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Policy 1324
Discrimination and Harassment UNDER REVIEW

Date of Current Revision: March 2013
Primary Responsible Officer: Office of Equal Opportunity

THIS POLICY IS CURRENTLY UNDER REVIEW

1. PURPOSE

This policy sets out the university's commitment to providing a workplace and learning environment free from illegal discrimination and harassment. It also provides procedures for university community members and visitors to file internal complaints alleging discrimination or harassment against any employee or affiliate of the university, or against any visitor whose discrimination or harassment interferes with the complainant's workplace or learning environment. Procedures for complaints filed against students can be found in the JMU Student Handbook.

2. AUTHORITY

The Board of Visitors has been authorized by the Commonwealth of Virginia to govern James Madison University. See Code of Virginia section 23-164.6; 23-9.2:3. The Board has delegated the authority to manage the university to the president.

STATE OR FEDERAL STATUTE AND / OR REGULATION

This policy is written in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§2000d and e), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. § 6101 et seq.) the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) (42 U.S.C. § 12,101 et seq.), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC section 791, et seq.), and the Equal Pay Act (29 U.S.C. § 206 et seq.), as well as the Virginia Human Rights Act (Code of Virginia §2.2-3900 et seq).

3. DEFINITIONS

Affiliate
An individual who has a formal affiliation with the university under the terms of Policy 1337.

Complainant
A university community member or visitor who files a formal complaint under this policy.

Complaint
The signed and written document used to file a formal complaint under this policy.

Complaint Commencement Date
The date on which the complainant provides the Title IX Officer with the written and signed complaint.

Day
A calendar day. When the end of a specified period of days falls on a weekend or on a day when classes are not scheduled, that period shall be deemed to end on the next scheduled class day. (Example: A specified time period will not end during spring break or on any day between the end of the last summer session and the first scheduled class day of the fall semester. The specified time period will be continued until the next official class day.)

Director of Equal Opportunity (DEO)
The person the president has charged with oversight of this policy and procedure. The DEO is the Title IX Coordinator for the university.

Discrimination
To take an adverse action or provide unequal treatment based on a person's age, color, disability, national origin, parental status, gender identity, genetic information, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status when such action deprives a person of a privilege or right (such as a benefit, an equitable evaluation, a grade, a position or a promotion), or otherwise adversely affects the person. This also includes retaliation for filing a complaint and harassment on the basis of one of the bases listed above. It also includes denial of a reasonable accommodation for a disability.

Faculty Member
An instructional or Administrative & Professional (AP) faculty member employed by the university.

Harassment
A form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome or offensive physical, verbal or written conduct that shows aversion or hostility toward a person on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status in the following situations:

  • When submitting to or rejecting the conduct is made the basis for a personnel action or a recommendation for a personnel action (such as hiring, promoting or salary adjustment); an action or a recommendation for an action affecting a student (such as admission or retention); or an evaluation (such as promotion, tenure, compensation or work condition adjustment of an employee or grading of a student).
  • When the conduct creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive learning or working environment.
  • Harassment specifically includes instances of sexual violence of any type perpetrated against a member of the university community or a visitor.

Respondent
An employee or affiliate of the university or visitor against whom a complaint under this policy is filed.

Retaliation
Overt or covert acts of discrimination, harassment, interference, intimidation, penalty, reprisal or restraint against a group or individual exercising rights under this policy. Retaliation shall be deemed to constitute harassment and, therefore, will be considered a separate violation of this policy.

Staff Member
A full- or part-time classified employee or wage employee.

Title IX Coordinator
The individual designated by the university to coordinate the institution's compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.). The Title IX Coordinator for the university is the DEO. The DEO has oversight of this policy, coordinates the actions of the various Title IX officers on campus and is responsible for reporting on the university's compliance with Title IX.

Title IX Officer
The officials within the university charged with receiving, investigating and processing complaints under this policy. The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by student athletes under this policy is the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance (AAD). The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by all other students under this policy is the Director of the University Health Center (UHC). The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by staff members under this policy is the Director of Human Resources (HR). The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by faculty members and visitors under this policy is the DEO.

