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How is discrimination defined?

As defined by the UWS Regent Policy Document 14-6, adopted October 11, 2013, http://www.uwsa.edu/bor/policies/rpd/rpd14-6.htm:

Discrimination is conduct that adversely affects any aspect of an individual's employment, education, or participation in an institution's activities or programs, or has the effect of denying equal privileges or treatment to an individual on the basis of one more characteristics of that individual's protected status or category as defined herein.

How is discriminatory harassment defined?

As defined by the UWS Regent Policy Document 14-6, adopted October 11, 2013, http://www.uwsa.edu/bor/policies/rpd/rpd14-6.htm:

 

Discriminatory Harassment is a form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct that:

 

1. Is directed at an individual or group of individuals on the basis of the individual or group of individuals' actual or perceived protected status, or affiliation or association with person(s) within a protected status (as defined herein); and

2. Is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to interfere with an individual's employment, education or academic environment or participation in institution programs or activities and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, offensive or hostile.

To constitute prohibited harassment, the conduct must be both objectively and subjectively harassing in nature. Harassment may include but is not limited to verbal or physical attacks, threats, slurs or derogatory or offensive comments that meet the definition set forth herein. Harassment does not have to be targeted at a particular individual in order to create a harassing environment, nor must the conduct result in a tangible injury to be considered a violation of this policy. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs and the status of the individuals involved.

To be considered discriminatory harassment, the complainant must allege that the harassment is based on one or more of the categories listed in these procedures depending on whether the complainant is a student or applying for admission to the University; an employee, or applying for employment at the University; or a visitor to campus.

 

Guidance from the Federal Government on discriminatory harassment can be found on the EEOC website on Harassment, U.S. Department of Education Dear Colleague Letter, and the U.S. Department of Education website on Racial Incidents and Harassment Against Students.

 

Guidance from the State of Wisconsin on discriminatory harassment can be found on the State of Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development website regarding Harassment in the Workplace

 

Guidance from the Federal Government on sexual harassment, which is a form of discriminatory harassment, can be found on the EEOC website regarding Facts about Sexual Harassment and the U.S. Department of Education website regarding Sexual Harassment Resources.

 

Information about sexual harassment at the University can be found in the Office for Equity and Diversity’s Sexual Harassment: Defining and Addressing a Community Concern brochure and on OED’s website regarding Sexual Harassment.

 


How is retaliation defined?

As defined by the UWS Regent Policy Document 14-6, adopted October 11, 2013, http://www.uwsa.edu/bor/policies/rpd/rpd14-6.htm:

Retaliation is defined as adverse action taken against an individual in response to, motivated by or in connection with an individual's complaint of discrimination or discriminatory harassment, participation in an investigation of such complaint and/or opposition of discrimination or discriminatory harassment in the educational or workplace setting.

Guidance from the Federal Government on retaliation can be found on the EEOC website and on the OCR website.

Guidance from the State of Wisconsin on retaliation can be found on the State of Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development website

It is not necessary for OED to find discrimination in the original complaint in order to find that the complainant was retaliated against by a University employee.

On what bases does the University prohibit employment discrimination?

A. Employment.

Federal and Wisconsin state statutes and regulations and UWS and the University’s policies prohibit discrimination, including discriminatory harassment and retaliation, against University employees, and those seeking employment at the University, including but not limited to the following areas: recruitment; interviewing; testing; screening; selection; placement; evaluation; transfer; promotion; training; compensation; fringe benefits; layoffs and/or dismissal on the following bases.

Age

Ancestry

Arrest record

Color

Conviction record

Creed

Cultural background

Declining to attend a meeting or participate in any communication about religious matters or political matters

Disability

Ethnicity

Gender expression

Gender identity

Genetic testing  

Honesty testing

Marital status

Military obligations (including membership in the national guard; state defense force or any other reserve component of the military forces of the United States or the state of Wisconsin)

National origin

Pregnancy (including childbirth or related conditions)

Race

Religion

Retaliation for making a complaint of discrimination, or taking part in an investigation relating to discrimination, or opposing discrimination

Sex    

Sexual orientation

Use or nonuse of lawful products off the employer’s premises during nonworking hours.

