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Anti-Discrimination And Harassment Policies And Complaint Procedure

Administered by: The Office of Affirmative Action & Human Resources Development

Introduction
Hudson Valley Community College has established an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and a Sexual/Discrimination Harassment Policy that is consistent with Federal and State anti-discrimination legislation. The policies which are set forth below represent the College's ongoing commitment to providing an environment in both education and employment that is free from such unlawful discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status or marital status. In order to equitably and uniformly enforce these policies, the College must seek to balance the interests of those individuals or groups of individuals allegedly victimized by unlawful discrimination or harassment with the due process rights of the accused. To this end, the College has established a complaint procedure for the review of allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment. It is the goal of the College that these procedures serve as a mechanism through which the College may fairly and equitably identify, respond to and/or prevent incidents of unlawful discrimination and harassment on its campus and permit, if possible, the resolution of alleged acts of unlawful discrimination or harassment without resorting to the often expensive and time-consuming procedures of State and Federal enforcement agencies or courts.

The procedures set forth below are applicable to both employees and students of the College. Employee grievance procedures established through negotiated contracts, academic grievance review committees, student disciplinary grievance boards and any other procedures defined by contract shall continue to operate as before. It is important that neither the student nor the employee is required to pursue resolution of their complaints through the College's internal procedure. Rather a Complainant may, at his or her discretion, file a complaint with a court of competent jurisdiction or with an outside enforcement agency, such as the New York State Division of Human Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance of the United States Department of Labor.

The Affirmative Action Officer (hereinafter referred to as "AAO") shall investigate all complaints of discrimination and/or harassment when the allegation includes an employee of the college. The Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Development (hereinafter referred to as "VP for EM&SD") shall investigate all complaints of discrimination and/or harassment when the basis of the complaint is student to student. AAO/VP for EM&SD shall assist the Complainant in the use of the complaint form defining the charge(s); and AAO/VP for EM&SD shall provide the Complainant with information about the various options the Complainant has in terms of where a complaint may be filed. While the AAO/VP for EM&SD will provide, to the best of his/ her knowledge, information concerning the processes relevant to outside agencies or courts, AAO/VP for EM&SD is not an attorney at law and can provide no advice as to a Complainant's procedural or substantive rights with regards to agencies or courts, including deadlines for filing.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Compliance Statement from the President
It is the policy of the Board of Trustees of Hudson Valley Community College to ensure that persons associated with the College receive the fair and equal treatment prescribed within the tenets of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. All employment decisions are made and will continue to be made on the job-related, objective bases or merit, qualifications, competence and business necessity. Hudson Valley does not discriminate with regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, qualified special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, recently separated veterans, and other protected veterans, sexual orientation, and all other categories covered by law.

The Board of Trustees has entrusted me with the overall responsibility for equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. I expect the support of all employees in attaining and maintaining our goals for a workplace free of discrimination. Equal employment opportunity is not accomplished at the expense of any group or individual, but rather it is good business practice and it contributes to an organization enriched by diversity and excellence. As President, I am committed to ensuring that Hudson Valley acts affirmatively in developing avenues of entry, retention and mobility for persons in all job titles. The Affirmative Action Plan serves as the foundation for the College's good faith effort to ensure that a wider net is cast for protected group members as the vehicle by which the pool of applicants for vacancies is expanded. The Plan applies equally to all appointments of the Board of Trustees.

Hudson Valley recognizes that an effective affirmative action plan articulates specific results-oriented procedures to which good faith effort is applied. The goal of such procedures, in combination with good faith efforts, is equal employment opportunity; for procedures without effort to make them work are meaningless and effort, absent specific and meaningful procedures, is inadequate.

Employees of and applicants to the College will not be subject to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination because they have engaged or may engage in filing a complaint, assisting in a review, investigation, or hearing or have otherwise sought to obtain their legal rights related to any Federal, State, or local law regarding EEO for qualified individuals with disabilities or qualified protected veterans.

To this end, the President has entrusted Hudson Valley's Affirmative Action Officer with responsibility for implementation and maintenance of the Plan. The Officer may be contacted in Room 140, Administration Building, via telephone at (518) 629-8110 or via email at j.ogden@hvcc.edu.

The Affirmative Action Officer is responsible for monitoring the affirmative action plan and reporting periodically to the President. The Officer should be contacted in the event an Hudson Valley employee or prospective applicant perceives that he or she has not been treated in accord with the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy of the College.

As President, I wish to add my personal note of commitment to assuring that our College carries out our Equal Employment Opportunity policy and fulfills the obligations of our Affirmative Action Plan.

