Harassment
Policy ID
HR.060
Effective Date
2/8/2018
Revision Date
1/18/2019
Office
Human Resources

Hanover College is committed to providing a work and academic environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and from conduct that can be considered harassing, coercive, or disruptive, including sexual harassment. Actions, words, jokes, or comments based on an individual's sex, race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated.

POLICY APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to all salaried and hourly staff members and faculty members of Hanover College, as well as to any person or entity contracting with the College.  Individuals who are not salaried or hourly staff members or faculty members or students and who believe that they have been subjected to harassment by a College salaried or hourly staff member, or faculty in the course of their employment or at a College-sponsored event may utilize the complaint processes set forth in this policy.

DEFINITIONS

Harassment is a form of discrimination which seriously harms the Hanover community, can constitute a violation of law, and is defined as follows:

- Acts which have the effect of harming, intimidating, or humiliating an employee, or student member of the community, through the use of physical force, the threat of force, or  verbal, visual, or physical abuse, on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability or any other characteristic protected by law.  These acts can also be based on no one specific characteristic or combination of characteristics protected by law, but can also be acts which have the effects listed above and are based on violating the basic respect that we owe to one another as members of the Hanover College community.  If these acts take place in a teaching context, they must be persistent, pervasive, and not germane to the subject matter.  The academic setting is distinct from the workplace in that wide latitude is required for professional judgment in determining the appropriate content and presentation of academic material.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of such conduct by the individual is used as a basis for employment decisions or academic decisions affecting an individual, interfering with his or her work or academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.

Whether there has been a violation of this policy will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will depend upon the specific facts and the context in which the conduct occurs.  Please note that the College intends to apply standards of conduct that are more stringent than those applied in a court of law.  Consequently, a violation of this policy should not be construed as a violation of any federal, state, or local law.  The remedial action taken, if any, in a particular instance depends on the nature and gravity of the conduct reported, and may include disciplinary action.  Even one incident, if sufficiently serious, may constitute harassment prohibited by this policy.

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

  1. A student, salaried or hourly staff member, or faculty member who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment by a salaried or hourly staff member, faculty member or contractor is encouraged to promptly tell the person that the conduct is unwelcome and to ask the person to stop the conduct.  But this is not necessary or required.  A salaried or hourly staff member, faculty member, or contractor who receives such a request must immediately comply with the request and must not retaliate against the student or employee for objecting to the conduct.
  2. If the reporting party is a salaried or hourly staff member, or faculty member, he/she may report the alleged harassment by an employee or contractor to Human Resources or to any Department or Division Coordinator at the College.   Since final appeals are made to the President, he/she will not receive harassment complaints. It is the responsibility of all managers to report any complaints of alleged harassment to Human Resources. 
  3. Any person authorized by college policy to receive harassment complaints is under a duty to act upon them or refer them for review.
  4. If the reporting party is a student, he/she may report the alleged harassment by an employee or contractor to any member of Student Life, to the Dean of Academic Affairs, to any Faculty Division Coordinator, or to Human Resources.  Any other member of the College community although not a petitioner, shall also report any suspected or observed incidents reasonably believed to violate this policy or any report from a petitioner of an incident of harassment. 

Faculty members who act as sounding boards are generally not obligated to report harassment; however, a harassment free environment is best achieved when the community works together. 

The reporting party or responding party may have an advisor(s) of their choice present for all meetings and proceedings, from intake through final appeal. The number of advisors for either the reporting party or responding party shall be no more than two (2).  Typically, advisors’ roles are limited to supporting and advising the person they are accompanying; they are usually not permitted to answer questions or address investigators or hearing panels.  The hearing panel and/or investigators shall be informed in advance of who will be attending as advisors for both the reporting party and the responding party.

  1. If the responding party is the Director of Human Resources, then the complaint will be directed to the next level of management, who will process the complaint, investigation, and resolution steps.  If the responding party is the President, then the Director of Human Resources will coordinate the complaint, investigation, and resolution steps with counsel and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
  2. The reporting party should present the complaint as promptly as possible after the alleged harassment occurs. Ordinarily, a complaint must be presented within thirty (30) days.  The Harassment Hearing Board can decide to waive the time limit and can choose to review the complaint if it determines good cause for review exists.  This review will be on the merits of the complaint, not on its timeliness.
  3. If the reporting party decides to proceed, the reporting party must submit to Human Resources a signed, written statement detailing the conduct that is perceived as harassment.  If the reporting party chooses not to participate in the investigation, the College reserves the right to proceed with an investigation and hearing on behalf of the College.
  4. Upon receipt of the written complaint, the Director of Human Resources will determine if the complaint is substantive enough to be forwarded to the committee for a preliminary review. If the committee decides that the complaint is substantive in nature, the Harassment Hearing Board will review and determine if an investigation is warranted. 

The Director of Human Resources will inform the responding party of the nature of the complaint, and will notify him/her of the pending investigation.  The responding party will be informed of his/her rights and the potential outcome(s) of the investigation.  The appropriate cabinet member will be informed of the complaint only if the case moves to an investigative board review.

