Grievance Procedure - Discrimination and Harassment

Procedure Section: 
Human Resources
Effective: 
Friday, August 14, 2020
Last Revised: 
Friday, August 14, 2020
Procedure: 

A.    Policy

South Puget Sound Community College recognizes its responsibility for investigation, resolution, implementation of corrective measures, and monitoring the educational environment and workplace to stop, remediate, and prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, perceived or actual physical or mental disability, pregnancy, genetic information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, creed, religion, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or use of a trained guide dog or service animal, as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972[1], Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act and ADA Amendment Act, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and Washington State’s Law Against Discrimination, Chapter 49.60 RCW and their implementing regulations.  To this end, South Puget Sound Community College has enacted policies prohibiting discrimination against and harassment of members of these protected classes. Any individual found to be in violation of these policies will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the College or from employment.

B.    Definitions

1. Complainant:  employee(s), applicant(s), student(s), or visitors(s) of  South Puget Sound Community College who alleges that she or he has been subjected to discrimination or harassment due to their membership in a protected class.

2. Complaint:  a description of facts that allege violation of the College’s policy against discrimination or harassment.

3. Consent:  knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.  Each party has the responsibility to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.  For consent to be valid, there must be at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact.

A person cannot consent if he or she is unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs.  An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has engaged in nonconsensual conduct.

Intoxication is not a defense against allegations that an individual has engaged in nonconsensual sexual conduct.

4. Discrimination:  unfavorable treatment of a person based on that person’s membership or perceived membership in a protected class.  Harassment is a form of discrimination.

5. Harassment:  a form of discrimination consisting of physical or verbal conduct that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual because of their membership in a protected class or their perceived membership in a protected class.  Harassment occurs when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it has the effect of altering the terms or conditions of employment or substantially limiting the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational and/or social programs. Petty slights, annoyances, offensive utterances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) typically do not qualify as harassment. Examples of conduct that could rise to the level of discriminatory harassment include but are not limited to the following:

Epithets, "jokes," ridicule, mockery or other offensive or derogatory conduct focused upon an individual's membership in a protected class.

Verbal or physical threats of violence or physical contact directed towards an individual based upon their membership in a protected class.

Making, posting, emailing, texting, or otherwise circulating demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons, graffiti, notes or other materials that relate to race, ethnic origin, gender or any other protected class.

6. Protected Class:  persons who are protected under state or federal civil rights laws, including laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, perceived or actual physical or mental disability, pregnancy, genetic information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, creed, religion, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or use of a trained guide dog or service animal

7. Resolution:  the means by which the complaint is finally addressed.  This may be accomplished through informal or formal processes, including counseling, mediation, or the formal imposition of discipline sanction.

8. Respondent:  person or persons who are members of the campus community who allegedly discriminated against or harassed another person or persons.

9. Sexual Harassment:  a form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome, gender-based verbal, written, electronic and/or physical conduct.  Sexual harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's gender.  There are two types of sexual harassment.

a.   Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment occurs when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it has the effect of altering the terms or conditions of employment or substantially limiting the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational and/or social programs.

b.   Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment occurs when an individual in a position of real or perceived authority, conditions the receipt of a benefit upon granting of sexual favors.

      Examples of conduct that may qualify as sexual harassment include:

  • Persistent comments or questions of a sexual nature.
  • A supervisor who gives an employee a raise in exchange for submitting to sexual advances.
  • An instructor who promises a student a better grade in exchange for sexual favors.
  • Sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes.
  • Unwelcome touching, patting, hugging, kissing, or brushing against an individual's body.
  • Remarks of a sexual nature about an individual's clothing, body, or speculations about previous sexual experiences.
  • Persistent, unwanted attempts to change a professional relationship to an amorous relationship.
  • Direct or indirect propositions for sexual activity.
  • Unwelcome letters, emails, texts, telephone calls, or other communications referring to or depicting sexual activities.

10. Sexual Violence:  is a type of sexual discrimination and harassment that includes:

a.   Nonconsensual sexual intercourse.  Any actual or attempted sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object or body part, by a person upon another person, that is without Consent and/or by force.  Sexual intercourse includes anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, or oral copulation by mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact.

b.   Nonconsensual sexual contact.  Any actual or attempted sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by a person upon another person that is without Consent and/or by force.  Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, mouth, or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.

c.   Incest.  Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a person known to be related to them, either legitimately or illegitimately, as an ancestor, descendant, brother, or sister of either wholly or half related. Descendant includes stepchildren, and adopted children under the age of eighteen (18).

d.   Statutory Rape.  Consensual intercourse between a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older, and a person who is under the age of sixteen (16).

e.   Domestic violence.  Physical violence, bodily injury, assault, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking committed by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of State of Washington, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of Washington, RCW 26.50.010.

f.    Dating violence, Physical violence, bodily injury, assault, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking committed by a person (i) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and (ii) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

(i)         The length of the relationship;

(ii)         The type of relationship; and

(iii)        The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship

g.   Stalking.  Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (i) fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (ii) suffer substantial emotional distress.

