EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND INCLUSION COMPLAINT AND INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES
The University has established the following guidelines and procedure to address complaints of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, retaliation, and sexual misconduct in violation of the University's Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation and its Sexual Misconduct Regulation. The purpose of this procedure is to promptly and impartially address allegations of violations of these regulations in a reliable manner to ensure compliance with these regulations, federal, state and local law. Further, this Complaint and Investigation procedure enables the University to address circumstances that may conflict with its commitment to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, visitors, vendors, and applicants or other individuals who interact in our University community all of whom are subject to both the Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity and Sexual Misconduct regulations.
II. STATEMENT OF DELEGATION
The University President has delegated to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Inclusion (hereafter "EOI") the authority and responsibility to receive, investigate and, where appropriate, attempt to conciliate complaints, or investigate situations that are brought to EOI’s attention, of conduct alleged to be in violation of the University's Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation and Sexual Misconduct Regulation. Accordingly, any member of the University community, including students, faculty, staff, visitors, vendors, volunteers, applicants or others, who believe that they have been subjected to discrimination, discriminatory harassment based on race, color, religion, genetic information, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, disability, and/or veterans status; or any individual who believes they have been subjected to retaliation related to an allegation of discrimination or discriminatory harassment based on the aforementioned categories; or that they have been subjected to sexual misconduct, may seek guidance, counseling or file a complaint by contacting: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Inclusion, University of North Florida, J. J. Daniel Hall, Suite 1201, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32224-7699, (904) 620-2507 Voice & TDD and (904) 1004 Fax or via 711 Florida Relay for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or those with speech impairments and/or limitations.
Any individual may contact EOI to informally discuss his or her concerns regarding a potential violation of the University's Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation. However, if the individual desires that EOI take action to address his or her concerns, the individual will be advised of the University's formal procedures and requirements for addressing alleged violations of these regulations including the requirement of filling an EOI intake form pursuant to this procedure.
III. STATEMENT OF REQUIREMENTS
Requirements and Scope of Process.
A. Required Reporting -- All supervisors, managers and faculty are required to promptly report to EOI (either verbally or through written communications) allegations, reports or instances of alleged discrimination and/or harassment, including sexual misconduct by or against any person covered by this process.
B. Timeliness of Complaint -- Any complaint filed under this section must be filed with EOI within sixty (60) calendar days after the alleged incident. EOI may process an alleged violation outside of this time limitation if deemed necessary.
C. Available Remedies from the University. -- The University will take steps to correct the discriminatory effects on the Complainant, and others, if applicable. This includes taking interim measures during the pendency of the investigation that do not adversely affect either the Complainant and Respondent. EOI will work with the appropriate entity to determine if interim measures should be invoked which would include, but are not limited to, no contact directives should be issued, changes in class, work or housing assignments are required to protect the interests of the parties.
D. Available Remedies Outside the University -- The filing of a complaint under this procedure shall not affect a complainant's right to file a charge of discrimination pursuant to an appropriate federal or state statute, including the filing of a timely charge with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Complainants are urged to contact these external agencies directly to learn the filing deadlines and procedures for each agency.
E. Participation of Students, Faculty and Staff -- All members of the University community are expected to cooperate with an investigation of allegations of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, retaliation or sexual misconduct, and maintain confidentiality of information discussed and shared during an investigation. Should a member of the community fail to cooperate with this standard, such conduct would constitute reasonable grounds for discipline.
F. Confidentiality -- Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent provided by law. The fact that an individual has sought guidance from EOI or that a complaint has been filed, including the grounds for which the individual seeks assistance from EOI, will only be communicated to those who require such information to fulfill their responsibilities. Additionally, the documents related to an investigation under this process are not public record during the investigation and in the case of alleged sexual misconduct the names of the complainant and any witnesses are exempt from disclosure even after the EOI investigation is completed. Further, student names are exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
G. Frivolous/False/Fraudulent Claims or Statements -- Any person who knowingly or fraudulently files a frivolous, false or fraudulent EOI complaint will be referred to the appropriate University representative(s) for discipline. Similarly, any person who knowingly makes false statements in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing regarding alleged discrimination and/or harassment and/or retaliation pursuant to this procedure will be referred to the appropriate University representatives for disciplinary action.
H. Standard of Proof -- The standard of proof will be based upon a preponderance of the evidence. This means EOI’s investigation resulted in a finding that there was reasonable cause to believe that more likely than not a Complainant’s treatment was in violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation.
I. Not a Disciplinary Process – The EOI’s processing, review and investigation of a complaint is a fact-finding process and does not constitute a disciplinary proceeding. Therefore, any discipline that may result from EOI’s findings is a distinct and separate process not subject to these procedures. All disciplinary action is subject to applicable University Regulations, including but not limited to the University Regulation 4.0270P (University Complaint and Grievance Resolution for Non-Union Employees), University Regulation 5.0010R (Student Code of Conduct), policies, and applicable collective bargaining agreements.
IV. STATEMENT OF PROCEDURES
A. The Complaint and Investigation Process.
1. Intake Process
An individual seeking assistance from EOI will first be asked to complete an intake form that describes the manner in which the individual believe they suffered treatment in violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation and on what basis or grounds. The EOI investigator will then meet with the individual to review and discuss their complaint, including such details as the name of the alleged offender(s), and the date(s) or approximate date(s) on which the offending act(s) occurred, the name(s) of any witnesses, and the desired resolution(s).
