Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity And Anti-Harassment: Policies And Procedures
This document communicates the philosophy and perspective of Skidmore College regarding issues of equal employment opportunity, diversity and anti-harassment. It also presents the college’s policies, objectives and plans for maintaining its status as an equal-opportunity employer and educator and for supporting its goal of extending the diversity of our community. While some of the policies outlined in Part Six are required for legal compliance, others are internally motivated and reflect our commitment to an inclusive and hospitable working and learning environment.
Equal Employment Opportunity laws and regulations prohibit discrimination against employees or applicants for employment based on race, color, religion, gender, age, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, genetic predisposition and carrier status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic violence victim status or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local laws. This policy further prohibits domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking, which need not be based on an individual’s protected status. The policy also prohibits complicity for knowingly assisting in an act that violates this policy and retaliation against an individual because of the individual’s good-faith participation in the reporting, investigation or adjudication of violations of this policy. The college fully supports these prohibitions and has adopted policies reflecting its commitment to nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in its employment and educational practices.
Skidmore College’s equal opportunity and diversity policies further apply to the recruitment and admission of its students, to the administration of its educational policies and programs and to the recruitment and retention of its faculty and staff. They apply, in addition, to all individuals and organizations associated with, or doing business with or for, Skidmore College.
Part Six of this Handbook is subject to periodic review, evaluation and modification (see Article IV, A). The policies and philosophy, however, constitute a firm commitment to the principles of equal opportunity for all members of the college.
II. Academic Freedom
In the context of the policies outlined in Part Six, the college reaffirms its commitment to its long tradition of supporting the academic and personal freedom of all members of the community. In particular, the policy against harassment shall not be applied in a manner that contradicts the principle of academic freedom: Faculty and other members of the community are entitled to freedom in research, and faculty members are entitled to freedom in the classroom to pursue controversial matters related to their disciplines. However, this right to teach controversial material entails the responsibility that it be carried out in a way that would be judged by peers as not violating the college’s anti-harassment policy. (For the college’s complete statement on academic freedom, see Part One, Article III of this Handbook.)
III. Summary Statements of Policy
A. Policy on Equal Employment Opportunity
Skidmore College affirms that its community members have the right to be free from acts of unlawful discrimination. The following statement of policy on “equal employment opportunity” affirms Skidmore College’s commitment to the principle of equal employment opportunity in education and employment:
Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
Skidmore College is committed to being an inclusive campus community and an Equal Opportunity Employer. The college therefore prohibits discrimination against any individual or group of its students, prospective students, employees or candidates for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, predisposition or carrier status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic violence victim status or any other category protected by applicable federal, state or local laws. The college also prohibits domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, which need not be based on an individual’s protected status.
B. Policy on Diversity
The principal mission of Skidmore College is the education of predominantly full-time undergraduates, a diverse population of talented students who are eager to engage actively in the learning process (Skidmore College Mission Statement). Fulfillment of this mission entails building an academic community based upon mutual respect and openness to ideas, one in which individuals value differences in perspective. Fostering such a community requires the active recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff members of diverse backgrounds and cultural heritages.
To read the Skidmore College Mission Statement in its entirety, please visit the Skidmore website at https://www.skidmore.edu/planning/index.htm.
Appreciation of diversity is fundamental to a liberal arts education that aims to foster the growth of the whole person in an environment of respect and understanding for different experiences and backgrounds. A diverse community provides each of us with the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and to submit our own values and assumptions to critical examination. We learn to understand others and ourselves better in an environment that encourages deepened appreciation of other cultures, perspectives and lived experiences.
The following statement of diversity policy affirms the college’s commitment to increasing the diversity within the various groups that constitute our academic community:
Skidmore College’s learning and working communities are strengthened by the diversity of their members. Accordingly, the college is committed to acting affirmatively to enhance the diversity of every population within the campus community: students, faculty and staff.
To place the commitment to diversity within the context of the college’s strategic goals and objectives, and as a further guide to hiring practices, please see the statement on “Diversity in Hiring: Strategic Considerations” at https://www.skidmore.edu/ippc/hiring.php.
As a matter of policy, Skidmore College will work actively to increase the diversity of our community. We will address imbalances in both student and employee populations and meet our diversity-related objectives by recruiting the best candidates from as broad a pool as possible.
As always, we will continue to be guided by our fundamental educational values—leading our students to develop robust cognitive abilities, enhanced critical and intercultural skills and an appreciation of their individual and social responsibilities as citizens of the world. Meeting these objectives is crucial to our achieving new levels of excellence.
C. Policies on Accessibility and Accommodations
Skidmore College is committed to supporting accessibility, with respect to both physical access and other forms of access, to all programs on campus.
