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Policy on Preventing and Responding to Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Involving Faculty and Staff

Effective Date: 7/1/14
Last Revised: 2/22/17
Applies to Faculty, Staff, & Students

Purpose                            

This policy is designed to foster the University of Richmond’s commitment to the principle that every University of Richmond student, faculty and staff member has the right to work and learn in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. 

Scope  

This policy applies to the University of Richmond and all of its Affiliates. As used in this policy, the term “Affiliates” means organizations or entities in which the University owns a controlling interest or has the right to elect the majority of the entity’s governing board. The University shall also apply this policy, to the extent practicable, to the conduct of contractors and other third parties providing services on the University campus.

This policy sets forth the process for handling complaints of discrimination, including allegations of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a type of sex discrimination. The University’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct specifies, in detail, the University’s prohibition of sexual misconduct and the process by which complaints of sexual misconduct involving students, faculty, and staff are investigated by the University’s Title IX Coordinators. This policy specifies the process for addressing reports of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct following an investigation by the Title IX Coordinator and outlines the process for addressing other reports of discrimination and harassment. This policy and the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy are intended to complement each other.

Academic Freedom. This policy is not intended to and shall not be used to limit or restrict, in any manner, academic freedom, including, but not limited to, the curricular or pedagogical choices of faculty members. Members of the University community are expected to promote academic freedom, including the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom; to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression; and to speak or write as a public citizen without institutional restraint or discipline. Members of the University community are also expected to foster intellectual honesty and freedom of inquiry and to respect those with differing views.

If, a report or complaint relates to an academic issue, including, but not limited to, the selection of course materials, the content of a course, the content of a class discussion, or course assignments and projects, the dean of the appropriate school shall evaluate the report or complaint and any follow-up that may be warranted.

Policy

The University of Richmond prohibits discrimination against applicants, students, faculty, or staff on the basis of race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, status as a veteran or any classification protected by local, state, or federal law.

The University also prohibits any form of harassment based on race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, status as a veteran or any classification protected by local, state, or federal law. The University prohibits such harassment by all students, faculty and staff and others associated with the University. 

As a recipient of federal funds, the University complies with federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). Title IX provides that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

The University is committed to preventing and responding to conduct that violates its non-discrimination policy. Any individual whose conduct violates this policy will be subject to remedial action in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures.

The University of Richmond shall make reasonable efforts to investigate and appropriately address reports of discrimination and harassment (as defined in this policy). Upon receipt of a complaint, report, or information about possible discrimination or harassment, the University will respond in an effort to stop such conduct, eliminate any hostile environment, take reasonable steps to prevent a recurrence of such conduct, and address any effect that such conduct may have on the larger University community.

In compliance with Title IX, the procedures set forth in this policy apply to reports or complaints of discrimination based on sex, including complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, as defined herein. Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are types of sex discrimination. 

For questions about sex discrimination in education, please contact the University’s Interim Title IX Coordinator, Tracy Cassalia, Weinstein Center for Recreation, (804) 289-8464, tcassali@richmond.edu, or the University’s Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Carl Sorensen, (804) 289-8166, csorense@richmond.edu. Further information about Title IX and sexual discrimination in education is available from the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20202-1100; 800-421-3481; OCR@ed.gov; or http://www.ed.gov/ocr.

Definitions

Harassment: Harassment is unwelcome, offensive verbal, written, or physical conduct which because of its severity and/or persistence, is likely to interfere significantly with an individual’s work or education, affect adversely an individual’s living conditions on campus, or create a hostile or intimidating environment. Sexual harassment is a form of harassment. The following are examples of the type of harassment prohibited by the University:

  • Making unwelcome or offensive comments about a person's clothing, body, or personal life;
  • Use of unwelcome or offensive nicknames or terms of endearment;
  • Offensive jokes or unwelcome innuendoes;
  • Unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors;
  • Any suggestion that sexual favors, or status as being in any protected classification identified above, would affect one's job, promotion, performance evaluations, grades, working, or educational conditions;
  • Insults, epithets, jokes, slurs, or offensive comments that relate to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any other status protected by applicable law;
  • The placement, dissemination or circulation of any written, graphic, or electronic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any other status protected by applicable law;
  • Other conduct that creates a work or educational environment that may be considered offensive or hostile; or
  • Any other conduct or behavior deemed by the University to be inappropriate or harassing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any other status protected by applicable law.

