- Seattle Pacific University (the “University”) is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from Discrimination and Harassment. In addition, the University also prohibits Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking (together referred to in this grievance procedure as “VAWA Offenses”).
- This grievance procedure provides an opportunity for University employees, University students, and persons who apply to be employees or students at the University (“University Applicants”) to seek appropriate action in response to Discrimination, Harassment, or VAWA Offenses committed by University employees. The procedure is intended to provide a prompt, fair, and impartial process from the initial report to the final result. It is also intended to help the University identify and eliminate misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
- Although this grievance procedure is centered on unlawful discrimination and harassment, the University may take any action it deems appropriate to address workplace-related conduct that is inappropriate, unprofessional, or otherwise in violation of University policy, regardless of whether the conduct meets the definition of Discrimination or Harassment.
II. Scope and Limitations
- This procedure applies to alleged incidents of Discrimination, Harassment, or VAWA Offenses where the Accused is an employee of the University; provided, however, that if a formal complaint alleging Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense would be within the scope of the University’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process (TSHGP), then the TSHGP will be used to address the formal complaint and not this Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Procedure. Concerns about possible Discrimination, Harassment, or VAWA Offenses where the Accused is a student will be addressed using the TSHGP or the applicable policy in the Undergraduate Student Handbook or Graduate Student Handbook.
- Any person may make a report about a concern that a University employee has engaged in Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense. However, only University Applicants, University students, and University employees may initiate a formal process under this grievance procedure. The University will investigate other reports as it deems appropriate, and may choose to use this grievance procedure for complaints filed by other individuals at the University's sole discretion, but is not required to follow processes described in this grievance procedure for any of the following types of complaints:
- A complaint by an individual who is not a University Applicant, University student, or University employee;
- A complaint by an individual on behalf of another person;
- A complaint against a person who used to be but is no longer a University employee; or
- A complaint against a visitor, guest, vendor, or other person on campus who is not a University employee.
- For purposes of this policy, a student employee will be treated as a student and not an employee, unless the Process Overseer determines that there are compelling reasons for different treatment.
- A formal complaint under this procedure must allege one or more specific factual incidents. Conduct that occurs off-campus can be considered under this policy in addition to conduct that occurs on campus.
- This policy is not intended to prohibit or limit the free exchange of ideas presented or debated in a respectful manner.
For purposes of this grievance procedure, the capitalized terms listed below have the meanings identified below:
- Area Vice President: The term “Area Vice President” means a vice president of the University with supervisory authority for a particular area. For purposes of this policy: (i) a vice provost will be considered an Area Vice President; and (ii) the Provost will be considered an Area Vice President for faculty members and other employees not supervised by any other Area Vice President.
- Business Day: The term “Business Day” means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or University holiday. For this purpose, “University holiday” means those holidays scheduled on the University’s master calendar when the University’s administrative offices are closed for business.
- Discrimination: The term “Discrimination” means unlawfully excluding a person from participation in, denying a person the benefits of, or otherwise subjecting a person to unlawful discrimination under any University education program or activity (including academic services, employment opportunities, and academic opportunities), in each case on the basis of one of the protected categories in the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy.
- Harassment: The term “Harassment” means any unwelcome conduct that relates to one or more of the protected categories in the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy where (i) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or (ii) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work or academic environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) do not constitute Harassment. Harassment has both a subjective and an objective component, meaning that the Complainant subjectively found the conduct to be offensive or unwelcome, and a reasonable person in the same position as the Complainant would also (objectively) find the conduct to be offensive or unwelcome.
- Sexual Harassment:
- “Sexual Harassment” means:
- Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic environment, (2) submission to or rejection of the conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individual, or (3) the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment. Whether the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment depends in part on the severity, persistence, and pervasiveness of the conduct.
