UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
OFFICE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
PROCEDURE FOR RESOLVING COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATION
In any large and diverse organization such as the University of
Pennsylvania, friction or misunderstandings may arise because of
the wide variety of circumstances under which individuals interact.
It is, therefore, imperative that mechanisms and resources be provided
for individuals to discuss problems so that corrections and adjustments
can be made where appropriate. To that end, the procedures outlined
below provide methods for addressing and resolving
complaints of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation
that may arise at the University of Pennsylvania.
All members of the university community should be aware of the
many resources available for those seeking information and counseling
about the universityís nondiscrimination and harassment policies,
standards of behavior and available mechanisms, both formal and
informal, for resolving complaints.
INFORMATION, COUNSELING AND SUPPORT
Faculty, staff and students may have a need for information, counseling
or support, in which case they may be referred to, or may contact
directly, the following resource offices:
INFORMAL MECHANISMS FOR MEDIATION AND RESOLUTION
The resource offices listed above, as well as the Office of Residential
Living, Department Chairs, and Deans and administrative Directors,
are available to assist in the informal resolution of complaints.
These informal mechanisms for mediation and resolution are intended
to provide an alternative avenue for individuals to pursue. They
are not a substitute for a formal complaint of discrimination, harassment,
and/or retaliation. Individuals wishing to lodge an official complaint
of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation must pursue the
formal mechanisms for complaint resolution listed below.
FORMAL MECHANISMS FOR COMPLAINT RESOLUTION
When informal resolution has been unsuccessful, members of the
University community should pursue either formal mediation or a
formal complaint of discrimination,
harassment and/or retaliation through the Office of Affirmative
Action and Equal Opportunity Programs. Formal complaints may also
be filed with the Offices
of Staff and Labor Relations.
FILING A COMPLAINT
A formal complaint under this policy must be made
in writing, signed by the Complainant and submitted within 30
days after the alleged violation, if reasonably possible. The Complaint
of Discrimination or Harassment form, which is available on the
web or in the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
Programs, must include a detailed statement of the known facts out
of which the complaint arises, a request for specific relief, and
the names and contact information for any witnesses to the incidents
mentioned in the complaint.
Where a complaint is not timely filed, the Investigator may determine
that special circumstances exist that excuse the delay, and may
consider the complaint as timely filed. In instances involving a
student complaint against a faculty member charging harassment or
discrimination which occurred in the context of a subordinate-supervisory
academic relationship (e.g. teaching, advising, thesis or dissertation
supervision or coaching), the time period may be extended until
30 days after the student is no longer under the faculty memberís
VOLUNTARY MEDIATION PROCESS
After receipt of the complaint and the initial consultation, the
Investigator will advise the Complainant that voluntary mediation
or conciliation of a complaint is available should the Complainant
so desire. If the Complainant chooses to pursue this course, and
the person charged with discrimination (Respondent) agrees, the
Investigator will suspend the formal complaint procedure for up
to 60 days (which may be extended with the written consent of all
parties) to permit mediation to take place.
The Investigator may appoint a Mediator, or may serve as Mediator.
At any time, any of the parties to the complaint, or the person
serving as the Mediator, may terminate mediation efforts through
notice to the Investigator. Upon receipt of such notification, the
Investigator will notify all of the parties and may proceed with
a formal investigation, if such a step is deemed warranted.
If the complaint is successfully mediated the Investigator or Mediator
will prepare a Mediation Agreement, describing the terms agreed
upon by both parties. The Complainant and Respondent will be expected
to read and sign the Mediation Agreement, which will state that
both parties agree that the dispute is fully and finally resolved,
subject to the partiesí compliance with any stipulated commitments.
In the event that either party fails to comply with the commitments
or conditions contained in the Mediation Agreement, the other party
may seek the intervention of the Investigator, who may contact the
partyís manager to assist with enforcement, or may institute an
investigation of the underlying complaint.
If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the mediation
process, or if either party decides to terminate the mediation process,
the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs
will initiate (or re-commence) a formal investigation of the original
allegations. The investigation and mediation processes will be separate
and distinct from one another and statements made, or records submitted,
in the mediation process, other than the original statement of complaint
and the Mediation Agreement, will not automatically be introduced
into the investigation process.
After the initial consultation, the Investigator will determine
whether the conduct complained of falls within the scope of this
policy and, if voluntary mediation is refused, will conduct a confidential
investigation. The investigation will be initiated as soon as possible,
consistent with resource availability, and will afford both the
Complainant and Respondent an opportunity to be heard. An accused
individual will be notified of the complaint allegations and the
identity of the Complainant unless disclosure of the Complainantís
identity is deemed unnecessary to afford the Respondent a fair opportunity
to respond to the allegations. Any person who reports or complains;
participates in an inquiry or investigation; or is accused of harassment/discrimination,
will have the right to be accompanied by an individual of his/her
choice employed by the University, who will be permitted to attend,
but not otherwise participate in, the proceedings; provided that
the individual selected is not otherwise involved in the investigation
or their presence would not otherwise impede the investigation.
The outcome of the investigation may be a finding that the allegations
are unwarranted or could not be substantiated; a negotiated settlement;
or a finding that the allegations have been corroborated by the
information presented. If the allegations have been substantiated,
recommendations for corrective or disciplinary action will be forwarded
to the appropriate University official. The standard of proof for
administrative proceedings is that of a "preponderance of evidence"
- that is, evidence which, as a whole, shows that the fact sought
to be proved is more probable than not.
The Investigator will communicate the final disposition of the
complaint to the appropriate University officials, the Complainant
and the Respondent. The responsibility for imposing the recommended
disciplinary action, will rest with the senior University official
with management responsibility for the Respondent.