Harassment may also occur if submission to conduct described above is an implicit or explicit term or condition of employment, education, or participation in a campus activity or if submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for a decision regarding any University operation or program.

Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct is a broad range of behavior that includes, but is not limited to non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating/relationship violence, domestic violence and stalking. See the University of Richmond Sexual Misconduct Policy for definitions of these terms.

Reporting Concerns about Discrimination or Harassment

The University strongly encourages prompt reporting of incidents that may constitute discrimination or harassment.

Any member of the University community who believes that he or she may have been or knows someone who may have been discriminated against or subjected to harassment, including sexual harassment, in violation of the University’s policy, should report that concern or those concerns as follows:

  • Students: For matters involving students either as the subject of the alleged discrimination or harassment or as the person alleged to be discriminating or engaging in misconduct, contact: 
  • For disability related concerns, contact: 
    • Tinina Cade, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Student Development and Disability Coordinator at (804) 289-8032, tcade@richmond.edu
  • Faculty and Staff: For cases involving faculty or staff as the subject of possible discrimination or harassment, please contact: 
    • Carl Sorensen, Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Associate Vice President of Human Resource at (804) 289-8166, csorense@richmond.edu

You may also contact:

While the University encourages people to report concerns regarding alleged discrimination directly to the individuals listed above, reports may also be made via the University’s Ethics and Compliance Helpline. The Ethics and Compliance Helpline can be reached toll free at (888) 256-4925 or by submitting an online report at www.reportlineweb.com/richmond.

For more information on reporting sexual misconduct, see the University of Richmond Sexual Misconduct Policy, How Can I Get Help? What Resources Are Available to Me?

Unless designated as a confidential resource under the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, all University employees designated as Responsible Employees are required to report incidents of possible sex discrimination and sexual misconduct to the University’s Title IX Coordinators. The definition of Responsible Employees can be found in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The University prohibits retaliation or retribution, in any form, against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential or suspected violation of this policy. See http://www.richmond.edu/compliance/non-retaliation.html.

The Role of the Title IX Coordinators

The University’s Title IX Coordinators are responsible for ensuring the University’s compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Additionally, the appropriate Title IX Coordinator will investigate any report or complaint of discrimination or harassment prohibited by this policy.

For more information on the role of Title IX Coordinators at the University, see the University’s Title IX Compliance Coordinators Policy.

Process for Addressing a Complaint of Discrimination, Harassment or Sexual Misconduct

The following process applies to complaints of discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct involving University staff or faculty members.  

The Associate Vice President for Human Resources / Deputy Title IX Coordinator (the “AVP HR”) or his/her Human Resources designee will respond to information or reports of possible discrimination regardless of whether a formal complaint is made. The AVP HR or his/her designee will meet with the person making the complaint or on whose behalf the complaint or report is made (the “Complainant”) to review the Complainant’s concerns, to explain the University’s procedures for handling a complaint of discrimination, to determine whether an investigation is warranted and to discuss with the Complainant the options for formal and informal resolution of the complaint. 

If an investigation is warranted and the person accused of the discrimination is a student, the Deputy Title IX Coordinators for student issues, listed above, will conduct the investigation.

If an investigation is warranted and the person accused of the discrimination is a member of the faculty or staff of the University, the AVP HR or his/her designee shall conduct the investigation.  In the case of an allegation of sex discrimination or sexual harassment, the AVP HR or his/her designee shall conduct the investigation in accordance with the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy

In general, the AVP HR or his/her designee will investigate promptly and the investigation will take no longer than sixty (60) days, unless extenuating circumstances necessitate a longer time frame.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will share his or her findings with the Complainant and the accused individual (referred to as the “Respondent”) simultaneously and in writing. The Title IX Coordinator will also discuss with the Complainant and the Respondent the options and process for informal and formal resolution of the complaint. 

