Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures

I. Introduction

Villanova University has issued a policy statement condemning sexual harassment as violative of its own standards and those of applicable federal and state law. This procedure provides the structure for the filing and resolution of complaints of sexual harassment relating to the employment life of its employees and the educational experience of its students. All allegations of sexual harassment shall be subject to this procedure, except where the respondent is a student, in which case, the procedure set forth in the University's "Code of Student Conduct" shall apply.

II. Established Resources and Considerations

Confidentiality is essential in any effort to investigate and resolve allegations of sexual harassment. The interests of both the complainant and the respondent must be protected as information is gathered and evaluated. Therefore, only persons who have a "need to know" within the investigation and resolution of complaints and appropriate senior administrative officials are entitled to information in the application of this procedure. University employees or students who disclose information which is obtained within the informal or formal steps of this procedure to persons not in the "need to know" chain may be subject to disciplinary action.

The president shall make a standing appointment of one or more members of the faculty, administration, or staff to serve as the Complaint Officer. In any case of alleged sexual harassment, typically the appointed Complaint Officer shall act, but the president may, in his discretion, appoint one or more individuals to serve as substitute Complaint Officer, who may or may not be members of the Villanova faculty, administration or staff. The Complaint Officer is responsible for investigating and determining by a preponderance of the evidence if sexual harassment has occurred. 

A Review Board may be established as provided in this procedure. The Board's function is to review any appeals of the decisions of the Complaint Officer as provided for in this procedure. The Review Board is comprised of three members: one is appointed by the complainant, one by the respondent, and the third person to serve as chairperson is appointed by the Complaint Officer. The Board members shall be University employees or students. Anyone who is a family member or in the same office or department of either the complainant or respondent, or otherwise has a conflict of interest in connection with the case, shall not serve on the Review Board. The Board is empowered to convene appropriate hearings and to keep its own records in a format determined for each respective case. The Board's procedures may include by example but are not limited to such approaches as open or closed hearings, individual interviews, and the examination of written documentation. However, the Board is not bound by rules of judicial or administrative hearing procedures or by formal rules of evidence.

III. Informal Resolution

Except for instances of sexual assault, University community members may choose to attempt informal resolution of other complaints of sexual harassment but are not required to do so. The University has many offices and individuals who may be able to provide counseling, support of advice for a person who believes that he or she is the victim of sexual harassment. For more information on available confidential and non-confidential campus and community resources and how to make contact with each, see the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy.

IV. Formal Procedure

Where a person wishes to make a formal complaint, the following procedure may be invoked for the formal examination of the allegation.

A formal, written complaint, utilizing the University's standard form, shall be submitted to the University Complaint Officer. The purpose of the complaint form is to assist the complainant in formulating a concise statement of his/her concern and to assist the Complaint Officer to see the basic facts of the allegation, along with the complainant's requested action. 

The Complaint Officer shall review the charges made in the complaint with the complainant, shall provide guidance and counseling as to the complainant's options and available procedures, and shall make such investigation of the charges as the Officer may deem appropriate. In order to achieve a complete view of the case, the Officer shall notify the respondent of the complaint and confer as necessary with the respondent. The Complaint Officer may attempt private mediation in an effort to resolve the alleged problem without the need for additional proceedings only with the approval of both the complainant and respondent. Neither party is required to participate in mediation. Within 20 business days of receiving a written complaint, the Complaint Officer shall issue a written report on the case to the complainant and respondent:

If the Complaint Officer determines by a preponderance of the evidence that sexual harassment has not occurred, the Complaint Officer shall file a report containing findings of fact supporting the conclusion that sexual harassment did not occur, closing the case and stating the reasons why the complaint should be dismissed. The Complaint Officer shall also advise the complainant in the written report that the decision may be appealed to the Review Board. The complainant must notify the Complaint Officer of his/her desire to appeal the decision within five business days of the Officer's decision.

If the Complaint Officer determines by a preponderance of the evidence that sexual harassment has occurred, the Complaint Officer shall file a report containing findings of fact supporting the conclusion that sexual harassment occurred, closing the case and stating the reasons why the claim has been substantiated. The Complaint Officer shall also advise the respondent in the written report that the decision may be appealed to the Review Board. The respondent must notify the Complaint Officer of his/her desire to appeal the decision within five business days of the Officer's decision. If the respondent does not appeal to the Review Board, any disciplinary action shall be taken consistent with the procedure described below following the issuance of a Review Board decision.

In the case of an appeal to the Review Board, the complainant and the respondent will each designate his/her Board member, and the Complaint Officer will designate the chairperson of the Board, all within 5 business days of the appeal. The Complaint Officer shall provide a copy of his or her report to the Review Board. Within 10 business days of the appointment of the Board, the Board shall begin its proceedings.

In appearances before the Board, the complainant and the respondent may each be accompanied by an advisor of their own choosing who is a member of the University community (current faculty member, administrator, staff member, student), but any advisor so designated who is an attorney-at-law will not be considered to be appearing as counsel.

The Board will render its conclusions in a written report no later than 20 business days from the date of the Board's initiation of the proceedings. The Board's report shall be limited to findings of fact and the conclusion of whether or not sexual harassment occurred.  The standard of proof shall be a prepondernace of the evidence.The report shall be delivered to the Complaint Officer and to the Vice President responsible for the area in which the respondent employee is assigned. In the case of the School of Law, the officer responsible for the area is the Dean.

The Vice President shall communicate the Board's conclusions to the complainant and the respondent. It is the sole responsibility of the Vice President to determine and take any disciplinary action based on the report provided by the Board.

V. Other Complaints 

Complaints of sexual assault are not governed by these procedures and instances of sexual assault shall be promptly reported to the Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator, the Public Safety Office, local law enforcement and/or the Title IX Coordinator. Please see the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy for detailed information on sexual assault.

Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status (disabled or Vietnam era), disability or any other basis prohibited by law should bring the problem immediately to the attention of the University's Affirmative Action Officer, Ellen Krutz, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, St. Mary Hall, Suite 163, (610) 519-4237, email: ellen.krutz@villanova.edu . Individuals should refer to the University's Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policies for more information, including procedures to follow.

If a case potentially raises issues of sexual harassment and (i) one or more other forms of discrimination or harassment or (ii) issues addressed in the Student Grade Appeals and Complaints About Faculty Policy, the University shall determine the appropriate procedure to follow.

Any questions regarding the Sexual Harassment Policy should be addressed to the Complaint Officer:

Kathleen Byrnes
Associate Vice President for Student Life
Villanova University
202 Dougherty Hall
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: 610-519-4550
Email: kathleen.byrnes@villanova.edu