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Unlawful Harassment Policy & Procedures

Unlawful Harassment Policy & Procedures
It is the policy of College of The Albemarle to prohibit sexual and other unlawful harassment of staff, faculty, and students.  All administrators, department heads, and supervisors are responsible for disseminating and enforcing this policy.

Actions, words, jokes or comments based on an individual’s protected characteristic such as sex, race, national origin, age, religion or any other legal protected characteristic will not be tolerated. Unlawful harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome unlawful advances, requests for unlawful favors, unlawful discussions or comments, and other verbal or physical conduct of an unlawful nature when:

• Submission to the conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work or performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Examples of unlawful harassment include, but are not limited to, deliberate, unwelcome touching; suggestions or demands for unlawful involvement accompanied by implied or overt promises of preferential treatment or threats; pressure of unlawful activity; continued or repeated offensive unlawful flirtations, advances, or propositions; continued or repeated verbal remarks about an individual’s body, physical characteristics, nationality, religious beliefs, race, or other protected characteristics; unlawfully degrading words used toward an individual or to describe an individual; or the display in the workplace of unlawfully suggestive objects or pictures. Unlawful harassment does not include personal compliments welcomed by the recipient or social interactions or relations freely entered into by employees or prospective employees.

Any other act of harassment relating to protected characteristics that is demeaning to another person or group of persons, undermines the integrity of the employment relationship, or creates a hostile or offensive working environment is strictly prohibited.

In addition to constituting a violation of the policy of College of The Albemarle, discrimination is unlawful and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 where submission to such conduct is made, explicitly or implicitly, a condition of an individual’s employment or education; or, submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individuals; or, such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.
The college will make diligent efforts to correct, prohibit, or remedy the harassment and to protect the employee from further harassment. Retaliation against an employee who reports improper conduct in good faith is strictly prohibited.

Any faculty, staff, or student, male or female, found to have engaged in unlawful harassment, whether  same rises to the level of a civil rights violation, will be subject to appropriate disciplinary measures commensurate with the offense, including but not limited to termination of employment or expulsion as a student.  Any faculty or staff who receives a complaint of unlawful harassment from another faculty, staff, or student and fails to report the complaint to the proper office as hereinafter stated shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, including but not limited to termination of employment.

Irresponsible Complaints
Irresponsible accusations made against another employee with a motive to harass, embarrass, or discredit that employee are contrary to this policy and may lead to disciplinary action.

Retaliation
Retaliation in any form against any person who has made a complaint of unlawful harassment in violation of the policy of College of The Albemarle is prohibited. Retaliation is defined as seeking to get back at, punish, or cause harm or detriment to the employment or academic standing of a person who asserts a claim of unlawful harassment.  Regardless of the merits of the alleged unlawful harassment, any faculty, staff, or student found to have retaliated, or threatened to retaliate, against any person pursuing his or her rights under College of The Albemarle’s “Unlawful Harassment Policy and Procedures” shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary measures, including but not limited to termination of employment or expulsion as a student.

Procedures
Because of the sensitive nature of conduct constituting unlawful harassment, a balance must be struck between confidentiality and due process.  Accordingly, an informal grievance procedure is offered with emphasis on confidentiality and with the following procedural features:

• Most complaints are handled informally.
• Informal procedures are optional, and individuals can choose to bypass them, discontinue them, or initiate a formal complaint while using them.
• The purpose of dealing with a complaint informally is to stop the offending behavior and to resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible.

A formal grievance procedure is offered with emphasis upon due process.

Informal Grievance Procedure
1. Any faculty, staff, or student who believes he or she has been a victim of unlawful harassment should contemporaneously document in writing the name of the person believed to have engaged in unlawful harassment, the objectionable conduct believed to constitute unlawful harassment, the nature of the objectionable conduct, and the names of any other witnesses thereto.  The writing or documentation is not required, but it will be useful in any investigation or proceeding subsequently arising from the objectionable conduct.

2. The faculty, staff, or student who believes he or she has been a victim of unlawful harassment is encouraged, but not required, to privately confront the harasser, firmly discuss the specific objectionable conduct at issue, and request that the harasser cease and desist from further incidence of such conduct.

