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 Sexual Harassment Policy Statement 

 

SPOTLIGHT

Sexual Harassment Policy Statement

Slippery Rock University's sexual harassment policy and procedures seek to provide an environment that is free from sexual harassment.

All employees, students and vendors are to comply with both the letter and the spirit of federal and state laws and regulations that relate to sexual harassment. The coverage of this policy extends to persons visiting the campus. 

It should be clearly understood that the university will take action to prevent sexual harassment, including, if necessary, disciplining those individuals whose behavior violates university policy. For employees, discipline may include, but is not limited to, oral or written warning, transfer, suspension or dismissal. Students may be referred to student standards for appropriate disposition. 

Legal Authority 

Harassment on the basis of gender is a violation of Section 1604 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, regulations issued pursuant to those statutes, and perhaps other laws and/or constitutional prohibitions, as well as Slippery Rock University's Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy. 

Definition 

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: 

1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's education or employment; or 

2. submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual's welfare; or 

3. such conduct is so severe and pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's welfare, academic or work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive or demeaning education or work environment. 

Furthermore, as provided by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, sexual harassment also consists of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, imposed on the basis of gender, that denies, limits, differentiates, or conditions the provision of aid, benefits, services, or treatment protected under Title IX. 

Whether the victim and the person accused of harassment are of the same gender, or different genders, does not, in and of itself, determine whether any particular situation constitutes sexual harassment. 

For purposes of this policy, even if misbehavior is not sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute a basis for an award of damages or other relief to a victim under state or federal law, Slippery Rock University may still issue disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employees, so long as the acts committed by an employee are a sufficient basis on which to issue discipline. Therefore, if the acts constitute a violation of the university's code of conduct for students, the university may issue discipline. The university may also discipline employees if the misbehavior meets just cause and other applicable standards in the appropriate collective bargaining agreement. Nothing in this policy may be taken to in any way modify or contradict the substantive and/or procedural rules provided by any applicable collective bargaining agreement or regulation of the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education. 

Responsibilities 

The university has a legitimate interest in educating all of its students, faculty, and staff regarding sexual harassment and the procedures to be taken in resolving complaints. Each dean, director, department chairperson, and/or administrative officer shall make an appropriate effort within his or her respective area for supporting this policy. Assistance may be obtained by contacting the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or the assistant vice president of human resources.  Any manager or administrator who is aware of an allegation of unlawful harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination must report the allegation to the Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Equal Opportunity in a timely manner.  Failure to report allegations of sexual harassment may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Training

In keeping with the PASSHE Board of Governor’s Policy 2009-03:Social Equity, the university recognizes a mandatory obligation to conduct sexual harassment prevention training on a  yearly basis for all employees, in addition to providing training for new student and employee orientations.  All faculty, staff, and administrators are required to participate in this training within 60 days of commencing employment and at least yearly thereafter.  Training will be available in both classroom format and online.  

Dissemination of Social Equity Policies 

Copies of the sexual harassment policy are available on the university website at http://www.sru.edu/PAGES/2212.asp.  Additionally, hard copies of all policies can be obtained in the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, 305 Old Main or by calling 724.738.2016.

 Non Retaliation

No faculty, administrator, staff, student, applicant for employment, or member of the public may be subject to restraint, interference, coercion, or reprisal for action taken in good faith to seek advice concerning a sexual harassment matter, to file a sexual harassment complaint, or to serve as a witness in the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint.   Retaliation is a separate charge from harassment and may be cause for discipline apart from the outcome of the initial complaint.  That is, retaliation can be found to have occurred even if there is no finding of a policy violation under the original complaint.

False Charges 

Sexual harassment is a serious matter which can have far-reaching effects on the careers and lives of individuals. Therefore as in any case of serious charges against a student or employee, false or malicious accusations will not be tolerated, and may be cause for disciplinary action, or in the case of students, referral to student standards. 

 Voluntary Meetings 

In any internal procedures the university, whether formal or informal, the complaint is not required to attend any face to face meeting with the person(s) against whom a complaint has been brought. 

Counseling 

Arrangements can be made for students and employees of the university to receive counseling from the university counseling center.  Employees may also seek  assistance through the State Employee Assistance Program by calling 1-800-692-7459. 

 Advisors

 Complainants and respondents who wish may be accompanied by an advisor who is a member of the campus community to help them through the complaint process.  In cases where an employee is a member of a union, the employee may be accompanied by a union representative. 

 "Reasonable Person of Complainant's Gender" Standard 

In reviewing sexual harassment complaints, the university will employ the standard of a "reasonable person" of the same gender as the complainant. 

Record Keeping

Records of disciplinary action are kept according to applicable policy or procedures. In the event of litigation, applicable records will be maintained. 

Complaints Against Students

A complaint against a student should be brought to the attention of the vice president for student affairs and director of judicial programs for consideration under the student code of conduct. 