Dr. Andrew J. Matonak
President, Hudson Valley Community College

Sexual Harassment Policy
Sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Hudson Valley Community College is committed to providing an environment that is non-discriminatory, humane and respectful; one that supports and rewards employees and students on the basis of relevant considerations like merit, effort, competence, qualifications and business/academic necessity, and deters inappropriate conduct that occurs in the College's activities or operations.

Sexual harassment is unacceptable and in conflict with the mission and interests of the College. Sexually harassing conduct between supervisors and staff members or between faculty and students unfairly exploits the power inherent in the supervisor or faculty's role. Through salary increases, performances appraisals, academic advisement and academic evaluation, a supervisor or faculty member can have a decisive influence on a staff member's career or a student's academic development. Sexual harassment in this context exhibits a lack of decency and integrity, and is considered an abuse of power.

While sexual harassment typically occurs in situations where positions of power differentials exist between individuals, this policy also recognizes that sexual harassment can occur between individuals where no such power differential exists, such as in faculty-faculty or student-student interaction.

Either men or women can be sexual harassers and either men or women can be the victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can also occur between members of the same sex. Employees and students of either gender may make a claim of sexual harassment under this policy.

The College will not tolerate sexual harassment. The College will act promptly and equitably, within the framework of due process, to investigate alleged sexual harassment and to affect a remedy when such allegations are determined valid. Further, this Sexual Harassment Policy and the complaint procedures provided herein, shall be distributed campus-wide and internal training sessions may be made available to employees and students pertaining to sexual harassment.

Recognizing Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment takes many forms, ranging from sexual innuendoes made in the context of humor to physical assault. The key to determining whether a conduct constitutes sexual harassment is determining whether the behavior is unwelcomed and/or unreasonably interferes with an employee or student's performance or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment. Examples may include:

  • Verbal: Sexual innuendo, suggestive comments, sexual propositions, etc.
  • Non-Verbal: obscene gestures, suggestive or degrading sounds, etc.
  • Physical: Unwanted contact, such as groping, pinching, grabbing, etc.
  • Visual: Pin-up calendars, sexually suggestive or explicit cartoons, pictures, objects, etc.
  • Threatening: Demands for sexual favors, stalking, rape, etc.

Who You Can Go To For Help
To file a complaint of discrimination or harassment against an employee of HVCC, please contact:

Affirmative Action Officer
Room 140
Administration Building
(518) 629-8110
j.ogden@hvcc.edu

If you are a student and wish to file a complaint of discrimination or harassment against another student of HVCC, please contact:

Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Development
Room 159
Guenther Enrollment Services Center
(518) 629-7307
a.popovics@hvcc.edu

Title IX Compliance Statement
Title IX (Department of Education Amendment 1972) prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, such as a Federal grant or loan. It encourages recipients to take affirmative action to overcome effects of conditions, which may have resulted in exclusion of women from participation in specific education programs or activities. Title IX applies to student admissions and student affairs policy and the employment of staff in connection with the recipient's education programs/activities. It mandates the designation of a responsible employee to coordinate compliance with its provision, as well as the establishment of a complaint procedure to resolve student and employee complaints alleging unlawful discrimination.

It is the policy of the Board of Trustees of Hudson Valley Community College to ensure that persons associated with the College receives the fair and equal treatment prescribed within the tenets of equal opportunity. All decisions are made and will continue to be made on the job-related, objective bases of merit, competence, qualifications and business or academic necessity. Hudson Valley Community College does not discriminate with regard to race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or marital status or any other category protected by civil statute or regulation.

The College prohibits discrimination in all programs, policies, standards and activities, maintains an established complaint procedure and assigns compliance responsibility to the AAO/VP for EM&SD.

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT/SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINT PROCEDURES

COVERAGE: Employees, students, and prospective applicants of the College may use these procedures if they believe that they have been the victims of any unlawful discrimination or harassment at the College.

PURPOSE: The complaint procedure is provided for the review of complaints alleging unlawful discrimination or harassment in any Hudson Valley Community College policy or program when the alleged unlawful discrimination or Harassment is perceived to be based on the complainant's race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or marital status or any category protected by civil statute or regulation.

DEFINITIONS:

Affirmative Action/Sexual Harassment Advisory Council – Representatives of all levels of the College who advise the President and the Affirmative Action Officer on matters relating to Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Diversity. They are appointed by the President. They serve as the pool of persons from which the Tripartite Council will be selected in the formal stage of the complaint process.

Complainant - An employee, applicant for employment, or student of the College who believes that he or she has been the victim of unlawful discrimination or harassment, and submits a complaint.

Equal Employment Opportunity - The standard by which decisions that pertain to a person's employment or academic affairs with the College are made.

