Procedures

EOAA Procedures - General

EOAA Procedures - General

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) responds to reports of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, nepotism, and related retaliation on the Twin Cities campus through informal problem solving or formal investigation. EOAA also conducts all sexual misconduct investigations system-wide.

EOAA is not a confidential reporting resource. Once EOAA becomes aware of information that may violate the University’s discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation policies, we may have an obligation to take some responsive action to prevent further misconduct from occurring. However, we try to work with individuals to discuss a variety of ways to appropriately address the concerns raised. In most cases involving student sexual misconduct, EOAA will not investigate if the impacted person does not want an investigation.

EOAA is available to meet with individuals to discuss our processes. We invite you to schedule a preliminary meeting to have a general discussion about our processes before deciding if you want to report specific concerns or initiate an investigation.

We also encourage individuals to consult with confidential resources at the University for support. Please consult with these offices individually about their ability to meet with you confidentially.

Employee Conduct Consultation

Employee Conduct Consultation

EOAA usually begins by meeting with the individual who has requested a consultation to:

  • Learn about the individual’s concerns and the circumstances surrounding the situation;
  • Explore different approaches to addressing the situation;
  • Determine if EOAA is an appropriate University resource to address the concerns and, if so, initiate an EOAA process; and/or
  • Advise the individual of other available University resources for resolution and/or support.

Employee Conduct Informal Procedures

Employee Conduct Informal Procedures

After an initial consultation, an EOAA staff member may be able to address the individual’s concerns without conducting a formal investigation. These efforts may include:

  • Conducting an initial inquiry to gather additional information about the report;
  • Providing education or coaching to the respondent or complainant;
  • Providing resources or recommendations to the respondent, a supervisor, or human resources representative;
  • Providing information to the individuals involved that may help to resolve the conflict;
  • Making changes to an employee's workflow or work location;
  • Establishing a plan for monitoring future misconduct; and
  • Exploring other possible resolutions.

Employee and Third Party Conduct Procedures – Sexual Misconduct

Employee and Third Party Conduct Procedures – Sexual Misconduct

University policies prohibit sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence. Upon receiving a report that a person experienced sexual misconduct by an employee or third party, EOAA reaches out to that impacted person to provide resources for personal support and information about formal and informal options to respond to the sexual misconduct. 

Formal Investigation and Grievance Process
An investigation and grievance process against an employee or third-party respondent is initiated when:  1) a complainant files a formal complaint; or 2) the Title IX Coordinator signs a formal complaint because an investigation is needed to comply with legal anti-discrimination requirements, because campus safety is threatened, or because an investigation is otherwise deemed to be the most appropriate and effective response.

For more information about the investigation and grievance process, review and appeal opportunities, and possible outcomes, please see the Resource Guide on Sexual Misconduct: Resource Guide for Complainants, Respondents, and Witnesses in Sexual Misconduct Cases and EOAA’s recommendations for responsive action when an employee has violated the University’s policies against sexual misconduct or discrimination.

Informal Problem-Solving Process
In some situations involving an employee or third-party respondent, the University can address the concerns and prevent prohibited conduct through an informal problem-solving process.  An informal problem-solving process may be appropriate in the following cases, among others: 1) with an anonymous complainant; 2) where the alleged conduct does not rise to the level of prohibited conduct; 3) where the complainant does not want to initiate a grievance process and an informal problem-solving process may effectively deter future prohibited conduct; or 4) where the alleged conduct is likely covered by academic freedom or free speech protections.  Complainants should contact EOAA to learn more about informal problem-solving processes.

Unwelcome Conduct on the Basis of Sex: Harassment Based on Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexual Orientation

Title IX and University policy prohibit sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination.  Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.  The University responds to complaints of harassment based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation in the same ways that it responds to other forms of sexual harassment as described in this Resource Guide.  

Employee Conduct Formal Procedures – Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation

Employee Conduct Formal Procedures – Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation

Depending on the circumstances, a formal investigation may be appropriate.

The nature and scope of an investigation will be determined based on the report and additional information gathered during the investigation, and will typically include the following elements:

  • One or more interviews of the complainant, where the complainant will have the opportunity to describe the conduct giving rise to the report, provide evidence, and identify witnesses;
  • Written notice to the respondent of the allegations;
  • One or more interviews of the respondent, where the respondent will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations, provide evidence, and identify witnesses;
  • Witness interviews and gathering of other evidence; and
  • Review and analysis of the evidence.

At the conclusion of an investigation, EOAA prepares a report that includes a summary of the evidence collected and an analysis and conclusion as to whether a violation of University policy occurred.

