Policy Procedure

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  • Procedure Title: Discrimination and Harassment & Sexual Harassment
  • Policy Number: ESU-PO-2011-002, ESU-PO-2011-004
  • Effective Date: 1987
  • Review Date: May 25, 2011
  • Division: President's Office
  • Responsible Office: Diversity & Equal Opportunity

Procedure Summary:

These procedures apply to the University community requesting to file a discrimination and harassment complaint, including a complaint of sexual harassment.


Prompt ReportingThe University will make every effort to promptly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment.

Because it is in the best interest of all concerned to expeditiously deal with allegations of discrimination and harassment, students and employees, including faculty and staff, are strongly encouraged to make reports or complaints within 180 days from date of incident.

Managers and supervisors receiving reports of discrimination and harassment are required to report such incidences to the Director Diversity/Ombudsperson or Director of Human Resources Management who will advise on procedures and required action.

Some behaviors of a sexual nature do violate criminal laws and, as such, individuals should feel free to discuss any behaviors of a sexual nature with the University Police Department.

Where to Make Complaints:

  1. Complaints Against Students
    Any complaint against a student should be directed to the attention of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and will be handled in accordance with the procedures of the Student Code of Conduct.
  2. Complaints Against Employees or Visitors
    Any complaint against a University employee, including faculty and staff, or any individual other than a student should be reported to the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity and will be handled in accordance with the procedures stated in this policy. In cases where appropriate, or in the absence of the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson, the President may designate an individual to receive complaints and perform other responsibilities provided hereafter in this policy.
  3. Complaints Against the President
    Any complaint against the University President should be reported to The Office of the Chancellor: Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Center for Diversity and Educational Leadership, Dixon University Center, 2986 North Second Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110.
  4. Complaints Against the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson
    Any complaint against the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson should be reported to the University’s Director of Human Resources Management and will be handled in accordance with the procedures stated in this policy.
  5. Anonymous Complaints
    Unsigned written or anonymous complaints will be addressed and investigated as warranted; however, complaints of this nature may have limited merit because of the inability to adequately investigate them. Therefore, individuals who have complaints of discrimination and harassment are encouraged to come forward.

The Role of Advisors

If appropriate, a Complainant or Respondent may be accompanied by a member of the University community or a union representative who may advise and assist the Complainant throughout the complaint process.

If the Complainant or Respondent is a University employee and a member of a union, the advisor must be an individual from within Complainant’s or Respondent’s union.

A Complainant or Respondent and an advisor may consult with each other, but the advisor may not speak for or on behalf of the Complainant or Respondent during the process.

Legal counsel may not act in the capacity of an advisor.

Voluntary Meetings

During the complaint process, whether formal or informal, any face-to-face meeting between the Complainant and the Respondent will be voluntary.

Confidentiality and Due Process

The University has a duty to investigate and respond to allegations of discrimination and cannot guarantee confidentiality once allegations are disclosed to University officials.

During the complaint process the University will make every effort to ensure confidentiality and protect the due process rights of the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s).

In appropriate cases, the University may need to proceed with an investigation over the objection of the Complainant.


Arrangements can be made for students of the University to receive counseling from the University Counseling Center.

Employees may seek help through the State Employee Assistance Program (SEAP) by calling 1-800-692-7459.

Informal Complaint Procedure

The Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity has primary responsibility for resolving discrimination and harassment complaints.

The Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson or his or her designee may elect to initiate an informal complaint procedure at the time of filing either an oral or written complaint with the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity.

Informal complaint procedures may involve efforts to mediate a resolution between the Complainant and Respondent.

Informal complaint procedures afford all interested persons an opportunity to respond and submit information and documentation regarding the allegations.

The internal investigation process may vary on a case by case basis, but will include: acknowledging the receipt of the complaint within ten (10) business days (notwithstanding extenuating circumstances); providing an explanation of the process and anticipated time frame for action; and notifying the Respondent of the complaint and providing an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

No formal findings or discipline will result from the informal complaint procedure.

If informal complaint procedures are unsuccessful at resolving the allegations, the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson may initiate a formal complaint procedure to reach a determination on the merits of the allegations.

