4.5 Resolution of Allegations Against Employees (Including Faculty, Other Instructors, and Staff Members)

(Amended 7/1/17)

Effective 7/1/17, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version.

  1. Advice on the use of these procedures. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (319-335-0705) and the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator (319-335-6200) are available to advise complainants and alleged victims on the use of these procedures and to assist persons who receive allegations of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment in determining the appropriate response to such allegations. To the maximum extent possible, these offices shall work together to ensure a coordinated and effective institutional response to complaints.
  2. Options for resolution of allegations against employees.
    1. Allegations that an employee (including a faculty member, other instructor, or staff member) has engaged in unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment may be addressed either through the informal resolution process described in II-4.5c, or through the formal investigation and resolution process described below in II-4.5d through II-4.5g.
    2. Limits on the use and scope of informal resolution.
      1. Informal resolution may only be used at the request of the alleged victim. If the alleged victim does not request informal resolution, then a report or complaint must be addressed through the processes set out in II-4.5d through II-4.5f.
      2. Informal resolution pursuant to II-4.5b may not be used when the allegations involve a report or complaint that the respondent committed sexual assault or engaged in any other form of violent behavior.
      3. When allegations are addressed through an informal resolution process, the person(s) alleged to have engaged in unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment ordinarily will not be informed of the allegations without the consent of the alleged victim unless circumstances require (such as when the allegations are particularly egregious or there are multiple reports of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment involving the same person).
      4. When allegations are addressed through an informal resolution process, no disciplinary action may be taken against a person, and there will be no record of the allegations in the person's personnel or student disciplinary file, unless the person is notified of the allegations and given an opportunity to respond.
      5. Disciplinary action taken against a respondent in response to alleged violations of this policy will be governed by the procedures and rules set out below in II-4.5g.
    3. The University may conduct a formal investigation of allegations and pursue disciplinary action, even without an alleged victim's consent and even when the victim prefers informal resolution, if circumstances warrant (such as when the allegations are particularly egregious or there are multiple reports of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment involving the same person).
  3. Informal resolution of allegations of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment by an employee.
    1. If an alleged victim of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment requests that the matter be addressed by informal resolution processes:
      1. In addition to taking the steps outlined in II-4.3e above, the academic or administrative officer to whom the victim directs this request will refer the matter to the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative of the unit in which the alleged behavior occurred. When incidents do not occur within a unit, the matter should be referred to the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative of the person alleged to have engaged in unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment. The Senior Human Resources Leadership representative may appoint a designee with the approval of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. In all other contexts, contact the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator.
      2. The Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative is responsible for assisting the alleged victim in securing a resolution of the matter. When either the alleged victim or the accused person is a faculty member, the relevant dean or vice president may designate an associate dean to work in consultation with the Senior HR Leadership Representative. The Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or relevant associate dean must promptly inform the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EOD) or the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator that an informal resolution is being attempted at the alleged victim's request.
      3. Alternatively, at the request of the alleged victim, the academic or administrative officer will refer the matter to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity so that the alleged victim may choose either to secure that office's assistance in addressing the situation through informal resolution or to request a formal investigation of the allegations. EOD shall notify the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator if it is assisting in the informal resolution of allegations.
    2. The Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or relevant associate dean shall make reasonable efforts to resolve allegations promptly and effectively, giving consideration to the nature of the allegations and the surrounding circumstances.
      1. Examples of actions that may be taken to resolve allegations on an informal basis include, but are not limited to: educational intervention directly with the accused individual or in the context of unit-wide communications or discussions; direct or facilitated communications between parties to resolve misunderstandings; agreements regarding future behavior of one or all parties; and nondisciplinary changes in a party's work or educational environment.
      2. If there is a supervisory relationship between the complainant and/or victim and the respondent, the appropriate course of action will include development of a plan to avoid any perceived or actual conflict of interest until the complaint is resolved.
      3. The Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or associate dean who is assisting in resolving the matter through information resolution shall take appropriate interim action, which may include those actions described in II-4.5h below, to address the alleged behavior and protect the health or safety of the alleged victim, complainant, and/or witnesses.
    3. If the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or associate dean is/are unable to resolve the matter within 21 days of receiving a referral of the allegations, the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or associate dean will notify the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity of the status of the matter and refer the complainant to that office for further assistance.
    4. If allegations of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment are resolved through informal resolution, a written report must be made after the complaint is resolved using the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Report of Informal Sexual Harassment Complaint Form, which requires disclosure of the employment or student status of the alleged victim(s); the complainant(s) (if other than the alleged victim), and the person(s) accused; the unit(s) with which those persons are affiliated; a summary of the allegations; and a description of the steps taken to resolve the complaint.