- Examples of Sexual Harassment are:
- Making acceptance of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature a condition (expressed or implied) of the employee's continued employment or the student's academic matriculation, or
- Making submission to or rejection of that conduct the basis for employment decisions affecting the employee, or for academic, employment, or financial decisions affecting the student, or
- Stating or implying that a particular employee's advances in employment, or a particular student's grades, academic awards, financial aid, scholarships, or other assistance, evaluations, or recognition received from the University, have resulted from the granting of sexual favors or the establishment or continuance of a sexual relationship, or
- Creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, academic, or living environment by that conduct or comments.
- Depending on the circumstances the following conduct may also constitute Sexual Harassment:
- Repeated, one-sided, romantic attention in the form of requests for dates, love letters, telephone calls, emails, or gifts, or
- Graphic verbal or written comments (including emails or other electronic documents or social media posts) about an individual’s sex life or body, or
- Unwelcome physical contact such as pats, hugs, brushes, touches, shoulder rubs, or impeding or blocking movements.
- VAWA Offenses: The term “VAWA Offenses” means Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking. The terms Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking have the meanings assigned in the Sexual Misconduct Policy in the Undergraduate Student Handbook. For purposes of defining Sexual Assault, the definition of “Consent” in the Sexual Misconduct Policy applies.
- Discloser: The term “Discloser” means a person who discloses that he or she has been a victim of Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense.
- Accused: The term “Accused” means the person(s) identified by the Discloser as having committed Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense.
- Complainant: The term “Complainant” means a person who has made a formal, written complaint to the University pursuant to this procedure alleging that he or she has been a victim of Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense.
- Respondent: The term “Respondent” means a person identified by a Complainant in a formal written complaint as having committed Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense.
- Process Overseer
- In the case of alleged sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, or a VAWA Offense, the Process Overseer will be the University’s Title IX Coordinator or designee. In the case of any other complaint of Discrimination or Harassment, the Process Overseer will be the Director of Human Resources or designee.
- The Process Overseer may delegate certain of his or her responsibilities under this procedure to other University officials if the Process Overseer determines that it is reasonable and consistent with the purposes of this procedure.
- The Process Overseer has the authority to interpret any ambiguity in this procedure.
- Decision Maker:
- If the Respondent is a faculty member, then the Decision Maker will be the Provost (or the Provost’s designee).
- If the Respondent is an employee that is not a faculty member, an Area Vice President, or the President, then the Decision Maker will be the Area Vice President that supervises the Respondent's area (or the Area Vice President’s designee).
- If the Respondent is an Area Vice President, then the Decision Maker will be the President (or the President’s designee), and no appeal will be available to either party. If the Respondent is the President, then the Decision Maker will be the Chair of the Board of Trustees (or the Chair’s designee), and no appeal will be available to either party.
- Appeal Reviewer:
- The Appeal Reviewer will be the President (or the President’s designee).
IV. Making Reports
- Some University students and employees have reporting obligations for certain types of misconduct. For information about these reporter responsibilities, see the "Reporting Expectations for Employees, Volunteers, and Student Leaders" webpage. Also, all supervisors are expected to immediately report any unlawful Discrimination or Harassment that they observe or learn about in their areas.
- Reports can be made to any of the Grievance Receivers identified below. Reports of sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, or a VAWA Offense can also be made to any of the Sexual Misconduct Report Receivers identified on the University’s Nondiscrimination/Title IX Website.
- Employees who consider any person’s behavior to be inconsistent with the University’s Discrimination and Harassment policies have the option of telling that person directly that his or her behavior is considered inappropriate and to request that he or she stop the conduct. Direct communication may help a person to understand that the conduct is unwelcome. However, an employee is not required to first speak directly with the person engaging in the offending conduct before making a report to a Grievance Receiver or Sexual Misconduct Report Receiver as described above.
