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121 - Sexual Harassment Policy

121.01 Policy Statement

The University of West Georgia (the University) is committed to maintaining a fair and respectful environment for living, working, and studying.  To that end, and in accordance with federal and state law and Board of Regents’ policy, the University prohibits any member of the faculty, staff, administration, student body, or visitors to campus, whether they be guests, patrons, independent contractors or clients, regardless of the sex of the other party, from sexually harassing any other member of the University community.  Reports of sexual harassment will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University.

121.02 Definition of Sexual Harassment

Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, “sexual harassment” is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or status in a course, program or activity.
  2. Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting such individual.
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual’s work or educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or learning environment; or of interfering with one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.

121.03 Examples of Sexual Harassment

  1. Threats to make an adverse employment or academic decision if another person refuses to engage in sexual activities.
  2. Demands that another person engage in sexual activities in order to obtain or retain employment or academic benefits.
  3. Promises, implied or direct, to give employment or academic benefits if another person engages in sexual activities.
  4. Unwelcome and unnecessary touching or other sexually suggestive physical contact, or threats to engage in such conduct.
  5. Indecent exposure.
  6. Invasion of sexual privacy.
  7. Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual comments and questions, and other sexually oriented conduct that is directed against a specific individual and persists despite its rejection.
  8. Conduct, even that not specifically directed at the complainant, which is sufficiently pervasive, severe or persistent to alter the conditions of the complainant’s employment or status as a student and create a hostile working or learning environment, when viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person of the complainant’s gender.

121.04 Other Violations of the Sexual Harassment Policy

Other violations of this policy may include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Retaliations against a person who has made a report or filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment, or participated as a witness in a sexual harassment investigation.
  2. Disregarding, failing to investigate adequately, or delaying investigation of allegations of sexual harassment, when responsibility for reporting and/or investigating sexual harassment charges comprises part of one’s supervisory duties.

121.05 Supervisory Relationships

No individual who is in a position of authority over another, either in the employment or educational context, has the authority to sexually harass others by virtue of his or her supervisory role.  The University does not in any way, expressly or implied, condone the harassment of a student or employee by the supervisor.

121.06 Consensual Relationships

When one party has a professional relationship towards the other, or stands in a position of authority over the other, even an apparently consensual sexual relationship may lead to sexual harassment or other breaches of professional obligations.

121.07 Reporting Sexual Harassment

All students and employees are encouraged to report any sexual harassment that they experience, observe, hear about, or believe may be occurring, to any faculty or staff member with whom they feel comfortable.  Any person to whom sexual harassment has been reported is responsible for notifying the Affirmative Action/Title IX officer (X6403).  Administrators, directors, and supervisors, in charge of staff members, have a legal obligation to report incidents of sexual harassment to the Affirmative Action officer.  From that point forward, the Affirmative Action officer will advise the aggrieved regarding additional steps in the grievance process.

The following offices should be understood to be safe places where students and employees can go to report sexual harassment or receive counseling on how to deal with a sexual harassment issue.
 
Stephanie Rooks
Director of Human Resources
Affirmative Action Officer
(770) 836-6403  

Melanie McClellan
Vice President and Dean of Students 116 Mandeville Hall
(770) 836-6423  

Leslie Cottrell, MD
Director of Health Services Infirmary
(770) 836-6452

121.08 Violations of the Sexual Harassment Policy

The University will not tolerate sexual harassment of its students and will promptly investigate all allegations of sexual harassment.  Where sexual harassment is found, steps will be taken to end it immediately.  In those instances where it is determined that an individual has sexually harassed another, that individual will be subject to appropriate discipline.  The level of discipline will depend on the severity of the harassment.  If the investigation reveals a pattern of harassing behavior, or the conduct is aggravated, probation or termination may be appropriate.

To make deliberate false accusations of sexual harassment violates this policy.  In such instances, the complainant will be subject to disciplinary action.  However, failure to prove a claim of sexual harassment does not constitute proof of a false and/or malicious accusation.  Non-university visitors, guests, patrons, independent contactors or clients who fail to address sexual harassment of which they know or should have known (by their personnel or on premises under their control) of students or employees may be subjected to whatever sanctions the relationship with the organization permits.

121.09 Prohibition Against Retaliation

Students and employees who, in good faith, report what they believe to be sexual harassment, or who cooperate in any investigation, will not be subjected to retaliation.  Any student or employee who believes he/she has been the victim of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or cooperating in an investigation should immediately contact the affirmative Action/Title IX Officer.

121.10 Processing Sexual Harassment Reports and Complaints

All reports and complaints of sexual harassment will be promptly investigated and appropriate actions will be taken as expeditiously as possible.  Complaints and reports of sexual harassment should be reported as soon as possible after the incident(s) in order to be most effectively investigated.  The University will make reasonable efforts to protect the rights of both the complainant and the respondent.  The University will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed, and the witnesses in a manner consistent with the University’s legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to comply with any discovery or disclosure obligations required by law.

Definitions:

Affirmative Action/Title IX Officer – The Affirmative Action Officer is the individual or individuals designated by the President to be primarily responsible for coordinating education and training about sexual harassment to the University community and for investigating reports and complaints of sexual harassment in accordance with this procedure.  Name, telephone number and location in the annual notice will identify the Affirmative Action Officer.  The Affirmative Action Officer is authorized to designate other appropriately trained individuals to investigate sexual harassment complaints and reports as deemed appropriate.
Decision-making Authority – the Decision-making Authority in cases involving an employee of the University, is the individual to review investigative reports, to make findings whether the sexual harassment policy has been violated based upon the investigation, and to determine the appropriate action for the University to take based upon the findings.  The Decision-making Authority will be the appropriate Vice President or his/her designee who has supervisory authority over the Respondent(s) of the sexual harassment complaint or report.  If the complaint Respondent is a Vice President, the Authority will be the President.  If the complaint Respondent is the President, the Authority will be the Board of Regents.
  1. Sexual harassment between students should be treated as a disciplinary matter and will be processed by the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
  2. Investigation and Resolution.  The university’s complaint process, outlined herein, is the procedure to be used to end inappropriate behavior, investigate for the purpose of fact finding; and facilitate resolution of complaints involving allegations of sexual harassment.  The University reserves the right to investigate and resolve a complaint or report of sexual harassment regardless of whether the complainant pursues the complaint.  In such cases, the respondent shall be informed of the status of the investigation at reasonable times up until the University’s final disposition of the complaint as well as ensuring that the respondent is able to respond to the substance of the complaint during meetings convened by the Decision-making Authority to consider discipline based upon the substance of the investigation report.  These procedures do not replace the right of complainants to pursue other options or remedies available under the law.
  3.  Informal Process. The following procedures for informal resolution are optional.  The Affirmative Action/Title IX officer shall determine whether and/or how to proceed.  The goal of informal resolution is to stop inappropriate behavior, investigate, and facilitate resolutions, if possible.
If a complainant is able and feels safe, he or she should clearly explain to the alleged offender that the behavior is objectionable and request that it cease.  The complainant should do so as soon as possible after the incident occurs.  The complainant may utilize the assistance of the Affirmative Action/Title IX officer.  Communication with the alleged offender may be in person, on the telephone, or in writing.
If a complainant does not feel safe, or if the behavior does not stop, or if the complainant believes some adverse employment or educational consequences may result from the discussion, he or she should go to any member of staff or faculty who is at a higher level of supervision.  The supervisor should report the complaint to the Affirmative Action/Title IX officer.  The Affirmative Action/Title IX officer will work with the supervisor to facilitate a resolution of sexual harassment complaints at the local level when deemed appropriate.