Chapter 3 – Human Rights

(Amended 9/14; 7/1/17; 5/12/22; 8/1/23)

Effective August 1, 2023, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version of II-3.1.

For related policies, see II-14 Anti-Harassment, II-4 Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, and II-11 Anti-Retaliation.

3.1 Policy and Rationale

(Amended 5/12/22; 8/1/23)

Effective August 1, 2023, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version.

The university is committed to the principle of equal opportunity including access to facilities. Differences in treatment are prohibited when based on race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth and related conditions), disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, or  associational preferences. This principle must be observed in the internal policies and practices of the university; specifically in the admission, housing, and education of students; in policies governing programs of extracurricular life and activities; and in the university’s treatment of its applicants and its employees. Consistent with state and federal law, reasonable accommodations will be provided to persons with disabilities and to employees with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, and to accommodate religious practices. The university shall work cooperatively with the community in furthering these principles.

3.2 Definition of Terms Used in This Policy

(Amended 5/12/22)
  1. Impacted party: a person against whom discrimination has allegedly occurred.
  2. Reporting party: the person who brings a complaint of violation of this policy, who could be an party or a third-party reporter.
  3. Graduate assistant: a graduate student employed by the university as a research assistant or teaching assistant.
  4. Instructor: a person engaged in teaching students or in evaluation or supervision, direct or indirect, of a student's academic work.
  5. Member of the university community: any university student, applicant, or employee.
  6. Protected interests: university employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a university activity.
  7. Responding party: a person or unit that has been accused of discriminating against one or more individuals.
  8. Allegations: to the extent possible, allegations of policy violations should provide factual details such as, but not limited to, time, place, actions, participants, and witnesses. Allegations do not necessarily have to be based on firsthand observation of events, but direct observation normally results in greater specificity and credibility than indirect knowledge.
  9. Supervisor: a person who has authority either: 1) to undertake or recommend tangible employment decisions (those that significantly change an employee's employment status, such as, but not limited to, hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, reviewing performance, reassigning, and compensation decisions) affecting an employee, or 2) to direct the employee's daily work activities.
  10. Third-party reporter: a person who brings a complaint alleging an act of discrimination against someone else. A third-party reporter does not need to be a member of the university community (i.e., a current UI faculty member, staff member, student, or applicant).

3.3 Bringing a Complaint

(Amended 5/12/22)


  1. Persons who believe they have been subjected to discrimination in violation of the policy are encouraged to report it, even if they are not certain whether a violation of this policy has occurred. Protected class harassment is one form of discrimination prohibited by this policy. A complaint that this policy has been violated may be brought to the Office of Civil Rights Compliance (OCRC), 202 Jessup Hall, through informal or formal channels by any member of the university community,  a third-party reporter, or  the university itself. A complaint must clearly state  allegations of discrimination to warrant an investigation. There is no time limit for bringing a complaint; however, it may be difficult to substantiate the allegations if they are made after significant time has passed. Therefore, prompt reporting of complaints is strongly encouraged.

    Anyone (impacted parties or others) who wishes to consult with someone about a specific situation without making a complaint, or who wishes simply to learn more about enforcement of this Human Rights Policy may contact any of the following offices or organizations:
    1. Office of the Ombudsperson (for faculty, staff, students, and persons not affiliated with the university), 308 Jefferson Building;
    2. Employee Assistance Program (for faculty or staff), 121-50 University Services Building;
    3. University Counseling Service (for students), 3223 Westlawn South and 1950 University Capitol Centre;
    4. Women's Resource and Action Center (for faculty, staff, or students), Bowman House, 230 North Clinton Street.
  2. Informal complaints. An informal complaint is a request that the Office of Civil Rights Compliance seek to reach an informal resolution of the reporting party's concerns. The procedures for such complaints are designed to be flexible so as to enable the Office of Civil Rights Compliance to address an individual's situation in the most effective and expeditious manner possible. Resolutions of informal complaints are accomplished with the assistance of other offices or administrators on campus in the area relevant to the complaint, and may include interim actions to protect the health or safety of the impacted party, reporting party, and/or potential witness(es) in an investigation.

