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Discrimination Complaint Procedure

UMBC Interim Discrimination Complaint Procedure

1) Introduction

UMBC has developed the following procedure to provide prompt and equitable resolution of discrimination complaints under UMBC’s Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy.  Matters that are covered by the Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy as well as the Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination but are required or permitted to be dismissed under the Sexual Misconduct Policy, may be handled pursuant to this procedure.

Use of this procedure does not affect other rights, remedies or applicable time limits that may apply under other UMBC policies, or local, federal, and state statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

2) Confidentiality

The Office of Equity and Inclusion will keep the information reported under the Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy confidential including the identity of anyone who has made a report or filed a Complaint, and the identity of any Respondent or witness, except under certain limited circumstances.

Limited disclosure may be required where the information reported discloses an immediate or continuing threat to the health or safety of the parties, witnesses or the University community, or where there is a disclosure of apparent or suspected abuse of a child or dependent adult, or as permitted by FERPA or where there is some other legal obligation to make a specific disclosure of such information.

The University must maintain as confidential any Supportive Measures provided to the parties, other than as necessary to provide those measures and to the extent that maintaining confidentiality would not impair the ability to provide such measures.

The University may require non-disclosure or confidentiality from complainants and respondents, even where no formal complaint is filed, and no investigation takes place.

Confidentiality restrictions imposed during the investigation must not not restrict a party’s ability to (i) discuss the allegations under investigation, for example with a parent, friend, support person, advisor, advocate or attorney,  (ii) gather and present evidence, or to (iii) seek or assist with securing confidential services from a healthcare provider including a mental healthcare provider or other similar resources.

The University may also require the Complainant, Respondent, Support Person, Advisor, Advocate or Attorney to agree not to further disseminate or disclose evidence, reports or documents shared as part of the investigation process, except as required by law or to comply with a lawfully issued court order.

3) Complaint Procedure

A faculty member, staff member, student or authorized visitor or guest of the University claiming to have been discriminated against by a student, faculty or staff member may use this procedure.

All discrimination complaints will be promptly investigated.

Complaints may be submitted online
or by contacting:
Office of Equity and Inclusion
oei@umbc.edu
(410) 455-2735

Individuals who believe they have experienced conduct that may be a violation of the Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy are encouraged to promptly file a complaint not later than one hundred eighty (180) days after the Complainant became aware of the alleged discrimination.  Prompt filing after an action assists OEI in effectively reviewing the complaint.

Written complaints are encouraged, but not required.

If a verbal complaint is made, the Office of Equity and Inclusion may prepare a written statement of the allegations and ask that the Complainant acknowledge its accuracy in writing.

Complaints should contain the following information:

(a) Name, address and telephone number of the person filing the complaint;

(b) A brief description of the alleged discrimination or harassment, including the location and date of the alleged discrimination or harassment, and any other people who may have relevant information; and

(c) The remedy, result or resolution sought.

Supportive Measures may be requested by the Complainant or the Respondent, or continue from a matter initially brought under the Sexual Misconduct Policy, or  the Office of Equity and Inclusion may implement appropriate Interim and/or Supportive Measures while the matter is being resolved or investigated. Examples of Interim and/or Supportive Measures include, but are not limited to, a referral to the Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”), or the Student Counseling Center, academic adjustments (if such alternatives are feasible and available, modifications  in work location or schedule (if such alternatives are feasible and available), academic support, and no contact instructions

The Office will acknowledge receipt of the complaint by sending a notification to the Complainant and will then conduct an initial assessment of the complaint to determine whether the matter is covered by the University’s Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy or other Policy, whether informal resolution may be possible, and whether or not the complaint can and should be investigated.

If the complaint has not been informally resolved within thirty (30) days of receipt of the complaint, the Office of Equity and Inclusion shall confer with the Complainant about how the matter should proceed. In making a determination regarding whether or not there should be a formal investigation, OEI will consider a number of factors including but not limited to: the Complainant’s position as to whether or not the complaint should be investigated; whether the Respondent is still enrolled or employed by the University; and whether under the circumstances it will be possible for the University to gather evidence sufficient to reach a determination.

In addition, even where a Complainant does not request a formal investigation, a formal investigation may also commence at the University’s discretion after consideration of a number of factors, including but not limited to the nature and scope of the alleged Prohibited Conduct, and the University’s obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment.

If the Office of Equity and Inclusion determines that the matter should be investigated, a Notice of Investigation will be issued which identifies the investigator and provides the Complainant and Respondent written notice of the Complaint. An investigation will then be conducted.

All parties and identified witnesses shall cooperate during the investigation by being available during reasonable business hours to discuss the complaint and provide relevant information requested by the investigator.

The investigator will interview the Complainant and the Respondent and other available relevant witnesses, review available relevant documents and prepare a written report. The investigator in consultation with OEI  will determine the relevancy of witnesses and documents.