University Community Member
An individual employed or affiliated with the university in one or more of the following full-or part-time capacities:

  • Administrative & Professional (AP) faculty member
  • Classified employee or other employee (such as wage or part time)
  • Instructional faculty member
  • Affiliate
  • Student (graduate or undergraduate)

Visitor
For the purposes of this policy, a person who is not enrolled at, compensated by or an affiliate of the university but is engaged in a university sponsored or contracted working or learning activity.

4. APPLICABILITY

This policy applies when a member of the university community or visitor believes that s/he has been subjected to harassment or discrimination by an employee or affiliate of the university or by a visitor. All acts of discrimination and harassment are covered provided that at least a substantial portion of the alleged wrongful behavior either occurred on university-controlled, university-leased or university-owned property or otherwise had a significant connection to or effect on the activities of the university or the learning or working environment for the complainant.

A person who is no longer a member of the university community or a visitor but who was when at least a substantial portion of the alleged wrongful behavior occurred is eligible to file a complaint. A complaint filed by a complainant who has no further connection with the university or against a respondent who has no further connection with the university may be dismissed by the DEO if the university has no means to take appropriate steps to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects.

5. POLICY

The university is committed to providing a work and learning environment that is free from discrimination or harassment based on protected criteria. Conduct that constitutes discrimination or harassment is a violation of university policy and is sanctionable.

This policy prohibits discrimination against an individual on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, gender identity, genetic information, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. It applies in the employment relationship, including job application procedures, hiring, advancement, discharge, compensation, job training, or other terms and conditions of employment. It applies in the educational relationship with students, including application procedures, admissions, grades, discipline, dismissal, or other terms and conditions of matriculation. It applies in the provision of services that are provided by the university to students or other individuals, including visitors. It is also a violation of this policy to retaliate against or harass an individual who files charges or participates in proceedings under this policy.

Any member of the university community or visitor who is subjected to discrimination or harassment by an employee, affiliate or visitor may bring a complaint under this policy to attempt to address the situation.

Any member of the university community who is subjected to abuse or harassment by a student may bring a complaint under the terms of the Student Code of Conduct. See http://www.jmu.edu/judicial/handbook/JudicialPolicies.html

6. PROCEDURES

6.1 Informal Resolution Attempts

6.1.1. Before bringing a complaint to the Title IX Officer, the complainant is encouraged to discuss the complaint with the respondent to attempt to resolve it, except in cases involving sexual violence where encouraging such a discussion is never appropriate. In any case, if the complainant does not feel comfortable discussing the matter directly with the respondent, the complainant is encouraged to discuss the matter promptly with any of the following university resources:

  • The DEO
  • The complainant's supervisor
  • A Counseling and Student Development Center staff member
  • Human Resources staff member
  • the faculty, staff or student ombudsperson
  • The respondent's supervisor
  • Another Title IX Officer
  • Another university official who the complainant believes to be an appropriate adviser given the nature of the situation (i.e., a coach, a faculty mentor, a residence hall adviser, etc.)

Any university official contacted by a complainant is encouraged to communicate the general nature of the matter to the DEO, without disclosing the identities of the parties if necessary, to assist the DEO in developing effective campus educational programs and assessing the campus climate.

6.1.2. If the complainant meets informally with a Title IX Officer or any other university official and asks that the information disclosed be kept confidential, the university official contacted informally by the complainant must determine whether to keep the information confidential or whether it must be communicated to the DEO to protect the university. However, in cases involving allegations of conduct that appear to constitute sexual harassment, including sexual violence, the university official contacted has an affirmative duty to disclose the information to the DEO and does not have the discretion to keep the disclosed information confidential. University officials should inform any individual who has disclosed information concerning sexual harassment that such information will not be kept confidential and should encourage the potential complainant to cooperate with the investigation of the matter.

6.1.3. If any discussions between the complainant and the respondent or between the complainant and any other university official do not lead to a resolution that is satisfactory to the complainant or if the complainant does not pursue such discussions, the complainant should contact the Title IX Officer not later than 30 days after the last behavior date. Failure to make a timely report to the Title IX Officer may impede the university's ability to effectively investigate the charge, but such failure will not prohibit the complainant from filing a formal complaint, as long as such complaint is timely filed under 6.2.1.