3. If the faculty, staff, or student who believes he or she has been a victim of unlawful harassment does not wish to confront the person believed to have engaged in such objectionable conduct, or if unlawful harassment continues after such confrontation, or if retaliation occurs, or is threatened by virtue of the complaint alleging unlawful harassment, the said victim of unlawful harassment shall report the matter to the Vice President, Student Development, if the victim and the alleged harasser are students or to the Director, Human Resources, in all other situations.  Any faculty or staff who receives notice of a complaint of unlawful harassment shall immediately refer the complainant to the Vice President, Student Development, or Director,  Human Resources, as appropriate, and shall not attempt to investigate or otherwise dispose of the matter.

4. Upon receipt of a complaint alleging unlawful harassment or retaliation arising out of conduct alleged to constitute unlawful harassment, the Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall immediately schedule a confidential appointment with the victim of the alleged unlawful harassment or retaliation.  The Vice President, Student Development, or the Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall conduct the initial interview, and any other interviews or conferences subsequent thereto, in the presence of a counselor of the same gender as the victim selected by the Vice President, Student Development or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, to provide the victim with support in discussing sensitive subjects and circumstances.  At the initial interview, the Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall assist the victim of the alleged unlawful harassment or retaliation in preparing a written statement of the complaint to include the name and position of the accused, the date or dates of the alleged unlawful harassment and/or retaliation, a specific description of the conduct, actions, or words which occurred on those dates and which are alleged to constitute unlawful harassment or retaliation; the names of any other witnesses to such conduct, words, or actions; and the date and statements made during any private confrontation with the accused together with the results thereof.  This statement of complaint shall be deemed complete when signed and dated by the victim.  The Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall request any contemporaneous writing documenting the objectionable conduct alleged to constitute unlawful harassment prepared by the victim of such conduct, if any, at the initial interview.  The Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall retain all documents and writings in a separate, confidential file which shall not be released to anyone who is not directly involved in making the complaint, defending the complaint, or investigating the complaint on behalf of College of The Albemarle.

5. Within ten (10) working days of the preparation and receipt of the complete written statement of complaint, the Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall meet confidentially with the person accused of unlawful harassment in the presence of the counselor who was present during the alleged victim’s initial interview.  The college officials should seek resolution without identification of the complainant, if possible.  If confidentiality is not possible, the complainant must determine whether to proceed to the next step. If so, the person accused shall be permitted to read the written statement of complaint and may, but is not required, to make any comments or defense thereto.  The accused shall be instructed that he or she shall not approach, write, or in any manner discuss the matter with the alleged victim until such time as the informal resolution conference occurs.  During said ten (10) working days, the Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, may make other discreet and confidential inquiries deemed necessary to investigate the merits of the alleged unlawful harassment. Any such inquiry shall avoid to the extent possible disclosing the existence of the complaint and the names of those persons involved therewith.

6. Within ten (10) working days of the preparation and receipt of the complete written statement of complaint, the Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, shall schedule an informal resolution conference at such time and location as will ensure and protect confidentiality.  The complainant and the accused shall each be provided with at least twenty-four (24) hours advance notice of the time and place of the conference.  The complainant and the accused shall be afforded the opportunity to meet together with the Vice President, Student Development, or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, and the counselor selected for the initial interview with the alleged victim and the initial meeting with the accused.  However, if either the complainant or the accused objects to meeting in the other’s presence, then the conference shall be conducted by means of the Vice President, Student Development or Director, Human Resources, as applicable, and the counselor meeting in separate rooms with the complainant and accused at the location selected.  The Vice President, Student Development or Director, Human Resources, as applicable,  shall attempt to negotiate and mediate a resolution of the matter at the informal resolution conference.  The agreed resolution or the fact that no agreed resolution resulted shall be documented in writing and included in the college’s record of the incident.

7. If no satisfactory resolution is achieved through the informal process, the complainant will be free to choose whether to proceed with a formal grievance.

Formal Grievance Procedure

1. Any faculty, staff, or student who believes he/she has been a victim of unlawful harassment by another faculty, staff, or student may file a formal grievance against the alleged harasser without first completing the informal grievance procedure.  A written complaint to the Vice President, Instruction, requesting that the Student Disciplinary Committee be convened shall include the rule(s) or regulation(s) of student rights, responsibilities, and regulations, which allegedly have been violated.  The Vice President, Student Development, may assist the victim of the alleged unlawful harassment or retaliation in preparing a written statement of the complaint to include the name and position of the accused, the date or dates of the alleged unlawful harassment and/or retaliation, a specific description of the conduct, actions or words which occurred on those dates and which are alleged to constitute unlawful harassment or retaliation, the names of any other witnesses to such conduct, words or actions, and the date and statements made during any private confrontation with the accused together with the results thereof.  The procedures of the Student Disciplinary Committee will then be initiated.

