Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment

The Office of Equity and Diversity and the Office of the Dean of Students oversee the implementation of the University’s Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment (complaint procedures). Any employee, student, campus visitor or person participating in a University activity, whether on or off campus, who believes he or she has experienced or witnessed discrimination and/or harassment is encouraged to report the incident promptly. In cases where the person who is believed to have engaged in discrimination or harassment is a student, the incident should be report to the Office of the Dean of Students.  All other cases should be reported to the Office of Equity and Diversity.

The following information highlights some of the key features of the University’s complaint procedures.

Two Processes Available

The complaint procedures provide two different processes for addressing complaints, an informal resolution process and a formal resolution process. The complainant is entitled to select either process and is not required to use the informal resolution process before accessing the formal resolution process. Initial selection of the informal process does not prevent the complainant from later initiating the formal process.

Informal Resolution Process

  • To file an informal complaint, a complainant must (1) notify a Contact Person within 120 days of the incident of discrimination or harassment or, where the discrimination or harassment is of an ongoing nature, within 120 days from the most recent incident and (2) sign a completed Complaint Information Form.
  • The informal resolution process is designed to empower the parties to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
  • The process is facilitated by a Contact Person who is typically, but not necessarily, an employee of the Office of Equity and Diversity or the Office of the Dean of Students.
  • The process may include meetings between the parties facilitated by the Contact Person, but such meetings are not required.
  • The Contact Person attempts to complete the informal resolution process within 30 days.
  • The informal resolution process will be concluded by one of the following: (1) a decision to stop further action on the informal complaint, (2) a resolution of the informal complaint by agreement of the parties or (3) initiation of the formal resolution process. 

Formal Resolution Process

  • To be considered properly received, a formal complaint must be filed by the Complainant within the earlier of 10 days of the conclusion of the informal resolution process or 120 days following the incident of discrimination and/or harassment. Where the discrimination and/or harassment is of an ongoing nature, a formal complaint must be filed within the earlier of 10 days of the conclusion of the informal resolution process or 120 days from the most recent incident of discrimination or harassment. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a complaint relating to alleged discrimination or harassment occurring during a Complainant’s employment by the University must be properly filed within 10 days following termination of the Complainant’s employment with the University.
  • A complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression will be barred unless a formal complaint is filed in accordance with these Procedures within 120 days of the alleged occurrence.
  • The formal complaint must be signed and dated by the Complainant and describe the alleged incident(s) with the relevant date(s), the name(s) of the Respondent(s) and the name(s) of any witness(es). The Complaint Information Form can be used to file a formal complaint.
  • Within 10 days following the receipt of a formal complaint, the Chancellor or Dean of Students will assign a University Investigator to investigate the formal complaint.
  • The Respondent will be notified of the complaint promptly and requested to respond in writing within 10 days from the date of the notification correspondence. Any extension of time to respond must be approved by the Chancellor or Dean of Students.
  • Within 3 days following the completion of his or her initial interview with the Complainant(s), the University Investigator will notify the Chancellor or Dean of Students in writing as to whether or not the allegations set forth in the formal complaint, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of University policy. If the University Investigator’s notification indicates that such allegations, if substantiated, would not constitute a violation of University policy, the Chancellor or Dean of Students may dismiss the formal complaint, and that decision shall be final.
  • If the investigation proceeds, the University Investigator will conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation and will meet separately with the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s), interview pertinent witnesses and review relevant documents regarding the formal complaint.
  • The investigation shall be completed within 30 days following the assignment of the formal complaint to the University Investigator, unless an extension of time is approved by the Chancellor or Dean of Students.
  • Within 7 days following the completion of the investigation, the University Investigator will prepare and deliver a report to the Chancellor or Dean of Students. The report will include a finding based upon a preponderance of the evidence that (1) the allegations cannot be substantiated, (2) some or all of the allegations are substantiated, or (3) the Formal Complaint was knowingly false or malicious.
  • Within 15 days of receipt of the University Investigator’s report, the Chancellor or Dean of Students will convene a meeting with and seek advice from a three-member panel selected by the Chancellor or Dean of Students from the Advisory Committee on Equity consisting of at least one participant who is a member of the faculty and one participant who is not a member of the faculty. The Complainant and the Respondent will be invited to appear before the equity panel.
  • Within 10 days following the meeting with the equity panel, the Chancellor or Dean of Students shall make a written determination whether a violation of University policy has occurred.
  • If it is determined that a violation of University policy has occurred, sanctions will be determined and imposed by the Chancellor, except that sanctions for students will be determined and imposed by the Dean of Students.
  • The Complainant and the Respondent each have the right to appeal the decision of the Chancellor or Dean of Students and imposition of any sanction to Purdue University’s Vice President for Ethics and Compliance. The appeal must be in writing and filed within 10 days of the issuance of notification of the decision with all supporting materials attached. Decisions not appealed within such time are deemed final.
  • The Vice President for Ethics and Compliance will issue a decision on the appeal to all parties involved. Normally this decision will be made within 10 days from the date the appeal was received. The written decision of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance on the appeal shall constitute the University’s final action.