    In the case of an informal complaint, the responding party normally will not be informed of the reporting party's action or identity without the consent of the reporting party unless circumstances require. When allegations are addressed through an informal resolution process, no disciplinary action may be taken against the responding party, and there will be no record of the allegations in the responding party's personnel file or student disciplinary file, unless the person is notified of the allegations and given an opportunity to respond.
  3. Formal complaints. A formal complaint of discrimination involves an impartial investigation of the reporting party's allegations by OCRC. Interim actions may be taken as necessary to address the alleged behavior and protect the health or safety of the impacted party, reporting party, and/or witness(es) during the investigation. The investigation begins when OCRC provides written notice to the responding party of the filing of the complaint, the identity of the reporting party, and the general allegations of the complaint. The responding party is then interviewed regarding the specifics of the allegations and given an opportunity to respond fully to the allegations. The Office of Civil Rights Compliance may also interview other persons believed to have factual knowledge relevant to the allegations. The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether OCRC finds a reasonable basis to conclude, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the responding party violated the Policy on Human Rights.

    The Office of Civil Rights Compliance will issue written findings outlining the basis for its conclusions. The written finding normally will be issued within 60 university business days of when the complaint was filed. When it is not reasonably possible to issue the finding within that time, the Office of Civil Rights Compliance will notify the impacted party and the responding party that the finding will be delayed and indicate the reasons for the delay. This report is provided to the administrative officials responsible for the area in which the responding party is involved, the impacted party, the responding party, and the chief administrative officer in the unit (e.g., the Provost in a complaint filed against a faculty member; the vice president or dean for the unit in the case of a staff member; or the Vice President for Student Life in the case of a student) or their designee. Third-party reporters will be notified only that the proceedings are concluded.

3.4 Process for Sanctions

(Amended 5/12/22)


  1. In the case of formal complaints, the following administrators will review the findings of the Office of Civil Rights Compliance investigation:
    1. the Office of the Provost, if the responding party is a faculty member or other instructional personnel (except graduate assistants);
    2. the office of the vice president or dean responsible for the unit employing the person charged, if the responding party is a staff member (including a graduate assistant, in which case the Dean of the Graduate College also must be notified in order to determine whether ramifications apply for the student's academic progress);
    3. the Dean of Students, if the responding party is a student (including a graduate student, in which case the Dean of the Graduate College also must be notified in order to determine whether ramifications apply for the student's academic progress).
    4. the appropriate administrator above, if the responding party is a unit.
  2. The administrator who receives the report shall:
    1. discuss it with OCRC in order to determine, based on OCRC's findings and input, appropriate corrective measures and/or sanctions. If the responding party is a staff member, the administrator will also consult with the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative in the unit. If the responding party is a faculty member, graduate assistant, or unit, the administrator will also consult with the appropriate dean and departmental executive officer. When a responding-party staff member, faculty member, or graduate assistant is also a student, the administrator and the Dean of Students will also consult with one another in determining what corrective measures or sanctions should be pursued.
    2. implement appropriate corrective measures and/or sanctions consistent with university procedures. The administrator must inform OCRC in writing of the actions that are taken in response to OCRC's findings.
    3. ensure that the impacted party is informed when action is taken.
  3. Violations of the Human Rights Policy may lead to sanctions up to and including termination or separation from the university. If the responding party is a unit, sanctions may include changes to unit policies or processes, or other appropriate actions. Sanctions for violations of this policy should be commensurate with the nature of the violation and the responding party's disciplinary history. It is the responsibility of the appropriate administrator to follow up with the parties at a reasonable interval(s) to assess their compliance with the sanctions imposed. More serious sanctions up to and including termination of employment or separation from the university may be imposed in the event that the individual fails to comply with the sanctions initially imposed.