2. Informal Resolution
After the intake process is completed, the EOI investigator will first explore the opportunity to resolve the complaint prior to invoking the formal review and resulting investigatory procedures set forth below. The specific role of the investigator in such instances is to determine the position of each party, to ascertain in what respect and on what issues each party may be prepared to make an adjustment, and to assess the possibilities of resolving the matter amicably through mediation, conciliation, and persuasion.
3. Formal Resolution
If the Complainant’s concerns cannot be resolved informally and the individual desires to proceed with the formal complaint procedure, or if the Complainant wishes to forego the informal resolution process, then EOI will:
a. Determine whether the complaint contains sufficient information to review the Complainant’s allegations or whether additional or supplemental information is needed from the Complainant for EOI to adequately review and/or investigate the complaint.
b. Review the specific allegations raised by the Complainant to determine whether the Complainant has articulated sufficient grounds to believe that the Complainant suffered in violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation. Should EOI find that after reviewing the complaint and meeting with the Complainant and witnesses, if any, that the Complainant failed to allege sufficient facts where it could reasonably be found that there had been a violation of the applicable regulation, EOI will terminate the investigative process and provide Complainant a memorandum that discusses EOI’s determination why the Complainant has failed to allege sufficient grounds to investigate whether there was a violation of the applicable regulation.
c. Notify the alleged offender (hereafter the "Respondent") of the complaint and appropriate University officials of the allegations contained therein and have the Respondent participate in an investigatory interview with EOI and/or provide a written response to Complainant’s allegations and investigator’s inquiries.
d. Conduct a full, complete, impartial and reliable investigation of the allegations contained in the complaint by interviewing witnesses, gathering documentation or taking whatever other action EOI believes is necessary to evaluate Complainant’s allegations of discrimination, harassment or retaliation. At all times during the investigatory process, the Complainant and Respondent shall be kept informed of the status of EOI’s investigation. EOI’s goal is to complete an investigation within 60 days, but that timeframe is not always attainable due to the availability of the parties and University closures. For example, student or faculty schedules and availability because of semester breaks, students not being enrolled in a semester following a complaint, faculty not teaching a particular semester etc. However, if any of these extenuating circumstances occur, the parties will be advised of the reasons for the delay in the investigation and the anticipated date of completion of the investigation.
e. Prepare a written decision outlining the pertinent portions of EOI’s investigation that details EOI’s findings regarding whether the Complainant was subjected to treatment in violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation. A copy of the investigator’s written decision will be provided to the Complainant, the Respondent, and appropriate University officials. If EOI concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that Complainant was subjected to discrimination, discriminatory harassment, retaliation or sexual misconduct in violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation, EOI's written decision, and recommendation (if applicable) to remedy any adverse treatment due to a violation of applicable University regulations will be submitted to the appropriate University representatives.
B. Request for Reconsideration
Either party, the Complainant or Respondent, may request that EOI reconsider his or her decision by filing a written request for reconsideration within ten (10) business days after the receipt of EOI's written decision. The sole basis for a request for reconsideration shall be newly discovered or other relevant evidence/information/data that was not relied upon during the investigatory process. Upon receipt of a request for reconsideration, EOI will forward a copy of the request to the other party who may respond, if applicable, to the request for reconsideration. Significantly, the Complainant or Respondent may not request reconsideration based solely on the fact that the party does not agree with EOI’s decision.
EOI will issue a response to the request for reconsideration within twenty (20) business days after its receipt.
C. Request for Review
Either party, the Complainant or Respondent, may appeal EOI’s decision including after reconsideration, if applicable, by filing a written request for review with the Office of the President within ten (10) business days after the receipt of EOI's decision. However, if the request for review is based upon there being new or other relevant evidence that should have been considered by EOI in reaching a decision, to be eligible for review at this level, the party seeking review must have followed the Request for Reconsideration process.
The party requesting a review of EOI’s decision, or reconsideration decision, shall specify the basis for the requested review and will have the opportunity to meet with the President, or his/her designee, within twenty (20) business days of filing the request for review to discuss the appealing party’s basis for contesting EOI’s decision. Within ten (10) business days following the request for review meeting, the party requesting a review will be provided a letter of final determination from the President, or president’s designee, setting forth the University’s final position regarding the complaint.
D. Compliance Audit
If EOI is made aware of a potential violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation, despite an actual complaint not being filed, EOI may conduct a review of a department or unit’s compliance with these regulations utilizing the same investigatory procedures as outlined above. However, such compliance audit will not focus on the allegations of one particular person; rather, the compliance audit will be based on a unit’s or department’s general compliance with Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity or Sexual Misconduct Regulations. Accordingly, if a person covered under these regulations has specific complaints that they desire EOI to investigate, the covered person should utilize the complaint procedure as the individual’s specific concerns may not be addressed in the compliance audit.
After completion of the Compliance Audit, EOI will prepare a written report of his/her findings to be shared with the appropriate University administrators and where applicable, suggest corrective action to have the unit or department be in compliance with the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Regulation or Sexual Misconduct Regulation. The Compliance Audit will not include the request for reconsideration or request for review portions on the investigation process as the audit will not be focused upon one individual, or respondent’s conduct, but on a department’s or unit’s compliance with the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Diversity and its Sexual Misconduct Regulations.
EOI, through the Center for Professional Development and Training, schedules periodic training regarding elements of this procedure to members of the University community. In addition, requests to train student athletes, clubs or organizations; faculty and staff (including athletic) committees, groups and organizations; and student, faculty and staff orientation programs should be made by contacting EOD at (904) 620-2507 Voice & TDD and (904) 1004 Fax or via 711 Florida Relay for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or those with speech impairments and/or limitations.