      In order for the University to respond effectively to situations involving a potential pattern of prohibited conduct by the same individual, if the person alleged to have engaged in unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment was notified of the existence of the allegations and given an opportunity to respond, the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or associate dean shall provide the names of the parties to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. If that person was not informed of the allegations or was not given an opportunity to respond, the Senior Human Resources Representative and/or associate dean shall not provide the names of the parties to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

      ​The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity shall provide the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator with information about informal resolutions in order to ensure overall coordination of University efforts to address unwelcomed sexual behavior and sexual harassment.
    5. It is the responsibility of the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative and/or associate dean who facilitates the informal resolution of the allegations to follow up with the parties at a reasonable interval(s) to assess their compliance with the terms of the informal resolution and take appropriate action as warranted based on the parties' level of compliance.
  4. Formal investigations of allegations against employees.
    1. If an alleged victim does not request informal resolution of allegations of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment, then allegations of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment by a faculty or staff member shall be referred to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (319-335-0705) for appropriate action. If the complaint states specific and credible allegations of behavior constituting sexual harassment in violation of this policy, then the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will conduct an investigation of the allegations in the complaint pursuant to the procedures set out in this policy. However, if the victim requests that no investigation be conducted, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will not further investigate the matter unless circumstances require (such as when the allegations are particularly egregious or there are multiple reports of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment involving the same person).
    2. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity may also conduct an investigation if efforts to resolve the matter through the informal resolution process were unsuccessful, if the terms of an informal resolution were not followed, or if it determines that an investigation is warranted despite an alleged victim's request for informal resolution.
    3. The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy has occurred. In conducting the investigation, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will make reasonable efforts to interview the alleged victim, the complainant (if other than the alleged victim), and the respondent, and may interview other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge, as well as review any relevant documentary information. At all times, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will take steps to ensure confidentiality to the extent possible.
    4. When the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity conducts an investigation, the respondent will be informed of the allegations, the identity of the complainant, and the facts surrounding the allegations. The investigation will afford the respondent an opportunity to respond to the allegations and information provided by the complainant and/or alleged victim, and to provide a statement of the facts as perceived by the respondent.
    5. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will issue a written finding which will summarize the information gathered and state whether or not there is a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy has occurred.
      1. The written finding normally will be issued within 45 days of when the complaint was filed. When it is not reasonably possible to issue the finding within that time, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will notify the alleged victim and the respondent that the finding will be delayed and indicate the reasons for the delay.
      2. The alleged victim, the respondent, and the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator will each receive a copy of the written finding, which is to remain confidential as defined below by II-4.5j.
      3. Third-party complainants will be notified only that the proceedings are concluded.
    6. If the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity finds a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy has occurred, the matter will be referred to the appropriate administrator for further consideration as outlined in II-4.5e below.
  5. Response to finding of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
    1. In addition to the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, the following administrators will receive the finding of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity:
      1. the Office of the Provost, if the respondent 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 respondent is a staff member;
      3. the Office of the Dean of the Graduate College, if the respondent is a graduate assistant; and
      4. the Office of the Dean of Students, in cases in which an employee respondent is also a student (including a graduate assistant).
    2. The administrator who receives the finding, as well as the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, will discuss it with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EOD) in order to determine, based on EOD's findings and input, appropriate corrective measures and sanctions.
      1. If the respondent is a staff member, the administrator will also consult with the Senior Human Resources Leadership Representative in the unit.
      2. If the respondent is a faculty member or graduate assistant, the administrator will also consult with the appropriate dean and departmental executive officer.
      3. When a respondent 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.
    3. The administrator is responsible for implementing corrective measures and sanctions and may institute formal disciplinary action, consistent with University procedures. The administrator must inform the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EOD), in writing, of the actions that are taken in response to EOD's findings.
    4. The administrator who reviews and takes action in response to a finding of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity shall inform the alleged victim when action has been taken.
  6. Sanctions for violation of the policy.
    1. Violations of the Policy on Sexual Harassment may lead to disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination and/or separation from The University of Iowa. Sanctions for violations of this policy should be commensurate with the nature of the violation and the respondent's disciplinary history.

      Those who violate this policy should bear the consequences of their actions, even if factors such as substance abuse or personal problems contribute to misconduct. When the offense is serious, it is appropriate to consider separation from the University even in cases of first offense, and even when the respondent experiences remorse and/or did not intend to cause the resulting degree of harm.
    2. In addition to other disciplinary action, persons who are found to have violated this policy may be required to participate in group counseling or personal therapy sessions, complete community service, enroll in a specific academic course, attend an educational workshop, and/or make restitution for economic damages caused by their behavior.

