Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Complaints

A Guide for Administrators,
Faculty, Advisors and Supervisors

I. Introduction
II. Definitions
III. Reporting and Referral Responsibilities
IV. Complaint Resolution Processes
V. How to Help to Ensure the Prompt and Effective Handling of Complaints

I. Introduction

The University has a commitment to providing an educational environment that is free from inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. See The University’s policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct at http://policies.utexas.edu/. The purpose of this Guide is to provide administrators, faculty, academic advisors, and supervisors with the information they need in order to respond appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by a member of The University’s faculty or staff, or by vendors or guests on campus.


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II. Definitions

A. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. It involves unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

1) submission to such conduct is made an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment or status as a student in a course, program or activity;

2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for an employment or educational decision; or

3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile environment.

Behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • demanding sexual favors in exchange for an educational benefit such as a grade, or for an employment benefit such as a position, promotion or raise.
  • withholding an educational or employment benefit because a request for sexual favors is rejected; or
  • unwelcome and persistent behavior such as:
    • requests for dates, sexual propositions, invitations and flirtations made in person or by means of letters, notes, phone calls or e-mail;
    • verbal expressions of a sexual nature including comments about a person’s body, attire, appearance, or sexual activities;
    • sexually suggestive jokes, innuendoes, sounds or gestures including leering;
    • anecdotes, questions or comments about one’s own or others sexual activities;
    • excessive or inappropriate touching in the form of hugs, pinching, shoulder rubs, pats, brushing up against another’s body;
    • use of sexually suggestive objects, articles, tapes, pictures or other materials that are unrelated to work or the subject matter of a course.

B. Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is conduct of a sexual nature that is not so serious or pervasive that it rises to the level of sexual harassment, but that is unprofessional and inappropriate for worksites and instructional situations.

Behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • failure to observe the appropriate boundaries of the supervisor/subordinate or faculty/student relationship;
  • Repeatedly engaging in sexually oriented conversations, comments or horseplay, for example, telling jokes or anecdotes of sexual nature in the workplace or classroom, even if those present do not object to that conduct;
  • Gratuitous use of sexually oriented materials not directly related to the subject matter of work, a meeting, a class or course, even if those present do not object to the use of the material.

C.    Consensual Relationships

The University considers a consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship between a University employee with supervisory teaching, evaluation or advisory authority and an employee, student or student employee who is directly supervised, taught, evaluated or advised by such employees to be a prohibited conflict of interest. Such relationships must be reported pursuant to The University’s policy. See http://policies.utexas.edu/policies/consensual-relationships.

 


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III. Reporting and Referral Responsibilities

Administrators, academic advisors and supervisors are responsible for promptly reporting incidents of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct that come to their attention as follows:

  • Employee complaints of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment by a member of the faculty or staff or vendor or visitor to the campus should be reported, and the complainant referred, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, 206 Flawn Academic Center, 471-1849.
  • Student complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by a member of the faculty or staff or by a vendor or visitor to the campus should be reported, and the complainant referred, to the Sexual Harassment Officer for Students, Office of the Dean of Students Office, Room 4.14, Student Services Building, 471-9700.
  • Student complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by another student should be reported, and the complainant referred, to Student Judicial Services, Office of the Dean of Students, Room 4.104, Student Services Building, 471-2841.

A Guide for Students concerning sexual harassment and sexual misconduct complaints is available on the Dean of Students Homepage at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/.


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IV. Complaint Resolution Processes

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services and the Office of the Dean of Students are responsible for the initial intake and handling complaints of sexual harassment of sexual misconduct by employees and students. The staffs of these offices are also available to help complainants clarify the nature of the problem, explain the resolution processes, and identify other University services that may be helpful to them. The Director of Equal Opportunity Services and the Dean of Students’ Sexual Harassment Officer also determine, in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs, whether to resolve a complaint on an informal or formal basis.