Accessibility and Accommodations Policy
In accordance with applicable federal (http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/laws.html) and state laws protecting qualified individuals with documented disabilities, Skidmore College will reasonably accommodate such individuals (except in the rare case when doing so would create an undue hardship for Skidmore College).
Any student with a disability who requires accommodations to function effectively in his/her residential or academic life on campus should contact the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities to disclose his/her condition and to request accommodations. Any faculty member with a disability who requires accommodations to perform his/her duties effectively should contact his/her department chair, the Dean of the Faculty (DOF), the Dean of Special Programs (DSP), or the Assistant Director for Equal Employment Opportunity and Workforce Diversity (ADEWD). Any staff member or administrator with a disability who requires accommodations to perform his/her duties effectively should contact his/her supervisor or the ADEWD.
D. Policy on Anti-Harassment
Skidmore College affirms that its community members (faculty, staff, administration and students) have the right to be free from acts of harassment (based on the protected characteristics of an employee or student) that constitute unlawful, offensive and hostile behavior. Such acts include (but are not limited to) sexual or racial harassment. In general, such harassment may consist of (but is not limited to) words, signs, jokes, pranks, acts of intimidation or acts of stalking and interpersonal violence that unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work or educational pursuits or that create a hostile, offensive or intimidating work or learning environment. By college policy, all members of the Skidmore community are prohibited from engaging in any such acts of harassment. Applicable federal and state laws also prohibit harassment in the workplace. The complete statement of college policy may be found in the Anti-Harassment Policy statement, Article VI.
To read Skidmore College’s Anti-Harassment Policy statement in its entirety, please visit the Skidmore website at https://www.skidmore.edu/hr/eeo_diversity/index.php.
E. Policy on Retaliation
Skidmore College prohibits any and all retaliation against any person who opposes a discriminatory practice, makes a good-faith report of harassment or discrimination or who participates or cooperates in any investigation arising from such a report. Any individual who retaliates against a person opposing a discriminatory practice, making a good-faith report of harassment or discrimination, or cooperating or participating in such an investigation, will be disciplined, up to and including separation from the college. (See also Article VIII, Section B.
F. Policy on Consensual Sexual Relationships Involving Students
As an academic community, Skidmore College stands by principles of fairness, equal opportunity and non-discrimination. These principles take on special meaning in the relationship between students and members of the faculty or others in an advising or evaluative relationship. Specifically, all students have the right to be treated fairly, held to the same requirements and standards and afforded equal opportunities based on their individual accomplishments. All employees are expected to insure that their relationships with college students are professional, to act in accordance with standards of professional conduct and to avoid conflict of interest, favoritism, bias or creation of a hostile environment for any student of the college.
Sexual relationships between faculty members and students are fraught with the potential for exploitation. The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the actual or apparent authority of the professor, make voluntary consent by the student suspect. Even when both parties have in fact consented, the development of a sexual relationship renders both the faculty member and the college vulnerable to subsequent allegations of harassment.
1. Policy on Consensual Sexual Relationships with Current Students
Sexual relationships, whether consensual or not, between college employees and their students (those whom they currently teach, advise, supervise, coach, evaluate, or hold authority over in any way) violate the integrity of the college’s academic community and constitute grounds for disciplinary action up to and including separation from the college.
2. Policy on Consensual Sexual Relationships with Students When There Is No Formal Authority over the Student
Even if a college employee does not currently hold a position of authority over a
student, any sexual relationship between an employee and a student of the college
potentially jeopardizes the integrity of the academic or living environment of the
Skidmore community. The college, therefore, discourages in the strongest possible
terms any sexual relationship between an employee and any student of the college.
In the event that any such relationship is found to undermine the trust, respect and
fairness that are essential to the success of Skidmore’s educational mission, the
college will take appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including separation
from the college.
IV. Review and Liability
A. Policy Review
These policies may be modified by the President based upon recommendations by, and consultation with, members of the President’s Cabinet, the Director of Human Resources, the ADEWD, the Institutional Policy & Planning Committee (IPPC) , and the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC). The college leadership shall periodically review its practices and procedures regarding admissions, recruitment, hiring, promotion and other areas of concern to students, employees and the college as an employer and shall seek to redress any inequities or conditions related to prohibited practices that come to its attention.
B. Employees’ Liability for Violations of These Policies
Any employee of Skidmore College who violates the policies described above is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including separation from the college. Additionally, any supervisor or manager who has information regarding possible violations of these policies, and takes no action to stop the misconduct or fails to report the possible violation to an appropriate individual, may also face disciplinary action, up to and including separation from the college. Employees who violate these policies and supervisors or managers who fail to address or report such possible violations may also be subject to civil or criminal liability.
