1.0 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Purpose
The purpose of this SOP is to outline the procedural steps that will be taken when a report or complaint has been filed with the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting in the Division of Campus Life alleging a violation of the Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy (“Policy”).
The University has created these procedures to provide fair, prompt, and consistent mechanisms for the resolution of complaints alleging violations of the Policy. These procedures provide for both an informal resolution process and a formal investigation process.
The availability of these procedures is not intended to impair or limit the right of any individual to seek a remedy available under applicable law (see Section 5.5 for a listing of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies).
2.1 Intake Form Submission
All individuals seeking to report an alleged violation of the Policy will be required to complete an intake form. The submission of an intake form will aid in the preliminary review of the allegation and does not constitute a formal complaint.
Upon receipt of an intake form, the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting will provide the individual submitting the report and the individual to whom the Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation was directed (if different) with resources and support options available and the option to meet with a member of the Office of Equity and Compliance and Reporting, provided their contact information is available.
2.2 Initial Assessment
A designated member of the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting will serve as the intake officer and be responsible for making the initial assessment. For faculty matters, if an intake form submission involves a question of academic freedom, the relevant dean will be notified and will guide the initial assessment. For all other student, faculty, and staff matters, the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting will proceed based on the following determinations:
- Is the Respondent a Covered Person under the Policy? and
- Would the allegations, if substantiated, violate the Policy?
If the answer to either question is no, then the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting does not have the authority to resolve the matter and it will be referred as follows:
If the Respondent is:
Intake Form will be referred to:
University Human Resources (UHR)
Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS)
If the answer to both questions is yes, then the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting has the authority to proceed with the informal resolution or formal investigation processes in accordance with this SOP.
If a report or complaint is filed with more than one University department or office regarding the same incident, the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting, in consultation with the other department or office, will determine the appropriate department or office to address the matter.
2.3 Formal Complaint Submission
If the Complainant decides to proceed with the informal resolution or formal investigation process, the Complainant may use an Intake Form as their formal complaint or submit a separate written formal complaint.
The formal complaint should include the names of individuals involved, the alleged conduct, the time and date of the alleged conduct, the location where the alleged conduct occurred, and how the alleged conduct is discriminatory or harassing based on membership in a Protected Class.
The only individual who may serve as a Complainant is the person to whom the alleged Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation was directed. If this individual does not want to proceed with a formal complaint, the University may proceed as the Complainant if it has actual or constructive notice of a potential hostile environment or potential discriminatory conduct in violation of the Policy. In this case, the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting will draft a written formal complaint and the formal investigation process will proceed in accordance with this SOP.
A copy of the formal complaint will be provided to the Respondent.
2.4 Timeframe for Reporting
Faculty or staff Complainants pursuing an informal resolution or formal investigation must submit a formal complaint within one (1) year of the alleged conduct. Student Complainants must submit a formal complaint within 180 days of graduating from or no longer being enrolled in the University. The University will consider a report of an alleged Policy violation at any time, although the University’s ability to investigate may be limited with the passage of time.
If the Complainant or Respondent is no longer affiliated with the University (e.g., a report is made after a student is no longer enrolled or has graduated or a faculty or staff member is no longer employed by the University), the University will provide reasonably available and appropriate support measures which may include without limitation assisting in identifying external reporting options and taking appropriate action to address the alleged conduct.
Complainants and Respondents are entitled to be accompanied by an adviser (including a union representative when applicable and excluding members of their own department) at meetings and investigation interviews. An adviser is an individual of the Complainant’s or Respondent’s choosing but may not be an attorney. Only one adviser may be present at each meeting or interview. Schedule adjustments, including that of interviews, will not be made for advisers if the request creates an unduly delay in the process, which is considered to be a delay of three (3) or more business days. Witnesses are not entitled to be accompanied by an adviser at meetings and investigation interviews.
During meetings, interviews, and the investigation process, advisers may not actively participate or speak for or answer questions on behalf of the Complainant or Respondent, although they may ask to take a break briefly to provide consultation or support. Complainants and Respondents may seek legal advice from attorneys, but attorneys may not accompany a Complainant, Respondent, or witness to any meeting or interview.
2.6 Interim or Protective Measures
The University may implement interim or protective measures prior to completing an informal resolution process or formal investigation based on the nature of the alleged conduct. Such actions may be involuntary placement of an employee on paid or unpaid leave, no contact orders, interim suspension, removal from campus, reassignment of work or housing location, or other means. The decision to implement interim or protective measures is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with OSCCS for students, UHR for staff, or the relevant dean for faculty. Failure to comply with an interim or protective measure may constitute a violation of applicable University policy.
2.7 Informal Resolution
An informal resolution is an alternative to a formal investigation and generally involves a facilitated resolution that is acceptable to the Complainant and Respondent. A full investigation of the allegation is not conducted in the informal resolution process; however, the details of the allegation will be gathered to allow the University to determine whether the University should proceed as the Complainant in accordance with Section 2.3. An informal resolution can be the full and final resolution to a complaint.