When the complainant contacts the Title IX Officer, that person will discuss with the complainant the procedures that will be followed with respect to any ensuing investigation, resolution attempts and referral for a potential hearing. The Title IX Officer will also notify the DEO, who will advise the appropriate vice president (organizationally above the respondent) of the existence of the complaint, whether it is formal or informal.

6.1.4. If the complainant decides not to file a formal complaint of discrimination (except sexual harassment or sexual assault), the Title IX Officer will inform the DEO. The DEO will advise the appropriate vice president that no complaint was filed, and the matter will be closed.

6.1.5. If the complainant decides not to file a formal complaint in the case of an allegation of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, the Title IX Officer will, even without the cooperation of the complainant if necessary, investigate the allegations to the extent possible under the circumstances. It is within the discretion of the Title IX Officer to decide whether the respondent must be notified of the informal charge before or in the course of the investigation.

6.1.6. If the investigation into potential sexual harassment reveals information that indicates that the policy applies and that the evidence justifies a preliminary finding of a violation of the policy, the Title IX Officer will report this finding to the DEO. The DEO will advise the complainant, respondent, and the respondent's supervisor or sponsoring department of the preliminary finding. The appropriate vice president (organizationally above the respondent) will also receive notice of the finding. The Title IX Officer will turn over the findings to the DEO, who will decide whether to give them to the respondent's supervisor or sponsoring department. The DEO will not supply the findings to the complainant or the respondent but will inform them that the matter has been turned over to the respondent's supervisor or sponsoring department.

6.1.7. If the investigation into potential sexual harassment reveals information that indicates that the policy does not apply or that the evidence does not justify a preliminary finding of a violation of the policy, the Title IX officer will report this finding to the DEO, who will advise the respondent's supervisor or sponsoring department that the informal complaint will be dismissed. The Title IX officer will inform the complainant and the respondent that the informal charge is dismissed. This decision is final and may not be appealed.

6.1.8. If the complainant decides to file a formal complaint, the Title IX Officer may, with the permission of the complainant, contact the respondent and attempt to help bring about a resolution. The Title IX Officer may suggest that the complainant and the respondent participate in mediation, but participation is not mandatory and is never appropriate in cases involving sexual violence. Mediation is entirely voluntary, and failure to participate in mediation shall not be considered adversely against either the complainant or the respondent in any ensuing investigation or hearing.

6.2 Complaint Process

6.2.1. The formal complaint must be filed by the complainant not later than 180 days after the last date of discriminatory or harassing behavior by providing the Title IX Officer with a signed, written document detailing the allegations, naming the respondent and providing as much detail as possible about the charges. The Title IX Officer may extend this period to no more than 300 days if an informal resolution procedure under 6.1.8. is in progress. A formal complaint may not be filed anonymously or on behalf of another person, although an anonymous complaint or third party complaint alleging sexual violence may be investigated by the Title IX Officer if sufficient information is provided. The Title IX Officer will confirm the complaint commencement date with the complainant in writing and will notify the respondent and the DEO, supplying both with a copy of the complaint.

6.2.2. Upon receipt of the complaint, the Title IX Officer shall determine whether this policy applies and will dismiss a complaint if the policy does not apply. The Title IX Officer will notify the complainant, the respondent and the DEO in writing of the dismissal. A decision by the Title IX Officer that this policy does not apply is final and may not be appealed.

By way of example, the Title IX Officer may find that this policy does not apply upon determining any of the following:

  1. That even if the complainant's allegations are true, the respondent's conduct would not constitute harassment or discrimination as defined in this policy.
  2. That the alleged conduct did not occur on university-owned, university-leased or university-controlled property or did not otherwise have a significant connection to the activities of the university or the working or learning environment for the complainant.
  3. That the complainant or respondent is not a university community member or a visitor with whom the university has any continuing relationship.
  4. That the complaint was not timely filed.
  5. That the complainant was not the party harmed by the discrimination or harassment, and the party harmed cannot be identified or has no interest in pursuing the matter. However, in cases involving sexual harassment, the unwillingness of the party harmed to be involved in the matter will not necessarily result in a dismissal.

