Sexual Harassment Law and Liability
In Part I of this series, we discussed the legal definition of sexual harassment and in Part II, we described the standards of liability imposed by the courts. In this Part, we will discuss UNCGs sexual harassment policy and procedures.
What is UNCGs policy on sexual harassment?
UNCGs policy is one of zero tolerance. The essence of the policy is contained in the following statement:
"Sexual harassment and discrimination are illegal and endanger the environment of tolerance, civility and mutual respect that must prevail if the University is to fulfill its mission. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is committed to providing and promoting an atmosphere in which employees can realize their maximum potential in the workplace and students can engage fully in the learning process. Toward this end, all members of the University community must understand that sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and sexual exploitation of professional relationships violate the University's policy and will not be tolerated. The University will take every step to resolve grievances promptly. Any act by the University's employees or students of reprisal, interference, or any other form of retaliation, whether direct or indirect, against a student or employee for raising concerns covered by this policy is also a violation of this policy..."
Who should I go to if I want to complain about sexual harassment?
The answer depends on who you are, and whom you are complaining about. Everyone can go to the University's Affirmative Action/EEO officer. Currently, that person is Ms. Benita Peace, Director, Talent Acquisition/Affirmative Action Officer, Human Resources. Students may also go to the Office of Student Affairs. A complaint may be made to the supervisor of the alleged harasser if the harasser is a University employee.
|Employee||Employee||Supervisor or AA/EEO|
|Student||Employee||Supervisor or AA/EEO or Student Affairs|
The official who takes your complaint must do the following things:
- Advise you of the meaning and importance of the sexual harassment policy and procedures, the seriousness of the complaint, the penalties for making false complaints and the University's commitment to prevent retaliation against you for making a legitimate complaint.
- Make written notes of your complaint.
- Explain the options you can choose for handling the complaint, record your choice and explain to you that you will need to submit your complaint in writing.
- Advise you of the University's confidentiality policy.
- Notify the General Counsel and the AA/EEO of the complaint.
What are my options?
You have several options and where you start is entirely your choice. In ascending order of formality, the options are:
- Informal meeting with the accused to express your concerns.
- Attempt to resolve the complaint through mediation.
- Administrative investigation by the accused's supervisor if the accused is an employee or by the Office of Student Affairs if the accused is a student.
- Formal grievance hearing before a grievance committee. You always have the right to proceed to a formal grievance at any time.
What if I decide not to pursue the complaint at all?
You may elect to withdraw your complaint at any time and, to the extent possible, the University will honor your wishes. However, depending on the seriousness of your complaint, the University may have a legal obligation to take action to protect the broader University community. Generally speaking, if you have alleged sexually assaultive behavior or “quid pro quo” harassment by a University employee, the University must take action.
Will my complaint be kept confidential?
Your complaint will not be made a matter of public knowledge. However, at some point your complaint must be shown to the accused because the law of due process requires that the accused be given an opportunity to know what the allegations are and the accused must be given an opportunity to respond to those allegations. Additionally, should the matter end up in court, the court may issue a subpoena or order requiring the University to produce your complaint.
Will I be informed of the results of the investigation or hearing?
Yes, you will be notified of the final decision in writing. In the case of an administrative investigation you will get a copy of the final report. You will then be given seven days to submit written comments for inclusion with that report.
What if I'm not satisfied with that decision?
Either party may appeal in accordance with University procedures. The General Counsel can explain the appeal procedures to you.
I have other questions that you haven't answered.
Please contact the General Counsel's office at 334-3067 or firstname.lastname@example.org..