The report will provide a determination as to whether based on a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), the conduct violates the University’s Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy and/or other UMBC policies, applicable local, state, and federal harassment, anti-discrimination and retaliation laws.

In addition, and if applicable, the report may provide options for substantive resolution of the complaint and recommendations for corrective measures, conditions or sanctions.  In making any such recommendations, the investigator may confer with Student Conduct, Student Affairs, the Office of the Provost, Human Resources, and/or OEI as appropriate.

The Office seeks to complete an investigation within ninety (90) business days and may extend the time frames set forth in these procedures for good cause. The time frame may be extended by the University for good cause, as determined on a case-by-case basis, in order to:  ensure the integrity and completeness of an investigation, comply with a request by a state or federal agency, reasonably accommodate the access to and the availability of witnesses, accommodate reasonable requests for additional time by the parties, account for University closures or limitations on operations, or address other legitimate reasons, including the complexity of the investigation (e.g. the number of witnesses and volume of information provided by the parties) and the severity and extent of the alleged Prohibited Conduct.

After completion of the investigation, the parties will be provided with an opportunity to review the Draft Investigative Report, and all documents relied upon.

Responses to the Draft report must be provided within 10 business days.  Requests for additional time will be determined on a case-by-case basis, however, reasonable requests will be granted.

The Draft Investigative Report review period is both parties’ final opportunity to identify or submit any additional evidence, information, questions, or witnesses, before the report and investigative recommendation are finalized and issued. In the absence of demonstrable good cause, information discoverable through the exercise of due diligence that is not provided to the investigator during the Draft Report review period will not be considered by the Investigator or decision-maker/s or during any appeal.

After the parties have reviewed the Draft report and provided any comments, a Final Investigative Report will be issued.

Within twenty (20) business days of receipt of the Final Report, the Provost (or their designee) shall make a decision based on the investigation record and shall notify the Complainant and Respondent, in writing, of the decision and the basis for the decision.  With respect to any remedy or sanction, the decision maker may confer with Student Conduct, Student Affairs, the Office of the Provost, Human Resources, and/or OEI as appropriate.

4) Appeal

If either the Complainant or Respondent is not satisfied with the decision of the Provost (or their designee), the party may file a written appeal within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the Provost (or designee)’s decision.

The written appeal must include a detailed statement of the basis of the appeal. If an appeal is received from one party, the other party will be notified and given ten (10) business days to submit a response.

Permissible grounds for appeal are limited to the following:

  1. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  2. New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter;
  3. The investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter; or
  4. Excessiveness or insufficiency of the remedy or sanction.

Mere dissatisfaction or mere deviations from procedures that were not so substantial as to deny a party notice or a fair opportunity to be heard, are not valid bases for an Appeal.

The University has the discretion to use either a Sole Decision-Maker or Board of Review composed of trained personnel to determine an appeal.  The Decision-Maker or Board may not be the same as the original decision maker.

An individual reviewer or review panel shall review the decision and notify the Complainant of the final decision within thirty (30) calendar days of the receipt of the appeal.

5) Sanctions and Conditions

In certain circumstances, even when there are no disciplinary actions or sanctions imposed, the University reserves the right to impose certain Conditions upon any party who is subject to the Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy. Conditions may be imposed as Supportive Measures, as part of an Informal Resolution, or as part of a final decision.

Conditions are designed to prevent violations of the Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy and cultivate a safe and equitable academic and employment environment, while supporting the University’s mission and federal obligations. Conditions are non-disciplinary and may include educational, remedial or Supportive Measures that may be imposed by the University upon any party who is subject to this Policy.   The University may impose Conditions even where no formal complaint has been filed, and no final decision has been issued.

Sanctions are issued after a Final Decision has been issued and any Appeal has been decided.  Sanctions are designed to eliminate violations of the Policy, prevent their recurrence, and remedy their effects, while supporting the University’s mission and federal obligations.

Sanctions may include educational, restorative, rehabilitative, and punitive components. Some conduct, however, is so egregious in nature, so harmful to the individuals involved and the entire UMBC community, or so deleterious to the educational or working environment, that it requires severe disciplinary action, up to and including termination from or dismissal from the University.

Sanctions for employees (including student employees) may include, but are not limited to: a no contact order, letter of reprimand or warning, censure, service to the University, counseling, retraining, transfer, demotion, suspension, and/or termination.

Sanctions for students may include, but are not limited to: no contact orders, housing restrictions (including removal from on-campus housing), community service, educational requirements, written warning, reprimand, probation, suspension, and/or dismissal. The University also reserves the right to delay or refuse the conferring of an academic degree—undergraduate or graduate.

With respect to faculty Respondents, matters decided under this Procedure are not subject to the faculty grievance procedures.  However, if the final decision is a recommendation for termination or dismissal of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, the Respondent may request review of the recommendation consistent with the University System of Maryland Policy on Appointment, Rank, and Tenure of Faculty.

Amended Effective: March 31, 2021