Employees of the college are further advised that violation of these college
policies by definition entails actions that fall outside the scope of their duties.
This means that they may not be eligible for the college’s insured or uninsured protection
should their conduct become the subject of civil or criminal legal proceedings.
V. Procedures Regarding Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity
This article establishes procedures for implementing the policies regarding Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity at Skidmore College.
1. Educational Environment:
In accordance with its policy on equal opportunity, Skidmore College prohibits discrimination against any students on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic violence victim status or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local laws.
Complaints of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or gender-based violence may implicate Title IX, as well as other applicable nondiscrimination and harassment laws, Skidmore has designated certain individual to address efforts in this area to comply with Title IX laws as outlined by OCR's "Dear Colleague Letter" dated April 4, 2011. Questions on any concerns about Title IX should be directed to:
Dean of Students and VP of Student Affairs/ Title IX Coordinator
Office of Dean Student Affairs
Case Center 311
For more information on Equal Employment Opportunity law please visit https://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/know.html.
2. Employment Environment
As stated above, the college prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic violence victim status or any other category protected by applicable federal, state or local laws. To implement this policy, guidelines have been established to ensure equal opportunity in all employment policies and practices. These guidelines apply across the institution:
a. All position vacancies will be subject to equal employment opportunity search standards, which establish procedures for internal posting and external advertisement appropriate to a position’s relevant labor market. In academic searches, the scope of a search is determined by the ADEWD in consultation with the DOF, the DSP, or Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), as appropriate, and the hiring department or office. The nature of the position dictates whether a qualified pool of candidates may most appropriately be recruited from a local, regional, or national market.
b. In some situations, the ADEWD may waive the requirement for a full search. Normally, a waiver-of-search may be approved if one of the following three actions is proposed: filling a vacancy by promotion; filling a vacancy on a temporary basis (non-recurring appointment for a maximum of one year); or filling a vacancy as a result of internal reorganization. In these cases, or in the case of other extenuating circumstances, a full search may not be desirable, and the ADEWD will give careful consideration to requests for search waiver.
c. In academic searches, the ADEWD, in collaboration with the DOF, DSP or VPAA, as appropriate, reviews the position description and all components of the search plan proposed by the hiring department or office before approving a search.
d. Human Resources maintains and updates lists of recruitment resources for both academic and nonacademic searches.
e. Human Resources routinely sends announcements of position vacancies to local and regional organizations that represent historically underrepresented groups. Heads of departments, offices and programs are strongly encouraged to network through their own personal and/or professional contacts in an effort to broaden the diversity of candidate pools for all positions. Such outreach should occur on a regular basis, even in the absence of an immediate position vacancy.
f. All applicants for academic and nonacademic position vacancies will receive an acknowledgment of their interest in employment at Skidmore through a postcard, email or letter.
g. Before any candidate in an academic search is invited for an interview (whether on or off campus), the office or department responsible for hiring will contact the ADEWD and the DOF, DSP or VPAA, as appropriate, to review the applicant pool. If the pool is not sufficiently inclusive, the DOF, DSP or VPAA and the ADEWD may recommend further steps.
h. At the conclusion of the interviewing phase, the office or department responsible for hiring will contact the ADEWD and the appropriate dean or vice president to discuss the candidates interviewed. No oral or written commitment may be made to a candidate until the ADEWD, and, in the case of academic searches, the DOF, DSP or VPAA have agreed that appropriate equal employment opportunity procedures have been followed. If such policies and procedures have been violated, the search may be deferred.
B. Administration: Roles and Responsibilities
1. Members of President’s Cabinet are responsible for the coordination of institutional efforts and resources to advance the strategic goals of increasing and retaining a diverse faculty and staff and of fostering an inclusive campus climate.
2. The ADEWD, in consultation with the DOF, the VPAA and others as appropriate, is charged with providing leadership in recommending and implementing strategies to secure and maintain a diverse campus community of faculty and staff; coordinating institution-wide equal opportunity and diversity employment efforts, including equal employment opportunity strategies and activity on all searches; planning and initiating all education for faculty and staff on matters of equal employment opportunity, unlawful discrimination, and harassment; and coordinating this activity with related student education provided by Student Affairs staff. The ADEWD is responsible for coordinating and disseminating to the community an annual report on the state of diversity at the college.
3. The ADEWD provides counsel to the President and President's Cabinet on issues of equal employment opportunity, diversity and anti-harassment. The ADEWD communicates as appropriate with the President, members of President's Cabinet, the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources, and members of academic staff. The ADEWD is also available for consultation with any other member of the Skidmore community.
VI. Anti-Harassment Policy
Harassment is unlawful and therefore prohibited by Skidmore College.
