Personnel Policies
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Policy: PG-6

Subject:  Sexual Harassment

Approval Date: 07/01/85
Revision Date: 04/30/93; 09/15/05

PURPOSE:

To establish the University's policy on sexual harassment and the procedures for acting on claims of sexual harassment.

APPLICATION:

This policy applies to all employees and students of the University including volunteers, guests, and subcontractors of the University.

Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed to supplant or modify existing laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States. This policy shall not be used to remedy acts which are crimes under the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky or the United States.

DEFINITION:

Sexual harassment (which includes harassment based upon gender) violates the standards of civility of societal conduct, subverts the mission of the University, and violates both state and federal laws and regulations. In its most serious forms, it may threaten the careers of students, staff, and faculty and will not be tolerated at Morehead State University. For the purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as follows:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when, (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic advancement, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions or academic decisions affecting such individual, (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.

Because the mere allegation of sexual harassment may be devastating to the careers and reputations of all parties, justice requires that nomenclature be uniform, that a clear policy concerning consensual relationships be established and that a fair, and well-understood procedure be adopted to carry out university policy.

Although sexual harassment may occur between persons of the same university status, i.e. student-student, faculty-faculty, the most invidious form of sexual harassment is that which occurs when power inherent in a faculty member, administrator, or supervisor's relationship to students, advisees, or subordinates is unfairly exploited: that is, where sexual harassment takes place in part because of a power differential which occurs between faculty and student or supervisor and subordinate. (Throughout this policy, the term "faculty" or "supervisor" should be read to include any position of influence and/or authority.)

Because of the volatile nature of a claim of sexual harassment, the procedures set forth below use the term "complainant" for the person making the claim of sexual harassment and "respondent" for the person against whom such claim is made. These terms should be used throughout both the informal and formal procedures for resolving such claims to ensure the dignity of all parties.

CONSENTING RELATIONSHIPS:

Consenting romantic and sexual relationships between faculty/staff and student or between supervisor and employee are a fact of the adult university community. Nevertheless, while such relationships are not forbidden, they may be deemed unwise--especially in situations in which there is a power differential between the superior and subordinate, as in a faculty member's power to confer grades, praise, etc. Therefore, all individuals are specifically warned against the possible costs of even an apparently consenting relationship. A faculty/staff member who enters into a sexual relationship with a student or a supervisor with a subordinate, where a professional power differential exists, must realize that, if a charge of sexual harassment is made, it will be exceedingly difficult to prove immunity on grounds of mutual consent. In other words, the university body charged with investigating or adjudicating claims of sexual harassment may be expected to be somewhat unsympathetic to a defense based upon consent where the facts establish that a faculty/staff-student or supervisor/subordinate power differential exists.

Sanctions for violation of Morehead State University's sexual harassment policy may include termination of employment with the University, or, in the case of students, dismissal. Retaliation against any complainant is prohibited and the sanctions for such retaliation may be as severe as the sanctions for perpetration of the sexual harassment itself.

PROCEDURES FOR RESOLVING SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The policies and procedures set forth herein constitute the exclusiveremedy for sexual harassment at Morehead State University. Although the policy against sexual harassment is uniform throughout the University, the procedures for resolving a complaint vary by the nature of the relationship between the complainant and the respondent and by whether the complainant chooses to try first to resolve matters through the informal procedures outlined below.

Although the President of the University, as the chief executive officer, is ultimately responsible for enforcement of university policy, two individuals (and their designees) share the responsibility as the primary persons for coordinating enforcement of the sexual harassment policy promulgated herein. [Each official will also have as an alternate designee, a person of the opposite gender. This will allow all complainants a choice of the gender to whom one wishes to bring a complaint.]

Depending upon the relationship of the complainant and respondent, the officials responsible for enforcement of the sexual harassment policy are as follows:

a. Where both parties are students - the Vice-President for Student Life or designee.

b. Where the complainant is a student (and the complaint does not involve the individual's status as an employee or workship) and the respondent is any other university employee, or where the complainant is an employee (regardless of whether that employee is also a student), and the respondent is any other person - the Affirmative Action Officer or designee. The Chair of the Affirmative Action Committee may be asked to assist with investigating the complaint if deemed advisable.

Should the complainant or respondent be one of the officials named above, the matter would be referred to the President for designation of an appropriate official to coordinate enforcement of this sexual harassment policy.

As often as is practicable, the names of the officials and their alternate gender designees shall be published in the EAGLE GUIDE, TRAILBLAZER, UPDATE, HANDBOOK FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, PROFESSIONAL, AND SUPPORT STAFF and other appropriate university publications.

Because of the changing nature of men and women in the workplace and the years of reinforcement of societal norms which resulted in workplace domination of women by men, it is quite probable that some sexual harassment is unintentional or derives from ignorance, lack of education, or general insensitivity. While the effect on the complainant is the same whether the sexual harassment is intentional or not, part of the purpose of a sexual harassment policy is to heighten awareness of the problem and seek education and sensitivity training for those who may engage in it unintentionally. Also, there are circumstances in which misunderstandings develop and the necessity for formal action is obviated once all of the facts become known. Therefore, all potential complainants are invited to use the following informal procedure to resolve sexual harassment complaints. However, it is not the intent of Morehead State University to require any complainant to use informal means to remedy sexual harassment. Where a complainant feels that the informal process is futile, uncomfortable, or unnecessary, he or she may resort directly to the formal process set forth below.