Other Important Information about the Complaint Procedures

Confidentiality

To protect both the Complainant and the Respondent, every effort will be made to protect the privacy interests of the persons involved in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of a report or Complaint.

If the Complainant requests that his or her name or other identifiable information not be shared with the Respondent, or requests that the University take no formal action in response to a report, the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance shall evaluate such request and notify such individual of the University’s response to such request. The University will honor the Complainant’s request to the extent possible based on a careful balancing of such requests with any legal reporting requirements, the risk of harm to any individual and the University’s duty to maintain a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all.

If the University honors the request for confidentiality, the University’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against a Respondent may be limited. Complainants are advised, however, that the University may be obligated to move forward with a University – Initiated Investigation and potential disciplinary action if there is an individual or public safety concern and sufficient independent information exists to establish that the Anti-Harassment Policy has been violated.

The Vice President for Ethics and Compliance will assess such requests by examining the seriousness of the reported conduct, whether the reported misconduct was perpetrated with a weapon, the respective ages and roles of the Complainant and Respondent, whether there have been other reports of harassment or discrimination by the Respondent, whether the University possess other means to obtain relevant evidence, whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location or by a particular group, and the rights of the Respondent to receive notice and relevant information before disciplinary action is initiated.

Support Person

Both a Complainant and a Respondent are entitled to an advisor or support person of their choice, and the advisor or support person may accompany the party to any meeting or proceeding under these Procedures. A Complainant may have an advisor or support person present when reporting discrimination and/or harassment or at any point in these Procedures. A Respondent may also have an advisor or support person present if and when the Respondent becomes a party to an Informal Resolution Process or a Formal Resolution Process. An advisor or support person may be an attorney, but an advisor or support person may not stand in place of either the Complainant or the Respondent, act as legal counsel for a party or otherwise participate in the Informal Resolution Process or the Formal Resolution Process.

Interim Measures

Upon receipt of a complaint, the University will take interim measures to address concerns regarding safety and well-being. If necessary, the University will assist the Complainant in making reasonable efforts to avoid contact with the Respondent(s). Interim measures may include no contact directives, changes in class or work schedules, changes in University-owned living arrangements, interim suspension, University-imposed leave, or any other measures that the University deems appropriate. Interim measures are available under both Informal and Formal Resolution Processes, although the ability to impose certain protective measures against a Respondent may require that the report be resolved through the Formal Resolution Process.

Filing with External Agencies

Persons who believe that they have been subjected to discrimination and/or harassment may be able to file a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. You are not required to use the University’s complaint procedures prior to filing with any of these agencies. Information regarding filing charges with any of these agencies may be obtained from the Office of Equity and Diversity.