Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct Involving a University Employee as the Responding Party

Title

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct Involving a University Employee1 as the Responding Party

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Reporting Options, Support Resources, and Crisis Response Resources
    1. Definitions of Private, Confidential, and Anonymous
    2. Reporting Options
      1. Law Enforcement
      2. University Administration
      3. Anonymous
      4. Blind Reports to Law Enforcement
      5. Reporting Considerations: Timeliness and Location of Incident
      6. Amnesty
    3. Resources and Support
      1. Crisis Response Resources
      2. Confidential Support
      3. Other Resources
  3. Resolution Process
    1. Initial Assessment
    2. Informal Resolution
    3. Formal Investigation
      1. Investigators and Administrative Advisor
      2. Notice
      3. Time Frame
      4. Resources
      5. Intersection with Laws or other Policies
      6. Evidence Collection
      7. Relevance and Special Considerations
        1. Character Evidence
        2. Prior Sexual History and/or Pattern Evidence
          1. Pattern Evidence
          2. Prior Sexual History between the Parties
          3. Prior Sexual History with Other Parties
      8. Investigation Report
      9. Investigative Finding
    4. Possible Actions Resulting from an Investigation
      1. Disciplinary Action
      2. Corrective Measures
    5. Remedies
    6. Outcome Conference
    7. Appeal Options
      1. EHRA Non-Faculty Reporting and Responding Parties
      2. Faculty Reporting and Responding Parties
      3. SHRA Reporting and Responding Parties
      4. Student and Post-Doctoral Scholar Reporting Parties
      5. Post-Doctoral Scholar Responding Parties
      6. Visitor, Program Participant, Third Party and all other Reporting and Responding Parties
    8. Requirements for All Grievance Panels and University Appeals Officials
      1. Annual Training
      2. Consultation with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office
      3. Update Grievance Processes to Reflect Current Legal Requirements and Consistency with Policy and Procedures
    9. Post-Resolution Follow Up
  4. Additional Considerations
    1. Retaliation
    2. Role of the Support Person, Attorney, and Non-Attorney Advocate
    3. External Agreements
    4. Employee Records
  5. Endnotes

I. Overview

This document sets forth procedures for reporting, investigating, and responding to Discrimination, Harassment (including Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment and Sexual Violence), Interpersonal Violence, Stalking, Complicity, and Retaliation (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Prohibited Conduct”) involving a University employee as the Responding Party. Please refer to the UNC Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct ("Policy") for applicable definitions of key terms.

All community members are strongly encouraged to report incidents of Prohibited Conduct to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office and/or the UNC Police for criminal conduct, as appropriate. As an alternative, as outlined below, an individual can also seek confidential assistance that does not involve notice to the University.

Upon receipt of a report, a representative of the Response Team2 (a core group of administrators that may include the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, the Report and Response Coordinators, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Human Resources, the Academic Personnel Office, and/or any other office that has the relevant authority to address the allegations) will offer appropriate resources to support the parties (e.g., medical care, counseling resources, safe housing) and conduct an Initial Assessment. The Initial Assessment will consider the nature of the report, the safety of the parties and the campus community, the Reporting Party’s expressed preference for resolution, and the necessity for any Interim Measures.

Following this Initial Assessment, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator may:

  1. take no further action (e.g., where the conduct, on its face, would not constitute a Policy violation);
  2. pursue an Informal Resolution that does not involve disciplinary action against the Responding Party; or
  3. pursue an Investigation to determine if disciplinary action is warranted.

Each resolution process is guided by the same principles of fairness and respect for all parties. Resources are available for both a Reporting Party and a Responding Party to provide support and guidance throughout the Investigation and resolution of the report.

The University encourages a Reporting Party to explore all available options for resolution, including a report under the Policy and a report to law enforcement. The processes are not mutually exclusive; an individual can choose to pursue both a report under the Policy and a criminal investigation at the same time. If an individual would like assistance contacting a law enforcement agency, either to report an incident or follow-up on a report, a member of the Response Team is available to assist a Reporting Party in contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency.

II. Reporting Options, Support Resources, and Crisis Response Resources

A. Definitions of Private, Confidential, and Anonymous

Reporting options and resources are categorized as private, confidential, and anonymous.

  • Private” means that information related to a report under the Policy will only be shared with those individuals who “need to know” in order to assist in the active review, investigation, or resolution of the report. While not bound by confidentiality, these offices and individuals will be discreet and respect the privacy of all individuals involved in the process. Private options include the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, UNC Police, and any other University employee or office that is not designated as a confidential resource.
  • Confidential” means that information shared with designated campus or community professionals will only be disclosed with the individual’s permission, unless there is a continuing threat of serious harm to the individual or to others or there is a legal obligation to reveal such information (e.g., where there is suspected abuse or neglect of a minor). Confidential resources include the University Ombuds Office, the Gender Violence Services Coordinators, and medical providers in Campus Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services.
  • Anonymous” means that an individual may share information without disclosing their name and without identifying the other parties involved or requesting any action. Depending on the level of information available about the incident or the individuals involved, the receiving unit’s ability to respond to an anonymous report may be limited.

B. Reporting Options

1. Law Enforcement

The University strongly encourages all individuals to report potential criminal conduct, including Sexual Violence, Interpersonal Violence, and Stalking, to the UNC Police or to another law enforcement agency by calling 911. If the incident occurred off-campus, UNC Police will refer the report to the police department or law enforcement agency in the correct jurisdiction, or individuals may locate the correct police jurisdiction on the State of North Carolina's Criminal Justice Information Network website.

A report to law enforcement remains private, but not confidential. A report to law enforcement does not automatically trigger a criminal investigation. A Reporting Party may provide an “informational report” to law enforcement if they do not wish to pursue a criminal investigation at that time. UNC Police will explain the criminal investigation process and will provide information about the University’s resources and complaint process. An individual may choose to pursue both a criminal investigation and a formal resolution through the University process simultaneously. The processes are not mutually exclusive; an individual may choose to pursue both a report under the Policy and a criminal investigation at the same time. Alternatively, a Reporting Party may choose only one of those options or may choose neither option. UNC Police work collaboratively with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office and other administrative units to promote campus safety and compliance with state and federal laws.

2. University Administration

The University strongly encourages a Reporting Party to promptly report Prohibited Conduct directly to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office so that immediate and corrective action can be taken to eliminate the conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. Making a report to the University means telling the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, or a designated Responsible Employee what happened, in person, by telephone, in writing, by e-mail, electronically, or anonymously. The Report and Response Coordinators in the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office are trained professionals who are available to receive reports and can provide information about resolution options, provide information about and facilitate connections to available resources, and facilitate implementation of Interim Measures and accommodations. The Report and Response Coordinators can provide assistance and guidance for all affected parties. Individuals may also seek guidance from or report directly to the Title IX Compliance Coordinator or the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.