 

C.    Title IX/EEO Coordinator

Name: Samantha Dotson

Title: Executive Human Resource Officer / Title IX / EEO Coordinator

Office and Contact info: Building 25, 2nd floor, Room 220, or ssoto@spscc.edu ; 360-596-5361

The Title IX / EEO Coordinator or designee:

  • Will accept all complaints and referrals from College employees, applicants, students, and visitors.
  • Will make determinations regarding how to handle requests by complainants for confidentiality.
  • Will keep accurate records of all complaints and referrals for the required time period.
  • May conduct investigations or delegate and oversee investigations conducted by a designee.
  • May impose interim remedial measures to protect parties during investigations of discrimination or harassment.
  • Will issue written findings and recommendations upon completion of an investigation.
  • May recommend specific corrective measures to stop, remediate, and prevent the recurrence of inappropriate conduct.

D.         How To File A Complaint

 Any employee, applicant, student or visitor of the College may file a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator.  If the complaint is against that Coordinator, the complainant should report the matter to the president’s office for referral to an alternate designee.  Complaints may be submitted in writing or verbally.  The College encourages the timely reporting of any incidents of discrimination or harassment.  For complainants who wish to submit a written complaint, a formal complaint form is available online at  https://spscc.edu/advising-support/campus-reporting  Hardcopies of the complaint form are available at the following locations on campus:  Human Resource Office. Any person submitting a discrimination complaint shall be provided with a written copy of the College’s anti-discrimination policies and procedures. 

 

E.       Confidentiality and Right To Privacy

South Puget Sound Community College will seek to protect the privacy of the complainant to the full extent possible, consistent with the legal obligation to investigate, take appropriate remedial and/or disciplinary action, and comply with the federal and state law, as well as South Puget Sound Community College policies and procedures.  Although South Puget Sound Community College will attempt to honor complainants’ requests for confidentiality, it cannot guarantee complete confidentiality.  Determinations regarding how to handle requests for confidentiality will be made by the Title IX / EEO Coordinator.

            Confidentiality Requests and Sexual Violence Complaints. The Title IX / EEO Coordinator will inform and obtain consent from the complainant before commencing an investigation into a sexual violence complaint.  If a sexual violence complainant asks that their name not be revealed to the respondent or that the College not investigate the allegation, the Title IX / EEO Coordinator will inform the complainant that maintaining confidentiality may limit the college’s ability to fully respond to the allegations and that retaliation by the respondent and/or others is prohibited.  If the complainant still insists that their name not be disclosed or that the College not investigate, the Title IX /EEO Coordinator will determine whether the College can honor the request and at the same time maintain a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the college community, including the complainant.  Factors to be weighed during this determination may include, but are not limited to:

  • the seriousness of the alleged sexual violence;
  • the age of the complainant;
  • whether the sexual violence was perpetrated with a weapon;
  • whether the respondent has a history of committing acts of sexual violence or violence or has been the subject of other sexual violence complaints whether the respondent threatened to commit additional acts of sexual violence against the complainant or others; and
  • whether relevant evidence can be obtained through other means (e.g., security cameras, other witnesses, physical evidence).

If the College is unable to honor a complainant’s request for confidentiality, the Title IX / EEO Coordinator will notify the complainant of the decision and ensure that complainant’s identity is disclosed only to the extent reasonably necessary to effectively conduct and complete the investigation.

If the College decides not to conduct an investigation or take disciplinary action because of a request for confidentiality, the Title IX / EEO Coordinator will evaluate whether other measures are available to limit the effects of the harassment and prevent its recurrence and implement such measures if reasonably feasible. 

 

F.       Investigation Procedure

Upon receiving a discrimination complaint, the College shall commence an impartial investigation.  The Title IX / EEO Coordinator shall be responsible for overseeing all investigations.  Investigations may be conducted by the Title IX / EEO Coordinator or their designee.    If the investigation is assigned to someone other than the Title IX /EEO Coordinator, the Title IX / EEO Coordinator shall inform the complainant and respondent(s) of the appointment of an investigator.

Interim Measures.  The Title IX / EEO Coordinator may impose interim measures to protect the complainant and/or respondent pending the conclusion of the investigation.  Interim measures may include, but are not limited to, imposition of no contact orders, rescheduling classes, temporary work reassignments, referrals for counseling or medical assistance, and imposition of a summary suspension in compliance with the College’s student conduct code or an administrative leave of absence in compliance with the College’s employment policies and collective bargaining agreements.