Informal resolution shall not be used for allegations of sexual misconduct.

For information on the process for complaints involving students as the Respondent, see the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Policy Prohibiting on Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Against Students.  

The Process for Informal Resolution of a Complaint.

A Complainant may, at his or her option, seek to resolve the matter informally, but will not be required to pursue informal resolution before filing a formal complaint. Additionally, a Complainant may terminate the informal resolution process at any time and initiate a formal resolution process. 

Informal resolution shall not be used in cases of alleged sexual misconduct.

Purpose of Informal Resolution.

Informal resolution provides an opportunity for the Complainant to discuss his or her complaint with the Respondent and to communicate his or her feelings and perceptions regarding the incident, the impact of the incident, and his or her wishes and expectations regarding protection in the future. The Respondent will have an opportunity to respond.

Informal Discussion with Human Resources Staff Present

A Complainant may wish to discuss his or her complaint with the Respondent in a discussion facilitated by a member of the University’s Human Resources office. In such case, the Complainant should notify the AVP HR or his/her desire to pursue this option. The AVP HR will make an independent assessment as to whether informal resolution is appropriate, given the nature of the allegation, and, if it is, will coordinate such a discussion. The Respondent will be encouraged, but not required to participate in the informal resolution.

If, during the course of the informal resolution, the Respondent elects to take responsibility for the alleged conduct, the informal resolution process will be concluded and the Human Resources staff member will propose a sanction. If both the Complainant and the Respondent agree to such proposed sanction, the complaint will be resolved without any further rights to a hearing or appeal by either party. 

If the Respondent does not take responsibility for the alleged conduct, or either the Complainant or the Respondent object to such proposed sanction, the matter will be handled in accordance with formal resolution process outlined below. 

The University, the Complainant, or the Respondent may, at any time prior to the conclusion of the informal resolution, elect to end such proceedings and initiate formal resolution instead. In such cases, statements or disclosures made by the parties in the course of the informal resolution may be considered in the subsequent formal resolution.

The Process for Formal Resolution of a Complaint

Filing a Formal Complaint

A Complainant has the option to pursue a formal resolution of his or her complaint of a violation of this policy. As stated above, the AVP HR may require that the complaint be resolved through formal, rather than informal resolution. Additionally, as indicated above, a formal complaint is not required to initiate an investigation of a report or other information indicating a possible violation of this policy.

A Complainant may file a formal complaint with the AVP HR. Formal complaints alleging violation of this policy should be filed in a timely manner, ordinarily within thirty (30) days of the offending conduct, or shortly after the conclusion of the Informal Resolution process, usually within ten (10) working days. However, no complaint will be dismissed solely on the basis of the time it was filed.

The formal complaint must be in writing and must include the following:

  • A statement that the Complainant intends that the document submitted be treated as a formal complaint;
  • The date or approximate date on which the alleged behavior occurred;
  • The identity of the person(s) allegedly responsible;
  • A specific description for the conduct or behavior upon which the complaint is based; and
  • The names of all witnesses to the conduct or behavior at issue (if any) and any evidence supporting the complaint, including attaching any tangible evidence or documentation.

The formal complaint must be signed and dated by the Complainant.

Confidentiality

In cases in which the Complainant wishes to keep his her name, the name of the Respondent, and other information confidential or decides not to file a formal complaint under this policy, the AVP HR, or his/her designee will gather as much information as reasonably possible about the alleged discrimination or harassment.  

The University will respond to this information as it deems necessary to protect the campus community, while seeking to respect the Complainant’s request for confidentiality. The AVP HR will inform the Complainant that keeping the Complainant’s name confidential or declining to identify the accused individual, may limit the University’s ability to thoroughly investigate and respond to the alleged violation of this policy. The AVP HR will also inform the Complainant that in some cases it may not be possible to ensure confidentiality.