Individuals who share allegations of misconduct with individuals on campus who are designated as Responsible Employees, (including staff in the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Human Resources, the Academic Personnel Office, UNC Police), should be aware that those individuals are required by the University to share all details about a report of Prohibited Conduct with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office. Such reporting enables timely support for all parties and enables an effective and consistent institutional response. Responsible Employees are employees with administrative or supervisory responsibilities, including but not limited to Deans, Directors, Department Chairs, Coaches, Student Affairs professionals (including Resident Advisors), and faculty who serve as advisors to student groups. Designated Confidential Resources are not Responsible Employees; Responsible Employees will safeguard an individual’s privacy. Learn more about Responsible Employees on the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office website.

Upon receipt of a report, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, in coordination with the Response Team, will make an immediate assessment of the risk of harm to the parties or to the broader campus community and will take steps necessary to address any risks. These steps will include establishing Interim Measures to provide for the safety of the parties and the campus community and, where appropriate, referral to UNC Police, the Office of Human Resources, the Academic Personnel Office, and/or the Employee Threat Assessment and Response Team (ETART)3 to assess whether any individual poses a serious threat of disruption to the workplace or a continuing danger to self, to other members of the University community, or to University property.

The University recognizes that deciding whether to make a report is a personal decision that may evolve over time. Through a coordinated effort, staff from the above offices provide support to assist each individual throughout the report and resolution process, and consistent with the goal of safety for all community members, these staff will work to respect an individual’s preference in determining how to proceed.

As noted above, any individual can also make a report to external law enforcement agencies at any time.

3. Anonymous

Any individual may make a report of Prohibited Conduct to the University without disclosing one’s name (an “anonymous report”) and without identifying the Responding Party or requesting any action. Depending on the level of information available about the incident or the individuals involved, the University’s ability to respond to an anonymous report may be limited, or impossible. The EOC Anonymous Reporting Form can be found on the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office website.

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will receive the anonymous report and, in consultation with the Response Team and UNC Police, as needed, will determine any appropriate next steps, including individual or community remedies.

A Reporting Party can also submit an anonymous report to UNC Police using the "Silent Witness" program. Other law enforcement agencies may also accept anonymous reports.

4. Blind Reports to Law Enforcement

Under North Carolina law enforcement procedures, a Reporting Party can submit a non-anonymous “blind report” to UNC Police, which allows a Reporting Party to provide information about criminal conduct without having their identity associated with that report for the purposes of law enforcement records. UNC Police can elect to designate a report as a blind report even after a Reporting Party has provided their identifying information. Please note that the designation of information as a blind report does not affect UNC Police’s obligation to share the information with the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, who will keep the information private. Other law enforcement agencies may also accept blind reports.

5. Reporting Considerations: Timeliness and Location of Incident

All individuals, including a Reporting Party or witness, are encouraged to report Prohibited Conduct regardless of when or where it occurred, as soon as possible to maximize the ability to respond promptly and effectively. The University does not limit the time frame for reporting. Delay in reporting Prohibited Conduct, however, may affect the University’s ability to collect relevant evidence or information regarding the alleged conduct. In some cases, the delay may be so significant that the University may not be able to fully investigate or take disciplinary action.

Under other University and state human resources policies, however, SHRA and EHRA Non-Faculty employees must report Prohibited Conduct within a specific timeframe to preserve their ability to grieve/appeal the outcome of the results of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office’s investigation. Specifically, to preserve grievance/appeal rights under these particular policies:

  • SHRA employees must file the initial report of Prohibited Conduct within fifteen (15) calendar days of the alleged incident(s) of Prohibited Conduct; and
  • EHRA Non-Faculty employees must file the initial report of Prohibited Conduct within thirty (30) calendar days of the alleged incident(s) of Prohibited Conduct.

Please refer to the UNC HR "Dispute Resolution & Grievances" website for more information about these appeal/grievance processes.

It is important to note that an individual may report Prohibited Conduct to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at any time and may seek an investigation or other forms of resolution, regardless of whether the individual filed the report within the timeframes set out by the cited grievance policies.

If the Responding Party is no longer a student or employee at the time of the report, or if the conduct did not occur on campus, in the context of an education or employment program or activity of the University, or have continuing adverse effects on campus or in an off-campus education or employment program or activity, the University may not be able to fully investigate or take disciplinary action against the Responding Party. In each instance, the University will still provide any fair and reasonable support and resources to a Reporting Party designed to end the Prohibited Conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office or Title IX Compliance Coordinator will also help a Reporting Party identify external reporting options

6. Amnesty

Any student, including the Reporting Party or witness, who voluntarily makes a report or participates in an investigation of Prohibited Conduct, and provides full and accurate information relating to the report, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the University for their own personal consumption of alcohol or other drugs, or for other behavior that may violate University policies, at or near the time of the incident, provided that any such violations did not harm or place the health or safety of any other person at risk. The Office of the Dean of Students may require a follow up meeting in which support, resources, and educational counseling options may be mandated for a student who has engaged in the illegal or prohibited use of alcohol or drugs. With consideration to encouraging reporting potential Prohibited Conduct, behavior by employee reporting parties or witnesses will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

C. Resources and Support

1. Crises Response Resources

As a first priority, the University encourages all individuals to report Sexual Violence, Interpersonal Violence, Stalking, or potential criminal conduct by calling 911 or by contacting UNC Police. If the incident occurred off-campus, UNC Police will refer the report to the police department or law enforcement agency in the correct jurisdiction and will help an individual find a safe place and/or provide transportation to the hospital. A report to law enforcement is private but not confidential.

The University also encourages individuals to seek assistance from a medical provider or crisis response service immediately after an incident of Sexual Violence or Interpersonal Violence. This provides the opportunity to address physical well-being or health concerns, preserve any available evidence, and begin a timely investigative and remedial response. Emotional care, counseling, and crisis response are also available on and off campus and are included in the Resources Chart (please see the attached PDF). Information about financial assistance with related medical expenses that may be available for students and employees can be found on the Safe at UNC website. A report to a medical professional or a designated confidential resource is confidential.

2. Confidential Support

The trained professionals designated in the Resources Chart (please see the attached PDF) can provide counseling, information, and support in a confidential setting. These confidential resources will not share information about a patient/client (including whether that individual has received services) without the individual’s permission unless there is a continuing threat of serious harm to the patient/client or to others or there is a legal obligation to reveal such information (e.g., suspected abuse or neglect of a minor).

The Gender Violence Service Coordinators and the University Ombuds Office can provide support and assistance in understanding the reporting options and navigating the reporting processes. Individuals may choose to use these resources first before deciding whether to report Prohibited Conduct to law enforcement or to the University. The Gender Violence Service Coordinators provide support for individuals of all gender identities who have experienced or are experiencing Sexual Violence, Interpersonal Violence or Gender-based Harassment. The University Ombuds Office provides support and information for anyone affected by an incident or allegation, including Reporting Parties, Responding Parties, witnesses, and peers.

