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College Policy Number/Title:

The following procedures are adopted to process complaints alleging violations of Howard Community College’s (HCC) policies on non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, equal educational opportunity, affirmative action, or sexual harassment (which includes sexual violence), and will be in addition to any complaint or charges an employee, applicant or student files with law enforcement or county, state, or federal agencies.  These procedures apply to all complaints of discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment, made against either an employee or a student.  HCC will conduct its own investigation and will respond to the complaint, regardless of the reporting party. 

Initiation of Complaint

Any employee or employment applicant who alleges a violation of college policy on non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, equal educational opportunity, affirmative action, or sexual harassment by an employee should file a complaint in writing, including the grounds for the complaint, with the associate vice president of human resources.  If the complaint is against the associate vice president of human resources, the reporting person should file the complaint with the vice president of administration and finance.  Any student who alleges a violation of college policy on non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, equal educational opportunity, affirmative action, or sexual harassment should file a complaint in writing with the vice president of student services.  The associate vice president of human resources and the vice president of student services serve as co-coordinators of Title IX activity for the college and are authorized to investigate sexual harassment complaints under Title IX as well as any other type of complaint referenced in this policy.

Complainants should be aware that the college is obligated to make its best effort to investigate each written complaint, even if the complainant does not desire an investigation.  The college is also obligated to conduct its own investigation in cases where law enforcement or county, state, or federal agencies are also investigating.  A complainant's request for anonymity during the investigation will be honored to the extent possible, but the complainant should be aware that protecting anonymity may hamper the investigation.

Investigation of Complaint

The associate vice president of human resources (or the vice president of administration and finance) will investigate complaints made against an employee, and the vice president of student services will investigate complaints made against students.  In cases where the parties in the complaint involve both employees and students, the investigation may occur jointly between the associate vice president of human resources and vice president of student services.

During the investigation all parties in the case are allowed the same opportunity to obtain legal representation and present evidence and witnesses.  The investigator(s) will use the "preponderance of evidence" standard to evaluate whether discrimination or harassment occurred.  The investigator(s) will issue their written outcome of the complaint within 60 calendar days after the initial written complaint is received, barring unusual complexity or delays.  Each party in the case will receive the written outcome.  If criminal conduct is suspected to have occurred, the college may refer the matter to law enforcement if they are not already involved.

Appeal Process

Either party has the right to appeal the outcome of the complaint if not satisfied with the result.  A written appeal must be filed in writing to the president of the college within 15 calendar days after the initial outcome is received.  The appeal should state the grounds for the appellant's belief that the outcome is unsatisfactory.    The president will review the appeal and issue a written decision within 30 calendar days after its receipt.  The president's review may or may not include meetings with either party or any witnesses or participants in the case.  The president's decision on the appeal is final.

Confidentiality and Reprisals

All parties and staff will keep the complaint, fact-finding process and outcome confidential, except to the extent that it is necessary to investigate and process the complaint.  Furthermore, all student records and access to student records will comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

Persons filing complaints of harassment or discrimination will be protected against reprisals by actions that are appropriate to the circumstances. 

False Complaints

Those persons filing deliberate false complaints will be subject to disciplinary action.

Disciplinary Action

Substantiated complaints of violation of the policies references above may subject the offending party to disciplinary action (see “Suspension and Dismissal Policy” 63.12).

Effective Date:  02/28/14