The college is committed to maintaining a positive learning and working environment for all of its students and employees. In accordance with applicable laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Generic Information Nondiscrimination Act and applicable federal, state, or local laws prohibiting sexual assault and abuse, the college prohibits harassment (including sexual harassment) of any individual or group of its students, prospective students, employees or candidates for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic violence victim status or any other category protected by applicable federal, state or local laws. These policies apply to all persons affiliated with the college, including administrators, faculty members, staff members and students.
A. Harassment Defined
Harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, genetic predisposition or carrier status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic violence victim status or any other category protected by federal, state, or local laws occurs when
- an individual or group of individuals is targeted with oral, written, visual or physical insults based on that person’s or group’s protected status; and
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s or student’s work, professional or educational performance, productivity, physical security, living arrangements, extracurricular activities, academic or career opportunities, services or benefits—or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment.
When both circumstances identified above are present, examples of conduct constituting harassment may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- intimidation, hostility or rudeness
- oral or written threats, derogatory comments, name-calling or slurs
- display of derogatory posters, photographs, cartoons drawings
- offensive gestures
- assault, unwanted touching or blocking normal movement
Whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment will be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account relevant factors such as the nature of the conduct and the context in which the incidents occurred.
The fact that someone did not intend to harass another individual may not constitute an adequate defense in response to a complaint of harassment. Regardless of intent, the characteristics, context and effect of the behavior determine whether the behavior constitutes harassment.
In addition, a faculty member, employee or student may experience harassment from a salesperson or vendor, the parent of a student, alumna/us, visitor or any other member of the extended college community who has contact with Skidmore faculty, staff or student populations. Harassment may take place in person, by phone or by means of print or electronic media (e.g., social media). Skidmore’s policy applies to all employees and students of the college whenever they are interacting with one another. Off-campus violations may occur at campus-sponsored events or programs, such as athletic events, internship arrangements, professional meetings or at private events (such as parties).
B. Sexual Harassment Defined
Applicable state and federal law defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other gender-based visual, verbal or physical conduct. In particular, sexual harassment occurs when
- submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic advancement (quid pro quo harassment),
- submission to, or rejection of, the conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individual (quid pro quo harassment), or
- the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s or student’s work, professional or educational performance, productivity, physical security, participation in living arrangements, extracurricular activities, academic or career opportunities, services or benefits—or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment (hostile work-environment harassment).
This definition includes verbal, nonverbal and physical harassment. The following examples of sexual harassment are intended to be instructive but not inclusive:
Verbal harassment may take oral or written form and may include profanity, sexual jokes or sexual teasing, threats or repeated unwelcome requests for a date.
Non-verbal harassment may include staring, whistling, cat calls, blowing kisses or displaying sexually suggestive material in the work area, in the classroom, in lockers or as screen savers on one’s computer.
Physical harassment may include touching, bumping, grabbing, cornering or blocking passage.
Whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment will be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account relevant factors such as the nature of the conduct and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
Sexual harassment may occur on or off campus, including, but not limited to, the classroom (student to student, faculty to student, student to faculty) and the work setting (supervisor to employee, employee to supervisor, employee to employee, student to faculty or employee). Skidmore’s policy applies to all employees and students of the college whenever they are interacting with one another. Off-campus violations may occur at campus-sponsored events or programs, such as athletic events, internship arrangements and professional meetings, or at private events such as a party. In addition, a faculty member, staff member, administrator or student may experience sexual harassment from a salesperson or vendor, the parent of a student, an alumna/us, visitor or any other member of the extended college community who has contact with Skidmore faculty, staff or student populations. Sexual harassment may take place in person, by phone or by means of print or electronic media.
The fact that someone did not intend to sexually harass another individual may not constitute an adequate defense in response to a complaint of sexual harassment. Regardless of intent, the characteristics and effect of the behavior determine whether the behavior constitutes sexual harassment.
C. Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence
Gender-based violence can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in both long-term and brief intimate partnerships. Gender-based violence can be committed by men or women, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.
The following type of conduct is considered to be sexual misconduct and gender based violence and is not permitted.
Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship and the frequency of the interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual, physical abuse, emotional violence or the threat of such violence and does not include acts that meet the definition of "domestic violence."
Domestic violence means felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the state.
Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her or his safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. Examples of stalking include unwanted, intrusive and frightening communications by phone, mail and/or email; repeatedly leaving or sending unwanted items such as gifts; following or waiting for a person at places such as home, school or work; making direct or indirect threats of harm to a person, or the person's children, relatives, friends or pets; damaging or threatening to damage property; harassment through the internet or social media; and posting information or spreading rumors about a person.
