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Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure

SCOPE:

This policy applies to all members of the College community, including students, managers or supervisors, applicants, employees, and third parties, such as vendors.

 POLICY STATEMENT: 

Westminster College is dedicated to maintaining an environment where all people feel respected and included and is committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive work and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment. Harassment and/or discrimination subvert the mission of the College and threaten the careers, educational experiences and well-being of its students, staff, administrators and faculty.   Thus, in accordance with federal and state law, Title IX and College policy, the College prohibits harassment or discrimination on its campus, at any College sponsored activities, and on any College sponsored trips, on the basis of an individual's/individuals' race, color, age, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, veteran status, marital status, disability or genetic information in its programs, activities and employment.  It is the policy of Westminster College to promote equal employment opportunity without discrimination or harassment.  The College also prohibits aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling or coercing discrimination or harassment prohibited by this policy.  In addition, the College prohibits retaliation against any member of the College community for making a complaint under this policy or participating in any investigation or proceeding provided in this policy.   

 Each member of the Westminster community has the right to work, study and/or socialize in an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. Each member of the Westminster community, therefore, has the corresponding responsibility and obligation to conduct himself or herself so as to create an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. This includes the acts of supervisors, managers, faculty, employee subordinates and peers, fellow students, guests, visitors, vendors, consultants, and customers. In addition to being responsible for their own conduct, supervisors and managers must ensure that their employees contribute to a work environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. Behavior prohibited by this policy is unacceptable in the workplace and in any work-related environment outside the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings, athletic events on campus and business-related social events.

 Individuals who believe they have been victims of discrimination or harassment or who wish to report a violation of this policy may contact the College’s Compliance Officers/Title IX Coordinators.  Contact information for each of the Compliance Officers can be found in the section on “Reporting Incidents of Discrimination and Harassment.” In accordance with the procedures provided herein, incidents of harassment and discrimination will warrant appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion from the College.

 Please note that complaints of Sexual Misconduct are governed by the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy, found in the Student Handbook, pages 66-82. Relevant definitions, resources for victims of Sexual Misconduct, and information on filing criminal and/or confidential reports of Sexual Misconduct can be found in that policy.  However, complaints of Sexual Misconduct against employees will be handled in accordance with the procedures provided in this policy.     

 

DEFINITIONS:

 Compliance Officers/Title IX Coordinators – The designated individuals responsible for the College’s compliance with this policy and related laws.  The Compliance Officers may be contacted to file a formal or informal complaint of discrimination or harassment.  The Director of Human Resources (“Director of HR”) serves as the College’s primary Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator.  The Vice President and Dean of Student Life, the Director of the Learning Opportunities Center/Faculty Athletic Representative, and the Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty serve as assistant Compliance Officers/Deputy Title IX Coordinators. The Vice President and Dean of Student Life provides support to the Director of HR on issues affecting students; the Director of the Learning Opportunities Center/Faculty Athletic Representative provides support to the Director of HR on issues affecting student athletes; and the Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty provides support to the Director of HR on issues affecting faculty. Contact information for each of the Compliance Officers can be found in the section on “Reporting Incidents of Discrimination and Harassment.”

Discrimination – Conferring, refusing or denying benefits or providing differential treatment to an individual or class of individuals in violation of law based on the individual’s/individuals’ race, color, age, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, veteran status, marital status, disability or genetic information, in connection with the terms and conditions of employment or educational opportunities.

Harassment – A form of discrimination that includes verbal, physical, or other conduct based on the individual’s race, color, age, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, veteran status, marital status, disability or genetic information that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment that interferes with the individual’s job performance or educational opportunities.

Harassment may include, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; offensive jokes, name calling, physical assaults or threats, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, etc.  Harassment may also include written or graphic material placed on walls, bulletin boards or elsewhere on the campus or circulated by other means, including electronic media, that denigrates, shows hostility to, or aversion towards an individual or group because of race, color, age, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, veteran status, marital status, disability or genetic information.

 Sexual Harassment – Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which can include, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual Harassment may include a range of subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. Examples of Sexual Harassment include unwelcome touching; sexually explicit offensive jokes, innuendo, threats, and/or obscene gestures; graphic or degrading verbal or written comments or questions of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; inappropriate humor and jokes about gender specific traits or sexual orientation; sexual propositions; suggestive or insulting sounds and actions, including, whistling, leering, and obscene gestures; phone calls or use of written and/or verbal communication that are intimidating, threatening, or obscene in nature; display in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; and other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature.

Please note that Sexual Misconduct, as defined in the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy, is a form of Sexual Harassment.  Complaints of behavior that may constitute Sexual Misconduct are addressed by the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy. Any individual with questions about which policy may apply in a given set of circumstances should contact the Director of HR, who serves as the College’s primary Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator.