Also covered is any other non-discrimination category that may be subsequently added, even if not included in the above list, as a result of federal or State of Wisconsin court, legislative, or regulatory action, or action taken by UWS or the University.

On what bases does the University prohibit discrimination in educational programs?

B. Educational programs.

Federal and Wisconsin state statutes and regulations and UWS and University policies prohibit discrimination, including discriminatory harassment and retaliation, against students, applicants for admission, and others taking part in University educational programs and activities including, but not limited to issues involving admissions and enrollment, educational environment, course work, student services, programs, activities, and facilities on the following bases.

Age

Ancestry

Color

Creed

Disability

Ethnicity

Gender expression

Gender identity

Marital or parental status

National origin

Pregnancy

Race

Religion

Retaliation for making a complaint of discrimination, or taking part in an investigation relating to discrimination, or opposing discrimination

Sex

Sexual orientation

Also covered is any other non-discrimination category that may be subsequently added, even if not included in the above list, as a result of federal or State of Wisconsin court, legislative, or regulatory action, or action taken by UWS or the University.

Allegations of discrimination by students against other students are handled in two ways. A student who wishes to file a complaint alleging that another student discriminated against them in his or her role as a student should contact the Dean on Call in the Dean of Students Office (DoSO), Division of Student Life at:

Room 75

Bascom Hall

500 Lincoln Drive

Madison, Wl 53706-1380

Phone: 608-263-5700

Fax: 608-265-5646

TTY: 608-263-2400

Email: dean@studentlife.wisc.edu

Additional information regarding the Office of the Dean of Students' process is available on their website.

A student who wishes to file a discrimination complaint against another student who he or she believes is acting in his or her role as an employee of the University (e.g., a graduate, teaching or project assistant, a house fellow, or a student hourly employee) should contact OED at:

179A Bascom Hall

500 Lincoln Drive

Madison, Wl 53706.

608-263-2378

Wisconsin Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1

Email: appell@provost.wisc.edu

On what bases does the University prohibit discrimination in University activities?

C. University activities.

Federal statutes and regulations forbid discrimination, including discriminatory harassment and retaliation, in access to federally assisted University programs and activities on the following bases.

Age

Color

Disability

National origin

Race

Retaliation for making a complaint of discrimination, or taking part in an investigation relating to discrimination, or opposing discrimination

Sex in federally assisted educational programs and activities. 

Also covered is any other non-discrimination category that may be subsequently added, even if not included in the above list, as a result of federal or State of Wisconsin court, legislative, or regulatory action, or action taken by UWS or the University.

Who should I contact if I have questions about discrimination?

The OED provides guidance and assistance to all members of the university community including administrators, managers and supervisors, faculty and staff, applicants for employment, students, and recipients of university services, including visitors, who have questions about possible discrimination. Contact OED if you have concerns about discrimination, have questions about the rights of individuals under the law and university procedures, or wish to file a discrimination complaint. After speaking with OED staff, individuals may file a complaint or follow-up with divisional or departmental human resource specialists, department chairs, deans, other university administrators, or ODOS depending on the issues raised and individuals involved. OED may also make inquiries with appropriate university officials, with the permission of the individual involved, based on issues raised during an interview.

 

 

How do I file a complaint with OED?

A. The following terms will be used in the discussions on filing, investigating, and resolving complaints of discrimination.

Investigator: Special Assistant-Complaint Investigator, Office of the Provost who on behalf of OED determines whether to accept the complaint, conducts the investigation, and makes the OED finding. These actions are taken in consultation with the OED director.

B. Who may file a complaint with OED?

Employees
Applicants for employment
Students
Applicants for admission
Recipients of university services including visitors to campus

The OED director, based on information received, may also open a complaint at his or her discretion or at the request of the Chancellor or the Provost.

