Sexual Harassment Prevention Procedures

Statement of Principles

Syracuse University’s mission of educational excellence and public engagement is rooted in its vision of Scholarship in Action. The fulfillment of this mission is tied deeply to access, opportunity, and cross-institutional collaboration. The Syracuse University community serves and partners with a broad array of internal and external constituents from a variety of communities, near and far, of all ages, in an intentionally open environment.

Inherent to fulfilling this mission is the recognition by all who serve the institution that there is a human obligation to provide safety for all persons of all ages who participate in its programs. All members of the University community are stewards of these relationships and must recognize the differences of power that often exist in them. As members of the community, we all have the responsibility to protect those who are in a position of vulnerability. This is fulfilled when all individuals share in accountability for this obligation. In this way, members of the University community accept and endorse the basic principle of safety that supports our institutional commitment to access, opportunity, and cross-institutional collaboration all of which exists to serve the core mission.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Procedures

Syracuse University’s Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy applies to all members of the University community, and the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in Employment Policy applies to staff in particular. These policies set forth the University’s community-wide non-tolerance of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and nonconsensual sexual activity. The procedure for making a complaint and having it addressed depends on the status of the parties involved.

For assistance in determining the appropriate course of action for your situation, please contact the Title IX Compliance Officer/Sexual Harassment Officer: Cynthia Maxwell Curtin (315) 443-0211, Associate Vice President/Human Capital Development and Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services, 101 Skytop Building, Syracuse, New York, or the Office of Human Resources.

Sexual Harassment Complaint Resolution Procedures

The procedures described below provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints regarding sexual harassment brought by faculty members, students, non-faculty staff members, and non-community members against any non-faculty employee.

As noted above, separate procedures apply where a faculty member, student, or non-community member is the accused.

These procedures are the exclusive internal method for addressing sexual harassment claims brought against non-faculty employees.

Neither the Staff Complaint Process, nor any other process, is available to address such claims or decisions made pursuant to this Policy. However, nothing in this procedure shall limit or prohibit the filing of a grievance under a collective bargaining agreement, a claim with an external agency responsible for addressing issues of sex discrimination or sexual harassment, or a criminal complaint with appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Every effort will be made to resolve the complaint at the lowest level possible and consistent with the desires of the person bringing forward the complaint.

However, under certain circumstances, the University may have a legal obligation to identify and remedy sex discrimination, sexual harassment or nonconsensual sexual activity irrespective of whether a formal complaint is actually filed and even if the complainant would prefer no action be taken.

In any particular case, the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources; or the Title IX Compliance Officer/Sexual Harassment Officer may delegate his/her authority pursuant to this Policy to any other appropriate University representative.

Making a Complaint

An employee wishing to report sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or nonconsensual sexual activity should contact one of the following individuals:

  • The employee’s immediate supervisor, the supervisor of the employee’s supervisor, or a dean.
  • Sonya Williams, Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources sywillia@syr.edu (315) 443-9095, Office of Human Resources, Skytop Office Building, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
  • Title IX Compliance Officer/Sexual Harassment Officer Cynthia Maxwell Curtin, Associate Vice President/Human Capital Development and Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services, cmcurtin@syr.edu (315) 443-0211, 101 Skytop Office Building, Syracuse, New York.

If the initial complaint is made to any person other than the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources, the individual receiving the complaint will notify the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources about the complaint and/or forward the complaint, if written, to the Executive Director, H.R. Services/ Academic Human Resources.

Complaints may be made anonymously. While the University endeavors to investigate all complaints, including anonymous complaints, the nature of anonymous complaints makes investigation, determination, and remediation more difficult and, at times, impossible. Further, while the University attempts to protect the identity of complainants who do not wish to be identified, this may not always be possible.

