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Below are step by step options available to you if you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment.  Please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity if you would like to further discuss your options, need additional information or procedural support. 

DO NOT follow these steps if you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.  If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, please contact the Title IX Office.  

STEP 1 – Attempt Resolution  
STEP 2 – File a formal complaint
STEP 3 – Formal complaint investigation procedures
STEP 4 – State of Virginia Grievance Procedures

STEP 1 – Attempt Resolution  

Initially, faculty are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints informally at the lowest level through the administrative structure of the employment unit or academic department involved. Direct communication with the respondent, discussions with your immediate supervisor or the respondent’s supervisor may be effective ways to seek solutions to work-related problems. However, this is not required and formal complaints may be filed directly.

One-on-one attempts at resolution

  • If you feel comfortable dealing with the situation without the direct involvement of a third party, you can communicate directly with the person whose behavior is unwelcome.
  • It is appropriate to use face-to-face, individual communication only when you do not feel threatened, there is no risk of physical harm and you believe the other person will be receptive.
  • E-mail is the preferred method of communication. If you choose to communicate face-to-face, you also should send an e-mail, if possible. Keep copies of any communication.
  • The communication should include:
    • A factual description of the incident(s) including date, time, place, witnesses and a description of the specific unwelcome behavior.
    • A description of any consequences you may have suffered due to the unwelcome behavior.
    • A request that the unwelcome behavior cease.
  • If you do not feel comfortable with individual communication or you believe the communication was not successful, you should consider other informal and formal complaint procedures.

Employee Mediation Services

JMU offers Employee Mediation Services to all employees.  Mediation is entirely voluntary. Failure to participate in mediation or another form of informal resolution will not be considered adversely against either you or the respondent in any subsequent investigation or hearing. To schedule a mediation session please contact your department’s HR Consultant or email

Faculty Ombudsperson

The Faculty Ombudsperson is an independent and neutral third party on campus for faculty members with questions, disputes or other concerns.  The Ombudsperson serves as a confidential consultant and referral agent.  

STEP 2 – File a formal complaint

If the complaint is against a student (except in the student’s capacity as a university employee), contact the Office of Student Accountability & Restorative Practices.

If the complaint is against a student employee, faculty or staff member, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity or complete the OEO Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Form.

Complaints against visitors, guests, affiliates or associates may also be filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity or by completing the OEO Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Form.

Formal complaints must be filed within 180 days of the last date of discriminatory or harassing behavior by the respondent.

STEP 3 – Formal complaint investigation procedures

1.    Any formal complaint made to the OEO will be investigated by the Director of Equal Opportunity (DEO).  
2.    You, the respondent, and the appropriate VP will receive a copy of your complaint.
3.    The DOE will conduct an investigation within 60 days. The DOE will use the preponderance of evidence standard to determine if there has been a violation.
4.    The DOE’s report of preliminary findings will be provided to you, the respondent, the respondent’s supervisor, and the appropriate VP.  
5.    If the DOE determines there has not been a violation all parties will receive a notice of dismissal of complaint.  The DOE’s decision is final and may not be appealed.
6.    If the DOE determines that the evidence justifies a preliminary finding of violation, all parties will receive notification that the complaint is being referred to the appropriate VP for potential further proceedings.
7.    It is 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 VP.

STEP 4 – State of Virginia Grievance Procedures

The grievance procedure is a process through which a JMU employee can bring workplace concerns to upper levels of management.  This process is administered by the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management's Office of Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR).  It is more formal than mediation and requires that procedural rules be followed strictly.  Please refer to the Grievance Procedure Manual for a complete explanation of the process.

For more information regarding the grievance process contact your JMU departmental HR Consultant or the EDR AdviceLine at 1-888-23-ADVICE (1-888-232-3842). The EDR offers objective, confidential consultations on employment rights and responsibilities as well as available options in resolving workplace conflict to Virginia state employees.

Click here for a list of additional state and federal agencies that may have helpful information or resources regarding discrimination and harassment issues.

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