C. What information must be included in a discrimination complaint?

A complainant must provide OED with a written, signed, and dated statement that includes contact information (for example, a street address, telephone number, or email address.) The complaint must also contain:

1. The grounds on which the alleged discrimination occurred. It must be one of the bases listed above, depending on whether the allegations involve employment, access to educational programs, or access to a university activity open to the public. The grounds are the only bases on which OED can accept a complaint.

2. The name, title, and address of the person who allegedly discriminated. OED recognizes that all of this information may not be available to a complainant. Before a complaint can be accepted, OED must be able to confirm that the alleged discrimination involved a university sponsored program or activity or was committed by a person acting in his or her capacity as a member of the university.

3. The complaint must be filed with OED within 300 days of the alleged act of discrimination. The 300 days is counted from the date of the most recent alleged discrimination to the date the complaint is signed and dated. This time frame will only be extended in unusual circumstances by the OED director, primarily when personal or family illness prevented an individual from filing in a timely manner or when the complainant could not reasonably be expected to know that he or she was being discriminated against within the 300 days. (Note: The time frames for filing under federal law may differ. For example, individuals wishing to file with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, generally need to file complaints within 180 days from the alleged act of discrimination. To ensure that you do not lose any of your rights, you should contact the federal and state agencies at the addresses listed below.)

4. The complaint must include a statement of the alleged discriminatory events which will contain the following:

(a.) The grounds or bases for the discriminatory treatment.
(b.) The actions or incidents believed to be discriminatory including the names and titles of the university-based individuals involved.
(c.) The dates, time period, and the location of the actions or incidents believed to be discriminatory.
(d.) The effect that the treatment or actions have had on the complainant’s work, instructional, or study environment, or the complainant’s ability to take part in university programs or activities.
(e.) The name, address or phone number of persons who have information relevant to the allegations, and the names of any persons who might have experienced similar treatment.
(f.) Any material supporting the allegations.
(g.) A statement of an outcome or resolution the complainant believes would be an appropriate remedy for the complaint.

What will OED do when it receives a complaint?

A. The investigator will review the submission.

The purpose of the review is to ensure that the complaint is signed, dated, timely filed, and contains at least one allegation, which if true, would represent a discriminatory action within the jurisdiction of OED.

B. What happens if the complaint does not contain sufficient information to permit OED to proceed?

If the review indicates that the allegation is not timely filed, the complaint will be closed. If the review indicates that the complaint is timely filed, but does not meet other requirements listed, OED will determine if it is necessary to contact the complainant to obtain additional information. If the complainant cannot or does not provide the required information, OED may close the complaint without an investigation.

C. Why else would OED not proceed with a complaint?

OED will not proceed with a complaint when a federal or State of Wisconsin court or federal or state regulatory agency or the university has previously dealt with the specific complaint, or identical issues, and has determined that such allegations are not discriminatory.

D. What happens if OED determines not to proceed with an investigation?

If, based on the evaluation of the materials supplied by the complainant, OED determines not to conduct an investigation, the complainant will be informed, by letter if an address is available, of OED’s decision and the basis for the decision. If appropriate, the letter will contain the names and addresses of appropriate State of Wisconsin and federal agencies the complainant may wish to contact to discuss their allegations.

E. Will OED continue with an investigation when a complainant has also filed a similar complaint with other agencies?

Yes. A complainant who has filed with federal or State of Wisconsin agencies may also file with OED. The complaint will be investigated providing it meets OED’s requirements. A list of agencies with concurrent jurisdiction are listed below.

How does OED conduct investigations of the complaints it accepts?

A. Letters are sent to the complainant, the university official, and the respondent.

1. Complainant. Within ten calendar days of accepting the complaint, OED will send a letter to the complainant containing: the allegations that will be investigated; a list of federal, state, and university, authorities covering the allegations; a statement that retaliation for filing a complaint is forbidden; and, the name and contact information for the OED investigator. If OED has determined not to proceed with all the allegations raised by the complainant, an explanation will be provided for that decision. The letter will also contain the names and addresses of state and federal agencies, which may also have jurisdiction over the complaint, and the complainant will be informed that he or she may contact them with their concerns. The letter will not contain the name of the complainant.