Confidential medical services, including counseling and psychological services, are available to students through Campus Health Services. Confidential counseling and psychological services are available to employees through the Employee Assistance Program. Other valuable confidential resources in the community can be found in the Resources Chart (please see the attached PDF).

3. Other Resources

The University recognizes that Sexual Violence, Interpersonal Violence, and other types of Discrimination and Harassment can have a significant effect on an individual’s educational and employment opportunities. Report and Response Coordinators in the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office can help individuals navigate solutions to the challenges that may arise on campus and in the workplace and connect them to the appropriate assistance. The Resources Chart (please see the attached PDF) lists various resources on and off campus to address a variety of needs that may arise, including immigration assistance, financial aid, and legal assistance. Regardless of whether an individual wishes to report to the University or to law enforcement, the University strongly encourages all parties who may be affected by allegations of Prohibited Conduct to contact the Report and Response Coordinators so that they can connect the individuals with resources that will help them succeed as members of the University community. Students may also use the Office of the Dean of Students for support and connection to resources.

III. Resolution Process

A. Initial Assessment

When a report is made, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, with the assistance of the Response Team, will conduct an Initial Assessment. The assessment will determine whether the alleged conduct would present a violation of the Policy and whether further action is warranted based on the alleged conduct.

The first step of the Initial Assessment will usually be a preliminary meeting between the Reporting Party and a Report and Response Coordinator or designee. The Report and Response Coordinator will first:

  • Address any immediate concerns about the physical safety and emotional well-being of the parties;
  • Provide the Reporting Party with information about:
    • On and off campus resources
    • The available range of Interim Measures
    • An explanation of the procedural options, including Informal Resolution and Investigation;
  • Notify the Reporting Party of the availability of medical treatment to address any physical and mental health concerns and to preserve evidence;
  • If the alleged conduct is criminal in nature, notify the Reporting Party of the option to make a report to law enforcement and to be assisted in doing so, as well as the option to decline to report to law enforcement;
  • Discuss the Reporting Party’s expressed preference for manner of resolution and any barriers to proceeding;
  • Explain the University’s policy prohibiting Retaliation; and
  • Explain the role of the Support Person, Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate.

The Report and Response Coordinator or designee will also gather facts that will enable the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, in consultation with other offices as appropriate, to:

  • Assess the nature and circumstances of the allegation;
  • Refer the matter to the ETART for appropriate action;
  • Conduct an assessment for potential pattern evidence or other similar conduct;
  • Assess the reported conduct for the need to issue a timely warning under federal law; and
  • Enter non-identifying information about the report into the University’s daily crime log if the conduct is potentially criminal in nature.

In the event the Responding Party is notified of the allegations during the Initial Assessment, the Report and Response Coordinator, or designee, will provide the Responding Party with information about on and off campus resources, the available range of Interim Measures, an explanation of the procedural options, including Informal Resolution and Investigation; and the Policy’s prohibition on Retaliation.

Where a Reporting Party requests that their name or other identifiable information not be shared with the Responding Party or that no formal action be taken, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will balance this request against the following factors in reaching a determination regarding whether the request can be honored:

  • whether the alleged conduct would present a potential violation of the Policy;
  • the nature and scope of the alleged conduct, including whether the reported misconduct involves allegations of violence and/or the use of a weapon;
  • whether the alleged conduct, if true, would necessitate formal disciplinary action of the accused employee;
  • considerations of fundamental fairness and due process with respect to the Responding Party should the course of action include disciplinary action against the Responding Party;
  • the respective ages and roles of the Reporting and Responding Parties;
  • the power dynamics between the involved parties;
  • the risk posed to any individual or to the campus community by not proceeding, including the risk of additional violence;
  • the risk of retaliation against the Reporting Party, witnesses, or other related individuals;
  • whether there have been other reports of such misconduct by the Responding Party;
  • whether the report reveals a pattern of such misconduct (e.g., including abuse of authority) at a given location or by a particular group or individual;
  • the Reporting Party’s wish to pursue disciplinary action;
  • whether the University possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence; and
  • the University’s obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory environment.

Where possible based on the facts and circumstances, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will seek action considering the Reporting Party’s expressed preference for manner of resolution. The University’s ability to fully investigate and respond to a report may be limited or impossible if the Reporting Party requests that their name not be disclosed to the Responding Party or declines to participate in an Investigation.

At the conclusion of the Initial Assessment, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will determine the appropriate resolution route. Resolution may include:

  1. the initiation of an Investigation to determine facts that may lead to disciplinary action,
  2. Informal Resolution, or
  3. no further action.

Regardless of the manner of resolution, a Responding Party may choose to accept responsibility at any stage in the process.

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office has sole authority to conduct investigations and oversee resolutions for reports of Prohibited Conduct under the Policy. Any administrator, supervisor, or other individual who is a designated Responsible Employee who receives a report, either directly or indirectly, of alleged Prohibited Conduct under the Policy must notify the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office as soon as possible. An administrator, supervisor, or other individual must not attempt to resolve the report or address the matter without consultation with and assessment by the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator. If the report includes allegations that could potentially violate other University policies, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will coordinate with appropriate units to maximize efficiency, minimize disruption, and impart a prompt and appropriate resolution by the University.

B. Informal Resolution

When a Reporting Party does not want to move forward with a formal Investigation, Informal Resolution may be an option. Informal Resolution does not involve an Investigation or disciplinary action against a Responding Party and is not appropriate for all forms of conduct under the Policy.

The University retains the discretion to determine when Informal Resolution is appropriate. If a party requests Informal Resolution, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will consider the following factors in assessing that request:

  • the nature and scope of the alleged conduct, including whether the reported misconduct involves allegations of violence and/or the use of a weapon;
  • whether the alleged conduct, if true, would necessitate disciplinary action of the accused employee, and thus require an investigation;
  • the respective ages and roles of the Reporting and Responding Parties;
  • the power dynamics between the involved parties;
  • the risk posed to any individual or to the campus community by not pursing disciplinary action, including the risk of additional violence;
  • the risk of retaliation against the parties, witnesses, or other related individuals;
  • whether there have been other reports of such misconduct by the Responding Party;
  • whether the report reveals a pattern of such misconduct (e.g., including abuse of authority) at a given location or by a particular group or individual;
  • the Reporting Party’s wish to pursue disciplinary action;
  • whether Informal Resolution would adequately address the Reporting Party’s concerns and the alleged behavior; and
  • the University’s obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory environment.