If any of the above gender-based violence involves student against student, it should be reported to the Title IX Deputy Coordinator
D. Third-Party Harassment
It is important to recognize that sexual harassment may be injurious to a third party
when that person is negatively affected by harassment of other individuals in that
third party’s work space or classroom—or any other setting that requires a Skidmore
College employee or student to be present for purposes of work or learning.
VII. Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Harassment or Discrimination against Faculty Members
Faculty members, staff and students should report any instances they believe to constitute harassment or discrimination. Disclosing such incidents provides the parties an opportunity for consultation with appropriate college personnel and the opportunity to resolve complaints promptly and effectively.
The procedures outlined in Article VII apply to all situations where a faculty member is accused of harassment or discrimination. Allegations against students (including full-time students who are also employees) will be resolved according to procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. Allegations against staff members (including staff members who may be part-time students) and administrators will be resolved according to procedures outlined in the Employee Handbook.
Using the procedures outlined below, any faculty member, staff member or student who
believes he or she is the victim of harassment by a member of the faculty should report
the matter to one of the individuals specified in B of Article VII, all of whom are
able to assist those having a harassment concern. These individuals are available
to provide information about the College’s harassment policy, the resolution process
that the college has adopted and appropriate actions that might be taken.
A. Definition of Terms
In the process that follows, the following terms are used:
Complainant: the individual filing an informal or formal complaint of discrimination or harassment.
Respondent: the individual alleged to be responsible for a discriminatory or harassing action.
Appellant: the individual appealing the disposition of a complaint (either the complainant or respondent).
Inquiry: the process used in the informal stage of a complaint.
Interpersonal Violence (commonly referred to as intimate partner violence, dating violence, domestic violence and relationship violence), can encompass a broad range of abusive behavior committed by a person who is or has been:
- in a romantic or intimate relationship with the reporting party (of the same or different sex);
- the reporting party's spouse or partner (of the same or different sex);
- the responding party's family member; or
- the responding party's cohabitant or household member, including a roommate.
Investigation: the process used in the formal stage of a complaint.
Appropriate Official: the complainant’s or respondent’s department chair (or, in the case of faculty with interdisciplinary appointments, program director), the academic dean, the VPAA, any other division head, or the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources. If the appropriate official has a conflict of interest, the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources will designate a replacement.
B. Reporting Suspected Harassment and Discrimination
Who should report
Any faculty member, staff member, student or former student who believes that he/she has been discriminated against or harassed by a faculty member should report such instances to the appropriate official.
When to report
A report must be made to the college within 60* days of the alleged incident. A formal complaint must be filed in writing within 10 work days after an informal inquiry has been completed or within 10 work days of the conclusion of the mediation process (see C below). Federal regulations require that a student complaint be filed with the appropriate agency within 180 days and faculty/employee complaints be filed within 300 days; New York State law requires that an administrative complaint be filed within one year.
To the extent possible, those handling complaints will endeavor to maintain the confidentiality of all parties involved in the informal and formal process. This confidentiality extends to those seeking assistance, to those filing a complaint, to respondents and to those serving as witnesses; confidentiality also extends to those creating or reviewing any documents related to the complaint. Information about the complaint is therefore provided only to those individuals within the college who have a need to know that information in order to investigate and/or resolve the complaint. This requirement of confidentiality does not mean that the details of the complaint will be withheld from the respondent.
Nevertheless, the college cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality. In order to ensure compliance with college policies and federal and state laws, the college may be required to disclose information about a complaint to agencies or to individuals not involved in the complaint. Moreover, when the complaint involves alleged acts of a criminal nature, the college may be required by law to notify law enforcement authorities. The college may also publicly divulge details of the outcome if one of the parties discloses selective portions of the proceedings or if the complainant or respondent contests the findings or results of the college’s investigation in the course of a lawsuit.
Prior to or concurrent with lodging a sexual harassment complaint, individuals may find it helpful to consult with a counselor or otherwise seek assistance. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide advice and support to individuals who believe they are experiencing sexual harassment. All information shared with these individuals will remain confidential to the extent permitted by law and college policy. Discussions with representatives from EAP will not be considered a report to the college regarding the problematic behavior and will not, without additional action by the complainant, result in intervention or corrective action.
*In the case of a student bringing a complaint against a faculty member who teaches or advises that student, or who supervises that student’s research or other academic work, this deadline may be extended to 60 days after the end of the semester during which such faculty/student relationship exists.
Filing a Complaint
Faculty members, staff members or students should report instances of alleged harassment or discrimination by faculty members to one of the following:
- the appropriate department or program chair
- Dean of Faculty (DOF) or Dean of Special Programs (DSP)
- Vice President for Academic Affairs
- Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources or his/her designee
Students may report to any of the above or to the Dean of Student Affairs.
