Nondiscrimination Policy

Handbook of Operating Procedures 3-3020

Nondiscrimination Policy

University of Texas SealEffective October 12, 2018
Executive Sponsor: Vice President for Diversity and Community EngagementPolicy Owner: Executive Director - Office for Inclusion and Equity
I. Policy Statement 

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin ("University") to provide an educational and working environment that provides equal opportunity to all members of the University community. In accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits unlawful discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy[1], age, disability, citizenship, veteran status and genetic information. The University also prohibits discrimination on the basis of, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Procedures for filing discrimination complaints on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, are addressed by HOP 3-3031.  In this policy, the terms sex and gender are interchangeable.

 

Inquiries regarding this policy may be directed to the Office for Inclusion and Equity at 512-471-1849 or oie@austin.utexas.edu.

II. Reason for Policy 

This policy provides information regarding the University’s prevention and education efforts related to discrimination and harassment. The policy also explains how the University will proceed once it is made aware of the allegations of prohibited conduct in keeping with the University’s values and in order to meet the legal obligations of Title VI, Title VII, and Title IX, and other applicable laws.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to visitors, applicants for admission to or employment with the University, students, and employees of the University who allege discrimination by University employees, students, visitors, or contractors. [2]

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 
Complaint:

Complaint means a signed document or other report, including verbal reports (if appropriately acknowledged), alleging a violation of this policy.

Complainant:

Complainant means a person who submits a complaint alleging a violation of this policy.

Discrimination:

Conduct directed at a specific individual or a group of identifiable individuals that subjects the individual or group to treatment that adversely affects their employment or education because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Harassment:

As a form of discrimination is defined as verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual or group because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, citizenship, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression when such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to have the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's or group's academic or work performance; or of creating a hostile academic or work environment.

Notification:

Notification takes place two days after the date of posting of any document in the United States mail, properly addressed, or upon the date of receipt of any document, when placed in the campus mail, properly addressed. Written communications to a complainant are properly addressed when sent to the address given in the complaint or the last address given since the filing of the complaint. Notification may also take place on the date any document is sent by electronic mail and/or facsimile, when properly addressed.

Respondent:

Respondent means the person designated to respond to a complaint. Generally the respondent would be the person alleged to be responsible for the prohibited discrimination or harassment alleged in a complaint. The term "Respondent" may be used to designate persons with direct responsibility for a particular action or those persons with administrative responsibility for procedures and policies in those areas covered in a complaint.

Verbal conduct:

Is defined as oral, written, or symbolic expressions that:

  • personally describe or is personally directed at a specific individual or group of identifiable individuals; and
  • is not necessary to an argument for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea.

 

Constitutionally protected expression cannot be considered harassment under this policy. [3]

V. Website (for policy) 
https://policies.utexas.edu/policies/hop/3-3020
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Office for Inclusion and EquityPhone:512-471-1849Website:Email:oie@austin.utexas.edu
Office of the Dean of StudentsPhone:512-471-5017Website:Email:deanofstudents@austin.utexas.edu
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 

General Procedures

 

  1.  Reporting

A person who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy should report the incident to any University official, administrator, supervisor or any other employee who as the authority to take action to redress an alleged violation and/or has the duty of reporting such allegations as defined under "responsible employee" in HOP 3-3031. Students are encouraged to report such incidents to the Office of the Dean of Students; employees and campus visitors are encouraged to report to the Office for Inclusion and Equity ("OIE"). Incidents should be reported as soon as possible after the time of their occurrence. No person is required to report discrimination or harassment to the alleged offender.

 

  1. Reporting Responsibility

Every supervisor, administrator, University official or any other employee who has the authority to take action to redress an alleged violation and/or has the duty of reporting such allegations as defined under "responsible employee" in HOP 3-3031 is responsible for promptly reporting incidents of discrimination and harassment in violation of this policy that come to their attention to either the Office of the Dean of Students or OIE.

