Director may dismiss the complaint. Each situation is unique but generally, if the University can no longer hold the individual accountable under University policy, the complaint may be dismissed. This process may be different based on the Respondent’s role at the University:

  • For staff and faculty, if the Respondent is no longer affiliated with the University because their employment has been terminated (either voluntarily or involuntarily), the OEO/AA will dismiss the Complaint.
  • If a student is still eligible to enroll in classes, OEO/AA will continue the investigation. Typically, a student is eligible to re-enroll for three consecutive semesters. So, as long as the student is eligible to re-enroll, the OEO would typically not dismiss a Formal Complaint. However, if a student graduates before a finding has been issued, the student is no longer eligible to enroll in classes unless they reapply to a new program and a Formal Complaint will usually be dismissed.

Other reasons for dismissal can be found at Rule 1-012.

As a Complainant, what are my options if I change my mind and do not want to continue with a Formal Complaint?

A Complainant can submit a written request to withdraw their complaint at any time after a Formal Complaint has been filed. Another option might be pursuing an informal resolution rather than proceeding with an investigation.

What is the role of the investigator?

An Equal Opportunity Consultant serves as an investigator for a Formal Complaint. They work to resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual misconduct, and retaliation. The role of the investigator is not to advocate or support one side over the other but rather to conduct a prompt, fair investigation that respects the rights of all parties.

A consultant’s first task will be meeting with a Complainant to understand the allegations and create a Notice of Allegations. Once a Respondent receives a Notice of Allegations, they will also have the opportunity to meet with the consultant. Throughout an investigation, the EO Consultant gathers evidence, speaks with witnesses, and prepares a written report detailing the results of their investigation.

What if I need an interpreter or a reasonable accommodation for a disability through the OEO process?

To request a reasonable accommodation for a disability or to ask for language interpretation or translation, please contact the OEO or if you are working directly with an OEO/AA representative (intake, investigator, hearing coordinator), you may request your accommodation through them.

What if I need someone to support me in the investigation and hearing?

Complainants and Respondents are each entitled to have one support person and one advisor throughout OEO/AA processes.

  • A support person is someone who is there to provide support to you. This can be a friend, a parent, colleague, or a victim advocate.
  • An advisor is someone who can serve as an advisor to you. This person can be an attorney. At the hearing, if you do not have an advisor, the University will appoint a process advisor for you. Learn more about hearings.

A Formal Complaint has been filed against me, what are my options?

If a Formal Complaint has been filed against you, you will receive a written notice of the allegations that have been made against you. You have an opportunity to respond to the allegations, but you are not required to participate; however, the investigation will continue and the written investigative report will be based upon the evidence gathered by the investigator. Respondents can also request that the matter be solved through informal resolution (mutually agreed upon resolution between the parties, approved by the OEO/AA Director). Please see the Informal Resolution Section for more information.

Another option is to accept responsibility based upon the notice of allegations. If a Respondent accepts responsibility, the OEO/AA will refer the matter to the sanctioning official to issue sanctions.

What if I am contacted by OEO as a witness?

Witnesses can provide essential information in OEO/AA investigations. If OEO contacts you as a potential witness in an OEO process, we encourage you to participate so that the investigation will have as much information as possible to determine whether a policy violation has occurred. However, OEO cannot require you to participate as a witness and you cannot be disciplined for not participating in an OEO investigation.

Witnesses are protected from retaliation and concerns about retaliation should be reported to OEO.

What are the potential outcomes of an investigation?

Formal complaints can be resolved through:

  1. informal resolution – a voluntary agreement between the parties that resolves the case;
  2. withdrawal – a Complainant can withdraw their complaint at any time in the process;
  3. a recommendation (for sexual misconduct cases) or a finding (for discrimination and retaliation cases) of “insufficient evidence” or “cause” to believe that a violation of the University’s nondiscrimination policy has occurred.

What are possible sanctions for the Respondent if there is a "cause" finding?

OEO/AA will involve the office that has jurisdiction over – or that can discipline - the Respondent. Depending on whether the Respondent is a student, staff or faculty, the appropriate office will make recommendations (for sexual misconduct cases); or determine the sanction (in discrimination and retaliation cases). Sanctions can include but are not limited to:

  • Students: Fines, restitution, warning, withholding diploma, organizational sanction, permanent no-contact directives, educational training, referrals to counseling or behavioral coaching, limitations, restrictions, or exclusion from campus or campus programs or activities, notation on the student's transcript consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, suspension from one semester to five years, dismissal from the University, or revocation of certificate or degree.
  • For employees: verbal counseling or warning, extension of probationary period, reassignment, transfer, limitations, restrictions, or exclusion from campus or campus programs or activities, reduction in pay, written warning, final written warning, suspension without pay, demotion, and termination.
  • For faculty members: verbal counseling or warning, limitations, restrictions, or exclusion from campus or campus programs or activities, written reprimand, suspension without pay and dismissal (termination).
  • For vendor/contractor/visitor/patient:  limitations, restrictions, or exclusion from all or part(s) of campus or campus programs or activities and/or ending business relationships with vendors and contractors.

What happens after an investigation is concluded? (Hearings)

In sexual misconduct cases, a hearing committee will determine whether a violation of the University’s nondiscrimination policy has occurred, as well as any applicable sanctions for the Respondent and any remedies for the Complainant.

Learn more about hearings.

Last Updated: 6/7/23