Affirmative Action Grievance Procedures
Georgetown University Grievance Procedures to Investigate Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment
(Revised February 2010)
Georgetown University recognizes and accepts its responsibilities to act in accordance with the University’s Affirmative Action Plan, federal laws and regulations and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. Therefore, the University has established these grievance procedures for the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action (“IDEAA”) to review, investigate, and resolve alleged violations of the University’s Equal Employment Policy, Affirmative Action Policy and the Policy Statement on Harassment. These procedures cover allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of age, color, disability, family responsibilities, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, matriculation, national origin, personal appearance, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status and other factors prohibited by law. These procedures also cover allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment in education on the basis of disability, national origin, race, religion, sex and other factors prohibited by law.
These internal Grievance Procedures to Investigate Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment provide a mechanism for aggrieved faculty, staff, students and applicants for employment and admission to receive a fair hearing on issues of discrimination and harassment. Students may also pursue complaints of peer harassment against a Georgetown University student through applicable student disciplinary codes.
The University strongly encourages any victim of unlawful discrimination and harassment to report the incident and seek redress through IDEAA’s Grievance Procedures, if he or she is unable to resolve it satisfactorily and completely through informal means. The University will provide a prompt investigation and thorough and careful resolution.
Complainants are encouraged to exhaust these procedures with regard to any grievance before pursuing remedies outside the University. However the University acknowledges the rights of Complainants to seek redress from any external enforcement agency including the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance.
It is a violation of this policy to file a discrimination or harassment complaint for the purpose of injuring the reputation or causing harm to another person. Without minimizing the injury that can be suffered by the victim of discrimination or harassment, the University also recognizes that the filing of a discrimination or harassment complaint can have serious consequences for the person accused. That person, too, has rights that the policies on discrimination and harassment must preserve and protect. Therefore, any person who abuses this policy by knowingly filing a false complaint will be subject to discipline if IDEAA determines that the complaint was filed in bad faith. This provision is not meant in any way to discourage legitimate complaints.
Complainants, respondents and witnesses who participate in this process are bound by rules of confidentiality. IDEAA will preserve the confidentiality of information provided in connection with a grievance to the extent possible, consistent with the goals of prompt and thorough investigation and resolution as well as compliance with the law.
The University will continue to promote Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in Employment and Education in all areas of the University. Successful efforts in this area will contribute to an improved environment in which to work and study. The University believes that these non-adversarial grievance procedures will benefit students, faculty, staff, administrators, and applicants.
1. Requirements for Filing Grievances
- Any applicant for employment or admission, current or former faculty and staff member or student (hereinafter referred to as Complainant), of Georgetown University has a right to file a discrimination or harassment complaint with IDEAA.
- Complainants must file a grievance in writing within 180 days following the alleged discriminatory act or the date on which the Complainant knew or reasonably should have known the act.
- A grievance must be filed in writing with IDEAA at M-36 Darnall Hall, electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (202) 687-7778.
2. Provisions on Time Limits
All of the time limits contained within these grievance procedures may be extended solely at the discretion of IDEAA. Any party requesting an extension must do so in writing.
3. Principle of Non-Retalization
It is illegal and contrary to University policy for any individual to engage, whether directly or indirectly, in retaliatory conduct against a person who files a discrimination or harassment complaint, gives testimony during an investigation of such a complaint, or otherwise objects to perceived discrimination or harassment. Anyone who believes that retaliatory actions have been taken against him or her in violation of this policy may seek redress through IDEAA.
4. Administrative Review
IDEAA has the authority to initiate an administrative review at any time when, in the judgment of the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, such action is warranted. A department head or other University official may also request IDEAA to conduct an administrative review, if this official becomes aware of alleged discrimination or harassment in his/her area. Administrative reviews will include interviewing witnesses and reviewing pertinent documents culminating in the preparation of a written report. The report will be shared with the official who requested the review as well as the appropriate Vice President, Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President. As with all IDEAA investigations, witnesses interviewed in this process will be expected to maintain confidentiality.
5. Procedures for Processing Grievances
- IDEAA shall propose mediation to an aggrieved individual desiring to resolve a dispute between himself/herself and a potential respondent. If the aggrieved individual agrees to mediate, the potential respondent will be informed about the issue and asked to participate in mediation. If there is no agreement to mediate, the Complainant may proceed to Step II.
- If both parties agree to mediate, IDEAA’s staff or representative chosen by IDEAA will conduct the mediation within a prompt and reasonable time frame.
- If a mutually acceptable resolution is achieved through mediation, a written agreement between the parties will reflect the resolution and shall be signed and dated by the parties. Copies will be provided to both parties and IDEAA will monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement by both parties. The case will then be closed.
- If mediation fails, IDEAA will inform the Complainant about the option to proceed to Step II.
Investigation by IDEAA
- An individual or group of individuals may initiate a formal complaint by providing IDEAA with a written and signed statement and any supporting documentation detailing the allegations of discrimination or harassment and identifying the individuals who engaged in the alleged conduct (hereafter the “Respondent”).
- IDEAA shall provide the Respondent and his/her supervisor, if applicable, a copy of the formal complaint and its supporting documents. The Respondent shall have an opportunity to submit a written response to the allegations and any supporting documents. The Complainant will be provided a copy of this response and given the opportunity to submit a written rebuttal to Respondent’s statement. Respondent will be given a final opportunity to respond in writing to Complainant’s written rebuttal as well. Both Complainant and Respondent may identify witnesses who can provide information relevant to the allegations.
- IDEAA shall within a prompt and reasonable time frame investigate the complaint and shall have access to all necessary information to do so and the opportunity to interview witnesses, as well as Complainant and Respondent.
- Upon completion of the investigation IDEAA shall prepare a written report.
