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UC IRVINE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES & PROCEDURES


BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS           
General Administration
Sec. 700-18: Guidelines for Discrimination Complaint Resolution


Responsible Office: Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity
Issued:
August 2005 (reviewed March 2011)
 

References / Resources

Contact: Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at 949-824-5594 or oeod@uci.edu


A. University Policy

The University of California Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy Regarding Academic & Staff Employment, the Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action Policy Statement for University of California Publications Regarding Employment Practices, and UCI's Nondiscrimination Policy Statement for University of California Publications Regarding Student-Related Matters, cover all members of the University community, including faculty and other academic personnel, staff employees, students, and non-student or non-employee participants in University programs. The Policies include a list of protected categories, clarification of the University's obligation regarding affirmative action, and a statement of the policies' intention to be consistent with the provisions of applicable State and Federal laws and University policies.

UCI faculty, staff, and students who believe that they have been discriminated against based on any of the protected categories listed in the applicable policy above have the right to seek resolution through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD). OEOD offers both formal and informal (Early Resolution) options. Use of the informal options does not preclude a complainant from later pursuing the formal process.


B. UCI Guidelines - Purpose

UCI has established the following guidelines in order to (l) offer nondiscrimination and diversity training and education to all members of the University community; (2) to provide all members of the University community with a process for reporting discrimination in accordance with the policy; and (3) to provide for prompt and effective response to reports of discrimination in accordance with the policy.

These Guidelines also cover reports of retaliation related to reports of discrimination.

These Guidelines do not apply to complaints alleging sexual harassment; such complaints are processed in accordance with the UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and the UCI Guidelines for Sexual Harassment Complaint Resolution.


C. Discrimination Resources

  1. Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity
  2. UCI has designated the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity to ensure the University's compliance with nondiscrimination and affirmative action policies. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the duties listed below.

    1. Plan and manage the local nondiscrimination, diversity, and affirmative action education and training programs. The programs will include wide dissemination of this policy to the University community; providing educational materials to promote compliance with the policy and familiarity with local reporting procedures; and training University employees responsible for reporting or responding to reports of discrimination.

    2. Develop and implement local procedures to provide for prompt and effective response to reports of discrimination in accordance with this policy.

    3. Maintain records of reports of discrimination and actions taken in response to reports, including records of investigations, voluntary resolutions, and disciplinary action, as appropriate.

    4. Prepare and maintain an annual affirmative action plan to be reviewed and approved by the Office of the President and the Office of the General Counsel before it is promulgated.

    The Director may assign responsibility for the completion of these duties as needed.

  3. Other Resources
  4. Other members of the UCI and medical center communities may also serve as resources. These include administrators at UCI, including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Deans, Directors, Department Chairs, and administrative department heads, who are responsible for understanding and implementing the nondiscrimination policy and guidelines and for ensuring that the environment in their unit is free of discrimination.


D. Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Reports of Discrimination

  1. Reporting Discrimination

    Reports of discrimination should be made as soon as possible after the alleged conduct occurs, optimally within one year. Prompt reporting will enable the University to investigate the facts, determine the issues, and provide an appropriate remedy or disciplinary action. Reports of discrimination brought after one year will be responded to to the greatest extent possible, taking into account the amount of time that has passed since the alleged conduct occurred. Unreasonable delay in reporting may impede the University's ability to conduct an investigation and/or effect appropriate action, as well as both parties' legal rights.

  2. Options for Resolution

    Individuals reporting discrimination will be informed about options for resolving potential violations of the Policy on Nondiscrimination. These options will include procedures for Early Resolution, procedures for Formal Investigation, and filing complaints or grievances under applicable University complaint resolution or grievance procedures. Individuals making reports also will be informed about policies applying to confidentiality of reports under this policy (see H below).

    Individuals reporting discrimination will be informed about the range of possible outcomes of the report, including interim protections, remedies for the individual harmed by the discrimination, and disciplinary actions that might be taken against the accused as a result of the report, including information about the procedures leading to such outcomes.

    An individual who is subjected to retaliation (e.g., threats, intimidation, reprisals, or adverse employment or educational actions) for having reported discrimination in good faith, who assisted someone with a report of discrimination, or who participated in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a report of discrimination, may make a report of retaliation under these procedures.