Discriminatory Harassment - Discriminatory harassment is based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or marital status or other protected characteristics, which is oral, written, graphic or physical conduct. The actions must be sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the College's programs or activities. Such activities include actions that derogate or humiliate a person or group because of actual or supposed traits. Examples include, but are not limited to, ethnic or racial slurs or jokes, which have the purpose or effect of creating an offensive environment.

Sexual Harassment - Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964), sexual harassment is cited as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) Submission to such conduct is made explicitly an employment term or condition [or a condition on which one's academic standing is predicated]; or (2) Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment [or academic] decisions; or (3) Such conduct has the purpose or the effect of unreasonably interfering with one's [academic] or work performance, or creating an offensive, intimidating or hostile [academic] or work environment.

Respondent - An individual or entity that answers in a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination or harassment or the person(s) accused of alleged unlawful discrimination or harassment.

Unlawful Discrimination - consists of:

  • harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran or marital status;
  • employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran or marital status; or
  • retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices.

APPLICABILITY
This complaint procedure does not supplant nor duplicate any existing complaint procedure. It does not deprive the complainant the right to file with outside government agencies, such as the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR); U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); U.S. Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (OCR); the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) of the United States Department of Labor (DOL); or with a court of competent jurisdiction.

The procedure may not be used if a complaint based on the same facts and circumstances is filed with a State or Federal agency or with a court of competent jurisdiction, or if a complaint has been filed under any collective bargaining agreement. Any investigation underway will terminate, without conclusion, at the time a complaint is filed with a state or federal agency or a collective bargaining representative, or a court action is initiated on the same complaint. It is the responsibility of the complainant to be aware of any filing deadlines for any outside agency or court even in the event he/she initially chooses to attempt to resolve the complaint through the College's internal procedures. It is also the responsibility of the complainant to inform the AAO/VP for EM&SD of any previous, pending or initiated actions filed with a state or federal agency or court. While the AAO/VP for EM&SD of the College will make reasonable attempts to notify the complainant of general time limitations, neither the AAO/VP for EM&SD, the Affirmative Action/Sexual Harassment Advisory Council, nor the College shall be held responsible for any failure on the part of the complainant to meet any filing deadline.

RIGHT TO COUNSEL
Both the complainant and the respondent shall have the right to be assisted by an attorney at all stages of both the informal and formal stages of the College's internal complaint process.

CONFIDENTIALITY
Unlawful discrimination or harassment complaints will be handled as confidentially as possible while enabling the College to fully investigate the complaint. Information about the complaint will only be divulged to individuals who have a legitimate need to know. All records pertaining to complaints shall be kept and maintained by the AAO/VP for EM&SD.

SANCTIONS
Persons who are found to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and/or harassment may be subject to sanctions that are reasonably calculated to end the unlawful discrimination and prevent its reoccurrence. Sanctions that may be imposed include, but are not limited to, written warnings; letter of reprimands; suspensions; change of job or class assignments; termination; or expulsion.

RETALIATION
Reprisal actions and encouraging others to retaliate against anyone involved in the investigation of an unlawful discrimination or harassment complaint is prohibited. This includes anyone who reports, is thought to have reported or cooperates in the investigation process. The College considers retaliation to be a violation of College policy and may be subject to sanctions as provided herein.

FALSE CHARGES OF DISCRIMINATION
Filing a false charge of unlawful discrimination or harassment is a serious offense. If an investigation reveals that a complainant knowingly filed false charges, appropriate actions and sanctions as provided herein may be taken.

WHERE TO FILE A COMPLAINT OF DISCRIMINATION
To file a complaint of discrimination or harassment against an employee of HVCC, please contact:

Affirmative Action Officer
Room 140
Administration Building
(518) 629-8110
j.ogden@hvcc.edu

If you are a student and wish to file a complaint of discrimination or harassment against another student of HVCC, please contact:

Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Development
Room 159
Guenther Enrollment Services Center
(518) 629-7307
a.popovics@hvcc.edu

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For personal counseling:
Center for Counseling and Transfer
Campus Center, Room 260
(518) 629-7320

For medical services:
College Health Services
Fitzgibbons Hall, Room 146
(518) 629-7468

For escort service:
Public Safety/Security
Campus Center, Room 170
(518) 629-7210

PROCEDURE FOR FILING A COMPLAINT OF DISCRIMINATION

PART A: Informal Resolution

  1. The AAO/VP for EM&SD shall receive initial inquiries, reports and requests for consultation and counseling. Assistance will be available whether or not a written complaint is contemplated. It is the responsibility of the AAO/VP for EM&SD to respond to all such inquiries, reports and requests as promptly as possible and consider all such facts in an objective manner and in a manner appropriate to the particular circumstances.