 

  1. Responsibility to Cooperate

Faculty, staff, and students must cooperate with University investigations concerning allegations of discrimination or harassment. Refusal to cooperate with an investigation may result in disciplinary action.

 

Informal Resolution Procedure

 

  1. Informal Resolution

Informal resolution may be an appropriate choice when the conduct involved is not of a serious or repetitive nature and disciplinary action is not required to remedy the situation. No formal investigation is involved in the informal resolution process and no finding is made.

 

A request for informal resolution should be made within 180 calendar days of the date of the alleged incident to either the Office of the Dean of Students or OIE, who will determine whether the nature of the problem is such that it can be resolved by agreement on an informal basis, and if so, which office will do so.

 

Methods for informal resolution may include, but are not limited to: coaching the person on how to directly address a situation which is causing a problem; mediating the dispute with the parties; aiding in the modification of a situation in which the offensive conduct occurred; assisting a department or division with the resolution of a real or perceived problem; or arranging a documented meeting with the alleged offender that involves a discussion of the requirements of the Nondiscrimination Policy.

 

The University will document any informal resolution. Such documentation will be retained by the Office of the Dean of Students or OIE as appropriate and will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

 

Formal Complaint Resolution Procedure

 

  1. Complaint Procedure
  1. Complaint. A complaint alleging discrimination or harassment must be submitted to the Office for Inclusion and Equity or the Office of the Dean of Students. The complaint should contain the following information:
  • Name and UT Identification Number of the Complainant(s);
  • Contact information, including address, telephone, e-mail;
  • Name of person(s) directly responsible for alleged violation(s);
  • Date(s) and place(s) of alleged violation(s);
  • Nature of alleged violation(s) as defined in this policy;
  • Detailed description of the specific conduct that is the basis of alleged violation(s);
  • Copies of documents pertaining to the alleged violation(s);
  • Names of any witnesses to alleged violation(s) and witnesses’ contact information;
  • Action requested to resolve the situation;
  • Complainant's signature and date of filing; and
  • Any other relevant information.

While an investigation may begin on the basis of an oral complaint, the complainant is strongly encouraged to file a written complaint. If the complaint is not in writing, the investigator should prepare a statement of what he or she understands the complaint to be and seek to obtain verification of the complaint from the complainant.

 

  1. Time Limit. A signed complaint must be filed within 180 calendar days of the occurrence of the alleged violation in order to ensure prompt and efficient handling and resolution. At the discretion of OIE or the Office of the Dean of Students, the 180 day filing period may be extended for good cause.
  1. Acknowledgement. Within five (5) calendar days after receipt of a signed complaint, OIE or the Office of the Dean of Students, as appropriate, will send the complainant a brief acknowledgment of the complaint, stating that the complaint will be evaluated, and advising the complainant(s) that he or she will be contacted within a given time. The acknowledgment letter will include a copy of these complaint procedures.
  1. Complaint Evaluation. A formal investigation will be initiated if a complaint is complete, within the scope of this policy and articulates sufficient specific facts, which, if determined to be true, would support a finding that this policy was violated. The University may not proceed with a complaint investigation under a variety of circumstances, for instance:
  • a complaint fails to describe in sufficient detail the conduct that is the basis of the complaint;
  • the conduct described in the complaint is not covered by this policy;
  • the complaint has been withdrawn; or
  • an appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved, or has been offered and rejected.

In the event that a Formal Complaint has been filed and if it is determined that the University will not proceed with a complaint investigation, OIE or the Office of the Dean of Students, as appropriate, will send a notification letter explaining the reason(s) to the complainant. The notification letter will also include a statement informing the complainant that, within seven (7) calendar days of the notification, he or she may appeal the determination not to proceed with a complaint investigation to the vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement or the vice president for Student Affairs, as appropriate. The request for appeal must be a signed, written document articulating why the decision to dismiss the complaint was in error. The appropriate vice president will respond within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the appeal. If the decision to dismiss is upheld, that decision is final. If the decision to dismiss is overturned, the complaint is sent back to OIE or the Office of the Dean of Students, as appropriate, for investigation in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

 

Notwithstanding the above, OIE may initiate an investigation at the request of Human Resources representatives, deans, directors, department heads, or vice-presidents, or at OIE’s sole discretion when the facts or circumstances warrant such.