 Retaliation – means taking any unfavorable action or attempting to take unfavorable action, including intimidating, threatening, coercing or in any way discriminating against an individual because of the individual’s complaint of discrimination or harassment, or participation in an investigation related to allegations of discrimination or harassment.

 

PROCEDURES:

 Reporting Incidents of Discrimination or Harassment

 Westminster College encourages all members of the College community to report all incidents of discrimination and harassment.  Complaints of discrimination or harassment may be reported as follows. 

 Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment By Students

Students who believe they have been the victims of behavior prohibited by this policy or believe they have observed such behavior should contact either the Vice President and Dean of Student Life or the Director of the Learning Opportunity Center to file a complaint:

Bomani Spell

Vice President and Dean of Student Life

573-592-5241

Hunter Activity Center (HAC) building, First floor

Bomani.Spell@westminster-mo.edu

 

Karen Tompson-Wolfe

Director of the Learning Opportunity Center

573-592-5304

Westminster Hall, Room 34

Karen.Tompson-Wolfe@westminster-mo.edu

 

Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment By Employees, Faculty, and Applicants

Employees who believe they have been the victims of behavior prohibited by this policy or believe they have observed such behavior are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their immediate supervisor.  Supervisors who receive reports of discrimination or harassment should notify the Director of HR. 

Faculty who believe they have been the victims of behavior prohibited by this policy or believe they have observed such behavior may also contact the Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty to file a complaint:

Dr. Carolyn Perry

Senior VP and Dean of Faculty

573-592-5212

Westminster Hall, Room 127

Carolyn.Perry@westminster-mo.edu

 

All employees and applicants may also contact the primary Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator/Director of Human Resources to file a complaint:

 Mandy March

573-592-5226

mandy.march@westminster-mo.edu

          

 Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment By Members of the Public

 A member of the public who believes that he/she is being discriminated against or harassed in violation of law should contact the Director of HR.

 Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment Against any Compliance Officers or the President 

 Complaints of discrimination or harassment against any of the College’s Compliance Officers may be reported to the President of the College:

                Dr. Fletcher Lamkin

                573-592-5315

                Washington West, First floor

                President@westminster-mo.edu

 

Complaints of discrimination or harassment against the President may be reported to the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

For information on filing criminal and/or confidential reports of Sexual Misconduct, please see the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy, found in the Student Handbook, pages 66-82.

 Westminster College encourages the prompt reporting of complaints or concerns.  Therefore, while no specific timeframes have been established, early reporting and intervention have proven to be the most effective approach to resolving actual or perceived occurrences of discrimination or harassment.

 

Responding to Incidents of Discrimination or Harassment

 Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment Against Students

 For complaints of discrimination or harassment against students (other than complaints of Sexual Misconduct), the General Student Conduct Procedures described in the Student Handbook (see pages 93 to 98 of the 2016-2017 Student Handbook) will be followed.  For complaints of Sexual Misconduct against students, the Conduct Process described in the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy (see pages 66 to 82 of the2016-2017 Student Handbook) will be followed. 

 

Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment Against Employees

 For complaints of discrimination or harassment against College employees (excluding any student employees), the following procedures will apply.  

 

Informal Process

 Many instances of harassment and discrimination can be resolved through an informal process that does not require extensive procedures. When appropriate, every effort should be made to address and/or eliminate harassment and discrimination from the College campus through informal means. In cases where an employee feels that another College employee may have engaged in behavior violating this policy, the person may first attempt to resolve the situation by communicating that the behavior is unwelcome and requesting that the unwelcome behavior stop immediately.  The employee’s immediate supervisor and/or the Director of HR should be informed of this communication.  The Director of HR and other appropriate parties may also facilitate and participate in subsequent, informal attempts to resolve the issue if desired and appropriate.  The date, time, and outcome of any informal discussions should be documented.

While the College encourages individuals who believe they are being harassed or discriminated against to firmly and promptly notify the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome, the College also recognizes that power and status disparities between an alleged harasser and complainant or the nature of the alleged behavior may make such a confrontation difficult or inappropriate. Thus, while informal discussions are recommended as the first option for reaching a resolution, these informal procedures are not a prerequisite to a formal complaint and investigation. In the event that informal discussions are ineffective, inappropriate, or not desired by either party, the complaint will be referred to the Office of Human Resources (“HR”) for further investigation and resolution in accordance with the Formal Complaint Process. 

 

Formal Complaint Process

 If informal discussions are unsuccessful, inappropriate, or not desired by either party, a formal written complaint may be filed with HR.  Both the individual filing the complaint (the “complainant”) as well as the individual accused of the harassment or discrimination (the “respondent”) will be given a copy of this policy.  The respondent will also be provided a copy of the written complaint. 