  3. Procedures for Early Resolution

    The goal of Early Resolution is to resolve concerns at the earliest stage possible. Parties are encouraged to utilize Early Resolution options when they desire to resolve the situation cooperatively and/or when a Formal Investigation is not likely to lead to a satisfactory outcome. Early Resolution may include an inquiry into the facts, but typically does not include a formal investigation. Means for Early Resolution will be flexible and encompass a full range of possible appropriate outcomes. Early Resolution includes options such as mediating an agreement between the parties, separating the parties, referring the parties to counseling programs, negotiating an agreement for disciplinary action, conducting targeted educational and training programs, or providing remedies for the individual harmed by the discrimination. Early Resolution also includes options such as discussions with the parties, making recommendations for resolution, and conducting a follow-up review after a period of time to assure that the resolution has been implemented effectively.

    While the University encourages early resolution of a complaint, the University does not require that parties participate in Early Resolution. Some reports of discrimination may not be appropriate for Early Resolution, but may require a formal investigation at the discretion of the OEOD Director or other appropriate official designated to review and investigate discrimination complaints.

  4. Procedures for Formal Investigation

    In response to reports of discrimination in cases where Early Resolution is inappropriate (such as when the facts are in dispute in reports of serious misconduct, or when reports involve individuals with a pattern of inappropriate behavior or allege criminal acts such as physical assault) or in cases where Early Resolution is unsuccessful, the OEOD Director or his/her designee may conduct a Formal Investigation. In such cases, the individual making the report will be encouraged to file a written request for Formal Investigation. The wishes of the individual making the request will be considered, but are not determinative, in the decision to initiate a Formal Investigation of a report of discrimination. In cases where there is no written request, the OEOD Director or other appropriate official designated to review and investigate discrimination complaints, in consultation with the administration, may initiate a Formal Investigation after making a preliminary inquiry into the facts.

    Formal Investigation of reports of discrimination includes the following1:

    1. The individual(s) accused of conduct violating the University of California Policy on Nondiscrimination are provided a copy of the written request for Formal Investigation or otherwise given a full and complete written statement of the allegations, and a copy of the Policy and these Guidelines.

    2. The investigation generally includes interviews with the parties if available, interviews with other witnesses as needed, and a review of relevant documents as appropriate. Disclosure of facts to parties and witnesses is limited to what is reasonably necessary to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Participants in an investigation are advised that maintaining confidentiality is essential to protect the integrity of the investigation.

    3. Upon request, the complainant and the accused may each have a representative present when he or she is interviewed. Other witnesses may have a representative present at the discretion of the investigator or as required by applicable University policy or collective bargaining agreement.

    4. At any time during the investigation, the investigator may recommend that interim protections or remedies for the complainant or witnesses be provided by appropriate University officials. These protections or remedies may include separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between parties, or making alternative working or student housing arrangements. Failure to comply with the terms of interim protections may be considered a separate violation of the Policy on Nondiscrimination.

    5. The investigation shall be completed as promptly as possible and in most cases within sixty (60) working days of the date the request for Formal Investigation was filed. This deadline may be extended on approval of the Executive Vice Chancellor.

    6. Generally, an investigation results in a written report that includes a statement of the allegations and issues, the positions of the parties, a summary of the evidence, findings of fact, and a determination by the investigator as to whether University policy has been violated. The report will be submitted to a designated University official with authority to implement the actions necessary to resolve the complaint. The report may be used as evidence in other related procedures, such as subsequent complaints, grievances, and/or disciplinary actions.

    7. The complainant and the accused will be informed promptly in writing when the investigation is completed. The complainant will be informed if there were findings made that the policy was or was not violated and of actions taken to resolve the complaint, if any, that are directly related to the complainant, such as an order that the accused not contact the complainant. In accordance with University policies protecting individuals' privacy, the complainant may generally be notified that the matter has been referred for disciplinary action, but will not be informed of the details of the recommended disciplinary action without the consent of the accused.

    8. The complainant and the accused may request a copy of the investigative report pursuant to University policy governing privacy and access to personal information (see RMP-8). However, the report will be redacted to protect the privacy of personal and confidential information regarding all individuals other than the individual requesting the report in accordance with University policy.

    9. Within 15 working days of taking corrective action and/or disciplinary action against the accused, or a decision not to take any action, the appropriate University official(s) shall provide written notification to the OEOD Director of what action, if any, has been taken, including the results of any appeals.

    1 Complaints filed against UCI Police Department Officers will be investigated by the OEOD in compliance with the Public Safety Officers' Procedural Bill of Rights, Government Code Section 3303 et seq.