 

  1. Notification of Respondent. If it is determined that the University will proceed with a complaint investigation, OIE or the Office of the Dean of Students will give the respondent written notification of the complaint investigation. The notification letter will include a statement of the allegations to be investigated. The notification letter will provide the respondent an opportunity to submit a written response to the allegations within seven (7) calendar days, unless unusual circumstances warrant additional time. The notification letter will include a statement advising the respondent that retaliation against the complainant is prohibited and will subject the respondent to appropriate disciplinary action.
  1. Investigation Responsibility. The Office of the Dean of Students is responsible for conducting formal investigations of complaints against students alleging discrimination and harassment in violation of this policy [4]. OIE is responsible for conducting formal investigations of complaints against non-students alleging discrimination and harassment in violation of this policy. In the event that a respondent is a student and an employee, OIE will make a determination whether the alleged discriminatory act(s) relates to the respondent’s employment. OIE will only initiate an investigation and/or informal resolution if OIE determines that the alleged discriminatory act(s) relates to the respondent’s employment.  If a complaint is directed against an individual who would otherwise play a role in investigating and attempting to resolve the complaint, the function assigned to that person by these procedures will be delegated to another person.
  1. Investigative Process and Findings. The investigator will interview both the complainant and the respondent(s) and persons who are considered to have pertinent factual information related to the complaint. The investigator will also gather and examine documents relevant to the complaint. Facts will be considered on the basis of what is reasonable to persons of ordinary sensitivity and not on the particular sensitivity or reaction of an individual. Findings will be based on the totality of circumstances surrounding the conduct complained of, including but not limited to: the context of that conduct, its severity, frequency, and whether it was physically threatening, humiliating, or was simply offensive in nature.
  1. Advisor. During the complaint process, the complainant(s) and the respondent(s) may designate and thereafter be accompanied by an advisor of his or her choosing at meetings and interviews at which he or she is present; however, no advisor may examine witnesses or otherwise actively participate in a meeting or interview. An individual may only have one advisor present at a time.
  1. Submission of Evidence. During the complaint investigation process, the complainant(s) and the respondent(s) should provide OIE or the Office of the Dean of Students, as appropriate, with all documents and the identity of witnesses with a summary of the information the witness can provide regarding the issues raised in the complaint.
  1. Report of Findings and Recommendation - Complaints Against Non-Students and Student Employees
  1. The investigator will provide a proposed statement of findings, copies of relevant documents and any physical evidence considered to the appropriate vice president or designee within sixty (60)  days of receipt of the respondent's statement, unless unusual circumstances require more time. The appropriate vice president to act on complaints against faculty and staff will be the vice president or designee over for the area where the respondent is employed. The appropriate vice president to act on complaints against contractors and visitors will be the vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement or designee. If a complaint is directed against a vice president who would otherwise act on a complaint, the function assigned to that vice president will be delegated to another person.
  1. The appropriate vice president or designee will promptly notify the complainant and the respondent that the investigation has been completed and attach a copy of the proposed statement of findings. Student identifiable information, if any, which is confidential by law, will be redacted. Within ten (10) calendar days from the date of notification, the complainant and respondent may each submit, for consideration by the appropriate vice president or designee, such comments and corrections as they may have.
  1. Within fifteen (15) working days of the notification to the complainant and respondent that the investigation has been completed, the appropriate vice president or designee and the investigator should discuss the findings, and review the record, along with any comments and proposed corrections submitted by the complainant and respondent, if necessary. Further, the appropriate vice president or designee will take one of the following actions: a) request further investigation into the complaint; b) dismiss the complaint if the results of the completed investigation are inconclusive or there is insufficient reasonable, credible evidence to support the allegation(s); or c) find that this policy was violated.
  1. If the appropriate vice president or designee determines that this policy was violated, he or she, following consultation with the investigator or other knowledgeable persons as appropriate, shall determine a disciplinary action that is appropriate for the severity of the conduct, and take whatever other action is necessary to end the discrimination or harassment. Disciplinary actions can include, but are not limited to, written reprimands, the imposition of conditions, reassignment, suspension without pay, and termination.
  1. The appropriate vice president or designee will inform the complainant and respondent, and the appropriate unit head in writing of his or her decision, and will attach a copy of the final statement of findings. Copies of the vice president's or designee’s letter, the attached statement of findings, and relevant documents will also be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students or OIE as appropriate.
     