It is the College’s policy to investigate all complaints in a fair, thorough, and prompt manner. The Chief HR Officer or designee will investigate all formal complaints.  The Director of HR may appoint an attorney or other professional to conduct the investigation. As part of the investigation, the Director of HR or designee will interview and/or obtain statements from both the complainant and respondent. The Director of HR or designee may also interview and/or obtain statements from other witnesses, if appropriate, and review any relevant documentation. 

 Depending on the circumstances surrounding the complaint, the parties involved, and the parties’ request(s) regarding confidentiality, the complainant and respondent may be given access to evidence collected in the investigation. Confidentiality of the complaint will be maintained to the extent the College finds it practicable. In no case will the Director of HR or designee consider statements or evidence against the respondent unless the respondent has been given a copy of the statements or evidence or been informed of the content of the statements or evidence and had the opportunity to respond. 

 When the investigation is complete, the Director of HR or designee will prepare a written report with factual findings and a determination regarding whether a violation of the policy more likely than not occurred based on the facts of the investigation. In determining whether alleged conduct violates this policy, the Director of HR or designee will consider the surrounding circumstances, the nature of the behavior, the relationship between the parties involved, past incidents, the context in which the alleged incidents occurred and all other relevant information. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a determination based on all of the facts and surrounding circumstances.

Employees found in violation of this policy may be subjected to corrective action or discipline, such as a warning, reprimand, reassignment, temporary suspension without pay, or termination, etc. The Director of HR or designee will make a recommendation of corrective action or discipline to the appropriate cabinet member (i.e., Vice President for Business and Chief Financial Officer for complaints against staff and Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty for complaints against faculty).  In consultation with the Director of HR, the appropriate cabinet member will then determine what corrective action or discipline will be imposed, if any.  If the Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty determines that corrective action or discipline of a faculty member may be appropriate, the applicable procedures provided in section 2.8.5 of the Faculty Handbook will be followed.    

Whatever the outcome, both the complainant and respondent will be notified in writing of the disposition of the matter.  The complainant will be notified of the determination regarding whether a violation of the policy occurred and any corrective action or discipline that directly relates to the complainant, like an order that the respondent stay away from the complainant. 

 

Appeal

In cases involving a complaint against a faculty member, either the complainant or the respondent may file an appeal with the Professional Standards Committee.  The appeal must be in writing and provided to the Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty within thirty (30) calendar days of notification of disposition of the matter, as provided above.  The Senior Vice President of the College and Dean of Faculty will then forward the appeal to the Professional Standards Committee.  The appeal will be handled in accordance with section 2.15 and Appendix G of the Faculty Handbook.  In all cases, the Professional Standards Committee will conduct a procedural review, as provided in subsection (D)(8)(a) of Appendix G of the Faculty Handbook.   

In cases involving a complaint against any employee other than a faculty member, either the complainant or the respondent may appeal the decision to the President of the College in the following circumstances: 

  • if the procedures provided in this policy were not followed;
  • if the decision was biased, discriminatory, capricious, or arbitrary; or
  • if new evidence is found that might alter the previous decision.  

The appeal must be in writing and provided to the President of the College within thirty (30) calendar days of notification of disposition of the matter, as provided above.  The President will decide whether one of the above grounds for appeal exists.  If the President determines that one of the grounds for appeal exists, the President will then review the case.  The President will review the written report prepared by the Director of HR or designee.  The President may also interview the complainant, the respondent, and any witnesses and review any other relevant documentation as part of the review.  The President may uphold or overturn the previous decision, alter the corrective action or discipline, or refer the case back to the investigator and/or appropriate cabinet member for additional investigation and/or consideration. 

Both the complainant and the respondent will be notified in writing of the disposition of the appeal.  If the President alters the corrective action or discipline, the complainant will only be notified of corrective action or discipline that directly relates to the complainant, like an order that the respondent stay away from the complainant. 

 

Rights and Obligations 

 Both the complainant and the respondent may be accompanied during the informal and formal processes or any appeal by an advisor/advocate from within the College community. Advisors/advocates may be present solely to provide support to the complainant or respondent.  They may not participate or speak on behalf of the complainant or respondent or serve as a witness.   

Members of the College community must cooperate during the informal and formal processes and any appeal provided in this policy. Failure to cooperate will be grounds for disciplinary action. False statements made by a member of the College community during either informal discussions or the formal investigation will be grounds for disciplinary action.

 

Confidentiality

To the fullest extent possible, the College will keep complaints, any information obtained during the course of the investigation, and the terms of the resolution confidential from individuals who do not have a “need to know.” However, the demands of an investigation and the enforcement of this policy preclude any guarantee of confidentiality.

 

Retaliation

Retaliation against an individual for reporting harassment or discrimination or for participating in an investigation of a claim of harassment or discrimination is a serious violation of this policy.  Acts of retaliation are strictly prohibited and should be reported to the Director of HR immediately. If any retaliation occurs, the individual engaged in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action. 