Upon the receipt of a complaint, the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources will make an initial determination as to whether the complaint will be processed. At this stage, the assessment is whether the alleged conduct, assuming it occurred, may constitute a violation of the University’s policies against sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct. If the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources determines that the situation is more appropriately handled pursuant to another University policy or procedure (for instance, where the conduct is not conceivably sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or nonconsensual sexual activity but may violate another University policy), the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources will initiate the more appropriate process. If the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources determines that the complaint will not be processed in accordance with this Policy or will not be addressed at all, the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources, will make a report to the Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services and the complainant may proceed directly to an Appeal, as described below.

Informal Intervention (Optional)

This process is used when the complainant does not want an investigation into the alleged behavior, but wants the behavior to stop through informal resolution without filing a formal complaint. Generally, this step is appropriate where the objectionable behavior is at an early stage and the complainant has not previously addressed the behavior with the alleged harasser, but senses that once the harasser is notified, the behavior will cease. This procedure may also be used where there is no specific complainant but the University is aware of alleged behaviors which, if true, would violate the University’s policies against sex discrimination, sexual harassment or nonconsensual sexual activity. This procedure will not apply to egregious allegations, including but not limited to any situation involving sexual or gender-based violence or assault. It may be necessary for the University to perform some level of investigation into the facts and circumstances before offering informal resolution options.

  1. A complaining party may (but is not required to) initiate an informal intervention by informing the person engaging in the offensive conduct, either verbally or in writing, that such conduct is offensive and must stop. If a meeting is arranged, a neutral witness should be present.
  2. If the person initiating the informal resolution attempt does not wish to communicate directly with the alleged harasser, or if direct communication with that individual has not resolved the problem, the person should contact one of the following for assistance or advice as soon as possible.
    • The employee’s immediate supervisor, the supervisor of the employee’s supervisor, or a dean.
    • Sonya Williams, Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources sywillia@syr.edu (315) 443-9095, Office of Human Resources, Skytop Office Building, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.
    • Title IX Compliance Officer/Sexual Harassment Officer Cynthia Maxwell Curtin, Associate Vice President/Human Capital Development and Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services, cmcurtin@syr.edu (315) 443-0211, 101 Skytop Office Building, Syracuse, New York.
  3. A complaint is considered informally resolved when all parties involved (the complainant, the accused, and the University) are satisfied that the situation has been remedied and will not be repeated. A complaint informally resolved to the satisfaction of all parties is considered closed and is not eligible for further processing. However, the University reserves the right to take further action if new information comes to its attention, new misconduct occurs, or any party fails to abide by the terms of the informal resolution.
  4. At any point in the informal process, the complainant, the accused, or the University may opt to end the informal process and move the complaint to the formal complaint procedure, discussed below.
Formal Resolution of Complaint

The formal process usually involves a written complaint, an investigation, and appropriate corrective action, if any.

If the informal process is unsuccessful, or if informal resolution is not appropriate under the circumstances, the Title IX Compliance Officer/Sexual Harassment Officer will conduct an investigation into the complaint, or will appoint an appropriate person or entity to conduct the investigation. Absent extenuating circumstances, the investigation will be completed within 60 calendar days of the filing of the complaint.