3.5 Applicable Procedures

(Amended 7/1/17; 5/12/22)

Formal sanctions imposed in response to alleged violations of this policy will be governed for:

  1. tenure track, clinical track, and research track faculty members by III-29 Faculty Dispute Procedures and that portion of those procedures dealing with faculty ethics (III-29.7); and instructional track faculty members by the Instructional Faculty Policy (III-10.11) and the grievance procedures in it;
  2. staff members by applicable Regent Merit System Rules and university policies, including III-16 Ethics and Responsibilities for University of Iowa Staff, and the applicable grievance procedures, including III-28 Conflict Management Resources for University Staff;
  3. graduate assistants, when dismissal is sought, by the procedure for dismissal of graduate assistants (III-12.4). When sanctions other than dismissal are imposed by the dean of the employing college, a graduate assistant may appeal through those procedures established for graduate assistant employees;
  4. students by the Code of Student Life and Accountability Procedure.

3.6 Appeal Procedures

(Amended 5/12/22)

If the Office of Civil Rights Compliance concludes that the complaint is unfounded, the reporting party may appeal the finding on the grounds that the decision was arbitrary and capricious or that the investigating office did not follow procedures resulting in prejudice to the reporting party. Appeals must be made electronically or in writing and submitted together with all supporting documentation to OCRC within 10 university business days of the receipt of the finding. Generally within 2 university business days, OCRC will transmit the notice of appeal and the case record to the appropriate appeal officer, as described on the OCRC website. The appeal officer, or the appeal officer's designee, will issue a written decision on the appeal to the reporting party and OCRC within 20 university business days of the receipt of the appeal, although this time frame may be extended due to the complexity of the case or the severity of the allegations.

In cases where the appeal is denied, such action constitutes final university action on the matter, subject to appeal to the Board of Regents. In cases where the appeal is successful, in whole or in part, the appeal officer/designee will advise the Office of Civil Rights Compliance regarding appropriate measures to address the issues of concern raised in the appeal.

For complaints that conclude in a finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe that a policy violation has occurred and sanctions have been imposed, responding parties may appeal such findings through the grievance procedures applicable to them. The responding party may challenge any sanctions imposed as a result of a finding through available grievance procedures.

3.7 Protection Against Retaliation

(Amended 5/12/22)
  1. Retaliation against  impacted parties, reporting parties, and/or witnesses who provide information during an investigation pursuant to this policy is prohibited by II-11 Anti-Retaliation. Reasonable action will be taken to assure that  impacted parties, reporting parties, and/or witnesses suffer no retaliation as a result of their activities with regard to the process.
  2. Any retaliation against  impacted parties, reporting parties, or witnesses should be reported pursuant to II-11 Anti-Retaliation. Retaliation may result in sanctions against the person committing the retaliatory act(s).

3.8 Protection of the Responding Party

(Amended 5/12/22)

This policy shall not be used to bring knowingly false or malicious allegations. Making such allegations may subject the reporting party to sanctions up to and including termination or separation from the university. Any such action will be initiated by the appropriate administrator overseeing the reporting party(ies).

3.9 Confidentiality

(Amended 5/12/22)
  1. In order to empower community members to voice concerns and bring complaints, the confidentiality of all parties will be protected to the greatest extent possible. However, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.
  2. Impacted parties, third-party  reporters, and responding parties are expected to maintain confidentiality as well. They are not prohibited from discussing the situation outside of the work or educational environment. However, the matter should not be discussed with individuals who are members of their university work or educational environment.
  3. Dissemination of documents relating to complaints of Human Rights Policy violations and/or to the investigation of such complaints, other than as necessary to pursue an appeal, grievance, or other legal or administrative proceeding, is prohibited.
  4. Failure to maintain confidentiality by a responding party may be considered to be a form of retaliation in violation of II-3.7 of this policy. Failure to maintain confidentiality by any party (impacted party, third-party reporter, or responding party) may result in sanctions.