Discriminatory Harassment–Discriminatory Treatment Complaint Procedures

Procedures for 5.1 - 5.3 Board of Trustees Policy: Employee Cases of Discrimination and Harassment based on Protected Class, including Sexual Harassment

Michigan Tech has adopted an internal complaint/grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any prohibited action.

If a person feels that their treatment has been harassing or unfairly discriminatory, they are encouraged to speak with their supervisor and/or file a complaint. Supervisors should take immediate action to prevent the possible harassment and/or discrimination from continuing. Institutional Equity can assist you with these issues and/or a complaint may be filed. Information on how to file a complaint can be found later on this page under the heading Process for Filing a Complaint with Institutional Equity.

The following Institutional Equity complaint procedures are intended to be used in any case of alleged harassment and/or discriminatory actions on the basis of a person’s race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, height, weight, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, or disability. Violations of state and federal law and/or the policies could lead to discipline and possible dismissal. Any person who believes they have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of a protected class in the provision of services, activities, programs, or benefits by Michigan Tech may file a grievance under this procedure.

For students, faculty, and staff, all complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy may apply. Reported prohibited conduct that does not meet the definitions and jurisdiction of the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy will be reviewed under these procedures. This includes sexual harassment that occurs outside of Michigan Tech’s Education Program or Activity, conduct that occurs outside of the United States, and non-Title IX Sexual Harassment

All complaints are given serious consideration. Informal resolutions should be explored first. The informal process serves to formulate appropriate resolutions at the most local level. Formal treatment may be specifically requested by either party or Institutional Equity in a written notice at any time. 

The University reserves the right to refer the complaint to the proper police or law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation, if so determined.

If you are an employee and you are experiencing difficulties that do not pertain to protected class issues, please refer to policy 6.13.1 - Employee Complaints and Grievance Procedures.

These guidelines will be construed to protect the substantive rights of interested persons, meet appropriate due process standards, and ensure that Michigan Technological University complies with appropriate implementing regulations.

Complaints Involving Students

If you are a student filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment against another student that is NOT sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, the complaint processes are included in the Student Code of Community Conduct

Process for Filing a Complaint with Institutional Equity 

Any person (students, employees, applicants for employment, applicants for admission, or third parties) may file a complaint using any of the methods listed below:

Each complaint should specify:

  • the name of the individual(s) against whom the complaint is made
  • the nature of the alleged offense(s) (discrimination based on a protected status, harassment, disability, etc)
  • the specifics of the offending incident(s) with precise details (what happened, who was present, when, where, any reasons why they believe the action was taken)

We recommend that harassment and discrimination complaints based on protected class be filed promptly within 60 days of the most recent offending incident to assist in assuring a complete and timely investigation. The University reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to investigate and act on complaints involving incidents that have occurred beyond the time limit. 

Complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking can be filed regardless of when the incident took place. More information regarding the Title IX process is available within the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

The Role of an Advisor

Complainants and Respondents may have a person present during the complaint process to serve as an advisor. For cases of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, parties may choose their own advisor, who may be a trained Michigan Tech Title IX Advisor or an advisor of their choice not affiliated with Michigan Tech, including but not required to be an attorney. The advisor may be present but cannot participate directly in the process. They may, however, provide advice and guidance directly to the Complainant or Respondent. Staff who are members of a union will be informed that they may have a union representative as a support person. All participants are asked to respect the confidentiality of the investigation processes in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

Initial Review of Complaints

During the pre-investigation evaluation period, the investigator will determine if:

  • the complaint is timely
  • the situation described in the complaint arose in the course of a University program or activity
  • the complaint may violate a policy enforced by Institutional Equity
  • the complaint is directed against a University employee, student, administrative unit, or third-party
  • the complaint is factually supported such that the alleged behavior could constitute a policy violation

If the complaint does not meet the above criteria or establish a violation of a policy enforced by Institutional Equity, the case may be closed. However, the complaint may still be subject to University action if the alleged behavior violates another University policy or is otherwise inappropriate. In such an event, Institutional Equity may refer the complaint to any other University office deemed appropriate for further review.

Requests from complainants to “just record my concerns” or “not take any action at this time” may or may not be honored depending on the circumstances involved. If at any time the University feels an investigation is necessary, an investigation may proceed without the support of the potential Complainant, even if that Complainant requested no action.

The University will offer supportive measures to the parties, as appropriate. If informal resolution is possible, it will be supported as an abbreviated process for less complicated matters that can be quickly resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. An example of such a complaint could be a single comment that the Complainant deemed objectionable and for which clarification can be provided. The informal process is completely voluntary, and both parties must agree. The University recognizes that there may be certain complaints where the informal process will never be appropriate. A Complainant always has the right in every case to insist on a formal investigation and findings. 

Investigation Process

Institutional Equity will determine the most effective method of investigating the allegations raised by the Complainant. This will most likely involve conducting a thorough fact-finding investigation, which includes separate meetings with the Complainant, Respondent, and witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the situation and reviewing and analyzing relevant records as they relate to the allegations. The Complainant, Respondent, and witnesses will have the right to present information to the investigator, including the opportunity to provide questions to the investigator to be asked of the other parties or witnesses. The investigator may be the Executive Director of Institutional Equity or designee, the Title IX Coordinator or designee, the ADA Coordinator or designee, or a University contracted investigator. It will be within the investigator’s discretion to determine the extent of investigation necessary and the number of witnesses to be contacted to adequately determine the facts.