2. University official. On a case by case basis, OED will determine which university official will receive the letter from OED indicating that a complaint has been filed and that an investigation is being initiated. The letter will discuss the allegations. It will not contain the name of the complainant. The university official will receive verbal notification of the individual or individuals involved only if it is necessary for the university official to respond to the allegations. A letter to a university official will contain only the allegations accepted by OED. No reference will be made to allegations not accepted for investigation. Additionally, the letter will contain a list of the authorities under which the allegations will be investigated; a statement that retaliation for filing a complaint is forbidden; and the name and contact information for the investigator. In most cases, the letter will also contain a request for information and indicate that OED expects the information to be submitted within 14 calendar days of the date of the letter.

3. Respondent. Respondents have due process rights to know the nature of the allegations made against them. In all cases, OED will send a letter to the respondent notifying respondent that OED is investigating allegations that he or she has engaged in discrimination. The letter sent to the respondent will contain similar information, but will not contain the data request nor the name of the complainant, which will be provided either by the university official or the investigator, but only if such information is needed to conduct the investigation.

B. Can OED guarantee confidentiality to complainants?

No. OED cannot guarantee confidentiality. Generally, OED will not release the name of the complainant, and will not identify the complainant in letters sent to the complainant, the University official or the respondent. OED will verbally inform the University official and the respondent of the name of the complainant only in those situations where it is necessary to conduct the investigation. Information requested under the State of Wisconsin’s Open Records Law will be redacted as permitted by law. 

C. What are the responsibilities of a complainant?

A complainant is expected to cooperate with OED during the investigation. This includes identifying a preferred method for communicating with the OED, and responding to questions and providing requested information in a timely manner. OED expects that the information will be as accurate as the complainant can provide based on his or her understanding of the issues and will be responsive to OED's requests.

D. What are the responsibilities of the University official?

OED expects that the University official will designate an appropriate contact person; ensure the cooperation of the respondent; make witnesses available; and, provide requested materials in a timely manner.

E. What are the responsibilities of the respondent?

A respondent will cooperate with OED during the course of the investigation including responding to questions and supplying requested materials.

F. What type of information will OED collect and analyze during the investigation?

The specific information needed to resolve a complaint will depend on the allegations. Generally, OED will review the University policies and procedures related to the allegations; conduct interviews with witnesses, the complainant, and the respondent; and collect and review written materials including personnel or academic files, letters, electronic mail, and any other documents relevant to the investigation.

G. How long will it take to conduct the investigation?

Investigations will be conducted as promptly as possible. When the matter is a student complaint that is covered by Wis. Stats. § 36.12, the investigation shall be completed within 90 days from the date the complainant was notified that OED had accepted the complaint. Investigations may be impacted by the availability of the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses and timeliness in providing materials needed to resolve the investigation. If OED is unable to meet the 90-day timeframe, it will notify the complainant and will provide an expected completion date. OED will complete investigations involving allegations of employment discrimination, within 120 days from the date that the complainant was notified that OED had accepted the complaint. If OED is unable to meet the 120 day time frame, it will inform the complainant and will provide an expected completion date.

H. How will OED evaluate the information it collects during the investigation?

OED will evaluate whether the information collected supports the conclusion that it is likely that the alleged discriminatory conduct occurred, and if so whether it represented a violation of the relevant statutes, regulations, or policies. In making a decision, OED may use federal and State of Wisconsin court decisions, federal and State of Wisconsin statutes and regulations, federal and State of Wisconsin agency guidance and decisions, UWS and University policies, and previous decisions by the University on similar issues.

I. Can OED close the complaint during the investigation without making a finding?

Yes. Under the following circumstances, OED will close a complaint during the investigation.