- When IDEAA finds that no violation of policies governing harassment or discrimination has occurred, IDEAA will notify the parties of the results.
- When IDEAA finds that a violation of policies governing harassment or discrimination has occurred, IDEAA will:
- Notify the parties of the results, to the extent consistent with the confidentiality accorded to University personnel actions
- Forward its report to the Respondent’s Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President, or his or her designee
- Direct that prompt remedial action be taken to correct the situation.
If corrective actions are imposed, IDEAA shall monitor their implementation. The appropriate Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President shall ensure that the approved corrective actions are smoothly implemented and that no retaliatory actions are taken.
An appeal may be made within 14 business days of IDEAA’s notification of its findings to the Complainant and Respondent.
a. Grounds for Appeal
There are certain limited circumstances under which a case may be appealed. The appellant must demonstrate that:
- Proper procedures were not followed during the investigation.
- Significant evidence was not considered.
The other party(ies) will be given a chance to respond to the request for an appeal. The Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, or her/his designee, will determine whether the request for an appeal is warranted. The parties will be informed of the decision within ten business days of receiving the request for appeal.
b. Appeal Procedures
i. If the request for an appeal is granted, IDEAA shall notify the appropriate Vice President, Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President. This notification shall include a copy of the formal complaint naming the Complainant and Respondent and will explain the grounds on which the appeal was granted.
ii. IDEAA shall then initiate the selection procedures to form a three member Grievance Panel selected from the Equal Opportunity Examining Board made up of Georgetown University administrators, faculty and staff. Grievances involving discriminatory denials of tenure, promotion or reappointment of faculty members shall be heard by panels composed of faculty or academic administrators only. The three member Grievance Panel to serve on an appeal shall be selected in the following manner:
- The Complainant shall select one member of the Equal Opportunity Examining Board, and the Respondent shall select another.
- IDEAA shall convene a meeting of these two selected panelists who shall choose the third member from the Equal Opportunity Examining Board to form the Grievance Panel.
iii. A member of IDEAA’s staff shall present information about the complaint to the panel members who shall recuse themselves if they have prior knowledge of the complaint, the circumstances surrounding the incidents, or any other reason which might prevent them from rendering an impartial decision. Any member of the panel who is recused shall be replaced in accordance with the procedure stated above.
iv. The Grievance Panel is charged with reviewing IDEAA’s investigation and determining whether the procedures were properly followed and the significant evidence was properly considered and weighed.
v. The Grievance Panel shall have access to all relevant information and the opportunity to interview witnesses, including the opportunity to interview the IDEAA investigator(s), Complainant, and Respondent separately.
vi. The information presented to the Grievance Panel and its deliberations are confidential.
vii. Each party may choose an Advisor to accompany him/her to meet with the Grievance Panel. The Advisor may not speak on behalf of the party or otherwise represent the party, but may provide support and consult with the party outside of the presence of the Grievance Panel. If either party indicates that he/she will be accompanied by an Advisor who is an attorney, the University’s attorney will be asked to be present.
viii. The Grievance Panel shall by majority vote reach one of the following results:
- support the full results of IDEAA’s investigation
- support the findings but recommend different corrective actions than those recommended by IDEAA or
- reach different findings and, if necessary, recommend different corrective actions than those recommended by IDEAA.
ix. Within 45 working days from its formation, the Grievance Panel shall submit a report of its results to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, or his/her designee, who will forward it with his or her approval and/or comments (if, for example, the Panel has not supported the full results of IDEAA’s investigation) to the appropriate Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President. The appropriate Executive Officer may accept the Panel’s recommendations or may modify the results based, for example, on the comments of the Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, or his/her designee. This official’s decision is final. IDEAA shall forward the final result to the Complainant, Respondent, and his/her supervisor, if applicable.
x. If corrective actions are imposed, IDEAA shall monitor their implementation. The appropriate Executive Vice President or Senior Vice President shall ensure that the approved corrective actions are smoothly implemented and that no retaliatory actions are taken.
Student Grievances in Non-Employments
a. Peer Harassment
It is contrary to University policy for students to subject their peers to unlawful harassment:
IDEAA’s resources, and IDEAA’s Grievance Procedures in particular, are available to students who believe they have been subject to harassment by a peer.
Students who believe they are subject to harassment by a fellow Georgetown student may also choose to pursue a complaint under the relevant campus conduct code. More information about conduct complaints is available at the links listed below.
b. Other Resources for Student Concerns
The University has established policies, procedures and resource offices to address student complaints related to address a range of other types of concerns, including discrimination in the context of strictly academic issues, student conduct, and academic integrity.
Concerns of Discrimination in Academic Work
If students believe there has been discrimination in strictly academic areas, such as coursework, grading or class participation, the matter will be handled in accordance with the procedures set out in the applicable student academic policies and procedures. For more information go to: Undergraduate Bulletin or the Graduate Student Ombuds Office
i. Student Conduct
Undergraduate and Main Campus graduate students are bound by the Code of Student Conduct Complaints related to potential violations of the Code of Conduct should be pursued through the Office of Student Conduct
Complaints related to the conduct of Law Center students will be addressed through the process outlined in the Law Center’s Student Disciplinary Code, and concerns related to the conduct of School of Medicine students will be addressed through its Student Code of Professionalism
ii. Academic Integrity
Concerns relating to academic integrity involving undergraduate students are addressed through Honor System. For more information go to: Gervase Programs
Concerns involving graduate students are considered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. See Policies. Academic integrity concerns at the School of Medicine are considered according to the standards and procedures outlined in the Student Code of Professionalism, and at the Law Center under the Student Disciplinary Code
iii. Bias Reporting System
Any member of the University community can make a report about a possible bias incident or hate crime through the Bias Reporting System. For more information go to the bias reporting website.