      When the respondent is a faculty or staff member, the Employee Assistance Program (121-50 University Services Building) is available to assist with locating appropriate resources.
    3. 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 disciplinary and/or remedial 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 respondent fails to comply with the sanctions initially imposed.
  7. Formal disciplinary action. Formal disciplinary action taken in response to alleged violations of this policy by: In some cases, an individual may be subject to discipline in multiple capacities (e.g., as a staff member and as a student). In such cases, the relevant administrators will cooperate in determining appropriate sanctions and whether and when to pursue formal disciplinary action.
    1. faculty members will be governed by the III-29 Faculty Dispute Procedures and that portion of those procedures dealing with faculty ethics (see III-29.7).
    2. staff members will be governed by applicable Regent Merit System Rules and University policies, including III-16 Ethics and Responsibilities for Staff, and the applicable  grievance procedures, including  III-28 Conflict Management Resources for University Staff;
    3. graduate assistants, when dismissal is sought, will be governed by the procedure for dismissal of graduate assistants (see III-12.4). When disciplinary action other than dismissal is taken by the Dean of the Graduate College, a graduate assistant may appeal through those procedures established for graduate assistant employees;
    4. students will be governed by the Student Judicial Procedure, this policy, the Code of Student Life, and IV-2 Sexual Misconduct Involving Students.
  8. Protection of alleged victims, complainants, and others.
    1. Alleged victims will be informed of relevant procedural steps taken during the investigation and any interim protective measures taken. An alleged victim may be accompanied by a victim advocate and other support persons during the investigation process if the alleged victim so desires.
    2. Throughout the investigation and resolution of a complaint, steps will be taken to protect alleged victims, complainants, witnesses, and others from harm caused by continuation of the alleged harassing behavior.
    3. Retaliation against alleged victims, complainants, 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 alleged victims, complainants, and/or witnesses will suffer no retaliation as the result of their activities with regard to the process.
    4. Any retaliation against alleged victims, complainants, or witnesses should be reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity for further investigation. Retaliation may result in disciplinary action against the person committing the retaliatory act(s).
    5. Steps that may be taken to protect alleged victims, complainants, witnesses, and others from continued harassment and/or retaliation might include:
      1. lateral transfers of one or more of the parties in an employment setting and a comparable move if a classroom setting is involved, and
      2. arrangements that academic and/or employment evaluations concerning the complainant or others be made by an appropriate individual other than the respondent.
    6. In extraordinary circumstances, the Provost, a dean, a DEO, or any vice president may, at any time during or after an investigation of allegations of sexual harassment, suspend or partially restrict from employment any employee accused of sexual harassment if the Provost, dean, DEO, or vice president finds that it is reasonably certain that:
      1. the employee engaged in sexual harassment in violation of this policy, and
      2. serious and immediate harm will ensue if the person continues his or her employment. Similarly, if the respondent is a student, interim sanctions may be imposed pursuant to Section 10 of the Student Judicial Procedure.
  9. Protection of respondents.
    1. Prohibition against knowingly false allegations. This policy shall not be used to bring knowingly false or malicious allegations of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment. Making such allegations may subject the complaining party to remedial and/or disciplinary action up to and including termination or separation from the University. Any such disciplinary action will be initiated by the appropriate administrator overseeing the complainant(s).
    2. In the event that allegations are not substantiated, reasonable steps will be taken to restore the reputation of the respondent if it was damaged by the proceeding. The respondent may consult with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity regarding reasonable steps to address such concerns.
    3. Confidential resources. Persons who are accused of sexual harassment may discuss their situations privately with counselors at University Counseling Service (for students), with counselors at the Employee Assistance Program (for faculty or staff), or with staff at the University's Office of the Ombudsperson (faculty, staff, and students). Conversations with University counselors and staff at these offices will not be reported to anyone else in the University except in cases of a threat of imminent physical harm. However, statements made to employees in these offices will not always be legally confidential. When seeking private advice and support from these offices or any University employee, persons should always confirm whether legal confidentiality applies to their communications with the person to whom they are speaking.
  10. Confidentiality.
    1. In order to empower community members to voice concerns and report unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment, the confidentiality of all parties will be protected to the greatest extent possible. However, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in all cases, and academic and administrative officers of the university are expected to take some action once they are made aware that unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment in violation of this policy may be occurring.
    2. Anyone (victims or others) who wishes to consult with someone about a specific situation without making a report of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment, or who wishes simply to learn more about enforcement of the policy, may contact any of the following offices or organizations:
      1. Office of the Ombudsperson (for faculty, other instructors, staff, or students), C108 Seashore Hall;
      2. Employee Assistance Program (for faculty or staff), 121-50 University Services Building;
      3. University Counseling Service (for students), 3223 Westlawn; 
      4. Women's Resource and Action Center (for faculty, other instructors, staff, students, or visitors), Bowman House;
      5. Rape Victim Advocacy Program (certified victim advocates)(for faculty, other instructors, staff, students, or visitors); Linn Street Place;
      6. Domestic Violence Intervention Program (certified victim advocates) (for faculty, other instructors, staff, students, or visitors), 1105 South Gilbert Court, Iowa City.
    3. Alleged victims, third-party complainants, and respondents 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 in the work or educational environment.
    4. Dissemination of documents relating to reports or complaints of unwelcomed sexual behavior or sexual harassment and/or to the investigation of such reports or complaints, other than as necessary to pursue an appeal, grievance, or other legal or administrative proceeding, is prohibited.
    5. Failure to maintain confidentiality by a respondent may be considered to be a form of retaliation in violation of II-4.5h. Failure to maintain confidentiality by any party (alleged victim, third party complainant, or respondent) may result in disciplinary action.