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office may conduct an initial inquiry to gather sufficient information to assess whether Informal Resolution is appropriate under these factors. The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will determine whether Informal Resolution is appropriate. If they determine Informal Resolution is appropriate, there are two categories of Informal Resolution: 1) resolutions that focus on supporting the Reporting Party with no participation or involvement by the Responding Party, and 2) resolutions that involve a facilitated agreement with the Responding Party. Depending upon the category of resolution, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will work with the participating parties, sometimes in concert with members of the Response Team, to determine a resolution designed to maximize the participating parties’ access to all employment, educational, and extracurricular opportunities and benefits at the University and to eliminate a potential hostile environment for the Reporting Party.

In resolutions that focus on supporting the Reporting Party and do not affect the Responding Party, it may be possible for a Reporting Party to maintain anonymity. Such resolutions may include:

  • establishing or continuing Interim Measures;
  • conducting targeted or broad-based educational programming or training for relevant groups; and
  • providing increased monitoring, supervision, or security at locations or activities where the alleged misconduct occurred.

In resolutions, that involve a facilitated agreement with the Responding Party, both parties must agree to participate in an Informal Resolution. Such resolutions may include:

  • facilitating a meeting with the Responding Party with the Reporting Party present (only when deemed appropriate);
  • facilitating a private discussion with the Responding Party about the allegations and discussing solutions for eliminating the alleged behavior and remedying its affects;
  • mutually agreed upon parameters of interaction between the parties, including modified work assignments, agreements for no contact, and/or time or place restrictions to limit interaction; and
  • any other remedy that can be tailored to the involved individuals to promote an inclusive and non-discriminatory environment.

Participation in Informal Resolution is voluntary, and either party may end this manner of resolution and pursue an Investigation at any time, including when pursuit of Informal Resolution is unsuccessful at resolving the report. Similarly, the parties may request to end an Investigation and pursue Informal Resolution at any time. In addition, either party may request Interim Measures regardless of whether any particular course of action is sought.

As stated above, Informal Resolution does not result in discipline and is not a disciplinary action. The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will maintain records of all reports and conduct addressed through Informal Resolution to fairly and consistently assess pattern or systemic behavior. The time frame for completion of Informal Resolution may vary depending on the complexity of the matter, but the University will seek to complete the process within forty-five (45) business days of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office’s determination that Informal Resolution is appropriate.

C. Formal Investigation

Following the Initial Assessment, and in consultation with the Reporting Party, the University will initiate a prompt, thorough, and impartial Investigation of conduct that, if true, would constitute a violation of the Policy and is not being addressed through Informal Resolution. The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will oversee the Investigation. The Investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable gathering of the facts by a trained and impartial investigator. All individuals, including the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, and any third party witnesses, will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect throughout the Investigation. The Investigation will safeguard the privacy of the individuals involved in a manner consistent with applicable law and University policy.

1. Investigators and Administrative Advisor

The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will assign investigator(s) who have training and experience investigating allegations of Prohibited Conduct. The investigator will gather information regarding the alleged conduct. The investigator will then determine if the information gathered supports that the alleged conduct occurred by a preponderance of the evidence and, if so, whether the conduct constitutes a violation of the Policy. A preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred.

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will also identify the appropriate administrator(s) (the “Administrative Advisor”) to consult with during the investigation, if needed. The Administrative Advisor will review the investigation report and the recommended disciplinary action and/or other corrective measures (if applicable) and discuss the findings and recommendations with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office. The Administrative Advisor will not have the ability to reject investigatory findings, disciplinary actions, or other corrective measures.

2. Notice

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will send the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, and the Administrative Advisor a written Notice of Investigation. This Notice will generally be issued within five (5) business days of receipt of confirmation from the Reporting Party of the intent to proceed with an Investigation and/or sufficient information for the University to determine that the report raises a potential issue under Section II (Scope and Applicability) and Section IV (Prohibited Conduct) of the Policy. The Notice of Investigation will contain a summary of the allegations or conduct at issue, identify the potential violations under the Policy, include information about the Policy’s prohibition on Retaliation, and will identify the Administrative Advisor. Upon receipt of the Notice of Investigation, or at any stage in the process, the Responding Party may choose to accept responsibility for the Policy violation.

To the extent permissible and consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other state and federal law, the parties will receive equitable written, concurrent notices of the completion and/or outcome of all stages of the Investigation, adjudication, and appeal processes.

3. Time Frame

Consistent with the goal to provide an inclusive and safe educational and work environment, the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance and the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will seek to complete an Investigation of alleged employee misconduct within sixty (60)4 business days from the issuance of the Notice of Investigation to the Reporting Party and Responding Party. Business days do not include weekends or University holidays. The time frame for completion of the Investigation, or any designated time frames for required actions under the Policy, may be extended for good cause as necessary to ensure the integrity and completeness of the Investigation, to comply with a request by law enforcement, to accommodate the availability of witnesses, to account for University breaks or pre-approved leave, to account for the complexities of an Investigation (e.g., the number of witnesses and volume of information provided by the parties), or to address other legitimate reasons. Should the Investigation begin at a time when the sixty (60) day period will extend into recognized University holidays or academic breaks, the investigator will attempt to proceed as scheduled, but if the Investigation cannot proceed due to absences of the parties or material witnesses, the investigation may be held in abeyance until the individuals are available. Any extension of the timeframes, and the reason for the extension, will be shared with the parties in writing. Best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner by balancing principles of thoroughness and fundamental fairness with promptness.

4. Resources

A Report and Response Coordinator in the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will serve as a resource and point of contact for both parties and any witnesses throughout the Investigation to answer questions about the process and to connect parties to resources, support, accommodations, or Interim Measures.

To the extent permitted by law and subject to some limitations, throughout the Investigation process conducted by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, any participant may have a Support Person, Attorney, or Non-Attorney Advocate present at any meeting related to resolution of a report under the Policy.5 For more information about the role of a Support Person, Attorney, or Non-Attorney Advocate see Section IV.B.

5. Intersection with Laws or other Policies

If the report includes allegations that could potentially violate other University policies, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office may co-investigate with other relevant units to maximize efficiency, minimize disruption, and impart a prompt and appropriate resolution by the University.

Where the University is made aware that there is a concurrent criminal investigation, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will coordinate with law enforcement to prevent any University processes from interference with the integrity or the timing of the law enforcement investigation. At the request of law enforcement, the University may agree to defer the fact-finding portion of its Investigation until after the initial stages of a criminal investigation. The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will nevertheless communicate with the parties regarding resources and accommodations, procedural options, anticipated timing, and the implementation of any necessary Interim Measures for the safety and well-being of all affected individuals. The investigator will promptly resume fact-gathering as soon as law enforcement has released the case for review following the initial criminal investigation.

6. Evidence Collection

During the Investigation, the Reporting Party and Responding Party will have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit information, and to identify witnesses who may have relevant information. The investigator will seek to speak separately with the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, and, any other individuals who have information relevant to the determination of responsibility for a Policy violation. As part of the Investigation, the investigator may gather or receive information that is relevant to the determination of an appropriate disciplinary action, other corrective measure, or remedy, including information about the impact of the alleged incident on parties.