For information on how requests for Confidentiality are handled in cases involving potential sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, see the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, What If I Want to Keep Things Confidential or Do Not Want To Pursue a Formal Complaint.

Interim Remedial Action

After gathering preliminary information from the Complainant and considering any request by the Complainant for confidentiality, the AVP HR, or his/her designee, will determine whether interim remedial measures are reasonable and appropriate during the pendency of an investigation or complaint process to protect the Complainant and/or the campus. Examples of such interim remedial measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Issuing a “no contact order” or a “no trespass order;” 
  • Allowing the Complainant to take a paid leave of absence pending completion of the formal resolution process;
  • Placing the accused individual on a paid or unpaid leave of absence pending completion of the formal resolution process; and
  • Working with the supervisor for the Complainant and/or accused individual to prevent or address retaliation.

For a detailed description of other interim and long-term remedial measures available in cases of possible sex discrimination or sexual misconduct and manner in which such measures are implemented, see the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, What Interim or Long-Term Remedial Measures are Available.

Investigation

If an investigation is warranted and the person accused of the discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct is a member of the faculty or staff of the University, the AVP HR, or his/her designee, shall conduct the investigation. In the case of a faculty member, the AVP HR or his/her designee shall coordinate such investigation with the dean of the faculty member’s school. If the accused individual is the dean, the AVP HR or his/her designee shall coordinate such investigation with the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

The AVP HR or his/her designee will investigate all reports of possible discrimination or harassment about which he or she becomes aware, regardless of the source of the report or information. The nature and extent of the investigation will vary based on the specific circumstances of the incident, but in all cases the investigation will be prompt, fair and impartial.

As part of that investigation, the AVP HR or his/her designee will interview the Complainant and the Respondent. The AVP HR or his/her designee will also interview other people who may have information about the incident and gather relevant information or documents.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the AVP HR or his/her designee will share his/her written findings with the Complainant and the Respondent, and other appropriate officials at the University. The AVP HR or his/her designee will also determine whether the incident should be referred for further evaluation of potential disciplinary charges or other remedial action. The AVP HR or his/her designee may consult with other appropriate University officials for evaluation of potential disciplinary action or remedial action under applicable University policies and procedures.

If the AVP HR determines that there is not enough information to warrant an evaluation of potential disciplinary action or remedial action, he or she will close the investigation. The investigation may be reopened when and if additional evidence becomes available. Additionally, even if the AVP HR determines that there is not enough information to warrant an evaluation of potential disciplinary action or remedial action, he or she will evaluate and, where appropriate implement other types of interim or longer term remedial measures for the Complainant, the Respondent, witnesses, or other involved individuals, such as issue or continuing a “no contact” order, implementing or continuing other workplace accommodations, or facilitating access to counseling or other support services.

Additionally, in collaboration with other University officials, the AVP HR will consider and, where appropriate, implement remedial actions targeted at the broader campus community, such as increased monitoring or security at the location where the conduct occurred, creating additional education or training, and revising and publicizing the University’s policies and resources.

In general, the investigation shall be conducted promptly, within sixty (60) days, unless extenuating circumstances necessitate a longer time frame.

Advisors

In cases involving alleged sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, all as defined in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Complainant and the Respondent each have the right to the services of an advisor of his/her choice. The advisor may be an attorney. The Complainant and the Respondent may have their advisors attend any appeal proceeding, as described herein, and any other related meeting, hearing, or investigative interviews.

In all other cases, the Complainant and Respondent may have an advisor who is an employee of the University, present at any appeal proceeding described herein.

The role of the advisor is to provide support, guidance, and advice to the Complainant or Respondent. Other than providing advice and guidance directly to the Complainant or Respondent, advisors are not permitted to participate in the appeal proceeding, other related meetings or interviews, including, but not limited to making oral arguments or statements, questioning witnesses, or raising objections during a proceeding. An advisor may request a brief recess of the proceedings to provide advice to the Complainant or Respondent.