This list is not exclusive, and other situations may result in the Title IX Officer determining that the policy does not apply.

6.2.3. If the Title IX Officer determines that this policy applies, the Title IX Officer shall conduct an investigation of the complaint in any manner the Title IX Officer deems appropriate. All members of the university community are required to cooperate in the investigation.

6.2.4. Not later than 60 days after the complaint commencement date, the Title IX Officer shall provide the appropriate office with authority over the respondent (i.e., the supervisor for an employee or the sponsoring department for an affiliate) with a confidential written report of the Title IX Officer's recommendations and findings, with a copy to the DEO and the appropriate vice president organizationally above the respondent. The Title IX Officer may also report to the appropriate office the Title IX Officer's opinion on whether the evidence justifies a preliminary finding by the Title IX Officer that the respondent violated this policy and whether the respondent should be charged with misconduct under the appropriate disciplinary procedures, if any. Any such preliminary finding by the Title IX Officer shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence available. Such a preliminary finding is not binding on the fact-finders in any subsequent misconduct hearing or procedure and shall not be available to the complainant or the respondent. Its function is entirely advisory to the appropriate office concerning the office's subsequent handling of the allegations in the appropriate process. It is then up to the appropriate office to determine what steps to take, including whether to institute disciplinary procedures against the respondent for misconduct, subject to review by the appropriate vice president.

6.2.5. The university will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end discrimination and harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and its effects, and prevent the discrimination or harassment from recurring. Appropriate steps to end discrimination and harassment may include separating the complainant and the respondent, providing counseling for the complainant and/or respondent or taking disciplinary action against the respondent or against a complainant who makes a false report.

6.2.6. A classified staff member may be disciplined or discharged for violation of this policy under the Commonwealth's Standards of Conduct. See Policy 1317. A wage employee may be disciplined or discharged for violation of this policy under the terms of Policy 1325. An AP faculty member may be disciplined or discharged for violation of this policy under the terms of Policy 1335. An affiliate may have his/her status as affiliate removed for violation of this policy under the terms of Policy 1337. An instructional faculty member may be disciplined or discharged for violation of this policy under the terms of the Faculty Handbook, Section III.A.25.

6.2.7. If the Title IX Officer finds by a preponderance of the evidence available that the evidence does not justify such a preliminary finding of violation, the Title IX Officer will dismiss the complaint and will send a notice of such dismissal to the complainant, the respondent, the DEO and the appropriate vice president organizationally above the respondent.

6.2.8. A decision by the Title IX Officer that the evidence does not justify such a preliminary finding of violation may be appealed by the complainant to the DEO within five days by presenting a written appeal detailing the reasons the decision should be overturned.

6.2.9. If no appeal is timely filed, the complaint will be dismissed by the DEO, and the complainant, respondent and vice president will be notified.

6.2.10. If an appeal is timely filed, the DEO will decide whether to refer the case to the appropriate office for further proceedings or to uphold the dismissal. The DEO's decision will be sent in writing to the complainant, the respondent and the appropriate vice president. The DEO's decision on whether to refer the case to the appropriate office for further proceedings or to dismiss the case is final and may not be appealed.

6.2.11. If the Title IX Officer finds that the evidence justifies a preliminary finding of violation, the Title IX Officer will notify the DEO, the appropriate vice president organizationally above the respondent, the complainant and the respondent that s/he is referring the complaint to the appropriate office for further proceedings.

6.2.12. The DEO will serve as a resource for any hearing officer or body who is charged with conducting a hearing or reaching a decision on the issue of the respondent's misconduct under the terms of this policy. Upon request, the DEO may serve in an advisory capacity in any such hearing or meeting. The Title IX Officer may serve as a witness or as the responsible official presenting the allegations of misconduct against the respondent in any such hearing or meeting.

6.3 Other provisions:

6.3.1. Exceptions to Provisions
It is not intended that the outcome of a complaint be determined by a procedural violation that does not unduly prejudice the complainant or the respondent. Therefore, the Title IX Officer, the DEO, the appropriate vice president organizationally above the respondent or the appropriate office to whom the case is referred may make exceptions to the provisions (including time deadlines) of this policy provided, however, that any exception is intended to bring about a just outcome and does not unreasonably adversely affect another participant in the process.