  1. Complaints against contractors or third parties shall not be handled by the Harassment Hearing Board; instead, such complaints shall be resolved by the Director of Human Resources in consultation with the appropriate business unit of the College.  Remedial action may range from warnings, to barring an individual or entity from campus, to discontinuing business relationships with persons or entities that do not abide by this policy.

RESOLUTION OF WRITTEN COMPLAINT

  1. Except for complaints involving contractors or other third parties, after a written complaint is submitted, the Harassment Hearing Board shall convene as soon as practicable to review the complaint. The Board is composed of the Director of Human Resources as a non-voting convener, a Division Coordinator/Department Head/Director, and two other board members.   If the responding party is a faculty member, a Division Coordinator will be chosen from a division other than the department in which the responding party works, and the two additional board members will be faculty members.  If the responding party is a salaried or hourly staff member, a Department Head or Director will be chosen from a department other than the department in which the responding party works, and the two additional board members will be salaried or hourly staff members.  A fifth member of the board will be appointed by the President from a pool of salaried or hourly staff members if the responding party is a faculty member or from the faculty pool if the responding party is a salaried or hourly staff member.  Faculty members will be recommended by the Steering Committee and appointed by the President.  A pool of salaried or hourly staff members will be recommended by the Cabinet.  The convener will choose the appropriate board members from the designated salaried or hourly employee staff pool or faculty member pool. 

Each year the Division Coordinators/Department Heads/Directors, and appointed board members will be trained in harassment policy and law, as well as investigative techniques.

  1. The Board shall conduct a hearing which may include reviewing witness testimony, statements, documents and/or electronic files that are reasonably believed to be associated with the claim. The Board may gather whatever information it deems necessary to assist in reaching a conclusion and making recommendations for subsequent action. All salaried and hourly staff members, faculty members, and students are expected to cooperate fully in an investigation into harassment.

The responding party will have full rights to defend him or herself and to present evidence at the hearing conducted by the hearing board (see appendix for Hearing Board Procedures).

  1. In recognition of the sensitivity of such matters, the work of the Board shall be confidential.  

A report of the committee’s findings and the resolution of the problem shall be forwarded to the President.  If the claim is dismissed, only a summary of the claim, without specified reporting party names and responding party names, will be forwarded to the President.

  1. Determinations as to whether a violation of this policy has occurred shall be made using the “preponderance of the evidence” standard—that is, does the evidence establish that it is more likely than not that a violation of this policy has occurred?  As soon as practicable, the Board shall issue a decision containing its factual findings, its determination, and its proposed resolution.  All findings shall be framed in terms of whether the evidence establishes a violation of this policy, not whether any law has been violated. When the evidence does not establish a violation, the determination shall so state and the proposed resolution shall be to dismiss the complaint.  The Board shall forward its findings and proposed resolution as soon as possible to the appropriate Cabinet Member.   Previous findings of harassment may be considered in the consideration of sanctions even if the earlier findings did not lead to sanctions.
  2. Examples of possible recommended sanctions may include but are not limited to an apology to the reporting party, financial/salary implications, and discipline up to and including dismissal.
  3. The appropriate Cabinet Member will review the Board’s findings and confer with the Board.  The Cabinet Member will then come to his or her decision concerning whether sanctions are to be imposed and, if so, what these sanctions will be. 

If the Cabinet Member decides that the sanction should be increased or decreased from those recommended by the Harassment Hearing Board, he or she must review the modified sanction with the board.  If additional evidence is presented by the Cabinet Member, the Board will reevaluate the findings and notify the reporting party and the responding party of the new evidence.

The Cabinet Member will send a draft of this decision to the responding party.  The responding party may then respond to the Board and Cabinet Member within ten days of receipt of this draft or request an extension and respond within the time granted.  If the responding party responds, that response becomes part of the file for the case.  After thoughtfully considering the response and responding to the responding party, the Board will present findings to the Cabinet Member.  The Cabinet Member may incorporate any changes resulting from that consideration into his or her decision to the responding party, providing a copy to the President.  The reporting party shall be notified either that the evidence did establish a violation of this policy and that remedial action will be taken, or that the evidence did not establish a violation of this policy and the complaint will be dismissed. 

  1. If the Vice-President of Academic Affairs approves the sanction of termination for a faculty member, the case must then be deferred to the termination process as outlined in the Faculty Manual.
  2. Either party may appeal the Cabinet Member’s decision to the President.  Appeals may be premised only on allegations of bias, conflict of interest, or procedural violations that affect a substantial right.  The decision of the President will be final.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Hanover College recognizes that confidentiality is important; however, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.  The salaried and hourly staff members, and faculty members responsible for implementing this policy will respect the privacy of the reporting party or responding party of harassment to the extent reasonably possible and will maintain confidentiality to the extent possible.  Examples of situations in which confidentiality cannot be maintained include, but are not limited to, necessary disclosures during an investigation, circumstances where the College is required by law to disclose information, or when an individual is in harm’s way. In cases of sexual assault, the Clery Act requires that both the perpetrator and the victim be informed of the final outcome and the sanctions imposed.  In other cases, details of the case are to be kept confidential and the reporting party will be notified either that the evidence established a violation of this policy and that remedial action will be taken, or that the evidence did not establish a violation of this policy and the complaint will be dismissed.