  1. Report of Findings and Recommendation - Complaints Against Students:
  1. The investigator will provide a proposed statement of findings, copies of relevant documents and any physical evidence considered to the Dean of Students, or his or her designee, within thirty (30) working days of receipt of the respondent's statement, unless unusual circumstances require more time.

The Dean of Students or designee and the investigator will meet within fifteen (15) working days to discuss the findings, and review the record.

 

  1. Within fifteen (15) working days from that meeting, the Dean of Students or designee shall take one of the following actions: a) request further investigation into the complaint; b) dismiss the complaint if the results of the completed investigation are inconclusive or there is insufficient reasonable, credible evidence to support the allegation(s); or c) find that this policy was violated.
  1. If the Dean of Students or designee determines that this policy was violated, the dean, following consultation with the investigator or other knowledgeable persons as appropriate, will determine whether to initiate a disciplinary action appropriate to the severity of the conduct pursuant to the General Information Catalog, Appendix C, Chapter 11 - Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities. Disciplinary actions can include, but are not limited to, a documented warning, the imposition of conditions, probation, suspension, and dismissal.
  1. As required by federal law, any disclosure of the findings and decision of the Office of the Dean of Students will be governed by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

 

Miscellaneous

 

  1. Grievance of a Disciplinary Action
  1. Any employee disciplined pursuant to this policy, except faculty, teaching assistants, assistant instructors or members of the University of Texas Police Department (each of whom are subject to separate procedures[2]), may grieve that action by submitting a written grievance, within ten (10) working days of the imposition of the disciplinary action, to the President's Office. Ordinarily, the president will assign responsibility for review and action on the appeal of the vice president's action to another vice president; however, when required by unusual circumstances, the president may review and handle a grievance pursuant to this policy.
  1. If the disciplinary action that is being grieved does not involve termination, demotion, or suspension without pay, the vice president will thoroughly review and finally decide the matter within thirty (30) calendar days of its receipt unless unusual circumstances require more time.
  1. If the disciplinary action that is being grieved involves the termination, demotion or suspension without pay of an employee who is covered by the Handbook of Operating Procedures, HOP 5-2420 the vice president who is assigned to review the grievance will follow the procedures for appealing such actions contained in that section. Complainants will be required to appear and testify at hearings that may be a part of such proceedings.
  1. Any student disciplined under this policy has the right to appeal as provided in General Information Catalog, Appendix C, Chapter 11- Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities.

 

  1. Retaliation Prohibited

A student, faculty, or staff member who retaliates in any way against an individual who has brought a complaint pursuant to this policy or participated in good faith in an investigation of such a complaint is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University.

 

  1.  Filing of False Complaints

Any person who knowingly and intentionally files a false complaint under this policy is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the University.

 

  1. Effect on Pending Personnel Actions

The filing of a discrimination or retaliation complaint will not stop or delay any evaluation or disciplinary action related to the complainant who is not performing up to acceptable standards or who has violated University rules or policies.

 

  1. Relationship of Complaint Process to Outside Agency Time Limits

The filing of a discrimination or harassment complaint under this policy does not excuse the complainant from meeting the time limits of outside agencies.

 

  1. Relationship to Grievance Procedure

This complaint procedure will also constitute the grievance procedure for complaints alleging unlawful discrimination. As used herein, "complaint" is synonymous with "grievance."

