Villanova University is an equal opportunity employer and educational institution. There shall be no discrimination against any employee, applicant for employment or any student on any basis prohibited by law, including race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status (disabled or Vietnam era), or disability. This non-discrimination policy applies to all educational policies and programs and to all terms and conditions of employment, which include (but are not limited to): recruitment, hiring, training, compensation, benefits, promotions, disciplinary actions and termination.
It is the University's policy that all employees and students should be able to enjoy and work in an educational environment free from harassment of any nature. Therefore, harassment based on personal characteristics such as race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status or disability violates this policy. Harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual, and that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment or educational environment; or has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's employment or academic performance.
Allegations of Discrimination or Harassment
This procedure provides the structure for the filing and resolution of complaints of discrimination or harassment relating to the employment life of employees and the educational experience of students. All allegations of discrimination or harassment, other than sexual harassment, (which is covered by separate policies) shall be subject to this procedure, except where the respondent is a student, in which case, the procedure set forth in the Code of Student Conduct shall apply.
Confidentiality is essential in any effort to investigate and resolve allegations of discrimination or 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.
C. Complaint Officer
Ordinarily, the individual responsible for investigating the Complaint, or the Complaint Officer, will be the Associate Vice President of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer (“AVP”) or the AVP’s designee within the Human Resources Department. In some cases, the AVP may recommend the appointment of an individual outside of Human Resources or external to the University to serve as Complaint Officer, which appointment shall be subject to approval by the Executive Vice-President or the President. The Complaint Officer is responsible for investigating and determining by a preponderance of the evidence if discrimination or harassment has occurred. The Complaint Officer may be assisted in the investigation by the Human Resources Department, the Provost’s Office and/or Public Safety Department.
D. Review Board
A Review Board may be established as provided in this paragraph. 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.
E. Informal Resolution
University community members may choose to attempt informal resolution of complaints of discrimination or harassment but are not required to do so. The University has many offices and individuals who may be able to provide counseling, support or advice for a person who believes that he or she is the victim of discrimination or harassment. The Office of Intercultural Affairs (OIA), Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), University Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, Human Resources, and the like are staffed with caring and experienced specialists who may be able to help resolve concerns. The Complaint Officer is also a resource person who may assist in informal resolution of a complaint, including through facilitated communication between the complainant and respondent. A complainant or respondent may choose to discontinue efforts at informal resolution and a complainant may make a formal complaint as described below.
F. Formal Procedure
a. Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been a victim of discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy who wishes to make a formal complaint, should bring the problem immediately to the attention of the Associate Vice President of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer. The complainant shall be advised of the designated Complaint Officer for the case.
b. 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.
c. 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. To achieve a complete view of the case, the Officer shall notify the respondent of the complaint and confer as necessary with the respondent. With the approval of both the complainant and respondent, the Complaint Officer may attempt private mediation to resolve the alleged problem without the need for additional proceedings. Neither party is required to participate in mediation.
d. 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:
I. If the Complaint Officer determines by a preponderance of the evidence that discrimination or harassment has not occurred, the Complaint Officer shall file a report containing findings of fact supporting the conclusion that discrimination or 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.
II. If the Complaint Officer determines by a preponderance of the evidence that discrimination or harassment has occurred, the Complaint Officer shall file a report containing findings of fact supporting the conclusion that discrimination or harassment occurred, closing the case and stating the reasons why the complaint 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.
e. 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 adviser of their own choosing who is a member of the university community (current faculty member, administrator, staff member, student), but any adviser 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 discrimination or harassment occurred. The standard of proof shall be preponderance 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.
Retaliation in any form against an employee or student who exercises in good faith his or her right to make a complaint under this policy or who cooperates in the investigation of any such complaint is strictly prohibited and will itself be cause for appropriate disciplinary action.
A. Sexual Harassment
Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been a victim of sexual harassment should bring the problem immediately to the attention of the University's Sexual Harassment Complaint Officer, Kathleen Byrnes, 202 Dougherty Hall, (610) 519-4550. Individuals should refer to the University's Policy on Sexual Harassment and Complaint Procedure for the University's definition of sexual harassment and the procedures to follow. If a case potentially raises issues of sexual harassment and one or more other forms of discrimination or harassment, the University shall determine the appropriate procedure to follow. For cases of sexual assault, please see the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
B. Academic Complaints
If a case potentially raises issues of discrimination or harassment and/or issues addressed in the Student Grade Appeals and Complaints About Faculty Policy, the University shall determine the appropriate procedure to follow.
Any questions regarding this policy or requests for a complaint form should be addressed to:
Ellen Ryan Krutz
Associate Vice President, Human Resources
789 Lancaster Avenue, Suite 260
Villanova, PA 19085