Related Unprofessional Conduct 

The University's mission is promoted by professionalism in interpersonal relationships.  Since professional relationships are central to the mission and goals of the University, it is essential to establish a standard of expected conduct in these relationships.  Personal relationships should not be allowed to conflict with the academic and professional integrity of these interpersonal relationships or to interfere with an individual's work or educational experience.  

A University employee with professional or supervisory responsibility for a student has real or potential power and authority over that student or employee in a variety of roles including, but not limited to, instructor, advisor, coach, work-study supervisor, committee member, etc.  Such employee shall not abuse that power.  Amorous and sexual relationships between a student and an individual with professional responsibility for that student may be presumed to be exploitative and may constitute unprofessional conduct.  The consensual nature of such a relationship does not necessarily constitute a defense to a charge of sexual harassment or related unprofessional conduct.

 Therefore, any employee in a supervisory role who enters into a sexual relationship with a student or other employee enters into that relationship with risk.  These persons will be subject to scrutiny if a complaint of sexual harassment is leveled against the "supervisory person" by the "subordinate person" or if a third party brings a complaint.

 Purpose of an Investigation 

The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether a complaint has probable cause. There is no right to be represented by counsel, nor any right to introduce evidence or cross examine witnesses about their testimony. 

Confidentiality

In recognition of the dignity and reputations of all parties, those officially involved in the proceedings or investigation should preserve, to the extent possible, the confidentiality of the complaints and all proceedings. Disclosure of the complaint will be limited to individuals who, in the interest of fairness and problem resolution, have a need to know. The complainant and the accused are encouraged to maintain confidentiality consistent with the provisions of this policy. 

University Resources and Initial Points of Contact

The sexual harassment complaint process includes procedures for resolving complaints from individuals who believe they may have been the subject of a specific act or a pattern of behavior falling within the definition of sexual harassment. The following university resources are available to individuals seeking information and counseling regarding university policies on sexual harassment, standards of behavior, and informal and formal mechanisms for resolving complaints.  

Assistant Vice President of Diversity & Equal Opportunity
305 Old Main
724.738.2016

Vice President for Student Life
302 Old Main
724.738.2003

Assistant Vice President for Human Resources
205 Old Main
724.738.2070

Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs
308 Old Main
724.738.2001

Associate Provost for Enrollment Services
101 North Hall Welcome Center
724.738.4868

Dean, Health, Environment, & Science
325 Physical Therapy Building
724.738.4862

Dean, Business, Information & Social Sciences
105 Eisenberg Classroom Building
724.738.2008

Student Health Services
McLachlan Student Health Center
Rhoads Hall
724.738.2052

Director of Women's Center
007 Strain Behavioral Sciences Building
724.738.2670

Counseling Center
Rhoads Hall
724.738.2034 

Assistant Vice President for Student Services
008 Old Main
724.738.2728

Vice President for Finance & Administrative Affairs
301 Old Main
724.738.2002

Vice President for  University Advancement
100 Old Main
724.738.2004

Dean, Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts
104 Strain Behavioral Science Building
724.738.4863

Dean, Education
105 McKay Education Building
724.738.2007

Director of Graduate Studies
124 North Hall Welcome Center
724.738.2051 

Chairperson, President's 
Commission on the Status of Women
c/o Women's Center
007 Strain Behavioral Science Building
724.738.2992 

While inquiries may be made to the personnel identified above, those persons should notify the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or designee of such inquiries.  Complaints must be filed with the Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, 305 Old Main, 724.738.2016 (phone), 724.738.4882 (fax).   In cases where a complaint is made against the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, or in the absence of the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity, the president may designate an individual to receive complaints and perform other responsibilities provided hereafter in this policy. 

 Prompt Reporting and Resolution

It is in the best interest of all concerned to conduct a timely review of the circumstances of the alleged harassing behavior; accordingly, complainants are urged to file complaints as soon as possible. 

Complaints may be filed either informally or formally.  The procedure for informal complaints calls for prompt review and mediation if desired by both the complainant and the accused, followed by action designed to prevent any further harassment. The procedure for formal complaints requires prompt review that may result in disciplinary action against someone who has sexually harassed another. To the extent that all information has been received and all witnesses are available to complete the investigation, the investigator(s) should attempt to complete and advise both parties of the outcome within 180 calendar days of receiving a written complaint.  

 Informal Complaint Procedure

Informal procedures (in which no formal finding or discipline of an employee will be involved) include efforts to mediate a resolution upon which both the complainant and the individual accused of sexual harassment can agree. The informal process can be broken off by either party at any time. 

 The complainant initiates the informal procedure by filing a complaint. Upon review of the informal complaint, the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity, or his/her designee, will contact the accused to arrange a meeting to inform the individual of the complaint. Any person involved in such informal discussions may be accompanied by an individual or appropriate union official if he/she so desires. 

The assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity, or his/her designee will advise the accused of the informal complaint procedure and describe the alleged behaviors considered offensive by the complainant. 

To the extent possible, the identity of the complainant will be held in confidence during the informal complaint process. 

After accepting the informal complaint, informing the accused of the allegation, and the complainant's desire for mediation, the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity, or his/her designee will facilitate a resolution or appoint a mediator and notify the parties of the mediator's identity. Mediation occurs by mutual consent; therefore, at any stage of the mediation process either party has the right to withdraw from the process. 

The mediator or the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity will serve as the facilitator to seek a resolution of the complaint. Information regarding the circumstances and perceptions of the complainant will be shared by the mediator or the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity with the accused who will have an opportunity to respond. Depending upon the circumstances of the complaint and/or the willingness of the complainant to be identified, the mediation effort could include either or both of the following options: 

1. The assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or the mediator will have a discussion separately with the accused and the complainant concerning the alleged act or pattern of behavior causing the complaint and attempt to resolve the situation.  

2. Both the accused and the complainant may voluntarily attempt to resolve the situation through meetings in which both parties are present and participate. 

At the conclusion of mediation the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or his/her designee will notify the parties involved of the outcome. 

If the complainant or the accused is not satisfied with the outcome, he/she may choose to file a formal complaint using the university's sexual harassment procedure or file with an external agency. 

If the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or his/her designee determines that there is need for a formal investigation, the formal process may be initiated on behalf of the university. If, after investigation, the university has knowledge of illegal behavior defined as sexual harassment by any of its employees or students, notwithstanding the wishes of a complainant, the university may have a legal responsibility to respond in accordance with the sexual harassment policy and contractual procedures. 

Formal Complaint Procedure

When informal resolution is not chosen or is unsatisfactory, the following procedures apply. The formal complaint process includes an investigatory and review process. This investigatory procedure is not intended to interfere with any legal rights an employee or student has under state or federal law. Nor is it intended to interfere with any employee rights under the appropriate collective bargaining agreement. 

The complainant initiates the formal complaint procedure by filing a written formal complaint. The assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity will inform the accused of the allegation and provide him or her with a copy of the written complaint and a copy of the university's sexual harassment policy. If the accused employee is represented by a union, he or she will be informed of his or her right to union participation, but the failure to provide such notice shall not, because of this policy, be deemed to invalidate this process. That question may be left to resolution by an appropriate authority. 

Investigations of complaints include but are not limited to access to records and interviews with the complainant, accused and others who may have relevant information. The assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or his/her designee will determine the scope of the investigation. 

A preliminary determination will be made by the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or his/her designee as to whether a complaint, if proven, would constitute a violation of the university's policy prohibiting sexual harassment. 

If there is insufficient evidence to warrant a finding of sexual harassment, the complainant and the accused will be notified by the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or his/her designee and the complaint will be closed. 

If it appears there may be violations of university policy not regarded as sexual harassment, the matter may be referred to the appropriate manager. 

If there is probable cause to believe that the university's policy on sexual harassment has been violated, the assistant vice president of diversity and equal opportunity or his/her designee will forward the findings to the appropriate vice president and/or the president to initiate action under the appropriate disciplinary policy.  In respect of the respondent’s right to due process, no disciplinary action will be taken unless the respondent has had an opportunity to review the investigation report and to respond to the content of the report in a meeting with the appropriate vice president and/or the president.    

 The complainant will receive written notification of the final disposition of the complaint. If the complainant finds the resolution or disciplinary action unsatisfactory, he or she may file a grievance with the appropriate union within 20 calendar days, or may pursue the complaint with appropriate external agencies. 

 External Complaint Options 

 The complainant has the option at any time during informal or formal proceedings to file a complaint through an external public agency responsible for enforcing laws regarding sexual harassment. Generally this filing should take place within 180 days beginning with the date of the alleged incident. 

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
www.phrc.state.pa.us
101 South Second Street, Suite 300
Harrisburg, PA 17105-3145
(717) 787-4410 

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
www.phrc.state.pa.us
300 Liberty Ave. State Office Bldg. 11th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 565-5395 

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
400 Maryland Avenue
Washington D.C. 20202-5151
(800) 421-3481 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
www.eeoc.gov
(if filed jointly with PHRC - 300 days)
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 
(412) 644-3444

Office of Diversity
and Equal Opportunity
305 Old Main Building
Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock, PA 16057

Holly McCoy, JD
Assistant Vice President
Diversity and Equal Opportunity
Phone: 724.738.2650
holly.mccoy@sru.edu

Stephanie Bell
Administrative Assistant
Phone: 724.738.2561
stephanie.bell@sru.edu

Hours
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Monday - Friday

Summer Hours
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Monday - Friday