 

  1. Time Frames

Time frames mentioned in these procedures may be extended for good cause, such as holidays or when classes are not in session, or when it is necessary to complete an investigation due to difficulties reaching witnesses or parties to the complaint.

 

  1. Documentation and Confidentiality

The University will maintain documents related to complaints under this policy as required by law. The Office of the Dean of Students will be responsible for records related to complaints against students. The Office for Inclusion and Equity will be responsible for records related to complaints against non-students. The confidentiality of a complaint under this policy and all documents, correspondence, interviews and discussions relating to the investigation of the information contained in a complaint will be maintained on a need to know basis to the extent permitted by law. Any person who knowingly and intentionally makes an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information contained in a complaint or otherwise relating to the investigation of a complaint under this policy is subject to disciplinary action.

 

For Assistance: Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students or the Office for Inclusion and Equity.

 

Sources: Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended; Age Discrimination Act of 1975; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; Equal Pay Act of 1963; Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974; Executive Order of 11246; Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21; BOR 2.I.6; Previous policies: HOP 7.01 and 7.16



[1] Pregnancy Discrimination. Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

 

[2] Complaints of full-time faculty, including professional librarians with academic titles, who are notified that they will not be reappointed, or that the subsequent academic year will be their terminal appointment, and who contend that such decisions were made for unlawfully discriminatory reasons will be referred to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost for handling pursuant to Rule 31008 of the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System. Complaints of members of the University of Texas Police Department are subject to procedures set forth in https://police.utexas.edu/manual/b4.html.

 

[3] See Section 13-204 of the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities (Appendix C to the General Information Catalog) for further information concerning harassment; and Sec. 11-701(b) for information concerning enhanced student penalties for offenses motivated by race, color, or national origin.

 

[4] The president or designee who is specifically designated by the president for this purpose may authorize an independent investigation into matters that fall under this policy. In these instances, the investigators may be asked to perform any task related to an investigation under this policy and, if so directed, may report directly to the president and/or the designee.

 

VIII. Forms & Tools 

Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)

(512) 232-5050
Allows members of the University community to discuss their concerns about an individual’s behavior (available 24-hours a day)
https://www.utexas.edu/safety/bcal/

 

Campus Climate Response Team
http://diversity.utexas.edu/ccrt/reporting/

 

Counseling and Mental Health Center

(512) 471-3515
24-hour telephone counseling service at (512) 471-CALL (2255)
http://cmhc.utexas.edu

 

Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Faculty/Staff

Office for Inclusion and Equity
(512) 471-1849
http://titleix.utexas.edu/
 

Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Senior Associate Dean of Students
(512) 471-5017
titleix.utexas.edu/
 

Human Resources

(512) 471-4772
hrsc@austin.utexas.edu
http://hr.utexas.edu

 

University Ombuds

For students and staff: (512) 471-3825
For Faculty: (512) 471-5866

https://ombuds.utexas.edu/staff

Provides a neutral, informal, and independent space for information about University resources and processes for students, staff and faculty


Office for Inclusion and Equity

(512) 471-1849
equity@utexas.edu
http://equity.utexas.edu

 

Student Emergency Services in the Office of the Dean of Students

(512) 471-5017
Provides referrals within the University and in the Austin area when necessary
deanofstudents.utexas.edu/emergency

 

University Compliance Services

(877) 507-7321
hotline@compliance.utexas.edu
http://www.reportlineweb.com/utaustin

 

University Health Services

Appointments: (512) 471- 4955
24-hour Nurse Advice Line: (512) 475-6877
Health Promotion Resource Center: (512) 475-8252
http://healthyhorns.utexas.edu
 

University of Texas Police Department

Emergencies: 911
Non-emergencies: (512) 471-4441, enter "9"
http://www.utexas.edu/police/

 

University Title IX Coordinator

University Compliance Services
(512) 232-3992
titleix@austin.utexas.edu
http://titleix.utexas.edu/

 

XI. History 

Last reviewed & revised: August 28, 2018

 

Previous review date: April 30, 2008

            Editorial revisions made October 29, 2015