Discriminatory Harassment–Discriminatory Treatment Complaint Procedures

Michigan Tech has adopted an internal complaint/grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolutions of complaints alleging any prohibited action under the Board of Trustees Policies 5.1-5.3.

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. 

Employees experiencing workplace issues that are not involving protected class should refer to policy 6.13.1 - Employee Complaints and Grievance Procedures. Students filing complaints of discrimination or harassment (excluding sexual harassment) against another student will follow the processes included in the Student Code of Community Conduct.

For students and employees, 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.

Who can File a Complaint

Any person who believes they have been subjected to harassment or discrimination on the basis of a protected class in the provision of services, activities, programs, employment decisions, or benefits by Michigan Tech may file a grievance under this procedure.  Violations of state and federal law and/or the policies could lead to discipline and possible dismissal. The University reserves the right to refer the complaint to the proper police or law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation, if so determined.

Filing a Complaint with Institutional Equity 

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 is available to assist, including the Title IX and ADA Coordinators. Any person may file a complaint, including applicants for employment, applicants for admission and third parties. The following options are available to file a complaint.

Complaints should include the name of the individual(s) against whom the complaint is made; the nature of the alleged offense(s); and the specifics of the offending incident(s) with details (what happened, who was present, when, where, any reasons why they believe the action was taken). 

Timeline to File Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment 

Harassment and discrimination complaints based on protected class should 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. See the Title IX Policy.

The Role of an Advisor

Complainants and Respondents may have a person present during the complaint process to serve as an advisor. 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. For cases of sexual harassment under the TIX policy, 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.

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.

Supportive Measures

The University will offer supportive measures to the parties, as appropriate. These are designed to restore or preserve equal access to Michigan Tech’s education programs or activities without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties.

Formal Treatment of a Complaint   

Institutional Equity will determine the most effective method of reviewing the allegations raised by the Complainant. Informal resolutions may be explored first. The informal process serves to formulate appropriate resolutions at the most local level, and this option is completely voluntary and both parties must agree. Formal treatment may be specifically requested by either party or Institutional Equity. Formal treatment may involve conducting a thorough fact-finding investigation. The investigator may be the Executive Director of Institutional Equity or designee, the Associate Director of Institutional Equity or designee, the Title IX Coordinator or designee, the ADA Coordinator or designee, or a University contracted investigator. 

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 may still conduct an investigation based upon all available information. However, at all times, those involved will receive a procedurally fair, prompt, and thorough process.

Formal Investigation

When there is a formal investigation, Institutional Equity will strive to complete the  investigation within 60 days of receipt of the complaint  and will follow the process as listed below.

  • Complainant and Respondent each receive a Notification of Investigation by email
    • The notification includes, 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; university policy on retaliation; and information on appropriate resources available.
    • The Respondent’s supervisor and the Director of Human Resources will be copied on this notice.
  • Investigation begins
    • The investigators meet with the parties and witnesses individually, collect any additional relevant evidence, and possibly conduct follow-up meetings with the parties.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Complainant and Respondent receive a copy of the notes to review
    • Both parties receive a copy of the notes from their meeting(s) with the investigator(s) and are provided an opportunity to review and comment on the notes, which will be considered in the outcome of the case.
  • Institutional Equity determines an outcome of responsibility
    • A representative from Institutional Equity will review all information during the course of the investigation and 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.
  • Parties are notified of the outcome
    • Simultaneous notification of the finding will be provided to both the Complainant and Respondent by email.
    • The Respondent’s supervisor and the Director of Human Resources will be copied on the outcome letter.

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.

Outcomes and Sanctions 

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 Respondent 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 Procedures for Grievance Appeal

A person may file grievance appeal when it involves a complaint of harassment or discrimination based on disability 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 business 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 Reporting Options

Department of Education

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

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 is Prohibited

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, October 07, 2021