Sanctions imposed on those individuals who have been found to be
in violation of the University of Pennsylvaniaís discrimination/harassment
policies shall be commensurate with the frequency and severity of
the conduct, and adequate and sufficient to demonstrate the Universityís
commitment to taking strong and effective measures to both remedy
and prevent the conduct. The sanctions may involve, without limitation,
any of the following, singularly or in combination: a requirement
not to repeat or continue the discriminatory or harassing conduct;
a requirement to attend remedial training; appropriate workplace
restrictions; an oral or written reprimand; denial of a merit pay
increase; denial of promotion; or reassignment, suspension or separation
from the University. Discipline will be enforced against any employee
engaging in illegal discrimination or harassment and against any
supervisory personnel who knowingly permit the activity or behavior
FILING AN APPEAL
Either the Complainant or Respondent may file an appeal of any
decision concerning the resolution of the complaint. An appeal by
either party must be made, in writing, to the Vice President
for Institutional Affairs within 15 days of receipt of the notice of the
resolution or disciplinary decision.
The written appeal must state, in detail, the reason(s) for the
appeal and shall address one or more of the following:
- If the appeal alleges that the findings of the Investigator
included relevant factual errors or omitted relevant facts, the
appeal shall specify each factual error and/or details of each
relevant fact that was omitted from the investigation
- If the appeal alleges substantive procedural errors, the person
appealing shall identify each instance of said substantive procedural
- If the appeal alleges relevant or substantive issues or questions
concerning interpretation of University policy, the person appealing
shall state, in detail, the issues or questions supporting this
- If the appeal alleges that new information or evidence exists,
the appeal shall specify the reason why this information was not
available or not provided to the Investigator during the course
of the investigation, including the reason why the information
could not have been provided on a timely basis
- If the appeal alleges either that action or inaction of the
supervisor in response to the findings of the investigation will
not prevent future violations of this policy, the person appealing
will specify, in detail, the reason(s) and basis for this allegation.
No disciplinary or other action based upon the original complaint
findings shall be taken against the alleged offender during the
appeals process, although temporary, interim measures may remain
INTERIM ACTIONS DURING AN INVESTIGATION
In some cases, the alleged conduct specified in a complaint may
be such that to protect the Complainant or other members of the
University community, the University may, in its discretion, promptly
elect to place the alleged offender on administrative leave with
or without pay, may implement a temporary reassignment, or may implement
other interim remedial measures. This leave, reassignment or other
measures will generally remain in effect for the duration of the
complaint investigation process.
OTHER EXTERNAL RESOLUTION PROCEDURES
An individual who believes that s/he has been subjected to unlawful
discrimination, harassment or retaliation has the right to file
a complaint with an appropriate local, state, or federal agency
or a court with proper jurisdiction. In the event that a complaint
is filed with an external agency or court, the University of Pennsylvania
reserves the right to determine, in its discretion, whether the
Universityís complaint resolution procedure described above should
be discontinued or continued separately. The University will make
such determination to achieve fairness and consistency in the resolution
of complaints and to ensure efficient use of internal administrative
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FILING EXTERNAL COMPLAINTS
Charges or complaints can be filed with the Office of Civil Rights
(OCR), the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Philadelphia Commission
on Human Relations (PCHR), or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance
Programs (OFCCP), as appropriate. Charges or complaints filed with
the PHRC, PCHR, OCR, and OFCCP must be filed within 180 days of
the last date of the alleged discrimination. EEOC charges and PCHR
complaints must be filed within 300 days of the last act of discrimination.
The Complainant should be aware that filing a complaint with the
Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, or
other University resource, does not extend or postpone the deadline
for filing with external agencies.
INVESTIGATOR CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The Complainant or the Respondent might allege that the Investigator
has a substantial conflict of interest that might impair his/her
ability to conduct a fair and impartial investigation of the allegations.
In that event, details supporting the alleged conflict of interest
must be submitted, in writing, to the Office of Affirmative Action
and Equal Opportunity Programs within 5 days of receiving notice
of the identity of the Investigator. A determination will be made
about the existence of a conflict of interest and, if such a conflict
is found to exist, an alternative investigator will be appointed
as expeditiously as possible. In the event that a request is made
and an alternate investigator must be appointed, any specific time
line provided for in the complaint procedure shall be suspended
pending the determination and/or appointment.
The University of Pennsylvania shall protect the confidentiality
of the identities of, and statements made by, the parties and witnesses
involved in a discrimination/harassment report or complaint to the
extent permitted by law, and to the extent that continued protection
does not interfere with the Universityís ability to investigate
allegations of misconduct brought to its attention and to take corrective
action. In addition, all participants in any part of the investigation
will be expected not to reveal any information, either shared or
learned, during the course of these proceedings. Despite these measures,
however, the University can not and does not guarantee that the
parties, themselves, or the witnesses will maintain confidentiality.
Confidentiality does not mean that the details of the complaint
will be withheld from the Respondent, or that the University is
constrained from divulging the proceedings in appropriate circumstances.
For example, the University of Pennsylvania may publicly divulge
details of the outcome of an investigation if one or more of the
parties disclose selective or self-serving portions of the proceedings,
or when a lawsuit emerges where the Complainant or Respondent contests
the findings or results of the Universityís investigation.
Retaliation against an individual who, in good faith, reports,
complains about or participates in an investigation of an allegation
of discrimination or harassment is prohibited by University of Pennsylvania
policy and by federal law. Any individual, who feels that he or
she has been retaliated against or has been threatened with retaliation,
should immediately file a formal complaint as outlined above.
Anyone who knowingly makes a false accusation of discrimination,
harassment, or retaliation will be subject to appropriate sanctions
which may include, but are not limited to, written warning, demotion,
transfer, suspension, dismissal, expulsion or termination.