  1. Investigation. The investigator(s) typically will meet separately with the complainant and the person accused. The investigator(s) typically will meet separately with any other person who may have knowledge of the situation. The complainant and the accused will have an opportunity to present information and evidence to the investigator(s).
    • The University will make every effort to handle complaints and investigations with sensitivity to both the rights of the person who complains and the rights of the accused. The University handles complaints discreetly and attempts to maintain privacy throughout the investigatory process, to the extent practicable and appropriate under the circumstances. However, in order to conduct an investigation, it is generally necessary to discuss the allegations with the accused and other potential witnesses. Additionally, the University may be obliged to disclose information to law enforcement or other agencies or in the context of legal proceedings.
    • Occasionally, an individual makes a complaint and later wishes to revoke or discontinue the investigation or adjudication process. Similarly, it may occur that someone other than the victim reports an incident, and the victim declines to participate in the investigation or adjudication process. While the University endeavors to respect the wishes of a victim, the University may not always be able to do so. The University may be obligated to investigate and adjudicate serious incidents even where the victim would prefer otherwise in order to protect the community. The University reserves the right to take action in response to any incident that comes to its attention.
    • If a victim wishes to talk about an incident with the assurance that the discussion will be confidential and will not result in an investigation or follow up action, the University offers confidential resources. Employees may contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (443-1087). Communication with this resource does not result in a complaint being filed with the University or result in action being taken by the University.
    • While the investigation is pending, the University may take immediate and appropriate interim action to address harassment allegations before a final determination is made on the complaint.This may include a reassignment of duties, a no contact directive, interim suspension, or other appropriate actions.
    • Formal rules of evidence do not apply. Decisions are made based on a preponderance of the evidence, meaning whether it is more likely than not that the complained of conduct occurred.
  2. Determination. The investigator(s) will report the findings and conclusions to the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources. The Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources, may accept, reject, or modify the investigatory findings and conclusions. If necessary the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources may take steps to further investigate or clarify any aspect of the report or allegations. The Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources will determine what, if any, disciplinary and/or remedial action will be taken. All disciplinary action shall be in accord with applicable policies and procedures. To the extent permitted by law and collective bargaining agreement obligations, the complainant and the respondent will be informed in writing as to any action to be taken with respect to the complaint, and, if no action is to be taken, the parties will be so notified. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the parties will receive notification of the Determination within ten (10) business days of the date the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources receives the investigatory report.The University’s goal is to prevent and correct sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. Therefore possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, written warning, counseling, suspension, transfer, mandatory sensitivity training, or dismissal for the respondent. As appropriate to remedy the effects of policy violations, action on behalf of complainants, such as employee assistance, professional counseling, voluntary transfer, etc., may also be offered.
  3. Appeal. If either the complainant or the accused is dissatisfied with the decision of the Executive Director, H.R. Services/Academic Human Resources, the party may appeal to the Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services. An appeal must be in writing and set forth an explanation for the basis for the appeal. If an appeal is filed by one party, the other party will be so informed and provided with an opportunity to reply. An appeal must be filed within ten (10) business days of the date the party is informed of the Determination. The Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services may accept, reject, or modify the investigatory findings and conclusions. If necessary, the Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services may take steps to further investigate or clarify any aspect of the report or allegations. Absent extenuating circumstances, the Chief Officer for Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services will inform the parties of his/her decision within ten (10) business days.
  4. Collective Bargaining Agreements. A bargaining unit employee disciplined pursuant to this Policy retains any right to file a grievance in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement. In order to preserve any such right, the employee must comply with the procedural requirements and timelines provided in the collective bargaining agreement irrespective of the timelines provided for in this Policy.
Retaliation

The University prohibits retaliation against any individual who in good faith makes a complaint of sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct or participates as a witness in a proceeding under this or any other University policy. Retaliation is also unlawful pursuant to Title IX and other laws.

Minors

Minors are unable to consent to any sexual activity with an adult; therefore, there is no such thing as consensual sexual activity between a minor and a staff employee of the University. The University strictly prohibits unlawful sexual activity involving minors in connection with any of its programs. For the purpose of this policy, a minor is any person under the age of 17. The University prohibits not only unlawful bodily contact with a minor, if engaged in for purposes of sexual gratification or arousal, but also any unlawful non-contact sexual activity (e.g., voyeurism, exposure to pornography, “sexting”, etc). Any reports or complaints of unlawful sexual activity involving minors will be reported to appropriate law enforcement and social service agencies.

Reporting to Law Enforcement

The University will report allegations of criminal conduct and potential criminal conduct to the appropriate local law enforcement agency or agencies for potential investigation. This will occur independent of actions by individual complainants if allegations of criminal conduct or potential criminal conduct are made.

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