E. Complaints or Grievances Involving Allegations of Discrimination

An individual who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination may file a complaint or grievance pursuant to the applicable complaint resolution or grievance procedure listed in Appendix I: University Complaint Resolution and Grievance Procedures. Such complaint or grievance may be filed either instead of or in addition to making a report of discrimination to OEOD. A complaint or grievance alleging discrimination must meet all the requirements under the applicable complaint resolution or grievance procedure, including time limits for filing.

If a complaint or grievance alleging discrimination is filed in addition to a report made to OEOD, the complaint or grievance will be held in abeyance subject to the requirements of any applicable complaint resolution or grievance procedure, pending the outcome of the Early Resolution and Formal Investigation procedures. If the individual wishes to proceed with the complaint or grievance, the Early Resolution and Formal Investigation will constitute the first step or steps of the applicable complaint resolution or grievance procedures

An individual who has made a report of discrimination also may file a complaint or grievance alleging that the actions taken in response to the report of discrimination did not follow University policy. Such a complaint or grievance may not be filed to address a disciplinary sanction or lack thereof imposed upon the accused. Any complaint or grievance regarding the resolution of a report of discrimination under this procedure must be filed in a timely manner. The time period for filing begins on the date the individual was notified of the outcome of the discrimination investigation or other resolution process pursuant to the Policy, and/or of the actions taken by the administration in response to the report of discrimination, whichever is later.


F. Remedies and Referral to Disciplinary Procedures

Findings of violations of the Policy on Nondiscrimination may be considered in determining remedies for individuals harmed by the discrimination and will be referred to applicable disciplinary procedures (Appendix II: University Disciplinary Procedures). Procedures under this policy will be coordinated with applicable complaint resolution, grievance, and disciplinary procedures to avoid duplication in the fact-finding process whenever possible. Violations of the policy may include engaging in discriminatory behavior, retaliating against a complainant reporting discrimination, violating interim protections, and filing intentionally false charges of discrimination. Investigative reports made pursuant to this policy may be used as evidence in subsequent complaint resolution, grievance, and disciplinary proceedings as permitted by the applicable procedures.


G. Privacy

The University shall protect the privacy of individuals involved in a report of discrimination or retaliation to the extent required by law and University policy. A report of discrimination may result in the gathering of extremely sensitive information about individuals in the University community. While such information is considered confidential, University policy regarding access to public records and disclosure of personal information may require disclosure of certain information concerning a report of discrimination. In such cases, every effort will be made to redact the records to protect the privacy of individuals. An individual who has made a report of discrimination may be advised of sanctions imposed against the accused 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 accused will not be disclosed without the accused's consent, unless it is necessary to ensure compliance with the action or the safety of individuals.


H. Confidentiality of Reports of Discrimination

University employees, such as the OEOD Director, managers, supervisors, and other designated employees have an obligation to respond to reports of discrimination or retaliation, even if the individual making the report requests that no action be taken. An individual’s requests regarding confidentiality of reports of discrimination or retaliation will be considered in determining an appropriate response; however, such requests will be considered in the dual contexts of the University’s legal obligation to ensure a working and learning environment free from discrimination or retaliation and the due process rights of the accused to be informed of the allegations and their source. Some level of disclosure may be necessary to ensure a complete and fair investigation, although the University will comply with requests for confidentiality to the extent possible.

Members of the University community can consult with the confidential resources listed below for advice and information regarding making a report of discrimination. These resources provide individuals who may be interested in bringing a report of discrimination or retaliation with a safe place to discuss their concerns and learn about the procedures and potential outcomes involved. Individuals who consult with confidential resources are advised that their discussions in these settings are not considered reports of discrimination or retaliation and that without additional action taken by the individual, the discussions will not result in any action by the University to resolve their concerns. Confidential resources at UCI include the following:

Ombudsman's Office (949) 824-7256
Faculty and Staff Conflict Resolution Services (949) 824-8355
Student Counseling Center (949) 824-6457


I. Retention of Records Regarding Reports of Discrimination or Retaliation

OEOD is responsible for maintaining records relating to discrimination or retaliation reports, investigations, and resolutions. Records shall be maintained in accordance with University records policies, generally five years after the date the complaint is resolved. Records may be maintained longer at the discretion of the OEOD Director in cases where the parties have a continuing affiliation with the University. All records pertaining to pending litigation or a request for records will be maintained in accordance with instructions from legal counsel.



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