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Ethics Complaint Procedures
Bentley provides the opportunity for employees and others to formally file complaints that allege ethical misconduct by employees and/or trustees. Bentley trustees and officers are required to report promptly any known or suspected ethical violations to the President, to the Chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees, or to Bentley's Ethics Officer (General Counsel serves as Bentley's Ethics Officer). All other individuals should file a written complaint to their manager, the Ethics Officer, or the Executive Director of Human Resources, who will forward the complaint to the appropriate individual or department. Alternatively, individuals may file a complaint anonymously and confidentially through the Bentley Ethics HelpLine.
These procedures are intended to address complaints that allege ethical misconduct. Concerns related to discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, equal employment complaints, employee misconduct, unsafe working conditions, or other similar actions must be addressed through Bentley's other policies and related procedures.
Due to the seriousness of allegations concerning ethical misconduct, all complaints should be filed within two months of discovery of the misconduct and should provide sufficient detail to substantiate the allegations. For example, when possible, the complaint should include the following:
- Nature of the alleged ethical misconduct
- Description of the alleged facts and date(s) of the incident(s)
- Description of any steps already taken to address the misconduct
- Name of the person thought to be responsible for the alleged events
- Name(s) of any corroborating witnesses
- Other facts considered to be pertinent to the case
Please note that members of Local Union No. 877 of the International Union of Operating Engineers are covered by complaint procedures agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement between Bentley and the Union.
Resolution of Complaints
When procedures for addressing alleged ethical violations are covered in Bentley policies, such as the Procedures for Resolution of Harassment and Discrimination Complaints and the Faculty and Staff Grievance Procedures and those found in the Faculty Manual, those procedures shall be followed. The following procedures apply only when Bentley has not mandated other remedies and when the complaint has not been previously addressed through existing procedures.
- When a complaint is received from a "Reporter" (person making the complaint), the person receiving the complaint will formally acknowledge receipt where possible and forward that complaint to the Ethics Officer.
- If the Reporter has filed a complaint lacking sufficient detail on which to begin an inquiry, the Ethics Officer will notify the Reporter. The Reporter will be given an opportunity to substantiate the claim with factual information. This additional detail should be provided to the Ethics Officer within seven business days of the notification of insufficient data to conduct a fair review. If the Reporter is unable to provide additional factual information substantiating the claim, the case will be closed and the Reporter will be notified in writing of this assessment.
- If the Reporter has filed a complaint with sufficient detail to allow for a fair investigation, the Ethics Officer will promptly forward a copy of the complaint and accompanying factual information to the Vice President of the division where the alleged violation(s) occurred. If the allegation of wrongdoing involves the Vice President, the Ethics Officer will forward the complaint to the President who will then assume, or appoint a designee to assume, the role of the Vice President under these procedures.
- The Ethics Officer and the Vice President, or their designees, will work together to take the following steps, if such steps are appropriate:
- review the complaint to determine whether the complaint has been previously addressed in another forum (and if so, close the matter);
- promptly notify and meet with the employee against whom misconduct is alleged and inform them of their right to defend;
- promptly notify the Executive Director of Human Resources to determine whether similar allegations have been made previously against the same employee regarding misconduct and to assess whether Human Resources' involvement in the matter is warranted;
- identify "need to know" individuals associated with the case; and
- determine whether an investigation is necessary and, if so, prepare an investigation plan that outlines the scope of the investigation, the individuals that will be interviewed, and the timetable for the investigation.
- The Ethics Officer will conduct the investigation in collaboration with the Vice President, or his/her designee. The employee against whom the allegation of misconduct was made shall be kept apprised of the status of the investigation and the timetable for completion. Such employee shall have prompt notice of and an opportunity to review and respond to documents provided to the investigator(s).
- The Ethics Officer and the Vice President, or their designees, will work collaboratively to obtain a resolution of the complaint within a reasonable time of the original receipt of the complaint from the Reporter. The Ethics Officer may prepare a written report of the investigation and the decision on the complaint. If corrective or disciplinary action is recommended, it will be documented as an attachment to the report. The report will be provided to the Reporter (without the attachment), the employee against whom misconduct is alleged, the Vice President, and the Office of Human Resources for the employee's file and the Chair of the Audit Committee.
- Actions taken may include, but are not limited to, cancellation of a credit card, suspension of signature authority related to cost centers, removal of Bentley property or rights to Bentley property, or other similar preventative action and/or disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or removal from office.
- If the Ethics Officer and the Vice President, or their designees, are unable to obtain a resolution of the complaint or they cannot agree on the resolution, then the Ethics Officer may call upon Bentley's Ethics Committee to evaluate the complaint, determine whether a hearing is necessary, conduct any hearing, and render a written recommendation for resolution to the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees. A copy of the written recommendation will be provided to the President and the Executive Director of Human Resources.
- If a hearing is necessary, all involved parties shall receive timely notice of the hearing and shall be allowed to be present at the hearing. The parties shall be allowed to be accompanied at the hearing by a representative of their choice. If a party intends to have an attorney act as his/her advisor, he/she shall notify the Ethics Officer at least 24 hours prior to the attorney's first appearance at Bentley.
- Bentley's Ethics Committee shall be chaired by the Ethics Officer, who will be a non-voting member, and comprised of 7 voting members who shall include three members of the administration appointed every other year by the President, two members of the faculty appointed every other year by the Faculty Senate, the Executive Director of the Center for Business Ethics, and the Coordinator of the Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility.
Communicating Resolution of Complaints to the Audit Committee
The Ethics Officer shall be responsible for timely informing the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees of the resolution of all complaints addressed through these procedures.
Duty of Good Faith
Bentley prohibits any member of the Bentley community from knowingly or recklessly bringing a false complaint of institutionally sanctionable conduct against another member of the Bentley community. Any such action can lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or removal from office.
Every reasonable effort will be made to protect the privacy and confidences of all parties, consistent with and subject to Bentley's need to investigate the complaint and/or implement any disciplinary action. Any feedback given to anonymous reporters through the Ethics Point or similar systems will be made in such a way as not to disclose any confidential information. There is no absolute obligation for Bentley to respond to an anonymous reporter.
Conflicts of Interest
No individual who has participated in or witnessed the alleged wrongdoing shall serve as an investigator or decision maker or sit as a member on any decision-making committee.
Protection Against Retaliation
Bentley will not allow any form of retaliation against individuals for reporting or inquiring in good faith about potential violations of Bentley's ethics policies, for seeking guidance with respect to suspected ethical violations or cooperating in the investigation of reports or ethical violations in accordance with this policy. Anyone found to be engaging in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or removal from office.
The foregoing Ethics Complaint Procedures may be modified at any time by Bentley with approval by the President and the Chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees.
Updated October 2008