    Note: It is the responsibility of the complainant to be certain that any complaint filed is filed within the 120 calendar day period that is applicable under this paragraph.

  2. Complaints or concerns that are reported to an administrator, manager or supervisor concerning an act of discrimination or harassment shall be immediately referred to the AAO/VP for EM&SD for investigation and resolution. Complaints may also be made directly to a member of the Affirmative Action/Sexual Harassment Advisory Council who will refer the case to the AAO/VP for EM&SD for investigation and resolution.

  3. A written complaint must be filed with the AAO/VP for EM&SD within 120 calendar days following the last act or occurrence of an alleged unlawful discriminatory act or act of harassment. All such complaints must be submitted on the forms provided by the College (see Appendix A). This form will be used for both the initiation of complaints under the informal procedure and the conversion of the complaint to the formal procedure.

  4. If the AAO/VP for EM&SD is the respondent in a complaint of discrimination, the President of the College shall designate a person to investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint. That person shall carry out the duties and responsibilities of the AAO/VP for EM&SD in that specific complaint.

  5. The complaint shall contain:

    1. The name, local and permanent address(es), and telephone number(s) of the Complainant.

    2. A statement of facts explaining what happened and what the complainant believes constituted the unlawful discriminatory act(s) in sufficient detail to give each respondent reasonable notice of what is claimed against him/her. The statement should include the date(s), approximate time(s) and place(s) where the alleged act(s) of unlawful discrimination or harassment occurred. If the act(s) occurred on more than one date, the statement should also include the last date on which the acts occurred as well as detailed information about any prior acts. The names of any potential witnesses should be provided, if appropriate.

    3. The name(s), address(es) and telephone number(s) of the respondent(s), i.e., the person(s) claimed to have committed the act(s) of unlawful discrimination.

    4. Identification of the status of the person(s) charged, whether faculty, staff, or student.

    5. A statement indicating whether or not the complainant has filed or reported information concerning the incidents referred to in the complaint with a non-college official, court, or agency, under any other complaint or complaint procedure. If an external complaint has been filed, the statement should indicate the name of the court, person, department, or agency with which the information was filed and its address or to which it was reported.

    6. Such other or supplemental information as may be requested.

  6. If the complainant brings a complaint beyond the period in which the complaint may be addressed under these procedures, the AAO/VP for EM&SD may terminate any further processing of the complaint or advise the complainant of the alternative forums (see Appendix B for a list of alternative forums).

  7. If a complainant elects to have the matter dealt with in an informal manner, the AAO/VP for EM&SD will attempt to reasonably resolve the problem to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.

  8. In seeking an informal resolution, the AAO/VP for EM&SD shall attempt to review all relevant information, interview pertinent witnesses, and bring together the complainant and the respondent, if desirable. If a resolution satisfactory to both the complainant and the respondent is reached within 14 calendar days from the filing of the complaint, through the efforts of the AAO/VP for EM&SD, the AAO/VP for EM&SD shall close the case, sending a written notice to that effect to the complainant and respondent. The written notice, a copy of which shall be attached to the original complaint form in the AAO/VP for EM&SD's file, shall contain the terms of any agreement reached by complainant and respondent, and shall be signed and dated by the complainant, the respondent and the AAO/VP for EM&SD.

  9. If the AAO/VP for EM&SD is unable to resolve the complaint to the mutual satisfaction of the complainant and respondent within 14 calendar days from the filing of the complaint, the AAO/VP for EM&SD will so notify the complainant. The AAO/VP for EM&SD shall again advise the complainant of his or her right to proceed to the next step internally and/or the right to separately file with appropriate external enforcement agencies.

    NOTE: The time limitations set forth above in paragraphs 7 and 8, may be extended by mutual agreement of the complainant and respondent with the approval of the AAO/VP for EM&SD the complainant and respondent.

  10. At any time, subsequent to the filing of the complaint form in Appendix A under the informal procedures provided in Part A above, the complainant may elect to proceed under the Formal Complaint Procedure as specified in Part B of this document and forego the informal resolution procedure.

  11. Resolution of informal complaints can include an apology by the harasser, monitoring treatment of the complainant to ensure that he/she is not subjected to retaliation by the alleged harasser or others because of filing a complaint, training or counseling of the alleged harasser or monitoring of the alleged harasser, or other resolutions which the parties may agree.

