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Harassment and Discrimination Prevention, Complaint Handling and Conflict Resolution. Topics. Policy overview Introduction to conflict resolution Handling discrimination or harassment situations Minimizing perceptions of harassment or discrimination
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Harassment and Discrimination Prevention, Complaint Handling and Conflict Resolution
Topics • Policy overview • Introduction to conflict resolution • Handling discrimination or harassment situations • Minimizing perceptions of harassment or discrimination • Training opportunities, including online resources
Definitions of Harassment 1. “Sexual coercion [quid pro quo]”:Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature when… • Employment or educational decisions based on accepting or rejecting conduct • “Welcomeness” depends on complainant, not intent of respondent • Always sexual • Power difference • Beware “consensual” relationships
Definitions of Harassment (cont.) • 2. “ ‘Hostile’ or Intimidating Environment”: • Unwelcome behavior that unreasonably interferes with work; academics. • At VT, based on protected characteristic, incl. sex • Reasonable person find hostile, threatening or intimidating. • Respondent may be a peer
Impact v. Intent • Intent is not relevant in determining whether behavior is harassment. What matters is impact of behavior on work environment. • The statement, "I didn't mean anything by it," is not a valid defense of harassing behavior. • However, intent can be a factor in choosing corrective action
Everyone should expect to be treated with… • Respect • Fairness • Dignity
Options: • Informal resolution • Formal processes
Informal Resolution— Possible options: • Speaking directly to respondent • Seeking assistance from • Supervisor • Human resources professional • Faculty member • Employee Assistance Program • Administrator • Women’s Center • OEO • Conflict resolution, including mediation
Features of informal resolution: • Ordinarily is less disruptive. • Takes less time • Affords more privacy • Less risky • Parties usually have more control over outcome (with exceptions) • More likely to allow parties to associate in future. • Can allow win/win solutions • Can provide model for future dispute resolution.
OEO OEO Formal resolution—sometimes appropriate: • Formal investigation by OEO • Formal complaint to OEO • State Employee Grievance Procedure • Federal EEOC/ State Human Rights • State Office of Equal Employment Services • Police • Litigation
If Supervisor is Aware of a Situation HR OEO Provost • “Doing nothing” is always the wrong response; • Treat claim seriously, no matter how “improbable” you think it is. Do not assess credibility; • Inform and get help from appropriate resources immediately; • Confidentiality cannot be assured, but protect privacy. Share information only on need-to-know basis; • Act promptly. Don’t wait for formal or written complaint!
Retaliation, by Respondent or management, violates VT policy and is illegal. And don’t penalize or discourage… • Bringing a complaint/grievance • Consulting with other offices • Complaining to outside agencies • Contacting the police • Consulting a lawyer or filing a lawsuit
To avoid creating perceptions of harassment/discrimination • Treat staff, colleagues and students with respect and dignity. Avoid embarrassing people; • Get help promptly with performance problems. • Insist that people treat each other with respect, in your area or others; HR
To avoid creating perceptions of harassment/discrimination (cont.) • Maintain a professional relationship; Avoid personal comments or issues —yours or theirs • Continue to set and model standards of behavior when on VT business—even off campus, in the field, at conferences, and overseas. There is no “300 mile limit”.
Special note on sexual harassment of students: “Notice” to Institution …if a responsible employee‘knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known,’ about the harassment.
OEO JA What is a “responsible employee”? Any employee who… • has the authority to take action to redress harassment, • has the duty to report to appropriate school officials sexual harassment or other misconduct, or • a student could reasonably believehas this authority or responsibility.