6.3.2. Confidentiality, Other Consequences
All participants in all proceedings under this policy will observe confidentiality to the extent reasonably possible. However, in the event of any final determination of a violation of this policy, the appropriate vice president organizationally above the respondent will provide information about the final determination to appropriate university officials and to the complainant and respondent. The university may also use any information obtained in the proceedings to defend itself against any claims, complaints or allegations brought against it.

6.3.3. Education
The DEO will provide educational materials to appropriate university officials and community members in order to enable them to better fulfill their responsibilities under this policy.

6.3.4. Suspension Pending Outcome
Pending the outcome of any investigation and pending the completion of the procedures in this policy and in the policies concerning misconduct referenced herein any member of the university community charged with discrimination or harassment may be temporarily suspended from employment and/or issued a no-trespass notice banning the person from campus. Additionally, any person charged through a formal or informal complaint under this policy will be notified that retaliation is prohibited and may result in a separate charge under the policy.

6.3.5. Attorneys in Procedures
The person filing a complaint and the person accused of violating this policy have the right to obtain advice of private counsel concerning this policy and the procedures in it. However, the role of counsel is purely advisory in this policy and procedure, and absent exceptional circumstances attorneys are not to be active participants in the process. The DEO, the administrators involved in the decisions, and any committees operating under this policy and procedures shall have access to advice from the Legal Services Office for the university.

6.3.6. Criminal Proceedings
The existence of criminal proceedings will not necessarily delay or interrupt the procedures outlined in this policy, unless the law enforcement agency or prosecution requests that the university procedures be suspended, in which case the university will determine whether and for how long to suspend its procedures.

7. RESPONSIBILITIES

University community members and visitors are responsible for behaving in a nondiscriminatory and non-harassing manner toward other university community members and visitors, are responsible for reporting allegations of conduct that would constitute sexual harassment to the DEO and are responsible for abiding by the terms of this policy.

The DEO is responsible for accepting and investigating complaints by faculty members, determining the applicability of this policy to specific complaints, coordinating with the UHC, AAD and HR on the processing of complaints, notifying the appropriate vice president (organizationally above the respondent) of complaints, making recommendations, and disseminating information as provided in this policy.

The UHC is responsible for accepting and investigating formal complaints by students, determining the applicability of this policy to specific complaints, and coordinating with the DEO on the processing of those complaints.

The AAD is responsible for accepting and investigating formal complaints by student athletes, determining the applicability of this policy to specific complaints, and coordinating with the DEO on the processing of those complaints.

HR is responsible for accepting and investigating formal complaints by staff members, determining the applicability of this policy to specific complaints, and coordinating with the DEO on the processing of those complaints.

The employee respondent's supervisor is responsible for determining whether a report and recommendation under this policy should be handled through the misconduct procedures for an employee.

The sponsoring department is responsible for determining whether an affiliate's status should be revoked for violation of this policy.

The vice presidents are responsible for making final decisions concerning referral of all complaints filed against members of the university community under their division.

The DEO is responsible for recommending appropriate actions against a visitor who is found to have violated this policy.

8. SANCTIONS

Sanctions will be commensurate with the severity and/or frequency of the offense and may include termination of employment, removal of affiliate status, exclusion from future learning or working opportunities at the university, and/or issuance of a no-trespass notice.

9. EXCLUSIONS

9.1. This policy does not provide procedures for complaints filed against students. Any allegation of harassment or discrimination against a student (except in the student's capacity as a university employee) should be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs for disposition pursuant to the Student Judicial System as set forth in the JMU Student Handbook.

9.2. Even if an allegation of harassment or discrimination is one of the exclusions from the scope of this policy, any affected person may discuss it with the DEO.

10. INTERPRETATION

The authority to interpret this policy rests with the president and is generally delegated to the DEO.

Previous Version: August, 2012
Approved by the President: August 2012

Index Terms

Director of Equal Opportunity
Discrimination
Harassment
Sexual Harassment
Sexual Violence