For more information about a formal discrimination, harassment, or related retaliation investigation, please see the following:

Student Conduct Procedures - Sexual Misconduct

Student Conduct Procedures - Sexual Misconduct

University policies, including the Student Conduct Code, prohibit sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence. Upon receiving a report that a person experienced sexual misconduct by a student, EOAA reaches out to that impacted person to provide resources for personal support and information about formal and informal options to respond to the sexual misconduct. EOAA will not share the impacted person's information or initiate an investigation unless the impacted person wants this, except where an investigation is needed to comply with legal anti-discrimination requirements or when campus safety is threatened.

Formal Investigation and Grievance Process

To initiate an investigation and grievance process against a student respondent, a complainant must file a formal complaint.  For more information about the investigation and grievance process, review and appeal opportunities, and possible outcomes, please see the Resource Guide on Sexual Misconduct: Resource Guide for Complainants, Respondents, and Witnesses in Sexual Misconduct Cases. 

Informal Problem-Solving Process
In some situations involving a student respondent, the complainant may initiate an informal problem-solving process to address concerns and prevent prohibited conduct.  Below are two examples of available informal problem-solving processes.

1. Notice and Resources Letter to Student Respondent

EOAA can send a Notice & Resources letter to a student respondent that communicates some or all of the following: the complainant’s concern that the respondent engaged in unwelcome or nonconsensual sexual conduct;
the negative impact of this conduct on the complainant; that EOAA is not initiating an investigation at this time because the complainant does not want an investigation or for another identified reason; information about the University’s policies prohibiting sexual misconduct and retaliation; information about resources for education and personal support, potentially including an invitation for the respondent to meet with a resource to discuss the reported conduct; and at the complainant’s request, a statement that the complainant does not want any further contact with the respondent.

This option is available to complainants on all of the University’s campuses when the respondent is a student.  A complainant who participates in this option retains the ability to initiate a University or law enforcement investigation at any time.  Complainants should contact EOAA to learn more about this option.

2. Voluntary Agreement Process When Both Parties are Students on the Twin Cities Campus

The Aurora Center offers a voluntary agreement process, through which a complainant and respondent can agree to non-disciplinary steps that aim to:  1) inform the respondent that the complainant believes that the respondent engaged in sexual misconduct; 2) help the respondent to avoid engaging in behavior that has a further negative impact on the complainant or has a similar impact on others in the future; and/or 3) address the harm caused to the complainant and possibly to the community by the respondent’s conduct. 

The process does not involve any meetings between the parties.  A complainant who participates in a voluntary agreement process retains the ability to initiate a University or law enforcement investigation at any time.  However, the voluntary agreement process is not available if a University or law enforcement investigation of the reported sexual misconduct is in process or has been pursued to conclusion.  The voluntary agreement process is also only available in cases where both parties are students on the Twin Cities campus.  

The voluntary agreement process is initiated by a complainant and moves forward if the respondent agrees to participate. Complainants should contact The Aurora Center to discuss if their situation is eligible to pursue a voluntary agreement. 

3. Other Options

Please contact EOAA to discuss whether other informal options may be available.

Unwelcome Conduct on the Basis of Sex: Harassment Based on Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sexual Orientation

Title IX and University policy prohibit sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination.  Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.  The University responds to complaints of harassment based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation in the same ways that it responds to other forms of sexual harassment as described in this Resource Guide.  

    Nepotism Procedures

    Nepotism Procedures

    The Board of Regents’ Nepotism and Personal Relationships Policy governs conflicts of interest that result from personal relationships among members of the University community.  When a nepotism situation exists, both parties in the personal relationship must report the situation to an appropriate responsible administrator. Other University members are encouraged to report nepotism situations about which they are aware to an appropriate responsible administrator.

    Responsible administrators who become aware that a nepotism situation may exist must take effective responsive action by: eliminating the nepotism situation; effectively mitigating the nepotism situation in ways that allow both parties in the personal relationship to remain in their current University positions; or, if the nepotism situation can only be eliminated or effectively mitigated by removing one or both of the parties from their University positions, requesting that the senior administrator determine whether to grant an exception to this policy.  Under this procedure, EOAA can consult with administrators and human resources, but does not need to approve or otherwise be involved in these decisions.  Other information about these procedures can be found in the Procedure and FAQ documents associated with this policy.

    In some cases, a nepotism situation can be effectively mitigated by the implementation of a Management Plan.  A template Management Plan can be found online.  Changes and additions to this template often are required to fit the particular situation.

    EOAA can also investigate complaints about potential nepotism, following the same process described above in the case of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.