The investigator will also gather any available physical or documentary evidence that is relevant to the determination of responsibility under the Policy, including prior statements by the parties or witnesses, any communications between the parties, email messages, social media materials, text messages, and other records as appropriate and available.

All community members, including students, faculty and other University employees, are expected to cooperate with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office and the Title IX Compliance Coordinator in the Investigation of any report to assure fairness and procedural due process. The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office and the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will request the appearance of persons from the University community who can provide substantial, relevant evidence. In the absence of Reporting Party or Responding Party participation, the investigator will consider the available evidence in determining whether the preponderance of that evidence establishes a violation of the Policy.

7. Relevance and Special Considerations

The investigator has the discretion to determine the relevance of any evidence to the finding of responsibility and may exclude information in preparing the investigation report if the information is irrelevant, immaterial, or more prejudicial than informative.

The investigator may also exclude statements of personal opinion by witnesses and statements as to general reputation for any character trait, including honesty. The investigator will not exclude direct observations or reasonable inferences drawn from the facts.

a. Character Evidence

Character evidence is defined as information that does not directly relate to the facts at issue, but instead, reflects upon the reputation, personality, qualities, or habits of an individual. In general, information regarding the character of the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, or any witness is not relevant to the determination of whether there is a Policy violation.

b. Prior Sexual History and/or Pattern Evidence

A party’s character or reputation with respect to other sexual activity is rarely relevant and will typically not be considered as evidence. Similarly, a party’s prior or subsequent sexual activity is typically not relevant and will only be considered as evidence under limited circumstances. Those circumstances include:

(1) Pattern Evidence

Pattern evidence, defined as evidence of an occurrence or occurrences of sexual or other relevant behavior so distinctive and so closely resembling either party’s version of the alleged encounter as to tend to prove a material fact, including whether consent was sought or given, may be admissible. Where there is evidence of a pattern of similar conduct, either before or after the conduct in question, regardless of whether there has been a prior finding of a Policy violation by the Responding Party, this information may be deemed relevant to the determination of a Policy violation or assignment of a disciplinary action or other corrective measure. The determination of relevance will be based on an assessment of whether the previous or subsequent incident was substantially similar to the conduct cited in the report or indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern. Where there is a prior finding of a Policy violation by the Responding Party for a similar act of Prohibited Conduct, there is a presumption of relevance, and the finding may be considered in making a determination as to responsibility and assigning of a disciplinary action or other corrective measures.

(2) Prior Sexual History between the Parties

Where there was a prior or ongoing relationship between the Reporting Party and the Responding Party, and the Responding Party asserts that Consent was sought and given, the prior sexual history between the parties may be relevant to assess the manner and nature of communications between the parties. As noted in sections of the Policy, however, the mere fact of a current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute Consent.

(3) Prior Sexual History with Other Parties

A party’s sexual history with an individual other than the Reporting Party or Responding Party may be relevant under very limited circumstances to prove intent, motive, absence of mistake, or to explain an injury or physical finding.

8. Investigation Report

At the discretion of the University, multiple reports may be consolidated into one Investigation if the information related to each incident would be relevant and probative in reaching a determination regarding the other incident(s). This includes, but is not limited to, matters where the determination has been made that there is relevant Pattern Evidence or where the evidence of the other conduct is inextricably intertwined with Prohibited Conduct under the Policy. Matters may be consolidated where they involve multiple Reporting Parties, multiple Responding Parties, or related conduct within a department or unit.

At the conclusion of the Investigation, the investigator will prepare a written report that summarizes the information gathered and synthesizes the areas of agreement and disagreement between the parties with any supporting information or accounts. The investigator will include an Investigative Finding regarding whether a Policy violation occurred and recommendations for appropriate disciplinary action and other corrective measures, if appropriate.

In reports involving allegations of Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking, before the report is finalized, the Reporting Party and Responding Party will be given the opportunity to review a draft Investigation Report, which will not include the Investigative Finding,6 and may be presented in redacted format.7 To safeguard privacy, the parties will not receive an electronic or written copy, nor may they photograph or copy the draft Investigation Report; however, they will be permitted to take notes on the content. In such cases, a Reporting Party and Responding Party may submit any additional information or comments to the investigator within five (5) business days of the date of the notice of the opportunity to review of the draft Investigation Report. The investigator may require additional time to incorporate any new information provided by the parties during this stage. Should the investigator require an extension of time to finalize the Investigation Report, the parties will be notified in writing simultaneously.

For all other allegations of misconduct under the Policy, the investigator will make an Investigative Finding and the parties will be notified of the outcome of the Investigation without reviewing a draft investigation report.

9. Investigative Finding

Upon completion of the Investigation Report, the investigator will make an Investigative Finding, by a preponderance of the evidence, regarding whether a Policy violation occurred and will recommend appropriate disciplinary action, other corrective measures, and/or remedies based on the Investigative Finding. In reaching these determinations, the investigator will consult with the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, the Administrative Advisor, and any other designated administrator who has information relevant to the Investigation. Upon completion, the investigator will send the final investigation report to the Administrative Advisor to review the report and any recommendations therein, and the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will notify the parties that the investigation report has been provided to the Administrative Advisor. The Administrative Advisor will have five (5) business days to review the Investigation Report. If the recommendations include disciplinary action and or/further corrective measures in the relevant department or unit, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will assemble a team of appropriate individuals (“Outcome Team”), which may include the Administrative Advisor (or designee), the Office of Human Resources, the Academic Personnel Office, or the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs, to determine the appropriate course of action based on the investigator’s findings and any other relevant information, considering the factors articulated in Section III.D.

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will provide simultaneous written notice to both the Reporting Party and Responding Party of the Investigative Finding and recommended action(s) and/or remedy(ies), to the extent permitted by law, in writing at the same time within fifteen (15) business days after the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office provides the completed Investigation Report to the Administrative Advisor. This time frame may be extended for good cause, and if extended, the parties will be notified simultaneously in writing. The confidentiality protections provided by the North Carolina State Human Resources Act and FERPA may limit the amount of information provided to the parties.

D. Possible Actions Resulting from an Investigation

The Policy prohibits a broad range of behaviors, which are serious in nature. In keeping with the University’s commitment to foster an environment that is safe, inclusive, and free of Prohibited Conduct, the Policy provides the investigator and the Outcome Team with wide latitude in the imposition of disciplinary action or corrective measures tailored to the facts and circumstances of each report, the effects of the misconduct on the Reporting Party and surrounding community, and accountability for the Responding Party. The imposition of disciplinary action or corrective measures is designed to eliminate prohibited conduct under the Policy, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects, while supporting the University’s responsibilities as an employer and federal obligations. Such measures may include educational, restorative, rehabilitative, and/or punitive components. Some behavior, however, is so harmful to the educational process and the work environment that it requires severe disciplinary action, including suspension from employment with the University or termination/discharge.