Formal Complaint Procedure

The following guidelines will apply if the informal complaint procedure is not elected by the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson or if the parties are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution:

  • The Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity will stamp date and acknowledge complaints filed or allegations of discrimination and harassment brought to its attention within ten (10) business days (notwithstanding extenuating circumstances), informing the Complainant(s) of the process and anticipated time frame for action.
  • The Director of Human Resources Management will be notified via letter of employee's be they, Complainant(s)'s and Respondent(s)'s, participation in the ODEO investigation process.
  • The Respondent(s) will be provided with a copy of the written complaint, a copy of this procedure, policy, sample response form, and an explanation of the process and anticipated time frame for action. The Respondent(s) is provided an opportunity and has the option to respond and submit a document response to the complaint within ten (10) business days.  The Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity will stamp date receipt of Respondent(s) response.
  • The formal complaint process will include an investigation, the scope of which will be determined by the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson.
  • Investigations will include, but are not limited to, accessing and reviewing records,  interviewing the Complainant(s), the Respondent(s) and others who may have relevant information, note taking and stamp dating of documents received will occur.  Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson incorporates information into an Investigation Report.
  • The investigation is not intended to interfere with any rights of an individual under state or federal law, nor rights under an applicable collective bargaining agreement. The Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson will make a preliminary determination as to whether the allegations in the complaint, if proven, would constitute a violation of this policy.
  • Upon completion of the Investigation Report, the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s) will be given the opportunity to review the Investigation Report (note taking is permitted, photocopying is prohibited).
  • Both Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) will have the opportunity to respond in writing to the Investigation Report within ten (10) business days.
  • The Investigation Report and any additional responses from the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) will be forwarded to the appropriate Vice President or the President for final determination of whether a violation of this policy has occurred.
  • Within ten (10) business days, the Vice President or President will send a determination letter to the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s).  Copies of the determination letters will be given to the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson.
  • If there is insufficient information to warrant a finding of a violation of this policy, the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s) will be notified by the appropriate Vice President or the President that no violation of this policy has occurred and the complaint will be closed.
  • If the appropriate Vice President or the President determines that a violation of this policy has occurred, appropriate discipline may be initiated. The University will make every effort to ensure the discrimination and harassment immediately stops and does not recur.
  • The Complainant(s) will be informed of the corrective measures taken to prevent such recurrences.
  • If it appears that there may be a violation of another University policy, the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson will refer the matter to the appropriate Vice President or the President.
  • As appropriate, the Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson conducts follow-up on the determination recommendations after which point the case will be closed.


Discrimination Complaint Form

Discrimination Response Form

Related Procedures:


Other Related Information:

Complaint Process Flowchart

Additional Rights

Individuals are encouraged to use the complaint procedures in this policy but are not required to do so and may choose to pursue other civil and legal options.

University employees may choose to pursue the complaint through their appropriate collective bargaining agreement grievance procedures.

Students and employees may choose to make use of the procedures of external agencies listed below.

Managers are encouraged to pursue matters through the PASSHE Board of Governors Policy 1983-01-A: Merit Principles, before proceeding to an external agency.

The procedures set forth in this policy are not intended to interfere with any legal rights provided under the statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the United States of America.

In addition, the procedures set forth in this policy are not intended to interfere with any rights an employee may have under their appropriate collective bargaining agreement.


Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
Riverfront Office Center
1101-1125 S. Front Street, 5th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2515
Tel: (717) 787-9784
(TT/TTY): (717) 787-7279
Web: www.phrc.state.pa.us
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
801 Market Street, Suite 1300
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3127
Tel: (215) 440-2606
(TT/TTY): 1-800-669-6820
Web: www.eeoc.gov
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights Philadelphia Office
The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Tel.: (215) 656-8541
Fax: (215) 656-8605
Email: ocr@ed.gov
Web: www.ed.gov/ocr


Director of Diversity/Ombudsperson
Room 115, Reibman
Counseling & Psychological Services
Flagler Metzgar Center, 2nd Floor
Vice President for Student Affairs
Room 121, Reibman
Dean, College of Arts and Science
Room 107, Rosenkrans West
Director of Human Resources Management
Room 105, Reibman
Vice Provost and Dean, Graduate College
Room 154, Zimbar/Liljenstein
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Room 220, Reibman
University Health Services
Flagler-Metzgar, 1st Floor
Dean, College of Business and Management
Room 123A, Rosenkrans East
Dean, College of Education
Room 123E, Rosenkrans East
Women's Center Office
Rosenkrans East
Office of Disability Services
Rosenkrans East
Dean, College of Health Sciences
Room 105, Rosenkrans West


Discrimination and Harassment & Sexual Harassment Procedure, 87-2, 4/20/87; revised 9/13/12

Discrimination and Harassment Policy, 87-1 Rev, 11/3/97