- Complaints alleging Discrimination, Harassment, or VAWA Offenses may be made at any time. However, the ability of the University to investigate and gather evidence may be constrained if a complaint is made a long time after an alleged incident. Also, if a complaint is made more than three years after an alleged incident, the University reserves the right not to follow all of steps in this procedure if the Process Overseer believes a different response would be more appropriate. Other time periods prescribed in this policy may be lengthened in a particular case by the Process Overseer if he or she determines that there is adequate cause for allowing additional time and that an extension will not have a material negative effect on the purposes of this procedure; however, a request for an extension from a party that is received after the applicable deadline has passed generally will not be granted.
- While the length of time necessary to address a complaint will vary depending on the circumstances, in general, the University will attempt to issue a decision within 60 days of receiving a formal written complaint meeting the criteria of this procedure.
- If a particular stage of a procedure in this policy is required to be completed within a prescribed number of days, then the day that includes the event that starts the time period will not be counted, but the last day of the time period will be counted. Any action required by the end of any time period must be completed by 5 pm on the last day of the period.
VI. Principles and Protections
- Employment: Neither the existence of this procedure, nor filing a complaint or being named as a Respondent in a complaint, is a guarantee of ongoing employment. The University reserves the right to take any permitted employment action it deems appropriate, including but not limited to placing an employee on leave.
- Safety: The University reserves the right to respond with whatever measures it deems appropriate to prevent misconduct and preserve the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
- University officials will seek to protect (as reasonably possible in the circumstances) the privacy of Disclosers, Complainants, Accused, and Respondents. However, the University cannot guarantee the anonymity of an individual making an informal report or a formal complaint. The University may share information provided by a Discloser, a Complainant, an Accused, a Respondent, or others in order to comply with legal requirements, promote the safety of students and employees, carry out this procedure, or address operational or administrative needs of the University. The University will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond consistent with any request for confidentiality by a Discloser or Complainant, including when implementing any VAWA accommodation or interim measures. If a Discloser requests that the University not take action in response to disclosed information due to confidentiality or similar concerns, the University will consider whether it should grant the request in light of the circumstances and other applicable policies, objectives, and obligations.
- All persons who are involved in an informal or formal proceeding under this procedure should respect the sensitive nature of the proceeding and follow any confidentiality instructions issued by the Process Overseer or Decision Maker. This includes but is not limited to all Complainants, Respondents, witnesses, and investigators.
- The University strictly prohibits retaliation against any person who files a complaint or otherwise participates in an investigation or proceeding under this procedure. This includes retaliation against anyone who makes a report or files a complaint about a violation of the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy or about a VAWA Offense; who expresses an intent to make a report or complaint; or who testifies as a witness or otherwise provides information as part of an investigation or proceeding. Retaliation can be any type of adverse or negative action taken toward a person who has filed a complaint or otherwise participated in an investigation or proceeding (however, an adverse action is not retaliatory if it was taken for some other justifiable reason). Examples of retaliation include intimidation, coercion, harassment, threats, acts of violence, acts intended to embarrass another person, unjustified demotion or reduction in pay, unjustified denial of a promotion, unjustified termination of employment, or any other action that is likely to dissuade a reasonable person from making a complaint in the future. Any employee who commits retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Any person who believes he or she has been retaliated against should contact one of the Grievance Receivers, the Decision Maker, or the Process Overseer. The Process Overseer, in his or her discretion, will either (a) arrange for an investigation into the alleged retaliation, after which the applicable Decision Maker will make a determination applying a preponderance of the evidence standard, or (b) coordinate with the Dean of Students for Community Life to have the alleged retaliation addressed through the Student Accountability Process (if the person accused of retaliation is a student).
- No False Statements: The University recognizes that false statements can have serious effects. Therefore, the University may take disciplinary action in cases where frivolous or vexatious complaints are submitted or where individuals knowingly provide false information.
- Legal Counsel: If a party engages legal counsel, the legal counsel may not participate in the University’s internal proceedings, except that legal counsel may serve as advisors for complaints alleging VAWA Offenses as described in this procedure. This procedure does not interfere with the right of an individual to seek legal counsel or representation at such party’s own expense.