In determining the appropriate course of action, the investigator and the Outcome Team shall consider the following factors:

  • the nature and violence of the conduct at issue;
  • the effects of the conduct on the Reporting Party;
  • the effects or implications of the conduct on the work environment, the community, or the University;
  • whether the conduct involved an abuse of power or authority;
  • prior misconduct by the Responding Party, including the Responding Party’s relevant prior discipline history, both at the University or elsewhere, including criminal convictions;
  • whether the Responding Party has accepted responsibility for the conduct;
  • maintenance of a safe and respectful environment conducive to learning and working;
  • protection of the University community; and
  • any other mitigating, aggravating, or compelling circumstances to reach a just and appropriate resolution in each case.

All employees must be treated equally when applying these factors, regardless of their category of employment (faculty, EHRA, SHRA). To ensure consistency and equal treatment of all categories of employees, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, in consultation with the Outcome Team, must approve the final course of action and/or remedy. The appropriate supervisor or administrator will implement and enforce the chosen course of action and will provide supporting documentation to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office to confirm that the chosen course of action has been implemented.

1. Disciplinary Action

When an Investigation results in a finding that a Responding Party has violated the Policy, disciplinary action may be imposed individually or in combination with corrective measures. There are several types of disciplinary actions for employees, which may include the actions described below. The terminology, process, and requirements applicable to disciplinary actions may differ among the different categories of employees, and those details may be found in the disciplinary action policies specific to each category of employee:8

  • Dismissal/Discharge: termination of employment with the University.
  • Suspension without Pay: (for a specific period of time).
  • Demotion: (of rank and/or compensation).
  • Written Warning/Letter of Reprimand: an official reprimand letter placed in the employee’s file giving the employee notice that any subsequent violation of University policies will carry more serious disciplinary actions and/or requiring the employee to participate in or adhere to other non-disciplinary corrective measures.

2. Corrective Measures

The Outcome Team may also consider corrective measures that are not disciplinary actions, but are designed to promote a safe and non-discriminatory work environment. Such measures may focus on educational and restorative principles that allow a Responding Party or other individuals to develop insight about the relationship between certain behaviors and the prohibitions set out in the Policy, learn about the effects of the behavior on the Reporting Party and the community, and identify how to prevent or change the behavior. In some circumstances, even if the investigator has found that the Responding Party did not violate the Policy, the Outcome Team may require training or education for the Responding Party, other individuals involved, or for an entire department or unit.

Such corrective measures that may be implemented include, but are not limited to:

  • Educational Requirements. Completion of training, programs, or requirements designed to help the employee manage behavior and understand why it was inappropriate.
  • “No Contact” Orders. Compliance with orders of no contact that limit access to specific University areas or forms of contact with particular persons.
  • Adjustment of Work Duties. Reassignment of job duties, responsibilities, supervision, schedule, or location that does not entail a demotion of rank and/or pay.

E. Remedies

When there has been a determination that the Responding Party has violated the Policy, the University will consider appropriate remedies, considering the findings and unique circumstances of each report. Remedies are measures taken to address the effects of the conduct on the Reporting Party, restore the Reporting Party’s safety and well-being, and maximize the Reporting Party’s educational and employment opportunities. Remedies should seek to restore to the Reporting Party, to the extent possible, all benefits and opportunities lost as a result of the Prohibited Conduct. Remedies may include, but are not limited to, adjustment of work assignments, location, and/or schedule or recommending a review of a negative performance decision that may have resulted from the conduct that violated the Policy. The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will identify long term or permanent remedies for the Reporting Party and to address any effects of the conduct on the University community.

The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will consider the appropriateness of remedies, including protective measures, on an ongoing basis to assure the safety and well-being of the parties throughout the process. Long-term remedies may include extending or making permanent any Interim Measures or implementing additional measures tailored to achieve the goals of the Policy. Many of the remedies and supports that a Reporting Party might need after a finding of responsibility will have already been provided as Interim Measures, including but not limited to academic accommodations, short term counseling, and modifications to employment arrangements. The Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator will, in all cases, consider whether there is a need for additional or extended remedies.

Report and Response Coordinators in the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will be available to all parties throughout the resolution process and after its conclusion to connect the parties with on and off campus resources and explore or continue any Interim Measures that may be available and appropriate.

F. Outcome Conference

Upon issuance of the Investigative Finding, and where appropriate, a recommended disciplinary action, corrective measure, and/or remedy, each party will have the opportunity to meet with a Report and Response Coordinator or designee for an outcome conference. The Report and Response Coordinator will also outline any appeal options that may be available to each party. This meeting may be held in coordination with the Office of Human Resources or Academic Personnel Office. During the Outcome Conference, or at a later date, the parties will each have an opportunity to review the Investigation Report, which may be in redacted form.

G. Appeal Options

Where both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party agree to the Investigative Finding and any recommended disciplinary action or corrective measures, or where neither party requests further review, the outcome will become final. The finality of the outcome will be communicated to the parties in writing at the same time.

The Reporting Party or Responding Party may also have an option to appeal the Investigation outcome. Requirements set forth in state and UNC System human resources policies dictate the appeal channels for certain employee classifications. Therefore, where a Reporting Party or a Responding Party requests an appeal of the Investigation outcome, the avenue and options for appeal depend on whether the Reporting Party or Responding Party is classified as an EHRA employee, an SHRA employee, a faculty member, a Post-Doctoral Scholar, a student, a visitor, or a program participant. The appeal options are as follows:

1. EHRA Non-Faculty Reporting and Responding Parties

A Reporting Party9 or Responding Party who is an EHRA Non-Faculty employee may have an option to appeal the outcome of the investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office through the EHRA Non-Faculty Grievance Policy. For information about the EHRA Non-Faculty grievance process, consult the applicable policy on the UNC HR "Dispute Resolution & Grievances" website.

2. Faculty Reporting and Responding Parties

A Reporting Party or Responding Party who is a Faculty member may have an option to appeal the outcome of the investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office through the Faculty Grievance Committee or the Faculty Hearings Committee.10 For information about these appeal processes, consult the applicable policies on the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Handbook website.

3. SHRA Reporting and Responding Parties

A Reporting Party or Responding Party who is an SHRA employee may have an option to appeal the outcome of the investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office through the SHRA Grievance Policy and Procedures. For more information about the SHRA grievance process, consult the applicable policy on the UNC HR "Dispute Resolution & Grievances" website.