A. Informal Resolution of Complaints

Informal resolution of a complaint is appropriate when a complaint is not of a serious or severe nature and disciplinary action is not required to remedy the situation that is the subject of the complaint. Informal complaint resolutions are facilitated by the Office of Equal Opportunity Services or the Dean of Students Office; they can include coaching a complainant to address a situation directly, facilitating for a mediation between the parties, helping to modify a work or study situation, or arranging a documented meeting between a University official and the alleged offender where, at a minimum, the requirements of the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy are discussed.

B. Formal Resolution of Complaints

Formal resolution is appropriate when a complaint alleges serious sexual harassment or misconduct, or a pattern of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. Formal resolution involves an official investigation of the complaint and the possibility of disciplinary action being taken against the offender.

The formal process is initiated when the complaining student or employee submits a written and signed statement to either the Director of Equal Opportunity Services or the Dean of Students’ Sexual Harassment Officer that describes the offensive conduct in detail. Complaints against members of the faculty or staff will be referred to vice-president with the responsibility for the unit in which the alleged offender works who will immediately appoint an investigator. A copy of the written complaint is provided to the accused person who has the opportunity to provide a response to it within a specific period of time. Both the complainant and the accused individual will be personally interviewed as a part of the investigation, as will any witnesses or persons who have information related to the complaint that would be helpful in its resolution.

The investigator will provide a report on the complaint to the appropriate vice-president, who determines whether there has been a violation of the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy. If the vice-president determines that the policy has been violated, a variety of disciplinary sanctions may be imposed including a letter of reprimand, participation in sexual harassment sensitivity education, suspension or termination of employment. If an employee is suspended without pay or terminated because of a violation of the policy, the complaining party may be required to appear and testify as a witness at a University hearing.

C. Confidentiality

The University creates and maintains records of all complaints and their resolutions; and protects the confidentiality of those records to the extent permitted by law. The University will also attempt to keep the identity of the complainant confidential; however, in most instances disclosures of the identity of the complainant may become apparent or will necessarily be disclosed as a part of the resolution process.

D. Retaliation Prohibited

A student, faculty or staff member who retaliates in any way against an individual who has brought a complaint in good faith pursuant to this policy or participated in good faith in an investigation of such a complaint, is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from The University.

 


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V. How to Help to Ensure the Prompt and Effective Handling of Complaints

A. Be Available to Meet With and Listen To the Complainant

Supervisors, faculty members, chairs, advisors and administrators may be the first persons that a staff member or student seeks informs about a possible problem with sexual misconduct or harassment. Therefore, it is important that those persons make themselves accessible to students and staff so that any problems with sexual harassment or sexual misconduct can be reported as soon as possible. There is no need for the person listening to the complaint to offer an opinion as to whether there has been a violation of The University’s policy.

B. Be Able to Give the Complainant Information About The University’s Procedures for Handling Complaints of Sexual Harassment or Sexual Misconduct.

Those persons who receive a complaint concerning sexual harassment or sexual misconduct should be able to provide the complainant with general information about how The University may handle the complaint in addition to the information in this Guide.

C. Refer the Complainant to the Appropriate Office As Soon As Possible

In order to insure appropriate handling and record keeping of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct complaints, supervisors, and administrators who receive them should refer the complaining student or employee to the appropriate office as soon as possible to the offices listed above in Part II.

D. Document the Meeting and Report to an Appropriate Administrator

It is suggested that a supervisor, administrator, or advisor who receives a complaint should prepare a report that briefly notes the date of the meeting with the complaining employee or student, the nature of the complaint and the steps taken, if any, by that person in response to it.

E. Be Aware of Confidentiality Issues

The University cannot promise total confidentiality to persons who bring sexual harassment or sexual misconduct complaints; however, it is the University’s practice to maintain the confidentiality of those complaints to the extent permitted by law. Therefore, information about the complaint should be disclosed only to administrative supervisors or other persons within The University who need to know about it in order to aid in its resolution.

F. Call for Help or Information

Information about The University’s Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy and how to respond to complaints is available from the Office of Equal Opportunity Services, 471-1849, or from the Office of the Dean of Students, Sexual Harassment Officer, 471-9700.


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