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7.500 Sexual Harassment


Policy Number: 7.500 

Subject: Sexual Harassment

Date Adopted: January 1, 1991, Revised March 25, 1992, Revised October 25, 1995

I. POLICY STATEMENT

National Park Community College prohibits sexual harassment in accordance with Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and/or Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

It is the College's commitment to maintain a healthy environment conducive not only to learning but also to working. To this end, sexual harassment is found to be detrimental to students as well as to faculty and staff within the College community and its affiliates. The College, then, recognizes that sexual harassment may occur between or among persons of the same or different status.

The College also wishes to ensure accessibility to appropriate procedures for addressing all complaints regarding sexual harassment. Civil or criminal charges do not have to be filed before the College will address a complaint. Persons with complaints should contact the Human Resources Coordinator for policy and procedures. In the event the prospective complainant prefers not to work with the Human Resources Coordinator, the prospective complainant will consult with the President who will designate an alternative person.

The College has the right to take administrative actions to guard against a hostile or offensive environment until an expeditious hearing by the Hearing Panel can be conducted. The College and the various individuals or bodies representing the College may reserve the right, pending criminal charges and litigation, to either postpone action or act immediately to eliminate a hostile or offensive environment. Neither this policy nor any procedure in it precludes anyone from acting as a responsible member of the community in accordance with community standards to render aid and secure the immediate health and safety of any individual.

Retaliation Prohibited

Retaliation against a student or employee for bringing a sexual harassment complaint is prohibited. In addition, retaliation against those persons who participate in such investigations and disciplinary procedures is also prohibited.

Retaliation itself is a violation of College policy and the law and is a serious separate offense. Complaints of retaliation for bringing a sexual harassment complaint may be brought through the informal or the formal sexual harassment complaint process.

Complaints of False Charges

Because of the nature of the problem, complaints of sexual harassment cannot always be substantiated. Lack of corroborating evidence should not discourage complainants from seeking relief through the procedures delineated in this document. However, charges found to have been intentionally dishonest or made maliciously without regard for truth will subject complainants to disciplinary action Individuals who believe they have been the target of willfully false or maliciously reckless formal charges should file a written complaint to the Human Resources Coordinator no later than 20 working days after they learn the nature of the allegations against them. The Human Resources Coordinator will make this complaint part of the informal or formal investigation process. Disciplinary action will be taken against the person(s) filing false charges should false charges be proven so.

Time Limitations

The College reserves the right to permit exceptions to the time limitations imposed by this policy for good cause.

II. DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education;
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual; and/or
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning employment or education environment.

Conduct Prohibited By This Policy May Include But Is Not Limited To:

III. PROCEDURES

This complaint procedure shall be available to any person employed by or enrolled as a student at National Park Community College at the time of an alleged occurrence. The College provides both informal and formal methods of resolving sexual harassment complaints. Individuals are encouraged,
but not required, to pursue the informal route first in an effort to resolve the issue prior to formal action. The institution desires to resolve any conflicts within the College community. However, if such issues cannot be resolved satisfactorily, any individual may file a formal complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency. All College faculty, administrators, and staff are responsible for informing the Human Resources Coordinator of charges of harassment, formal or informal, of which they are aware.

Informal Resolution

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment may express their concerns verbally and/or in writing to the person responsible for the offense or for creating the undesirable environment. However, individuals are not required to confront the person responsible for the offense. If the individuals wish to pursue informal resolution of the situation, a report of the incident(s) and any written documentation of efforts to stop the harassment should be submitted to the Human Resources Coordinator within 10 days of the last offense. In the event the prospective complainant prefers not to work with the Human Resources Coordinator, the prospective complainant will consult with the President who will designate an alternate person.

Upon receipt of an informal written complaint of sexual harassment, the Human Resources Coordinator shall advise the President about the complaint as soon as possible. The Human Resources Coordinator is empowered to notify the accused, investigate the charge, interview the parties involved, hear testimony and gather evidence. The Human Resources Coordinator may have a witness during the interview process. The investigation shall be completed within 15 working days of receipt of the complaint, and the coordinator shall document all attempts at informal resolution including agreements and decisions between the parties involved. Upon completion of the investigation, the Human Resources Coordinator is authorized to:

  1. Resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the College and both the complainant and the party accused of sexual harassment. If an agreement is reached that is satisfactory to both parties and the College, a written statement shall indicate the agreement reached, shall be signed and dated by each party, and shall be attached to the report of the investigation. At that time, the investigation and the record(s) thereof shall be closed.
  2. Find that the parties are unable to resolve the matter informally. Written notice of such finding shall be given to each party involved.
  3. Find that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate harassment charges and recommend no further action.
  4. Find that the evidence justifies recommending invoking the formal resolution process.