4. Student and Post-Doctoral Scholar Reporting Parties

If the Reporting Party is a student or Post-Doctoral Scholar and wishes to appeal the finding of the investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, the Reporting Party may request an Administrative Review within five (5) business days of notification of the Investigative Finding. The Administrative Review will be conducted by a designee of the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance who will review the Investigation Report and provide both the Responding Party and the Reporting Party the opportunity to meet with the reviewer and/or submit in writing the reason for their appeal. The designated reviewer will consider all of the information provided and, giving deference to the investigators who interviewed witnesses and reviewed evidence first-hand, will determine whether the outcome of the investigation is clearly erroneous or resulted from a material procedural error. If the designated reviewer finds that the outcome of the investigation is not clearly erroneous or did not result from a material procedural error, the investigator’s determination will be final and is not subject to further appeal or review. If the designated reviewer finds that the investigation outcome is clearly erroneous or resulted from a material procedural error, the reviewer will document the reasons for the decision and will remand the report to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office for further review and investigative follow-up. The designated reviewer will render a decision in writing to both parties at the same time within ten (10) business days of receipt of the request for review. This timeframe may be extended for good cause provided that both the delay and the reason for the delay are communicated to the parties in writing.

5. Post-Doctoral Scholar Responding Parties

A Responding Party who is a Post-Doctoral Scholar may appeal the outcome of the investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office through the EOC Hearing Panel in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct Involving a Student as the Responding Party. The Responding Party must notify the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office of their wish to appeal within five (5) business days of notification of the Investigative Finding.

6. Visitor, Program Participant, Third Party, and all other Reporting and Responding Parties

A Reporting Party who is a visitor, program participant, third party, or an employee who does not have an applicable grievance procedure available to them, and a Responding Party who is an employee who does not have an applicable grievance procedure available to them (such as a temporary employee) may appeal the finding of the investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, the Reporting Party by requesting an Administrative Review within five (5) business days of notification of the Investigative Finding. The Administrative Review will be conducted by a designee of the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance, who will review the Investigation Report and provide both the Responding Party and the Reporting Party the opportunity to submit in writing the reason for their appeal. The designated reviewer will consider all of the information provided and, giving deference to the investigators who interviewed witnesses and reviewed evidence first-hand, will determine whether the outcome of the investigation is clearly erroneous or resulted from a material procedural error. If the designated reviewer finds that the outcome of the investigation is not clearly erroneous or did not result from a material procedural error, the investigator’s determination will be final and is not subject to further appeal or review. If the designated reviewer finds that the investigation outcome is clearly erroneous or resulted from a material procedural error, the reviewer will document the reasons for the decision and will remand the report to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office for further review and investigative follow-up. The designated reviewer will render a decision in writing to both parties at the same time within ten (10) business days of receipt of the request for review. This timeframe may be extended for good cause provided that both the delay and the reason for the delay are communicated to the parties in writing.

H. Requirements for All Grievance Panels and University Appeals Officials

1. Annual Training

Members of all grievance panels or other adjudicatory bodies that adjudicate reports that fall under the Policy11 will be annually trained on the Policy, these Procedures, information about the effects of trauma, how to be sensitive and fair to the parties, due process requirements, relevant discrimination and harassment issues as designated by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, and all relevant issues as required by law.

2. Consultation with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office

For all matters that fall under the Policy, all grievance panels and adjudicatory bodies will consult with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office as needed regarding procedural issues, disciplinary actions, corrective measures, and remedies. In addition, they may consult with other offices with specialized expertise, as appropriate. The purpose of the consultation is not to discuss the merits of the evidence, but rather so that the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office can help facilitate consistency across various processes with respect to procedures, disciplinary actions, and remedies so that all categories of employees are treated consistently.

3. Update Grievance Processes to Reflect Current Legal Requirements and Consistency with Policy and Procedures

All relevant grievance policies and procedures will be updated to reflect current legal requirements as well as for consistency with current University policies and procedures, including ensuring that terminology used and definitions therein are consistent with the Policy and related procedures. All grievance policies and procedures will include a statement that, to the extent permissible and consistent with FERPA and other state and federal law, all parties will receive equitable written, concurrent notice of the completion and/or outcome of all stages of the grievance process, including but not limited to the Investigation, adjudication, and appeal phases. Any conflicts with law that may arise in any grievance policies will be resolved consistent with existing legal requirements, and all parties will be given notice of the same.

I. Post-Resolution Follow Up

After a disciplinary action, remedy, or other corrective measures are issued, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, or the Report and Response Coordinator may periodically contact the Reporting Party to ensure the Prohibited Conduct has ended and to determine if additional remedies are necessary and will contact the Responding Party to assure compliance with any disciplinary action or other corrective measures that have been imposed. Any violation by a Responding Party of a disciplinary action or protective measure imposed under the Policy or a failure by a University employee to provide a specified remedy should be reported to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office or Title IX Compliance Coordinator.

The Reporting Party and Responding Party are encouraged to provide the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator with feedback about their experience with the process and recommendations regarding ways to improve the effectiveness of the campus’ implementation of the Policy.

IV. Additional Considerations

A. Retaliation

As outlined in Section IV.D.2. of the Policy and the UNC Whistleblower Policy, acts of retaliation are prohibited by the University and may result in disciplinary action. Retaliation is any adverse action or attempted action that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in protected activity. Protected activity includes an individual’s actual or perceived:

  1. participation in the reporting, investigation, or resolution of an alleged violation of this Policy;
  2. opposition to policies, practices, or actions that the individual reasonably believes are in violation of the Policy; or
  3. requests for accommodations on the basis of religion, pregnancy or related medical conditions, or disability.

Retaliation may include intimidation, threats, coercion, or adverse employment or educational actions. Retaliation includes maliciously and purposefully interfering with, threatening, or damaging the academic or professional career of another individual, before, during, or after the resolution of a report of misconduct under this Policy.

Retaliation may be found even when an investigation determines there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the original report. Reports made in good faith, even if the allegations are ultimately determined to be unsubstantiated, are not considered Retaliation. Reports found to have been made frivolously or in bad faith may constitute Retaliation and/or may be considered in the sanctioning process if an individual is otherwise found responsible for a violation of the Policy. Retaliation may be committed by the Responding Party, the Reporting Party, or any other individual or group of individuals.

During the investigation and resolution of alleged violations of this Policy, reasonable steps will be taken to protect the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, and other participants in the reporting, investigation, and resolution process from Retaliation. Any individual who engages in Retaliation or authorizes, instructs, or permits others to engage in retaliation on their behalf will be subject to prompt and appropriate disciplinary action. Individuals who have a concern about potential or actual Retaliation should contact the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator for assistance in addressing the concern. If the concern about Retaliation involves the Director of Equal Opportunity and Compliance or the Title IX Compliance Coordinator, an individual may contact the Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity & Engagement.

B. Role of the Support Person, Attorney, and Non-Attorney Advocate

To the extent permitted by law and subject to some limitations, throughout the process conducted by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, any participant may have a Support Person, Attorney, or Non-Attorney Advocate of their choice present at any meeting related to resolution of a report under the Policy.12 A party’s inclusion of a Support Person, Attorney, or Non-Attorney Advocate is at the sole initiative and expense of the party.