All the above officials will convey information received to the ADEWD, who will initiate an informal inquiry.
Please use this form when filing a complaint.
When a complaint of harassment or discrimination has been taken up by an agency outside of the college as a result of a possible violation of federal, state, or local law or regulation, the college may decide to cancel or continue any internal inquiry/investigation already in process. The college may also conduct its own investigation once the external action is completed.
The college’s complaint process, for the purpose of meeting required deadlines, begins once the ADEWD conducts an initial interview with the complainant. During the initial interview, the ADEWD will discuss with the complainant whether or not the alleged incident(s) of harassment or discrimination constitute(s) a violation of the college’s policies. The complainant will also be told about his/her rights under the College’s complaint procedures.
The complainant will have the right to:
- have a representative (not an attorney) present as an observer during the complaint process;
- be granted confidentiality throughout the process (as described in B above);
- withdraw the complaint at any time during the process (with the understanding that the college may be required to pursue the issue);
- review and sign his/her own statement and receive a copy;
- review the ADEWD’s summary, which indicates whether the alleged misconduct was found to violate college policy;
- file the complaint with a federal, state, or local agency designated to hear/investigate EEO complaints;
- request mediation; and
- have a meeting with the ADEWD after the informal inquiry and, if the complaint proceeds, after the formal investigation.
The complainant will not have the right to:
- have an attorney present;
- ask questions of the respondent or witness(es);
- record the meeting;
- identify the penalty or corrective action for the respondent if that person is found to have violated a college policy;
- review the complete complaint file and associated documents (e.g., witnesses’ statements); or
- receive a copy of the complete complaint file.
Once a complaint is received, the ADEWD will meet with the respondent to inform him/her of the complaint. The respondent will also be told about his/her rights under the college’s complaint procedures.
The respondent will have the right to:
- have a representative (not an attorney) present as an observer during the complaint process;
- receive a copy of the written complaint;
- be granted confidentiality throughout the process (as described in Section B above);
- respond to the complaint;
- review and sign his/her own statement and receive a copy;
- request mediation;
- have a meeting with the ADEWD after the informal inquiry; and
- review a copy of the final summary of the complaint in the presence of the appropriate official.
The respondent will not have the right to:
- have an attorney present;
- ask questions of the complainant or witness(es);
- record the meeting;
- review the complete complaint file and all associated documents (e.g., witnesses’ statements); or
- receive a copy of the complete complaint file.
Any discussion during the initial interviews with the complainant or the respondent will be documented and signed by the individual making the statement and the ADEWD. The individual making the statement will be given a copy of the signed document, and the ADEWD will enter the original in the complaint file.
Any complaint involving a faculty member will be brought to the attention of the DOF by the ADEWD; any complaint involving an academic advisor in the external degree programs or an instructor in Special Programs will be brought to the attention of the DSP by the ADEWD. At that time, the DOF or DSP will confer with the Chair of CAFR to ascertain whether the complaint has to do with academic freedom and therefore should be handled by CAFR or whether the complaint has to do with harassment or discrimination, in which case the college will follow the process outlined in Part Six, Article VII of this handbook. In making this determination, the ADEWD, the DOF or DSP and the Chair of CAFR will consider the signed complaint and the signed response to the complaint. If there is a disagreement between the DOF or DSP and the Chair of CAFR, the VPAA will decide on the process to be followed.
C. Informal Complaint Resolution
If, after the initial interview, the ADEWD preliminarily determines whether the alleged incident(s) constitute(s) a violation of the college’s policies, the ADEWD will process the complaint initially using the informal (inquiry) complaint procedure. During this stage, the ADEWD will meet separately with the complainant, the respondent, and any witnesses who may have relevant information.
Witnesses to the complaint (other than the complainant or respondent) will have the right to:
- have a representative (not an attorney) present as an observer during the complaint process;
- be granted confidentiality throughout the process (as described in B above); and
- review and sign their own statements and receive copies.
Witnesses to the complaint (other than the complainant or respondent) will not have the right to:
- have an attorney present;
- ask questions of the complainant or respondent;
- record the meeting;
- review the complete complaint file and all associated documents; or
- receive a copy of the complete complaint file.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, mediation may be offered. If the complainant accepts this approach, the respondent will be encouraged to participate in the mediation process. If the parties agree to a resolution, it will be documented in an agreement. Both parties will be given a copy of the agreement, and a copy will be retained with the complaint file by the ADEWD.