2. For complaints in which the alleged harasser is a college employee, the complainant, who believes he or she has been a victim of unlawful harassment, may file a formal grievance against the alleged harasser without first completing the informal grievance procedure by submitting a written complaint to the Director, Human Resources.  Such claims should be filed within thirty (30) days of the alleged incident.  The Director, Human Resources, shall appoint a five (5) member committee of which three (3) persons are members of the Student Disciplinary Committee within ten (10) working days after receipt of the complainant’s notice of intention to pursue the formal grievance procedure, to hear and determine the facts of the alleged unlawful harassment and/or retaliation, and to conclude by the greater weight of the evidence whether the policy has been violated and, if so, recommend disciplinary action, if any.  If either the accused or the complainant finds that additional time is needed to prepare his/her case for the hearing, then a request for an extension of time must be submitted in writing to the committee chair.

3. The committee shall be charged with the duties imposed hereby and shall agree to keep the matter as confidential as possible.  The committee shall select a chair, select the date, time, and place for the hearing and thereafter advise the accused and the complainant at least ten (10) working days in advance of the hearing date, time, place, and their respective rights to be present, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to cross-examine adverse parties or witnesses, and to be represented by counsel.  The chair shall be responsible for conducting the hearing.  The hearing shall be recorded.  Within ten (10) working days after the hearing is completed, the committee, by majority vote, shall issue in writing its findings, conclusions, and recommendations as to disciplinary action, if any, to the President.

4. Copies of the committee’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations shall be delivered to the accused and the complainant who shall have ten (10) working days thereafter to submit a written appeal to the President regarding the hearing, committee findings, conclusion, or recommendation.  The letter of appeal must include a complete statement of the grounds for the appeal, which may not include new evidence not previously considered by the hearing committee.  While the appellant may or may not be invited by the President to make an oral argument, the President shall not receive any additional evidence in the matter, and his or her decision shall be based upon the record in the proceedings up to the date of the appeal to the President.  Within ten (10) working days after receipt of the appeal, the President shall advise the accused and the complainant of his or her decision to adopt, modify, or reverse the findings, conclusion, or recommendations of the committee.  If any finding, conclusion, or recommendation is not adopted, then reasons therefore will be stated by the President. The accused or complainant may appeal the President’s decision to the Board of Trustees, or an ad hoc committee thereof, by letter to the Office of the President within ten (10) working days after receipt of the President’s decision.  The letter of appeal must include a full and complete statement of the grounds for the appeal.

5. Upon a timely appeal, the decision of the Board of Trustees, or an ad hoc committee thereof, shall be expressed in writing, with a copy to the accused and the complainant, and same shall be final.

6. The decision of the President and, if applicable, the Board of Trustees, shall specify the disciplinary action, if any, taken against the accused [i.e. warning, reprimand, suspension, (with or without pay), termination, probation, expulsion] and shall further specify what record, if any, shall be made of the incident in the accused person’s regular personnel or student file.

The Grievance Procedure outlined shall be the exclusive procedure utilized in unlawful harassment complaints and/or retaliations arising therefrom notwithstanding any other grievance procedure set forth by the Board of Trustees.

Relationships Between Students and Faculty/Staff
The relationship between a College of The Albemarle faculty or staff and a student is inherently one involving a difference in power, a difference which may be slight under most circumstances but which may be substantial when that student is under the direct tutelage or supervision of the faculty or staff.  Because of the power difference under such circumstances, it may be impossible for a balanced, truly consensual “romantic or sexual” relationship between such parties to exist.  Rather, there is a potential for power to be used to prolong or shape the relationship in ways that could not occur in absence of the potentially coercive power differential; thus, such relationships, though apparently consensual at the start, can develop very serious complications, including unlawful harassment.  If an unlawful harassment claim arises out of a relationship between any member of the faculty or staff and a student, then consideration of age and the relative positions at the college of the two parties involved will be permitted in determining whether the claim is valid or not and whether the relationship is truly consensual or a result of unfair advantage.  For that reason, faculty or staff and students are discouraged from promoting or becoming involved in a “romantic or sexual” relationship.


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