Procedures for Resolution of Harassment and Discrimination Complaints

Introduction

 

The following procedures have been established to provide employees, faculty members and students within the Bentley community an opportunity to seek internal resolution for a complaint of discrimination or harassment. No one will be reprimanded or discriminated against in any way for initiating an inquiry or a complaint in good faith. Anyone who wishes clarification or further information about any of these procedures is encouraged to speak with the Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEO") Officer or the Executive Director for Human Resources. For details on grievance procedures available for resolution of matters unrelated to complaints of discrimination or harassment please refer to the
Faculty and Staff Grievance Procedures and/or the
Ethics Complaint Procedures.

A person who chooses to follow these procedures is not precluded from filing a complaint with other appropriate external agencies or authorities. However, these procedures are not available once a complaint has been filed with an external agency or authority, even if such complaint is subsequently withdrawn.

If a faculty or staff member or other official of Bentley becomes aware of a situation that has the potential to be discriminatory or harassing, he/she should promptly advise his/her manager, the Executive Director of Human Resources, or the officers identified in the
Equal Employment Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy

Please note that members of Local Union No. 877 of the International Union of Operating Engineers are covered by the sexual harassment and discrimination procedures agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement between Bentley and the Union.

Informal Resolution

Any student, faculty or staff member who believes that he/she has experienced discrimination, discriminatory harassment or sexual harassment should discuss his/her concern with his/her manager as soon as possible after the incident. Alternatively, an individual may choose to confer with the Executive Director of Human Resources or the following individuals who have been designated in Bentley's Harassment and Discrimination Policy:

Ann Dexter
Executive Director
Human Resources
LaCava 145
175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452
781-891-2640

Andrew Shepardson
Dean of Students
314 Rauch Building
175 Forest STreet
Waltham, MA 02452
781-891-2224

Judy Malone
General Counsel
301 Rauch Building
175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452
781-891-2016

Bentley has found that the aforementioned officers may be especially useful in advising and aiding an individual's own efforts to resolve a problem. Such help may involve coaching the individual in preparation for a conversation with the person causing the problem or assisting the individual in writing a letter to that person describing the offending behavior and requesting that it stop. Alternatively, the individual may ask the officer to meet with the person causing the problem to seek resolution.

An informal complaint will be deemed satisfactorily resolved when both parties state their agreement to an outcome. The incident(s) providing the basis for an informal complaint that has been resolved may not subsequently be the subject of any formal complaint by the same complainant against the same alleged wrongdoer, except in cases involving a breach of the informal settlement agreement or continuing harassment.

If the informal resolution process is unsuccessful in resolving the issue or is not feasible or acceptable to the complainant, a formal complaint may be filed, as set forth below.

Formal Complaint Process

An individual may file a formal complaint either before or after using the informal complaint procedure. Unlike an informal complaint, a formal complaint seeks a formal, institutional determination that a violation of Bentley's Equal Employment Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy has occurred.

The written complaint should be filed with the Executive Director of Human Resources or any of the other above-listed officers who have been designated in the
Equal Employment Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy to receive such complaints. These officers have the responsibility, after speaking with the complainant, to direct the complaint to the EEO Officer for review and investigation consistent with these procedures.

The written complaint should be filed promptly using the
Bentley Harassment and Discrimination Complaint Form
, preferably within two months of the event to which it refers and should include the following, as appropriate:

  1. Statement of the allegation
  2. Description of the alleged facts and date(s) of the incident(s)
  3. Name of the person thought to be responsible for the alleged events
  4. Name of any witnesses to the incident(s)
  5. Other facts considered to be pertinent to the case
  6. Signature of the person initiating the complaint and date of the complaint

Upon receiving a written complaint, the EEO Officer will forward copies of the complaint to the Executive Director of Human Resources and the divisional Vice President for the department in which the accused is employed, the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. If the allegation of wrongdoing involves the Vice President, the EEO Officer will forward the complaint to the President and General Counsel, who will then assume, or appoint a designee to assume, the role of the Vice President under these procedures. If the complaint is filed against a Bentley student and is unrelated to student employment, the EEO Officer will forward the complaint to the Office of the Dean of Students and that complaint will be handled pursuant to the judicial procedures set forth in the
Student Handbook.

Once the Executive Director of Human Resources, the divisional Vice President, the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, or their designees have been notified of the complaint, the following procedures will apply:

  1. The EEO Officer will meet with the divisional Vice President and the Executive Director of Human Resources, the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel or their designees, (hereinafter the "Investigatory Team") as quickly as possible, normally within ten working days of receipt of the written complaint, or sooner if immediate action is required. If the EEO Officer is unavailable to participate in the investigation, General Counsel will assume the role of EEO Officer. The Vice President, or his/her designee, will provide the accused with a copy of the complaint.
  2. The Investigatory Team will collaboratively prepare and agree upon an investigation plan that will set forth the investigation to be conducted by the EEO Officer, General Counsel, or their designees and a timetable for the case. All investigation plans will begin by conducting initial meetings with the person(s) filing the complaint and the person against whom the complaint was filed. The Investigatory Team will then determine any additional witnesses and /or other appropriate individuals that should be interviewed, which may or may not include the people suggested by the person(s) aggrieved and grieved against. The investigation plan may also include a review of relevant files and other supporting material. Every reasonable effort will be made to conclude the investigation promptly.
  3. The Investigatory Team will expeditiously consider the facts of the case, make a final decision and take whatever action they feel is warranted. The person leading the investigation shall keep both parties informed on a timely basis of the status of the complaint and the timetable for resolving it. Every reasonable precaution will be taken to ensure the confidentiality of information obtained during the investigation.
  4. Upon completion of the investigation, the Investigatory Team will make every effort to explore conciliation with the parties. If resolution is not possible or conciliation is not appropriate, the EEO Officer will compile the facts of the case and provide those facts to a three member panel for resolution (the "Panel"). The Panel members will be selected by the Investigatory Team from a pre-determined list of twelve individuals from the Bentley community compiled each year by the EEO Officer and General Counsel, and reviewed and approved by the President. The complainant and respondent may each petition to object to any of the panel members for good and reasonable cause as determined by General Counsel, in which case a replacement for the panel member shall be named by the EEO Officer.
  5. The Panel shall ordinarily conduct fact-finding upon a written record consisting of a statement by the complainant, a statement by the respondent, any reply statements, and any written witness statements. A closed session hearing shall be held if either the complainant or the respondent requests one, or if the Panel by majority opinion believes that a hearing is warranted. The Panel shall give timely notice of the hearing in writing to all involved parties and may request that any supplemental documentation be submitted within three (3) days prior to the hearing. The complainant and the respondent shall be allowed to be present at any hearing and to be accompanied by a representative of his/her choice. If the complainant or respondent intends to have an attorney act as his/her advisor, he/she shall notify the EEO Officer at least 24 hours prior to the attorney's first appearance at Bentley.
  6. The Panel will expeditiously consider the facts of the case and issue their initial findings of whether a violation occurred or not ("Preliminary Findings"). The EEO Officer will meet with both the complainant and the respondent for the purpose of communicating the Preliminary Findings on whether a violation of Bentley policy has occurred. Each party to the complaint shall then have an opportunity to file a written response to the Preliminary Findings. This written response must be delivered to the EEO Officer within five business days.
  7. If at the conclusion of the five days no written response has been received, the EEO Officer shall re-issue the Preliminary Findings as a final opinion.
  8. If a written response is received within five business days, the Panel shall reconvene to consider the response in light of the Preliminary Findings.
  9. The Panel will promptly issue its final decision to the divisional Vice President who, in consultation with the Executive Director of Human Resources, the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, or their designees, will determine the appropriate sanction for the violation, if in fact, a violation occurred.
  10. The EEO Officer shall issue a copy of the Panel's final decision and the Vice President's decision on sanctions to the person who filed the complaint, the person against whom the complaint was filed and the Office of Human Resources. Issuance of the Panel's final decision constitutes the end of the formal complaint process.

Appeal Process

Either the person who filed the complaint or the person against whom the complaint was filed may request an appeal of the Panel's decision, which will be heard by the President or his/her designee. Appeals will normally be considered only (1) when new evidence, which was not reasonably available at the time of the formal investigation, becomes available, (2) when there is an allegation of substantial procedural error during the investigation or panel process, or (3) on the grounds that the sanction was excessively severe. The appeal process is as follows:

  1. The request for appeal must be filed, in writing, with the EEO Officer no later than ten business days following the issuance, to the person who filed the complaint or the person against whom the complaint was filed, of the Panel's final decision. The request should include, at a minimum, the following:
    1. the name of the party requesting the appeal;
    2. a copy of the Panel's final decision; and
    3. a statement indicating the grounds on which the party is seeking an appeal and the reasons supporting the request for appeal.
  2. The President, or his/her designee, will expeditiously consider the facts of the case and issue a final decision based upon the record before him/her. The President, or his/her designee, may also take any action he/she deems necessary to carry out that decision.
  3. The President's decision will be communicated to both the person who filed the complaint and the person against whom the complaint was filed. The issuance of the President's decision shall conclude the appeal process.

Conciliation/Settlement

Pursuit of the informal or formal complaint procedure does not prohibit the complainant and the respondent from entering into conciliation, with or without assistance from the EEO Officer, or from reaching a mutually agreeable compromise or settlement of a dispute prior to the completion of the process, so long as they provide written documentation of the agreeable compromise, signed by both parties, to the EEO Officer.

Confidentiality

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.

Conflicts of Interest

No individual who has participated in or witnessed the alleged wrongdoing shall serve on the Investigatory Team or sit as a member of the Panel.

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 expulsion.

Protection Against Retaliation

Bentley will not allow any form of retaliation against individuals who in good faith report unwelcome conduct to Bentley management or who cooperate in the investigation of such reports in accordance with this policy. Retaliation is unlawful. Anyone found to be engaging in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.

Important Disclaimer

The foregoing Procedures for Resolution of Harassment and Discrimination Complaints may be modified at any time by Bentley with approval by the President.

Updated December 2011