If the results of the findings in the informal process are unacceptable to either party, individuals may request formal resolution within 15 working days of receipt of the report of findings in the informal resolution process.

Formal Resolution

Individuals who believe that they have been the victims of sexual harassment may file a written complaint within 15 working days of the incident. The written complaint shall be addressed to the Human Resources Coordinator. The statement must include a description of the incident(s) and any efforts made to cease further harassment. The complainant may withdraw the complaint at any point during the investigation or prior to the completion of a formal hearing. Such withdrawal is
without prejudice. Upon the filing of a formal complaint, the Human Resources Coordinator shall present it to the President as soon as possible.

The President shall:

  1. Inform the accused individuals, hereinafter referred to as respondent, in writing of the allegations that have been brought.
  2. Provide the respondents copies of the complaint with an invitation to respond.
  3. Establish a Hearing Panel to conduct an investigation and recommend actions. A 5-member Hearing Panel will be chosen within 5 working days by the parties to the complaint, from the 12-member Committee on Sexual Harassment appointed by the President. The Committee shall be composed of 4 administrators and staff, 4 faculty, and 4 students. The terms of appointment shall be for 3 years with initial terms of 1, 2, and 3 years in each category to provide a staggered membership. Student members shall be appointed for a one-year term. The selection of the Panel shall be in the following manner: the complainant shall select 2 members, the respondent shall select 2 members and the fifth member shall be chosen by the first four members. The fifth person shall chair the Panel. If the four panelists cannot agree on the fifth, the names of 5 additional Committee members will be drawn by lot. Each panelist will strike 1 name off the list of 5 names. The remaining person shall be the fifth panelist.

In the event the respondent(s) does not participate in the panel selection process, the respondent(s)'s immediate supervisor or the next highest appropriate person in the respondent(s)'s chain of command will make the designations. Either party to the complaint may request the President to disqualify any member of the Panel upon a showing of cause. Should the President have a conflict of interest with the Sexual Harassment complaint, a senior administrator shall assume the President's Sexual Harassment Policy duties. The first to serve would be the Vice President for Instruction, Vice President for Student Services, and Vice President for Financial Affairs, respectively, who do not have a conflict of interest. Furthermore, panelists will not serve if they believe that a conflict of interest exists. Replacements shall be selected in the same manner as the original members. The Panel shall be convened by the President (ex officio, without voting privileges) for an orientation meeting. Panel members shall be given a copy of the written complaint, the written response, any documentation of attempts at resolution, and the Hearing Guidelines.

Hearing Guidelines

The Hearing Panel procedures shall be established with reference to these Guidelines. The Panel shall provide that the parties to a proceeding may be represented by legal counsel and that the parties may present all of the evidence they consider germane to the determination. Further, the parties may call witnesses to testify and may cross-examine witnesses called by the other party. The formal proceedings shall be closed to the public unless both the complainant(s) and respondent(s) agree otherwise. Audio tapes or appropriate other records of the proceedings shall be arranged exclusively by the Chair of the Panel. Any party who wishes to have legal counsel present at the hearing must notify the Chair and the other party(ies) that legal counsel has been retained at least 5 working days in advance of the scheduled hearing. Attorneys may advise their client(s) at the hearing but may not address the Hearing Panel or question witnesses. The Chair of the Hearing Panel shall notify both parties of the date, time, and location of the hearing. Both parties are responsible for notifying their own witnesses. The hearing shall be scheduled to reasonably ensure that the complainant(s), respondent(s) and essential witnesses are able to participate.

Satisfactory Resolution Prior to Hearing Completion

In the event the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties prior to completion of the formal proceedings of the Hearing Panel, a written statement shall indicate the agreement reached by the parties and shall be signed and dated by each party and by the Chair of the Panel. The case shall then be closed.