INFORMAL COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

To begin the informal procedure, the complainant :should simply notify, orally or in writing, the Vice President for Student Life or the Affirmative Action Officer. The selected official should invite the complainant to meet (with the official or designee) at the earliest possible time and the official should be sensitive to the fact that the meeting may need to take place after normal working hours so as to prevent disclosure to a supervisor or others. The official should listen fully to the complaint and offer his or her services in resolving the complaint informally. The University will ensure that the officials designated to receive complaints will have had training in sexual harassment counseling and arbitration. The official (or designee) should offer several possible options described below. In any case, the option(s) chosen should be with the complete approval of the complainant. Additionally, the complainant may drop the complaint at any time. Among the informal options available are:

1. The official should offer to talk directly with the respondent (out of the presence of the complainant).

2. The official should offer to talk with the respondent's supervisor up to and including the appropriate vice-president.

3. The official should offer the complainant the option of writing a letter to the respondent. The letter should be hand delivered or sent to the respondent at the respondent's place of business by certified, return-receipt mail. The letter should give a factual account of what happened, a description of how the complainant feels about what happened, and what corrective action should be taken. This informal technique may result in the official taking the action specified in options 1 and 2, above.

Unless the complainant exercises the "letter option," it shall be expected that the resolution of the problem on an informal basis shall be completed within ten working days of notification. If the letter option is used, the informal process should be completed within 20 working days. These times are only guidelines since the complainant may abandon the informal process at any time.

FORMAL COMPLAINT PROCEDURE:

Should the complaint not be resolved on an informal basis, or should the  complainant choose directly the remedy of a Formal Sexual Harassment Complaint, the complainant must file a written statement with the appropriate official designated above. The statement will be called a "Formal Sexual Harassment Complaint." The Complaint must be in writing and must contain, at the minimum, the following facts.

1. The name, address, and telephone number of the complainant.

2. The full name, address, and telephone number of the respondent, if known.

3. The date upon which the sexual harassment occurred, or if continuing, the date upon which the harassment started.

4. The exact nature of the sexual harassment described in plain English. (It is not sufficient simply to state that one was verbally or physically harassed nor is it acceptable to simply repeat the prohibitions against sexual harassment stated in the official university policy.) The complainant may use as many paragraphs as he or she wishes to explain in as much detail as possible the nature of the harassment.

5. The steps, if any, which were taken to stop the harassment or resolve the problem. (It is not necessary that any steps have been taken. The University recognizes that some victims of sexual harassment may feel they have no viable options to stop the harassment.)

6. The names of any persons whom the complainant believes may have knowledge which would be helpful to the resolution or understanding of the nature of the complaint.

7. The names or titles of any persons who should not be contacted regarding the complaint without the express permission of the complainant.

8. The nature of any immediate action which must be taken to protect the complainant from retaliation or further sexual harassment.

9. What ultimate action the complainant requests of the University, e.g., transfer of the complainant, dismissal, or transfer of the respondent, etc.

10. The complaint must be signed by the complainant.

Each official is required to assist any prospective complainant in the completion of the complaint. It is the responsibility of the complainant to ensure that the complaint reaches the appropriate official, preferably by hand delivery by the complainant so as to assure receipt by the Vice-President for Student Life or the Affirmative Action Officer (or their designees). The receiving official must then determine if emergency action must be taken to protect the complainant or respondent. After such actions are taken, the official should begin to investigate the complaint. Throughout the investigation process, to the extent possible, confidentiality will be maintained as to the identities of the parties. However, it must be recognized by the complainant that anonymity cannot be maintained from the respondent.

After the receiving official takes any necessary remedial action, a copy of the complaint will be hand-delivered to the respondent by the official. A copy of the complaint will also be forwarded to the President. Within ten working days of receipt of the complaint, the respondent may serve an answer in written form to the official. A copy will be given to the complainant and the President. After receipt of the response by the official, the official will have 15 working days to investigate the claim pursuant to the instructions contained in the Sexual Harassment Investigation Handbook. At the end of that time, the official will render such findings and report as the facts warrant. A copy of the report will be provided to the parties and the President. If the official believes the claim to be frivolous, he or she shall so state, and, if the President concurs, the claim will be dismissed as a final action by the President pursuant to state and federal law.

If not dismissed as frivolous, the claim may end at this point with the implementation of the sanctions or other relief recommended to the President. If either party disagrees, a hearing may be requested--said hearing to be conducted by an ad hoc committee entitled "Sexual Harassment Grievance Committee." The Committee shall consist of six members, five voting members and a Chair who will vote only in case of a tie. The Committee shall consist of three men and three women selected by the President from slates of four each submitted by the Faculty Senate, Staff Congress, and Student Government Association. Other than the gender requirement, the President may select any number from any of the slates, provided there is at least one member of the Committee from complainant's representative group and one member from respondent's representative group, i.e., if complainant is a student, there must be at least one student member on the Committee.

Unless the parties otherwise agree, the hearing before the Committee will take place within 30 days of the formation of the Committee. The proceedings will be tape-recorded. A quorum of four members is required. The only witnesses who may be heard are the parties, who will be sworn by a notary public. Any additional evidence either side wishes to submit may be submitted in writing provided that sufficient reasons exist as to why such documents were not given to the investigating official and provided that such documents are submitted to the opposite party and the Committee within five working days prior to the hearing.

The Committee shall have five working days, exclusive of the day of hearing, within which to render its report. A copy will be sent to the President, the complainant, and the respondent. The report will be recommendatory to the President. The President shall then render a decision within ten (10) working days after receiving the report and recommendations from the Sexual Harassment Grievance Committee. If the decision substantiates the claim made by the complainant, the decision (not the investigative report) will be forwarded to the Director of Human Resources and appropriate supervisors. The investigative report will be kept in the Affirmative Action Officer's files.