- Interim and Supportive Measures: The Process Overseer will discuss with the Complainant and the Respondent at an early stage options regarding interim and supportive measures.
- Conflict of Interest:
- The Process Overseer should determine if a Decision Maker or Appeal Reviewer has a conflict of interest, in which case the Process Overseer may identify a different person to fulfill the assigned role. Conflicts of interest for this purpose are limited to situations where the Decision Maker or Appeal Reviewer is the Accused or is directly related (by blood, adoption, or marriage) to one of the parties, or where there are other circumstances present that make it likely that the Decision Maker or Appeal Reviewer cannot be objective in the process (for example, where the Decision Maker or Appeal Reviewer has an outside business or financial arrangement with one of the parties). Prior adverse decisions made by a Decision Maker or Appeal Reviewer against one of the parties does not constitute a conflict of interest.
- If the Process Overseer believes a designee or investigator has a conflict of interest, the Process Overseer will instruct the Decision Maker or Appeal Reviewer (as applicable) to select another individual.
- If the Process Overseer’s Area Vice President believes that the Process Overseer has a conflict of interest, then such Area Vice President will designate a different Process Overseer for the proceeding.
- Special Provisions for VAWA Offenses:
- If a VAWA Offense is alleged, Complainants and Respondents may each have an advisor of their choosing as they go through the formal complaint process. The advisor's role is to provide support and to give advice. An advisor may accompany the party at the proceedings. This policy does not limit the choice of advisor or their presence for the Complainant or Respondent in any meeting or institutional proceedings. However, during a proceeding the advisor may only speak to the party he or she advises and may not interrupt or interfere with the process. If an advisor does not follow the restrictions in this paragraph, the advisor may be required to leave the proceeding (in which case the applicable party may select a different advisor). The restrictions on advisors apply equally to both parties.
- If the University provides accommodations or protective measures for the Complainant, the University will seek to keep those accommodations and measures confidential to the extent reasonably possible and to the extent that confidentiality would not impair the ability of the institution to provide the accommodations or measures.
VII. Grievance Receivers
- Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, or VAWA Offenses should be made to one of the following Grievance Receivers, either in-person, by email, or by mail (any written complaint should be clearly marked “Confidential”):
Dr. Laura Hartley, Provost, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 102, Seattle, WA 98119-1997. Office location: Demaray Hall, Room 210. Phone and email: (206) 281-2125; email@example.com.
- Dr. Jeff Jordan, Vice Provost for Student Formation and Community Engagement, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 212, Seattle, WA 98119-1997. Office location: SUB, 2nd Floor. Phone and email: (206) 281-2123; firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Sandra Mayo, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 104, Seattle, WA 98119-1997. Office location: Demaray Hall, Room 253. Phone and email: (206) 281-2191; email@example.com.
- Ms. Trista Truemper, Title IX/Section 504 Coordinator, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 104, Seattle, WA 98119-1997. Office location: Demaray Hall, Room 253. Phone and email: (206) 281-2538; firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mr. Gary Womelsduff, Director of Human Resources, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue West, Suite 302, Seattle, WA 98119-1997. Office location: 330 W. Nickerson. Phone and email: (206) 281-2678; email@example.com.
- Alternatively, incidents involving Sexual Harassment or VAWA Offenses can be reported to any Sexual Misconduct Report Receiver listed on the University “How to Report Sex Discrimination and Other Sexual Misconduct” webpage.
VIII. Informal Resolution
- An individual who believes he or she has experienced Discrimination, Harassment, or a VAWA Offense committed by a University employee may be able to pursue an informal process under this procedure to address the situation. Informal processes can include mediation, investigation, or other approaches.
- Informal processes are permissible in certain situations, but not for severe offenses. Complaints involving possible misunderstandings or miscommunication between the parties should be considered for informal resolution.