An informal resolution can be requested by a Complainant or Respondent at any time after a formal complaint has been submitted. Generally, informal resolutions are pursued when the Complainant and Respondent, having been fully informed of all available options, have explicitly and voluntarily made that choice. An informal resolution process is voluntary for both the Complainant and the Respondent. Engaging in the informal resolution process is not an admission of responsibility for the allegation or an admission of the falsehood of the allegation. The existence of an informal resolution is not viewed as a finding against the Respondent.
The Complainant or Respondent may withdraw from an informal resolution process at any time before its completion. Generally, any information obtained during the attempted informal resolution process will not be used in a subsequent formal investigation.
Once a formal complaint has been resolved through an informal resolution process, the matter will be closed. This means that allegations resolved through an informal resolution will not advance through the formal investigation process unless the terms of the informal resolution are broken or incomplete. If a term of the informal resolution is broken or incomplete, the information obtained may be submitted as evidence in a subsequent investigation involving the Complainant and/or Respondent.
In all cases, the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting has the discretion to determine whether an informal resolution is appropriate to the circumstances.
In addition to the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting, the following resources are also available to assist with facilitating discussions and mediating conflicts:
- Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, email@example.com, including its Restorative Justice initiative
- Employee and Labor Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org
- University Ombudsperson, email@example.com
2.8 Formal Investigation
The Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting may conduct a formal investigation into allegations of Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation when:
- Attempts at informal resolution between a Complainant and Respondent are unsuccessful;
- A Complainant decides not to resolve the matter informally and instead chooses to pursue a formal investigation; or
- The Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting determines that a formal investigation is warranted.
The Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting may also investigate and resolve possible or alleged violations of other University policies, including but not limited to the University Code of Conduct and Code of Student Conduct, that are ancillary and related to the allegations in the formal complaint.
Once a formal complaint is submitted, the Respondent will be provided a copy of the formal complaint. In addition, in the case of a faculty or staff Respondent, the respondent’s supervisor or dean will be notified that the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting has opened an investigation for a potential Policy violation. The Respondent will be given seven (7) business days to respond in writing to the allegations; however, a written response to the allegations is not required in order to move forward with the case.
The investigator may conduct interviews with and request relevant documents, emails, text messages, or other records from the Complainant, Respondent, witnesses, or any other individuals or offices.
Once all relevant information has been collected, the investigator will evaluate the information, prepare an investigation report, and make a determination as to whether the Respondent violated the Policy.
2.8.1 Standard of Proof for a Formal Investigation
In all stages of the process, the University will apply the preponderance of the evidence standard when determining whether the Policy has been violated. The totality of the circumstances will be considered in this determination.
2.8.2 Determination Following a Formal Investigation
At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will determine whether or not the Respondent violated the Policy and issue a determination letter to the Respondent, as well as OSCCS for students, the relevant senior officer for staff, and the relevant dean for faculty. The determination letter will include a recommended range of discipline if a violation of the Policy is found to have occurred.
220.127.116.11 Recommendation of Discipline
In the event of a violation of the Policy, the investigator will make a recommendation of a range of discipline consistent with other complaints of similar nature and scope. Discipline issued in connection with this SOP will be made by (i) OSCCS, in consultation with the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting, for students, (ii) the relevant senior officer, in consultation with the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting and UHR, for staff, and (iii) the relevant dean, in consultation with the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting, for faculty, to ensure consistency and fairness when violations are determined to have occurred. The discipline will be proportionate to the frequency and severity of the conduct. Discipline will be designed to remedy the Policy violation and prevent the recurrence of the prohibited conduct. Examples of discipline that may be issued in connection with a violation of the Policy include, without limitation, a requirement not to repeat or continue the discriminatory or harassing conduct; a requirement to participate in training; an oral or written reprimand; denial of a merit pay increase or promotion; reassignment; probation; and suspension, expulsion, termination, or other separation from the University. Discipline may be issued against any student, faculty, or staff member who is determined to have violated the Policy or anyone who has a responsibility to report alleged violations of the Policy and fails to do so.
In matters involving faculty Respondents, if the relevant dean determines that there is adequate cause for separation of a term appointment or revocation of tenure and/or dismissal, the relevant dean will make this recommendation to the Provost and the President who will consider the recommendation and follow the appropriate procedure as provided for in the Faculty Rules and Regulations.
In matters involving staff Respondents, if the relevant senior officer determines there is adequate cause for the separation or termination, the relevant senior officer will make this recommendation to the Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations who will follow the appropriate procedure as stated by University policy or applicable collective bargaining agreement.
2.9 Appeal Process
The Respondent has the right to appeal a finding of a violation of the Policy and/or the resulting discipline. The appeal officer will be the Dean of Students for student Respondents, the Vice President for Human Resources for staff Respondents and the Provost for faculty Respondents. If there is a real or perceived conflict of interest for an appeal officer, the Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy shall serve in this role or another officer whom the President shall designate. Requests for appeal, including any supporting information, must be submitted in writing to the appeal officer within five (5) business days following the receipt of the determination letter.