PART B: The Formal Complaint Procedure

The Formal Complaint Procedure is structured in a way to promote the timely and fair resolution of a complaint filed hereunder. While the College will make every effort to strictly comply with the timeframes set forth herein, its failure to do so shall not constitute a waiver or otherwise nullify the procedures set forth herein. Moreover, in the event that it is necessary to undertake immediate measures before completing an investigation to ensure that further Harassment or Unlawful discrimination does not occur, a recommendation may be made to the President of the College or his/her designee to make scheduling changes so as to avoid contact between the parties, transferring the respondent or placing the respondent on non-disciplinary leave with pay pending the conclusion of the investigation.

  1. 1. The formal complaint proceeding is commenced by the filing of a complaint form as described in Part A(4). The 120 calendar day time limit also applies to the filing of a formal complaint.

  2. If the complainant first pursued the informal process and subsequently wishes to pursue a formal complaint, he/she may do so by checking the appropriate box, and signing and dating the complaint form.

  3. If an informal resolution was not pursued, the AAO/VP for EM&SD shall notify the complainant 14 calendar days from the filing of the complaint.

  4. Upon receipt of a complaint, the AAO/VP for EM&SD will provide an initialed, signed, date-stamped copy of the complaint to the Complainant. As soon as reasonably possible after the date of filing of the complaint, the AAO/VP for EM&SD will mail a notice of complaint and a copy of the complaint to the respondent(s). Alternatively, such notice with a copy of the complaint may be given by personal delivery, provided such delivery is made by the AAO/VP for EM&SD (or designee) and, that proper proof of such delivery, including the date, time and place where such delivery occurred is entered in the records maintained by or for the AAO/VP for EM&SD.

  5. Within 7 calendar days of receipt of the complaint, the AAO/VP for EM&SD shall send notification to the complainant, the respondent and the College President that a review of the matter shall take place in the form of a hearing by a Tripartite Panel to be jointly selected by the complainant and the respondent from a pre-selected pool of eligible participants (see Appendix C).

  6. The Tripartite Panel shall consist of one member of the pre-selected pool chosen by the complainant, one member chosen by the respondent and a third chosen by the two designees. The panel members shall choose a Chairperson amongst themselves. Selection must be completed and written notification of designees submitted to the AAO/VP for EM&SD no later than 7 calendar days after the complainant, the respondent and the President received notice under Paragraph 6 above.

    If the President is the respondent, then the third member of the panel shall be selected by the College Board of Trustees.

  7. In the event that the procedural requirements governing the selection of the Tripartite Panel are not completed within 7 calendar days after notification, the AAO/VP for EM&SD shall complete the selection process.

  8. The Tripartite Panel shall review all relevant information, interview pertinent witnesses and, at their discretion, hear testimony from and bring together the complainant and the respondent, if desirable. Both the complainant and the respondent(s) shall be entitled to submit written statements or other relevant and material evidence and to provide rebuttal to the written record compiled by the Tripartite Panel.

  9. Within 24 calendar days from the completion of the Tripartite Panel's review, including a hearing, the Chairperson of the Tripartite Panel shall submit a summary of its findings and the Tripartite Panel's recommendation(s) for further action or sanctions, if any, on a form to be provided by the AAO/VP for EM&SD, to the President. If the President is the respondent, the findings and recommendation shall be submitted concurrently to the Sponsor of the College, namely Rensselaer County, and to the Chancellor.

  10. Within 7 calendar days of receipt of the written summary, the President or his/her designee shall issue a written statement to the complainant and respondent, indicating what action the President proposes to take, if any. The action proposed by the President or designee may consist of:

    1. A determination that the complaint was not substantiated.

    2. A determination that the complaint was substantiated and will either uphold, reverse or modify the recommendation.

If the President is the respondent, the College Sponsor, namely Rensselaer County, and the Chancellor shall concurrently issue a written statement to the complainant and respondent indicating what action the College Sponsor, namely Rensselaer County, and the Chancellor proposes to take. The College Sponsor, namely Rensselaer County, and the Chancellor's decision shall be final for purposes of this discrimination procedure.

  1. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the President's or the College Sponsor, namely Rensselaer County, and the Chancellor's decision, the complainant may elect to seek reconsideration of the decision to the Chairperson of the College Board of Trustees, for reconsideration within 7 calendar days of the decision. The decision shall be reversed, amended, or upheld. The decision shall be final. If the complainant is unsatisfied with the result, nothing precludes the complainant from filing a complaint with state and/or federal agencies or a court of competent jurisdiction. (see Appendix B) The AAO/VP for EM&SD will provide to the best of his/her knowledge, general information concerning the processes relevant to outside agencies or courts but since he/she is not an attorney at law, he/she can provide no advice as to procedural or substantive rights concerning these agencies, or courts, including deadlines for filing.