D. Formal Complaint Procedures
The ADEWD will notify the complainant and the respondent in writing when the informal process is concluded. If no resolution/agreement is reached during the informal stage of the complaint as outlined above, the complainant will have the right to submit a formal written complaint within 10 days to the ADEWD. The formal complaint must be signed and should be delivered (return receipt requested) to: Human Resources, Barrett Center, Skidmore College, Attn: ADEWD, 815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Under certain circumstances, however, the college may be required to continue its investigation, even in the absence of a formal written complaint.
The formal complaint must include the following:
- the complainant’s name, address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address;
- a complete description of all the alleged incident(s) or actions leading to the complaint;
- names of witnesses and information they can offer relative to the complaint;
- witness contact information (phone numbers, e-mail addresses);
- all documents and other tangible evidence available to support the allegations;
- identification of a representative (if there is to be one) and his/her relationship to the complainant; and
- the complainant’s signature and date.
E. Advisory Panel
When a faculty member is formally accused of harassment or discrimination, the college’s procedures establish opportunities for other faculty members to provide advice and recommendations. Such faculty advice and recommendations will be provided through the Advisory Panel (AP) as described more fully below and in Section F.
After receiving the formal complaint against a faculty member, the ADEWD will convene the Advisory Panel.
In the case of complaints by faculty members or students against faculty members, the AP will consist of two faculty members selected by the ADEWD from the Faculty Advisory Board (FAB). The Faculty Advisory Board, which is constituted (a) by a general election and (b) by subsequent appointment by the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) in consultation with the VPAA, consists largely of tenured faculty members who will be trained in issues relating to discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
In the case of complaints by staff against faculty members, the AP will consist of two tenured faculty members selected by the ADEWD from the FAB and two staff members selected by the ADEWD from a Staff Advisory Board (SAB). The Staff Advisory Board, established by the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources, consists of staff members trained in issues relating to discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
Faculty or staff members from the same department or office as either the complainant or the respondent may not serve on the AP. Any panelist with a conflict of interest may not serve. In addition, the complainant and the respondent each may request that one of the chosen panelists be replaced. In the event that a two- or four-person AP cannot be selected from these various boards, the VPAA and the Chair of FEC (in the case of faculty) or the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources (in the case of staff) will provide replacements as needed. Any such replacements will receive training appropriate to the complaint.
All information gathered during the informal process will continue to be used in the formal process. The ADEWD will provide the respondent with a copy of the formal complaint as submitted by the complainant within three work days* of receipt of the complaint. The ADEWD also will provide a letter to the respondent, outlining the investigation process and clarifying the respondent’s rights as well as the college’s expectation of full cooperation. During the formal process, all witnesses identified by the complainant and respondent will be interviewed, if the ADEWD and the Advisory Panel (AP) determine that they may offer relevant facts. All witnesses will receive a letter outlining the role of a witness during the investigation as well as the college’s expectation of their participation.
The complainant will be required to provide any requested documents and respond to requests for additional information in a timely manner (within five work days of receipt of a request). After five days, the ADEWD will repeat the request in writing; if the complainant does not respond within 10 work days after this written request for information is made by the ADEWD, the individual’s complaint may be closed for failure to participate, and a notice of cancellation will be sent.
Cancellation for lack of participation cannot be appealed by the complainant. Under certain circumstances, however, the college may be required to continue its investigation.
Members of the AP will participate in the interviews, but the ADEWD will take the lead in questioning. If either the complainant or respondent makes the request, (and both agree), the members of the AP will not participate in any interviews but will instead review all documents pertaining to the case and consult with the ADEWD during the investigation.
When possible, the investigation will be completed within 20 calendar days from the date the formal complaint is filed, unless more time is requested by the ADEWD. If the AP finds that the investigation will exceed this time limit, the ADEWD will provide written notification to the complainant, the respondent, and the appropriate official.
Upon completion of the investigation, the ADEWD will develop a complaint file consisting of all documents gathered during the investigation, along with statements from witnesses. The ADEWD will prepare a final report, including the summary, findings and conclusions, as well as a synopsis of the AP’s comments. The ADEWD and the AP will meet to review the final report and ensure that the AP’s views have been represented in the final report.
*Work days are defined as days the college’s administrative offices are open.
G. Legal Review
Upon completion of the investigation the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources will review the complaint file with the ADEWD and determine whether the report should be forwarded for legal review to the college’s attorney. In either case the ADEWD will meet with the appropriate official (relevant dean, vice president or supervisor) to report the results.
H. Administrative Review
Within five work days from the final decision on the summary, findings, and conclusions, the ADEWD, along with the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources, will share the results with the appropriate official. The appropriate official (VPAA, DOF, DSP, or any other division head) in consultation with the Director of Human Resources will consider the findings and determine the appropriate action(s). The Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration and Director of Human Resources will work with the appropriate official to implement the actions.