- A Discloser can seek an informal process by notifying the Process Overseer. The Process Overseer, in consultation with the Decision Maker, will determine if an informal process is appropriate for a particular situation, and will determine the appropriate structure and timeline for any informal process. At any point during the informal process, the Discloser, the Accused, the Process Overseer, or the Decision Maker may terminate the informal process.
IX. Formal Process – Complaint
- A Discloser may initiate the complaint procedure by presenting a Grievance Receiver with a written complaint. The written complaint should contain at least the following information: (1) the name of the person making the complaint (i.e., the Complainant); (2) a brief description of the alleged discriminatory action or actions; (3) the date or dates of the alleged discriminatory actions; and (4) the name of each person alleged to have engaged in the discriminatory action or actions.
- If a Complaint does not involve an alleged violation of the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy, the Complainant may be directed to other University offices, procedures, or resources.
- Complaints and other written statements submitted by the Complainant must be written and/or signed by the Complainant.
X. Formal Process – Response
- If the Process Overseer determines that the written complaint meets the criteria for a complaint under this grievance procedure, then the Process Overseer will provide a copy of the written complaint to the Respondent.
- The Respondent may provide a written response to the Process Overseer within five Business Days of receipt of the written complaint. A Respondent may choose not to provide a written response or participate in the proceeding, but the proceeding may continue even if a Respondent chooses not to provide a response or participate, and a decision may be based on the available evidence. If a Respondent provides the Process Overseer with a copy of a written response, then the Process Overseer will provide a copy of the written response to the Complainant.
- Responses and other written statements submitted by the Respondent must be written and/or signed by the Respondent.
XI. Formal Process – Investigation
- The Decision Maker may appoint one or more investigators to assist the Decision Maker in investigating the complaint. An investigator may be a University employee or a third party engaged by the University to investigate the complaint.
- Investigations may include personal interviews, research, and review of relevant evidence. The investigation will be impartial and as thorough as appropriate under the circumstances, as determined by the Decision Maker based on factors such as the nature and seriousness of the allegations, availability of witnesses and other evidence, schedules, and available resources.
- The Complainant and the Respondent are entitled to an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence, to have others present during any institutional disciplinary proceeding (in the case of a VAWA Offense), and to receive periodic status updates. The results of any polygraph or similar test will not be allowed as evidence from either party in the formal complaint process.
- If the Complainant or Respondent believes that someone should be interviewed as part of the investigation, then the Complainant or Respondent should identify in writing to the Process Overseer the name and contact information for the person and a summary of the person’s knowledge about facts related to the complaint. However, the Decision Maker may determine it is not necessary to interview all persons identified by the Complainant or Respondent.
- The Decision Maker may request that any appointed investigators prepare a written summary of the facts, which may include copies of documents or other written statements. The Decision Maker may also request that appointed investigators provide written recommended findings of fact and/or written recommended findings as to the validity of the complaint. The standard for any finding is whether it is more likely than not.
- At the discretion of the Decision Maker, the Complainant and Respondent may be provided with a copy of any summary report or other written materials prepared by investigators and given an opportunity to respond prior to the Decision Maker making a decision.
XII. Formal Process – Decision
- The Decision Maker will make a decision using a preponderance of the evidence standard (that is, whether a finding is more likely than not).
- If the Respondent is a faculty member, and the Decision Maker is considering dismissal of the faculty member for cause, then the process by which the Decision Maker makes a decision regarding the complaint will include the procedure described in Section 11.6.4 of the Faculty Employment Handbook.
- The Decision Maker may adopt some, all, or none of any recommended findings from any appointed investigators. The Decision Maker may also require additional investigation before making a decision.
- The Decision Maker may, at his or her sole discretion, ask to meet with the Complainant and Respondent prior to making a decision, so long as each party is given the same opportunity (if any) to meet with the Decision Maker and the meetings are held separately.