2.9.1 Basis of Appeal
Appeals must be based on one or more of the following limited grounds:
- Substantial procedural error that materially affected the outcome;
- Material, new evidence not reasonably available at the time of the investigation that could affect the outcome of the matter;
- A decision or discipline that is clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence.
2.9.2 Authority of Appeal Officer
The appeal officer’s responsibility will be strictly limited to determining if a substantial procedural error that materially affected the outcome has occurred, material new evidence was not reasonably available at the time of the investigation that could affect the outcome of the matter, or a decision or discipline was made that is clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence.
The appeal officer will have five (5) business days, following the receipt of the appeal to acknowledge the receipt of the appeal request. The appeal review will be conducted within a reasonable timeframe. If any or all of the grounds for appeal are found by the appeal officer, the appeal will be granted. If the appeal is denied, the matter is closed, and the investigator’s determination and the discipline imposed is final and not subject to further appeal.
There are two possibilities in the event that an appeal is granted. The appeal officer may, at their discretion:
- Remand the case to the investigator and provide instructions regarding the nature and extent of the investigator’s consideration; or
- Modify the decision and/or discipline consistent with the appeal officer’s findings. This decision is final and not subject to further appeal.
If the case is remanded to the investigator, the investigator will consider the matter in accordance with the instructions of the appeal officer, determine whether the Respondent violated the Policy, and make a recommendation of a range of discipline. Discipline will be imposed in accordance with Section 18.104.22.168. The Respondent may then appeal the finding and discipline in accordance with Section 2.9.
2.10 Notice to Complainant
Following (i) the outcome of the appeal or (ii) the determination by the investigator and imposition of discipline (if applicable) if no appeal is filed, a Complainant will receive written notice of actions taken in response to their formal complaint, including consequences imposed on a Respondent, subject to University policy and any state and federal confidentiality obligations, including but not limited to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The notice provided to the Complainant will also advise the Complainant to report any recurrence of the alleged conduct or any acts of retaliation.
2.11 Timeframe of the Formal Investigation
The University seeks to complete its investigation and disciplinary process, if any, as promptly as possible. A formal investigation process will take an average of sixty (60) business days. The length of investigations may vary with the complexity and unique factors in each case. Examples of such factors include, but are not limited to, circumstances in which critical witnesses are unavailable, University breaks, or if law enforcement requests the University to temporarily halt its investigation for a period of time.
Below is an overview of the approximate time associated with the major stages of the formal investigation process after the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting receives a formal complaint. All timeframes set forth in this process are estimates and may be adjusted at the discretion of the Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting due to certain circumstances of the scope of the investigation. The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of any delays or extensions of these timeframes and will be provided with a revised timeline to resolve the formal complaint.
- Notice to the Respondent – Two (2) business days from receipt of the formal complaint
- Response to the formal complaint by the Respondent – Seven (7) business days from delivery of written notice of the formal complaint
- Investigation – Thirty (30) business days
- Determination Letter – Seven (7) business days from completion of the investigation
- Right to Appeal – Five (5) business days from the delivery of the determination letter
- Appeal Receipt Acknowledgement – Five (5) business days after receiving appeal
2.12 Reasonable Modifications
Individuals with disabilities may request reasonable modifications to these procedures. Students should contact Student Accessibility Services at SAS@brown.edu or 401-863-9588. Faculty and staff should contact University Human Resources and visit this website for additional information. Third parties should contact the ADA/504 Coordinator at ADA_504@brown.edu.
In all cases in this SOP when an individual is referred to by their position, it shall also include their designee.
All individuals to whom this SOP applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this SOP. University managers and supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this SOP and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
Supervisors are required to report promptly to the Subject Matter Contact identified in Section 6.3 of this SOP all instances or allegations of prohibited conduct that are disclosed to, observed by, or otherwise known to them.
5.0 Related Information
The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this SOP and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.
5.1 Related University Policies:
- University Code of Conduct
- Code of Student Conduct
- Employment Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities Policy
- Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy
- Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Relationship and Interpersonal Violence, and Stalking Policy
- Leaves of Absence Policy
- Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy
- Non-Fraternization Policy
- Non-Retaliation Policy
- Corporation’s Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action
5.2 Related SOPs:
- Student Conduct Procedures
- Title IX Grievance Procedure
- Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Complaint Procedure
5.3 Related Forms:
5.4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
5.5 Other Related Information:
Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies:
- Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, Phone: 401-222-2661
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Boston Office, Phone: 1-800-669-4000
- Office of Civil Rights, Region 1 U.S. Department of Education, Phone: 617-289-0111
- Providence Police Department, Phone: 401-272-3121
- Rhode Island Attorney General, Phone: 401-274-4400
6.0 SOP Owner and Contact
6.1 SOP Owner:
Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services
6.2 SOP Approved by:
Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services
6.3 Contact Information:
Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting in the Division of Campus Life
7.0 SOP History
7.1 SOP Issue Date:
November 9, 2021
7.2 SOP Effective Date:
February 2, 2024
7.3 SOP Update/Review Summary:
Previous SOP version(s) superseded by this SOP:
Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Resolution SOP, Effective Date: December 7, 2023
Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Resolution SOP, Effective Date: November 9, 2021