Informal Dispute Resolution.  Informal dispute resolution processes, like mediation, may be used to resolve complaints, when appropriate.  Informal dispute resolution shall not be used to resolve sexual discrimination complaints without written permission from both the complainant and the respondent.  If the parties elect to mediate a dispute, either party shall be free to discontinue mediation at any time.  In no event shall mediation be used to resolve complaints involving allegations of sexual violence.

Investigation.  Complaints shall be thoroughly and impartially investigated.  The investigation shall include, but is not limited to, interviewing the complainant and the respondent, relevant witnesses, and reviewing relevant documents.  The investigation shall be concluded within a reasonable time, normally ninety days unless there is good cause shown.  Good cause includes, but is not limited to, federal/school holidays and breaks; cooperation with a separate legal process; reasonable requests from a party; delay in obtaining evidence as applicable; multiple Complainant(s) and/or Respondent(s) and coordination of the process.    If it appears completion of the investigation will take longer than ninety days, the Title IX/EEO Coordinator will notify the parties, describe the reasons for the delay, and provide an estimated time for completing the investigation.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator shall set forth their findings in writing. If the investigator is someone other than the Title IX / EEO Coordinator, the investigator shall send a copy of the findings to the Title IX / EEO Coordinator.  

The Title IX / EEO Coordinator will provide each party and the appropriate student services administrator or appointing authority with written notice of the investigative findings, subject to the following limitations.  The complainant shall be informed in writing of the findings only to the extent that such findings directly related to the complainant’s allegations.  The complainant may be notified generally that the matter has been referred for disciplinary action.  The respondent shall be informed in writing of the findings and of actions taken or recommended to resolve the complaint and shall be notified of referrals for disciplinary action.  Both the complainant and the respondent are entitled to review the investigative findings subject to any FERPA confidentiality requirements. 

Final Decision/Reconsideration.  Either the complainant or the respondent may seek reconsideration of the investigation findings.  Requests for reconsideration shall be submitted in writing to the Title IX / EEO Coordinator within seven days of receiving the investigation report.  Requests must specify which portion of the findings should be reconsidered and the basis for reconsideration.  If no request for reconsideration is received within seven days, the findings become final. If a request for reconsideration is received, the Title IX / EEO Coordinator shall respond within ten business days.  The Title IX / EEO Coordinator shall either deny the request or, if the Title IX / EEO Coordinator determines that the request for reconsideration has merit, issue amended findings.  Any amended findings are final and no further reconsideration is available. 

 

G.       Publication Of Anti-Discrimination Policies and Procedures

The policies and procedures regarding complaints of discrimination and harassment shall be published and distributed as determined by the president or president's designee.  Any person who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination in violation of College policy will be provided a copy of these policies and procedures.

 

 H.      Limits To Authority

Nothing in this procedure shall prevent the College President or designee from taking immediate disciplinary action in accordance with South Puget Sound Community College policies and procedures, and federal, state, and municipal rules and regulations.

 

I.         Non-Retaliation, Intimidation And Coercion

Retaliation by, for or against any participant (including complainant, respondent, witness, Title IX / EEO Coordinator, or investigator) is expressly prohibited.  Retaliatory action of any kind taken against individuals as a result of seeking redress under the applicable procedures or serving as a witness in a subsequent investigation or any resulting disciplinary proceedings is prohibited and is conduct subject to discipline.  Any person who thinks he/she has been the victim of retaliation should contact the Title IX / EEO Coordinator immediately.

 

J.          Criminal Complaints

Discriminatory or harassing conduct may also be, or occur in conjunction with, criminal conduct.  Criminal complaints may be filed with the law enforcement authorities, including but not limited to the following:

            Lacey Police Department 360-923-5209

            Olympia Police Department 360-704-8417

            Tumwater Police Department 360-754-4200

            The College will proceed with an investigation of harassment and discrimination complaints regardless of whether the underlying conduct is subject to civil or criminal prosecution.

 

K.         Other Discrimination Complaint Options

Discrimination complaints may also be filed with the following federal and state agencies:

Washington State Human Rights Commission, http://www.hum.wa.gov/index.html

US Dept of Education Office for Civil Rights, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, http://www.eeoc.gov/


[1] See separate Title IX Grievance Procedures Policy which applies only to allegations of “Sexual Harassment,” as that term is defined in 34 C.F.R. §106.30.  Nothing in the Title IX Grievance Procedures Policy limits or otherwise restricts South Puget Sound Community College’s ability to investigate and pursue discipline based on alleged violations of other federal, state, and local laws, their implementing regulations, and other College policies.

 

Procedure Code: 
PRHMRS7077