Panel's Findings and Recommendations

In the event that no solution satisfactory to the parties is reached prior to the completion of formal proceedings, the Panel shall submit its findings and recommendations to the President and submit all confidential records to the Human Resources Coordinator within 3 working days after conclusion of the proceedings.

Administrative Actions

Within 3 working days of receipt of the Hearing Panel's findings and recommendations, the President shall inform both parties of the findings and of recommended administrative sanctions, if any. Sanctions recommended may include, but are not limited to:

  1. oral warning and counseling,
  2. written warning stating expected behavioral changes and/or specific restrictions,
  3. suspension or reassignment for a specified period, and
  4. dismissal or termination.

Appeal to the President

Either party may appeal to the President within 5 working days of notification of the Hearing Panel's recommendation. The President shall modify or affirm the Hearing Panel's recommended findings within 3 working days of expiration of the appeal period for the parties. If either party elects to appeal the President's decision, notice of intent to appeal to the Board of Trustees shall be given to the President within 5 working days of receipt of the President's decision. The President and Board of Trustees may review the appeal based upon existing records and documentation or conduct such further hearings as they may determine.

Annual Report

The Human Resources Coordinator shall prepare a report annually on the number and types of complaints received pursuant to this policy. The report shall be sent to administrators, faculty, staff, and other agencies as required by law.

I V. CONFIDENTIALITY PROCEDURES AND RECORDS

These procedures are internal to the operation of the College and meetings of the Hearing Panel in the formal process are not "open meetings" within the meaning of Arkansas Code Annotated Section 25-19-106. Due process must be guaranteed to both the victim and the alleged offender, including the right to be informed of the specific charges, the opportunity to respond, and the opportunity to present information and witnesses.

In all procedures, all parties must uphold confidentiality. Investigators and members of the Hearing Panel are individually charged to preserve confidentiality with respect to any matter investigated or heard. Panel members must sign a form stating that they understand their obligations and responsibilities to the Panel regarding confidentiality. A breach of the duty to preserve confidentiality is considered a serious offense.

Except for appeals made to the Board of Trustees, records of completed hearings shall be maintained by the Human Resources Coordinator as confidential records for a period of 5 years. Upon approval by the President, these records may be reviewed as necessary by the Human Resources Coordinator, an alternate person designated by the President to function for the Human Resources Coordinator, or a Hearing Panel.

V. CONSENSUAL RELATIONSHIPS

Definition

Consensual relationships may include amorous, romantic, or intimate relationships, and are intended to indicate conduct which goes beyond what a reasonable person would believe to be a collegial or professional relationship.

Rationale

National Park Community College is committed to provide adequate protection against sexual harassment while also protecting freedom of association and the right to privacy; however, consensual relationships between students and faculty/staff/administrators, administrators and students/faculty/staff are discouraged because they may lead to favoritism, prejudicial evaluation or abuse of power. These relationships are particularly discouraged when either party is in a position to evaluate the other's academic or professional performance or to exercise judgment in the application of an institutional policy or procedure.

Any employee who enters into a consensual sexual relationship with a student or subordinate where a professional power relationship exists is warned that, if a charge of sexual harassment is subsequently made, the student or subordinate may assert that the relationship was not one of mutual or voluntary consent, and the party in power bears full responsibility for proving a defense of mutual consent.

Exception

Any sexual behavior with a minor is prohibited. If the student or subordinate is under the age of 18, even a consenting sexual relationship with that student or subordinate may be considered child abuse. The offender, therefore, may be subject to civil or criminal procedures. Arkansas state law requires the institution to report sexual child abuse to the Department of Human Services or to the local law enforcement agency.

VI. EDUCATION

The aim of education on sexual harassment is to inform individuals of their rights and responsibilities. The goal of education is to assist all members of the College community to appreciate human diversity and to help educate the insensitive about the insidious problems this policy addresses.

Dissemination of Information:

  1. The Human Resources Coordinator is charged with distributing this policy to all employees.
  2. The Vice President for Student Services shall oversee a statement addressing the issue to be published in the Student Handbook.
  3. In-service education shall be provided to all College employees concerning this topic.
  4. All new employees shall receive a copy of this policy and be provided in-service training during the first six months of employment.
  5. A copy of the policy shall be distributed during an orientation process for all students.