Participants in the process may be requested to document their statements in writing. If a person declines to provide a written statement or sign a statement taken by the investigator that documents their account of the incident(s), Institutional Equity will still conduct an investigation based upon all available information. However, at all times, those involved will receive a procedurally fair, prompt, and thorough investigation.

The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the investigation by email. This notification will include, to the best of Institutional Equity's knowledge; the parties’ names; a description of the alleged policy violation with any dates/times/locations known prior to the Investigation; the date/time/location of the first meeting with the investigators; policy on retaliation; and information on appropriate resources available.  The investigators will then meet with the parties and witnesses individually, collect any additional relevant evidence, and possibly conduct follow-up meetings with the parties. When the meetings have concluded, each party will receive a copy of the notes the investigators took during their meeting(s) and be provided the opportunity to review and comment on the meeting notes. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will create a written report of the evidence obtained during the investigation. A representative from Institutional Equity will review the written report to determine if there is a violation of University Policy based upon a “preponderance of evidence” standard. This standard means that it must be more likely than not that the prohibited conduct occurred. Institutional Equity will strive to complete the investigation within 60 days of receipt of the complaint. Simultaneous notification of the finding will be provided to both the Complainant and Respondent. 

Sanctions and Outcomes

If it is determined that a policy violation has occurred, the supervisor or appropriate designee and Human Resources will determine appropriate corrective action based upon the investigation findings and recommendations for remedy. These steps include preventing recurrence by implementing remedies, implementing and documenting steps taken toward resolution, and possible disciplinary sanctions for the offender ranging from verbal or written warnings, probation, suspension, or expulsion from the University, or termination from University employment, and/or termination of tenure for serious or repeated violations. This will be determined in accordance with applicable University Policies, Human Resources practices and procedures, and any applicable collective bargaining agreement. Third-parties who violate the policy are subject to corrective action, which may include removal from campus and termination of contractual agreements.

Employees who have a concern about the outcome of any investigation may seek further assistance/appeal through the Employee Complaints and Grievance policy and procedures, the Policy on Academic Tenure and Promotion, or their applicable bargaining agreement or contract.

ADA/Section 504 Grievances Appeal Procedure

The person filing the grievance due to disability may appeal the decision by writing to the Executive Director of Institutional Equity within 15 days of receiving the decision. The written appeal must include a detailed statement of the basis of the appeal and must specify the particular substantive and/or procedural basis for the appeal. The appeal must be made on grounds other than general dissatisfaction with the determined decision. Furthermore, the appeal must be directed only to issues raised in the formal complaint as filed or to procedural errors in the conduct of the grievance procedure itself, and not to new issues. If an appeal is received from one party, the other party will be notified and given ten (10) business days to submit a written statement. The Executive Director shall issue a written decision in response to the appeal and notify the Complainant and Respondent of the final decision no later than 30 days after its filing. If the appeal involves a decision that is being challenged, the review by the Executive Director of Institutional Equity usually will be limited to the following considerations:

  • Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affect the decision to the detriment of the complainant?
  • Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the complainant?
  • Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision a reasonable one?

Additional Options

Incident reporting to the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is also an option for the resolution of discrimination.

For students disagreeing with any decision, the appeal process is noted in the Student Conduct Policies for Sexual and/or Relationship Misconduct.

Privacy

The University will make every reasonable effort to maintain privacy for all parties involved and the confidentiality of information received to the extent allowable in accordance with state and federal laws and University policy. Timely cooperation is expected of all involved parties throughout the investigative process. All participants are asked to respect the confidentiality of the investigation processes to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

False Complaints

Any individual who knowingly files a false complaint under this policy, or who knowingly provides false information to, intentionally misleads, or knowingly withholds available requested information from University officials who are investigating a complaint, may be subject to disciplinary and/or corrective action.

Retaliation

Retaliation is engaging in adverse action against a complainant, respondent, or any individual or group of individuals involved in the complaint, investigation, and/or resolution of an allegation of a violation, which affects their employment, academic/student, or business status that is motivated in whole or in part by their participation in the process.

Retaliation is expressly prohibited by University policy and could lead to discipline including possible termination or dismissal.

Retaliation can take many forms, including but not limited to threats, intimidation, pressuring, demotion, and/or continued harassment.  Persons who feel that they have been subject to retaliation may file a complaint based on the alleged retaliation in the same manner as for the initial complaint. Conduct that constitutes retaliation may be found regardless of whether or not the underlying complaint is found to have merit.

The University will not tolerate retaliation against persons due to their assertion of their protected civil rights, including filing complaints with federal or state civil rights enforcement agencies, bringing the University’s attention to prohibited activity, or participation in an investigation of such a complaint.

Records Retention

Case records within Institutional Equity will be retained according to compliance requirements. For employees, case records will be retained for 7 years from the date last employed, unless pending civil actions. Title IX case records will be retained for 7 years from the date of the closure of the case unless pending civil action. Case records will be maintained privately by Institutional Equity.

Revised June 30, 2015, August 25, 2015, February 25, 2016, August 31, 2017, December 12, 2017, September 15, 2020, December 15, 2020, March 23, 2021, June 14, 2021