- In cases of alleged sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, or VAWA Offenses, the Title IX Coordinator should be consulted, and should be promptly notified of the decision.
- When appropriate, corrective action will be taken up to and including termination of employment. The goal of sanctions in a Discrimination or Harassment complaint proceeding is to end the Discrimination or Harassment (as applicable), prevent its recurrence, and remedy the harm, and sanctions should be crafted with the aim of achieving those goals. The type and degree of any corrective action will depend on the circumstances of each situation. Conduct history may be taken into account. Failure to fulfill the terms of corrective action may result in additional and more severe corrective action, including termination of employment. The types of corrective action that may be implemented include, but are not limited to: (1) a warning, (2) a written reprimand, (3) disciplinary probation, (4) unpaid leave, (5) attending counseling, (6) paying restitution or fines, (7) performing community service, (8) being excluded from areas on campus, (9) being restrained from contact with specific individuals or organizations; (10) participation in an educational activity; (11) reduction in pay; (12) loss or deferral of opportunity for promotion or increase in pay; and/or (13) termination of employment. If an employee is employed “at-will,” nothing in this grievance procedure changes that “at-will” employment status. The employee may still be terminated at any time, with or without cause.
- Both parties will be notified of the decision separately. Both the Complainant and the Respondent will be simultaneously informed, in writing, of: (1) the outcome of any proceeding that arises from an allegation of misconduct; (2) the University's procedures for the Complainant and Respondent to appeal the results of the proceeding, if available; (3) any change to the results that occurs prior to the time that such results become final; and (4) when such results become final. A written decision should include a statement of rationale for the decision and sanctions, if applicable.
- Unless otherwise stated in a decision letter, corrective action will begin to take effect at the expiration of the appeal period if no appeal is made. If an appeal is made, then the Decision Maker will determine whether some or all of the corrective action should be implemented pending the outcome of the appeal and will notify the Complainant and Respondent in writing of the decision.
XIII. Formal Process – Appeal
- If the Respondent is an Area Vice President or the President, then neither party may appeal a decision. In other cases, either party may appeal a decision by filing a written appeal with the Process Overseer. Unless otherwise stated in the written decision, the appeal must be received by the Process Overseer within five Business Days after the earliest of when the party is sent the decision by mail, email, or hand-delivery. The appeal must describe the reason for appeal. The reasons for appeal may only be:
- New evidence not available at the time of the investigation that would likely alter the outcome;
- Procedural error(s) or unfairness that would likely alter the outcome; or
- The sanctions imposed are not appropriate to the violation(s).
- The Process Overseer will provide a copy of the appeal to the other party (i.e., the Complainant or Respondent), and the other party may file a written response to the appeal within five Business Days after the earliest of the date the appeal is sent by mail, email, or hand delivery to such party.
- The Appeal Reviewer may, at his or her sole discretion, ask to meet with the Complainant and Respondent prior to making a decision, so long as each party is given the same opportunity (if any) to meet with the Appeal Reviewer and the meetings are held separately.
- The Appeal Reviewer will make a decision regarding the appeal based on the three permitted reasons for appeal described above. The Appeal Reviewer’s decision may affirm the original decision completely, affirm a finding but modify the prescribed corrective action, remand the matter for additional investigation, require a new investigation, or reverse the decision. If the Appeal Reviewer does not call for further investigation, then the decision of the Appeal Reviewer will be final, and no more appeals will be permitted.
- Both the Complainant and the Respondent will be simultaneously informed, in writing, of the Appeal Reviewer’s decision. A written decision should include a statement of rationale for the decision and sanctions, if applicable. Unless otherwise stated in an appeal decision letter, corrective action will begin to take effect the following Business Day after the appeal decision letter has been issued. Any interim measures may remain in place. If the employee is employed “at-will,” nothing in this section prohibits the University from terminating an employee at any time, with or without cause.
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