Remedies

  1. Staff Members

If the accused individual is a staff member and the AVP HR, or his/her designee, determines that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding that the accused individual violated this policy or the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, then the AVP HR, or his/her designee, shall, after consultation with the accused individual’s supervisor, determine the appropriate disciplinary and/or remedial action and shall notify the Respondent of the outcome in accordance with the University’s Progressive Discipline Policy. In cases where there is a finding of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, the AVP HR, or his/her designee shall also notify the Complainant of the sanction(s) that directly relate to the Complainant.

  1. Faculty Members

If the accused individual is a faculty member, the AVP HR, or his/her designee, shall refer his/her factual findings and  assessment regarding whether a violation of this policy has occurred to the dean of the faculty member’s school and/or Provost, as appropriate. The dean of the appropriate school shall determine the appropriate remedial action. If the accused individual is the dean, then the report shall be made to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Any further disciplinary action shall be governed by the provisions of the Faculty Handbook and other applicable policies and procedures. In cases where there is a finding of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, the Complainant shall be notified of the outcome of the disciplinary procedures and any sanctions that relate directly to the Complainant.

Appeal of Findings and/or Remedies

  1. Staff Members

The Respondent may appeal findings of the investigation or the recommended remedial action. In the case of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, the Complainant may also appeal the findings of the investigation or the recommended remedial action.     

A Respondent or, where applicable, a Complainant, may only appeal a finding or recommended remedial action on the following grounds:

  • A witness in the investigation lied and such witness’ account was both material and adverse to the appealing party;
  • New evidence of a material nature is available that was not and could not have been available at the time of the investigation;
  • The appealing party was denied his or her rights, as specifically set forth in University policies and procedures, during the investigation; or
  • The remedial action imposed on the Respondent is disproportionate to the findings.

A Complainant or Respondent wishing to appeal the findings of an investigation or the remedial action imposed against the Respondent, must file a written appeal with the AVP HR. The appeal must be filed within ten (10) working days from the date the Complainant and Respondent were notified of the findings and sanctions.

The appeal must include the following:

  • The basis for the appeal, which must be detailed and consistent with the grounds for appeal set forth above; and
  • Any factual information supporting the basis for the appeal.

The appeal will be considered by a grievance appeal committee of three or more persons to be appointed by the Vice President for Business and Finance of the University. In cases involving sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, the Vice President for Business and Finance shall select three members of the University Hearing Board pool to serve on the grievance committee. The Respondent and, where applicable, the Complainant, has the right to petition that any member of the grievance committee be removed on the basis of bias or conflict of interest. The Vice President for Student Development shall respond to such request, in writing. 

The grievance appeal committee will meet with the Complainant and/or Respondent at a mutually convenient time.  

The committee may also elect to meet separately with the AVP/HR or his/her designee, the Respondent or the Complainant’s supervisor and any other person(s) it deems necessary for a full review of the facts. The committee will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Business and Finance of the University. The decision of the Vice President for Business and Finance to approve, disapprove, or modify the recommendation shall be final.

The decision on a request for an appeal shall be made within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the appeal, unless there is good cause for a reasonable extension of this time period. In which event, the AVP HR or his/her designee shall provide written notice to the Respondent, and, where applicable, the Complaint setting forth the reason for the extension.

Upon reaching a decision on a request for an appeal, the Vice President for Business and Finance shall provide written notification of his/her decision to the Respondent, the Complainant (if applicable), and to the AVP HR.

  1. Faculty Members

The appeal process for faculty members shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Faculty Handbook and other applicable faculty policies and procedures.

Retaliation is Prohibited

All members of the University community, including faculty, staff and students, who have a good faith concern regarding possible violations of this policy are expected to report such concerns to the Title IX Coordinators.  

The University prohibits retaliation or retribution, in any form, against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential or suspected violation of this policy. As used in this policy, reporting “in good faith” means the individual making the report has a reasonable basis to believe that there has been or may have been a violation of this policy. Individuals who make frivolous or false reports shall not be deemed to be acting in good faith.

Anyone who engages in or attempts to engage in retaliation or retribution against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential or suspected violation of this policy shall be subject to discipline in accordance with the policies and procedures of the University.