What happens when I file a complaint?
This information applies to anyone (students, faculty, staff, applicants, and all other members of the community) wishing to file a complaint related to harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment, or Title IX as outlined on this website. This webpage describes, in general terms, the process involved in considering and investigating typical complaints brought forward to the Office of Equity and Diversity. Circumstances in individual cases vary and may require different handling, within the discretion of the university.
For purposes of our complaint process, the individual alleged to have been subjected to harassment or discrimination is referred to as the "complainant" and the person against whom the complaint is filed is the "respondent."
If you feel someone has sexually harassed you, or has discriminated against or harassed you because of your membership in a protected class (such as race, gender, sexual identity, military status, marital status, age, national origin or religion), call our office at (213) 740-5086. We will arrange for an investigator to interview you. Although we encourage you to make an appointment, complaint investigators are generally available for walk-in appointments as well.
To make an appointment call (213) 740-5086 at UPC or (323) 442-2020 at HSC.
Prior to the interview, you should complete our complaint form. While doing so is not required, it will greatly assist us in more efficiently handling your concerns. Either bring the completed form to your interview or one will be provided to you for completion when you arrive. Those with disabilities will be assisted by our staff in filling out the complaint form.
While some questions can be answered by telephone, your inquiry does not become an official complaint until our office has conducted this initial in-depth interview. After the interview, we will advise you whether or not our office will investigate your complaint. In some cases, your complaint may be referred to a more appropriate office for handling if it does not fall within the purview of the Office of Equity and Diversity.
Once the investigator determines that an investigation is warranted, we will advise the respondent of the allegations against him or her. The respondent will be allowed to answer the allegations. In most cases, we will also inform the respondent's chair or supervisor of the allegations, and the dean or vice president of the appropriate school or department will be advised of the complaint. Although our goal is to limit the number of individuals who may learn about your complaint, we cannot guarantee confidentiality.
Investigators try to meet face to face with respondents, administrators, and witnesses to encourage interactive dialogue.
We investigate complaints by reviewing relevant documents, interviewing relevant witnesses, and viewing other evidence as may be available. While anonymity cannot be guaranteed, witness testimony will not be shared with either the respondent or the complainant. Our office has the discretion to determine how many witnesses will be interviewed, as well as the order of such interviews.
The investigator will contact you as needed; for instance, when evidence is disputed or when we require further information. Even after the investigation is underway, you may continue to provide additional evidence to be considered.
The length of time it will take to complete the investigation will vary based on the complexity of the complaint and other factors such as witness availability, although our goal is to resolve all complaints as efficiently and promptly as possible. Absent extenuating circumstances, the university endeavors to complete investigations within 45 days from the date of completion of an intake interview.
Designated individuals, including the complainant, respondent, Executive Director of Equity and Diversity, Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources (in cases against staff) and the Provost (in cases against faculty) will be notified of the status of ongoing investigations. When appropriate, we will also notify supervisors and the senior vice president of the administrative unit or the dean.
We use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard for determining whether university policies against harassment and discrimination have been violated. This means that, if the investigator finds it is more likely than not that the alleged misconduct occurred, the investigator will conclude that there was a violation of university policy.
Once a decision as to the outcome of the complaint is made, we will send to both the complainant and respondent a letter with a brief summary of the facts and findings, reason for the decision, and legal standard applied.
If our office determines that there is an insufficient basis to conclude that harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment, threats or actual retaliation has occurred ("insufficient basis"), that will conclude the university's investigation.
If the Office of Equity and Diversity determines there is a sufficient basis to conclude that a staff member committed harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment, threats or actual retaliation, the Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources will issue a written ruling stating the disciplinary action the university will impose and any other corrective action the university will take. Copies of this ruling will be given to the complainant and to the respondent.
Any disciplinary action the university has determined should be imposed on respondent must take effect no sooner than 10 business days after he or she has received a copy of the ruling, unless the Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources determines that immediate action is necessary to address a risk of ongoing harassment or retaliation, or is in the best interest of the university. Examples of possible disciplinary sanctions include verbal counseling, written disciplinary warning, demotion, suspension, or termination of employment, depending upon the severity of the conduct.
If the Office of Equity and Diversity determines there is a sufficient basis to conclude that a faculty member committed harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment, threats or actual retaliation, Vice Provost Marty Levine or a person authorized to act on his behalf will issue a written ruling stating the disciplinary action the university will impose and any other corrective action the university will take. Copies of this ruling will be given to the complainant and to the respondent.
Any disciplinary action the university has determined should be imposed on respondent must take effect no sooner than 10 business days after he or she has received a copy of the ruling, unless the Vice Provost determines that immediate action is necessary to address a risk of ongoing harassment or retaliation, or is in the best interest of the university. The range of possible sanctions is outlined in the Faculty Handbook.
For students, the range of possible sanctions is found in SCampus and the Student Conduct Code (Also see Student Judicial Affairs & Community Standards website). Possible sanctions range from disciplinary warnings and loss of privileges to suspension or dismissal, including loss of degree.
Appeals of determination or disciplinary action
Please note that the Office of Equity and Diversity does not determine what discipline, if any, is appropriate, regardless of whether respondent is staff, faculty or a student. Any disciplinary action which may be taken as the result of findings made in these investigations is made in accordance with university policies, which include the Faculty Handbook, staff employment policies, discrimination and sexual harassment policies, and SCampus.
For complaints handled by a Senior Investigator, the complainant may appeal an "insufficient basis" finding by written appeal to the Executive Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity. For complaints investigated by the Executive Director, the appeal should be directed to the Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources. The written appeal must be received within 15 business days of the date on the insufficient basis finding.
In regard to disciplinary action against staff, the respondent may file a written appeal before 10 business days have elapsed with the Senior Vice President for Administration. He or she must reply to the appeal within 10 business days of receipt, notifying the respondent of the decision either upholding or overturning the ruling of the Associate Senior Vice President for Human Resources. The appeal process does not delay imposition of disciplinary action against a staff employee.
In regard to disciplinary action against faculty, the respondent may file a written appeal before 10 business days have elapsed with the Vice Provost.
Cooperation and no retaliation
All university faculty, staff and students are required to cooperate in the investigative process and are prohibited from retaliating against anyone who has brought forth a complaint as outlined on this webpage, or against anyone who has participated as a witness in an investigation by the Office of Equity and Diversity. Retaliation will not be tolerated.
Any person found to have been subjected to harassment or discrimination may access free counseling services. Such services are also available to others who have been affected by harassment or discrimination, as well as to the person who engaged in the harassment or discrimination. For students, contact the Center for Women and Men. Students found to have been subjected to harassment or discrimination may also access academic support services through the Center for Women and Men, or through Student Affairs. For staff and faculty, counseling services are available through the Center for Work and Family Life.