 

Additional Rights and Protections for Complaints of Sexual Misconduct

Please see the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy, found in the Student Handbook, pages 66-82, for relevant definitions, resources for victims of Sexual Misconduct, and information on filing criminal and/or confidential reports of Sexual Misconduct. In cases involving formal complaints of Sexual Misconduct against employees, the additional procedures, rights, and protections listed below will be provided throughout the investigation and proceedings provided in this policy. 

Upon receipt of a complaint of Sexual Misconduct by an employee, the Director of HR or designee will meet with the complainant. 

  • At this meeting, the Director of HR or designee will outline the options available to the complainant, including the complainant’s right to file a criminal complaint, the College’s procedures for investigating complaints of Sexual Misconduct, and the possible outcome of such investigation.
  • The Director of HR or designee will provide the complainant with a copy of this policy, the College’s Sexual Conduct Policy, and information about existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, and other services available on and/or off campus.
  • The Director of HR or designee will also discuss with the complainant options for temporary accommodations and/or protective measures, which may be provided during the pendency of the College’s investigation and proceedings. For example, the Director of HR or designee may temporarily change the work location of the complainant or respondent after a report of Sexual Misconduct is filed, if requested and if such changes are reasonably available. Both parties may also be instructed to avoid all contact with each other. Accommodations and/or protective measures will be provided if they are reasonably available and requested, regardless of whether the complainant chooses to report the alleged Sexual Misconduct to Campus Security or local law enforcement. Any accommodations and/or protective measures provided will be kept confidential to that extent that doing so will not impair the ability of the College to provide the accommodation or protective measure. If any accommodations or protective measures are not followed, disciplinary action will be taken, including the possibility of immediate interim suspension from the College and denial of access to College property.
  • If the complainant requests confidentiality or asks that his/her complaint not be pursued, the College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint while respecting the complainant’s request; however, the College’s ability to respond may be limited and complete confidentiality may not be possible. The College will inform the complainant if it cannot ensure confidentiality.
  • In most cases, the complainant has the ability to determine whether the investigation and proceedings will continue, unless the College determines that the respondent may pose an ongoing risk to the College community. In that case, the College is obligated to continue the investigation and proceedings with or without the complainant’s implicit permission in the interests of the safety and security of the Westminster community. The College encourages the complainant to participate in the investigation and proceedings. The informal process will not be used to resolve complaints of Sexual Assault.
  • If the complainant decides to give a statement, the Director of HR or designee will take a written and/or tape-recorded statement of the complainant’s account of the incident.   

 For complaints of Sexual Misconduct, both the complainant and respondent will have the following rights throughout the investigation and proceedings provided in this policy:

  • The complainant and respondent will be permitted to have an advisor/advocate of their choosing present during any interviews, meetings, or proceedings at which they are a participant. The advisor/advocate is not limited to members of the campus community. If either the complainant or the respondent wants an advisor/advocate, but cannot find one on his/her own, he/she may request that one be found. Advisors/advocates may not be individuals participating in the investigation or proceedings at any level. The purpose of an advisor/advocate is to support the complainant or respondent. They may not participate or speak on behalf of the complainant or respondent or serve as a witness.   
  • To the extent permitted by law, the complainant and respondent will be afforded the same rights and opportunities throughout the investigation and proceedings, including the right to receive timely notice of meetings, interviews, and/or proceedings at which they are a participant; the right to receive timely and equal access to information relied on; the opportunity to recommend witnesses and submit evidence; and the right to receive equal access to appeal.
  • If a complainant or respondent is concerned that an individual involved in investigating or adjudicating a complaint of Sexual Misconduct may be biased or have a conflict of interest, that person should inform the Director of HR immediately. The Director of HR will consider this concern, determine if any bias or conflict of interest exists, and appoint an appropriate replacement if necessary. Concerns about any bias or conflict of interest on the part of the Director of HR should be reported to the President of the College.

Investigation and adjudication of complaints of Sexual Misconduct will generally be completed in thirty (30) days.  This time period may be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances, including, but not limited to, the complexity of the case, the academic calendar, and the availability of witnesses and other relevant individuals. If extenuating circumstances are present, the Director of HR or designee may extend this timeframe for good cause, with written notice to the parties of the delay and the reason for the delay.

 For complaints of Sexual Misconduct, the complainant and respondent will be simultaneously notified of the decision regarding whether a violation of policy occurred, the corrective action or discipline imposed, regardless of whether the corrective action or discipline directly relates to the complainant, the procedures and timeline for appeal, and when the determination becomes final.  If appealed, the parties will also be simultaneously notified of the decision on appeal, any change in the corrective action or discipline imposed, and when the decision becomes final. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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