I. Disposition of Complaint
Once the written summary, findings and conclusions have been reviewed with the appropriate official, the ADEWD will have a final interview with the complainant within three work days after the administrative review. During this interview, the ADEWD will share the summary, findings and conclusions and issue a letter. The letter will only address the facts that were gathered and state whether any violation of the college’s policies was found.
Within three work days after the administrative review, the appropriate official will meet with the respondent to outline the summary, findings, conclusions and sanctions. All associated notes and documents developed by the appropriate official will be forwarded to Human Resources to be kept in the complaint file. All complaint files will be housed in Human Resources as legally required or as stipulated by the sanctions.
Actions in response to a complaint of discrimination or harassment may include discussion, recommendation for counseling or mentoring, monitoring of the situation, support for self-help or mediation by third party. Formal disciplinary actions may include (but are not limited to) a letter in the personnel file for a period of time, permanent letter in the personnel file, withholding of salary increases or stipends, removal from the classroom, suspension (with or without pay) or separation from the college.
A complainant may appeal based on the following criteria: 1) procedural error that might have affected the outcome of the decision or 2) new evidence. If the complainant elects to appeal, he/she must file the appeal within 15 work days of the date of the final interview with the ADEWD. The appeal process will not be an available to complainants who withdrew their complaints or their complaints were closed due to failure to participate as provided in F. (Investigation) above.
A respondent may appeal based on the following criteria: 1) procedural error that might have affected the outcome, 2) new evidence or 3) severity of the sanction. If the respondent elects to appeal, he/she must appeal within 15 work days from the date of the respondent’s meeting with the appropriate official.
All appeals must be delivered in writing to the President, who will decide whether the appeal has merit based on the criteria listed above and who will make the final institutional decision based upon a review of the record and of the recommendations, findings, conclusions, and sanctions related to the complaint.
The President will provide his or her decision in writing to the appellant, the other party to the original complaint as appropriate, the ADEWD and the appropriate official. If the President reverses or modifies the recommendation(s), then the President will provide written reasons for the action. The President will make the decision within 10 work days of the President’s receipt of the appeal.
VIII. Additional Expectations
A. Cooperation with Investigations and Hearings
All members of the Skidmore community (students, faculty, administrators and staff) are expected to cooperate fully with inquiries and investigations pertaining to alleged incidents of harassment or discrimination. Expected cooperation includes providing full and honest disclosure of known facts, providing oral or written testimony and providing letters, emails, voice messages, notebooks, gifts or other evidence in any such proceeding. Finally, cooperation includes the expectation that all parties to a complaint, inquiry, or investigation will maintain the confidentiality of the process and not attempt to influence any other party to the process.
B. Extension of Time Periods
If circumstances warrant or if legally required, the college reserves the right to extend any processing time period identified in this policy.
C. Retaliatory Actions
Applicable law and college policy prohibit retaliation against any person reporting or thought to have reported harassment or discrimination. Retaliation is also prohibited against any person who is a witness or otherwise involved in a harassment or discrimination proceeding. Retaliation against any person shall be considered a serious violation of the policy on retaliation and shall be considered independently of the underlying complaint. Encouraging others to retaliate also violates this policy.
Retaliation includes any conduct, whether or not workplace- or employment-related, directed at someone because he or she opposed a discriminatory practice, made a good-faith report of harassment or discrimination, or participated or cooperated in such an investigation, which might deter a reasonable person from making or supporting a charge of harassment or discrimination. Examples of retaliation include (but are not limited to) the following:
- unfair grading or evaluation of performance or assignments;
- withholding or delaying the transmissions of necessary information (such as information about classes, recommendations, grades, work assignments, meetings);
- withholding notification about important events;
- withholding notification about changes in policies;
- exposing the person to public or private ridicule;
- making oral or written threats or offering bribes;
- refusing to meet with a person who has the right to be granted a meeting;
- name calling; and
- further harassment of any nature.
All instances of alleged retaliation should be reported to the ADEWD or an appropriate official. The allegations will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures outlined in Article VII.
D. False Allegations
The college will not tolerate false allegations of harassment. Complaints made in good faith that are found not to constitute harassment or discrimination will not be considered false allegations. However, any individual who knowingly, maliciously or frivolously makes a false allegation of harassment will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including separation from the college or, in the case of a student, to disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion.
E. For Additional Information or Assistance
Inquiries concerning the preceding policies and procedures or requests for assistance should be directed to either of the following:
Assistant Director for EEO and Workforce Diversity
815 North Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-1632
Associate Vice President, Finance & Administration; Director of Human Resources
Human Resources, Barrett Center
815 North Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-1632