RETALIATION

Retaliation against an individual who, in good faith, complains of alleged harassment or provides information or participates in an investigation about behavior that may violate this policy is against the law, will not be tolerated, and is grounds for discipline.  Retaliation in violation of this policy may result in discipline up to and including termination and/or expulsion.  Any employee or student bringing a harassment complaint or assisting in the investigation of such a complaint will not be adversely affected in the terms and conditions of his or her employment and/or academic standing or discriminated against, terminated, or expelled because of the complaint or assistance.  However, tendering complaints or evidence lacking a good-faith basis is a violation of this policy and subject to remedial action.

HARASSMENT HEARING BOARD PROCEDURES

  1. When the written complaint is brought to the Hearing Board they must first decide if the complaint warrants moving forward with a full investigation. The complaint must detail the conduct which is perceived as harassment. If the decision is to move forward the hearing board must notify the responding party of the complaint and will notify him/her of the pending investigation. The responding party will be informed of his/her rights and the potential outcome(s) of the investigation.
  2.  The Board conducts a review which may include witness testimony or statements, review of documents and electronic files that are reasonably believed to be associated with the claim. The Board my gather whatever information it deems necessary to assist in making recommendations for subsequent action.
  3. Both the reporting party and the responding party will have full rights to present their case and respond to claims by the other. Both can have an advisor of their choice present for all meetings and proceedings, from intake through final appeal. The number of advisors for either the reporting party or responding party shall be no more than two (2).  If desired, the advisor can be selected from a pool of faculty, salaried and hourly staff members who have received harassment training.  Should the reporting party or responding party wish the advisor to attend the board meeting, this will be accommodated.  The advisor will not be able to speak on the behalf of the reporting party or responding party.
  4. If a claim is dismissed, only a summary of the claim without specified names of the reporting party and the responding party will be forwarded to the President.
  5. The proceedings before the Board (though not its deliberations) shall be captured on an audio recording.  The parties may request an arrangement to listen to the recording in connection with an appeal process.
  6. Except for such simple announcements as may be required, covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, public statements and publicity about the case by either the reporting party or the responding party, will be avoided so far as possible until the proceedings have been complete.
  7. The determination as to whether a violation of this policy has occurred shall be made using the “preponderance of the evidence” standard—that is, does the evidence establish that it is more likely than not that a violation of this policy has occurred.

The reporting party or responding party has the right to read and review evidence that the board is using to review the case.  The reporting party or responding party may also pose questions for the Hearing Board to ask the opposing party.

As soon as practicable, the Board shall issue a decision containing its factual findings, its determination, and its proposed resolution.  All findings shall be framed in terms of whether the evidence establishes a violation of this policy, not whether any law has been violated. When the evidence does not establish a violation, the determination shall so state and the proposed resolution shall be to dismiss the complaint.  The Board shall forward its findings and proposed resolution as soon as possible to the appropriate Cabinet Member.   Previous findings of harassment may be considered in the consideration of sanctions even if the earlier findings did not lead to sanctions.

  1.  Examples of possible recommended sanctions may include but not limited to an apology to the claimant, financial/salary implications, and discipline up to and including dismissal.
  2. The appropriate Cabinet Member will review the Board’s findings and confer with the Board.  The Cabinet Member will then come to their decision concerning whether sanctions are to be imposed and, if so, what these sanctions will be.

If the Cabinet Member decides that the sanction should be increased or decreased from those recommended by the Harassment Board, they must review the modified sanction with the board.  If additional evidence is presented by the Cabinet Member the board will reevaluate the findings and notify the reporting party and the responding party of the new evidence.

The Cabinet Member will send a draft of this decision to the responding party.  The responding party may then respond to the board and cabinet member within ten days of receipt of this draft or request an extension and respond within the time granted.  The responding party’s response becomes part of the file for the case.  After thoughtfully considering the response and responding to the responding party, the board will present findings to the Cabinet member.  The Cabinet Member may incorporate any changes resulting from that consideration into his or her decision to the responding party with a copy to the President.  The reporting party shall be notified either that the evidence did establish a violation of this policy and that remedial action will be taken, or that the evidence did not establish a violation of this policy and the complaint will be dismissed.

  1. If the Vice-President of Academic Affairs approves the sanction of termination for a faculty member the case must then be deferred to the termination process as outlined in the Faculty Manual.
  2.  Either party may appeal the Cabinet Member’s decision to the President.  Appeals may be premised only on allegations of bias, conflict of interest or procedural violations that affect a substantial right.  The decision of the President will be final.