The parties must provide five (5) business days advance notice to the staff member hosting the meeting (unless the meeting is called on shorter notice) of the name and relationship of any individual who will accompany them to a meeting so that all parties are aware of who will be present at any meeting.

Support Person: A Reporting Party and Responding Party may choose to be assisted by a Support Person of their choice. A Support Person is someone who can provide emotional, logistical, or other kinds of assistance. The Support Person is a non-participant who is present to assist a Reporting Party or Responding Party by taking notes, providing emotional support and reassurance, organizing documentation, or consulting directly with the party in a way that does not disrupt or delay the proceeding. The Support Person cannot be a fact witness or provide testimony in the proceedings and may not be a University employee who works in the same unit as either party.

Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate: A Reporting Party and a Responding Party may, at their own initiative and expense, be assisted by an Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate. To the extent permitted by law and subject to some limitations, the Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate may accompany the party to investigative, administrative, or adjudicative meetings or proceedings under the Policy.

In order for an Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate to participate in an investigative, administrative, or adjudicative meeting or proceeding, the Reporting Party or Responding Party must complete and submit a form authorizing the Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate to receive information or documents regarding the party, and the Reporting Party or Responding Party and their Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate must submit an additional informational form. These forms must be submitted to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office no later than five (5) business days prior to the meeting or proceeding (unless the meeting is called on shorter notice). The University, its officials, and the members of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will communicate and correspond directly with the party. It is the party’s responsibility to communicate and share information with the Attorney or Non-Attorney Advocate.

The University will prioritize the availability of the parties, witnesses, and University officials assigned to the matter when determining the date and time for the meeting or proceeding. A party’s Support Person, Attorney, Non-Attorney Advocate may not delay, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with the hearing procedures.

C. External Agreements

The University will not recognize or enforce agreements between the parties outside of these procedures. The University will recognize, however, a lawfully issued protective order under North Carolina law.

D. Employee Records

Records documenting reports of prohibited conduct by employees under the Policy will be maintained by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office. Other appropriate offices, including the Office of Human Resources, the Academic Personnel Office, or the Office for Post-Doctoral Affairs, will maintain records of disciplinary actions or other corrective measures as part of an employee’s personnel record. Such records will be maintained in accordance with the relevant state personnel laws, public record laws, and records retention policies, which can be accessed in the "Employee Records" section of the UNC HR "Policies & Procedures" website.

V. Endnotes

1. A University employee is defined as any faculty or staff member, whether part-time or full-time, permanent or temporary, and includes post-doctoral scholars. For the purposes of the Policy and the related procedures, employees who are also students are considered students if a condition of their employment status requires them to be students (e.g. teaching assistants, resident advisors). An individual who is both a student and an employee whose position does not require them to be a student is considered to be an employee when acting in the course of their employee duties and is considered to be a student when acting in their role as a student.

2. The Response Team is responsible for the consistent application of the Policy. Members of the Response Team can help any University community member understand the Policy and the options for resolving concerns raised under this Policy in academic or work settings at the University. The Response Team will protect and safeguard the privacy of all individuals involved in a manner consistent with the need for a careful assessment of and response to the report. The Response Team will consist of a small “need to know” number of individuals.

3. The Employee Threat Assessment and Response Team (ETART) is charged with assessing and responding to immediate and potential acts of workplace violence. The team’s core group is composed of representatives from Employee & Management Relations, UNC Police, and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). For more information, see the University’s Violence in the Workplace Policy.

4. In reports proceeding through the SHRA Grievance Policy, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office will seek to complete the Investigation within forty-five (45) calendar days, in accordance with UNC System and North Carolina Office of State Human Resources policies governing grievances by SHRA employees.

5. The implementing regulations of the Violence Against Women Act, 34 CFR Part 668, require Reporting and Responding Parties to have the opportunity to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice in any disciplinary proceeding or related meeting in cases of Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking. However, applicable University policies and procedures may restrict the extent of the advisor’s participation in the proceedings if the restrictions apply equally to both parties. Certain employee grievance processes that are available to appeal the results of an Investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office may limit the attendance of a Support Person, Attorney, or Non-Attorney Advocate in cases that are not governed by the Violence Against Women Act.

For more information about employee grievance processes:

6. The implementing regulations of the Violence Against Women Act, 34 CFR Part 668, require that the Reporting and Responding Parties have “timely and equal access…to any information that will be used during informal and formal disciplinary meetings and hearings” for disciplinary action in cases of alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

7. The North Carolina State Human Resources Act requires that particular information in an employee’s personnel file remain confidential, including certain information gathered in the course of an investigation. The penalty for permitting access to confidential personnel information is a Class 3 misdemeanor and monetary fine. N.C.G.S. §§126-22 – 126-24. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) generally prohibits the University from disclosing certain information about a student without the student's prior written consent. To review the University’s FERPA policy, go to the University's policy website. Information protected from disclosure by these privacy policies will be redacted unless a separate law requires disclosure of such information and that law preempts these privacy laws.

8. For the SHRA and EHRA disciplinary policies, see the UNC HR "Disciplinary Processes" website.

For Faculty disciplinary policy, see the "Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure" document on the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost's "Academic Personnel" website.

9. The EHRA Non-Faculty grievance process requires a Reporting Party to file the initial report of Prohibited Conduct within thirty (30) calendar days of the alleged incident of Prohibited Conduct to be able to proceed with the grievance/appeal.

10. For more information about Faculty grievance processes, please see the:

  • Faculty Grievance Committee
  • Procedures for the Faculty Grievance Committee

11. This includes the Faculty Grievance Committee, the Faculty Hearings Committee, the hearing panels for EHRA-non-faculty and SHRA grievances, and any administrative reviewers conducting appeals.

12. Attendance of a Support Person, Attorney, or Non-Attorney Advocate may be limited in certain employee grievance processes that may be available to appeal the results of the Investigation by the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office. These restrictions do not apply in reports involving allegations of Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking because the implementing regulations of the Violence Against Women Act, 34 CFR Part 668, require the University to allow Reporting and Responding Parties to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice in any disciplinary proceeding or related meeting in cases of alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. However, applicable University policies and procedures may restrict the extent of the advisor’s participation in the proceedings if the restrictions apply equally to both parties.

For more information about employee grievance processes:

  • Faculty Grievance Committee
  • Procedures for the Faculty Grievance Committee
  • UNC Office of Human Resources, Dispute Resolution & Grievances
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Details

Article ID: 132486
Created
Sat 4/10/21 8:37 PM
Modified
Mon 8/16/21 3:47 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
05/01/2020 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor of Equal Opportunity and Compliance
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/01/2020 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
05/01/2020 12:00 AM
Origination
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
10/31/2019 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Equal Opportunity and Compliance