1.  The complainant withdraws the complaint. OED prefers that the request for a withdrawal be contained in a signed document or in a statement that OED will prepare for the complainant. OED will accept a request for a withdrawal in a telephone call or in an e-mail or in a written document. Once OED is apprised of the complainant's desire to withdraw the complaint, OED will send a letter (or e-mail if a street address is not available) to the complainant stating that unless OED is informed otherwise by the complainant, the complaint will be closed within 10 calendar days of the date of the letter. After the 10-day period, the University official and the respondent will be sent a letter stating that the complainant has withdrawn the complaint and the OED has closed the matter. After a withdrawal, the complainant may file a new complaint on the same issues providing that it is still timely, e.g., the allegations remain within the 300-day time period.

2.  The allegations become moot, which can occur if:

(a)  A federal or a State of Wisconsin court or agency issues a decision on the same issues and determines that these issues are not discriminatory.

(b)  The complainant is deceased, becomes unreachable, or there is no longer an appropriate remedy because the complainant has left the area.

(c)  The complainant is offered a settlement by the University that OED believes remedies the alleged discrimination. The complainant does not have to accept the proposal, but OED will close the complaint if the proposal is substantially identical to any remedies that would be provided if the investigation supported the complainant's allegations of discrimination. If a complaint is closed during the investigation for reasons specified in number I., letters will be provided to the complainant, the University official, and the respondent indicating that OED is closing the complaint and the basis for the closure.

J. What are the possible outcomes of an OED investigation?

Using the preponderance of evidence standard, OED will determine that there is either sufficient or insufficient evidence to support the complainant's allegations that it is likely that discrimination occurred. In either case, the letters to the complainant, the University official, and the respondent will include a summary of the allegations, a listing of authorities under which the complainant's allegation is based, and a summary of the information obtained for each allegation made by the complainant, and why the investigation either supported or did not support the allegation.

If OED determines that the information available does not support the complainant’s allegations, a letter of insufficient evidence will be issued. A letter of insufficient evidence does not mean that the allegations of discrimination made by the complainant did not occur, rather it means that OED could not determine that it is likely that those events occurred based on the information available. A letter of insufficient evidence to the complainant will contain a description of any appeal process available and a list of other agencies with concurrent jurisdiction.

 If OED determines that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that there is possible discrimination, OED will include a draft resolution agreement in the letter of findings and will contact the University official to discuss implementing appropriate remedies. In neither case will the letters contain the names of the individuals involved or interviewed in the course of the investigation unless they are senior University officials.

K. Can the University take action against me for filing a complaint?

It is against federal and State of Wisconsin law and UWS and University policies and procedures for a University employee to retaliate against an individual for making a complaint of discrimination, or taking part in an investigation relating to discrimination, or opposing discrimination.

L. What remedies may OED recommend when it concludes that there is sufficient evidence to support the complainant's allegations?

Among the remedies that OED can propose are: back pay; rehiring if terminated; agreement by the respondent to stop the behavior; a formal apology; training, counseling, and coaching regarding employment expectations in the academic work environment; disciplinary action, which could include a written reprimand placed in the Respondent's employment or academic file; disciplinary transfer to another job location; loss of merit pay; employment or academic suspension; discharge or expulsion.

M. Can I appeal an OED finding of insufficient evidence?

A student, or a former student whose complaint relates to alleged discrimination occurring while he or she was a student, dissatisfied with a finding of insufficient evidence has a right to appeal the finding to the Chancellor, and at their discretion, to the Board of Regents. An employee, or a former employee whose complaint relates to alleged discrimination occurring while he or she was an employee, dissatisfied with a finding of insufficient evidence may appeal the finding to the Provost.

In an appeal, the complainant must explain why he or she believes the factual information in the finding was incomplete, the analysis of the facts was incorrect, and/or the appropriate legal standard was not applied, and how this would change the University’s determination in the case.  Failure to do so may result in the denial of the appeal.

Appeals must be timely filed. In order to be timely, an appeal (including any supporting documentation) must be submitted within 30 calendar days of the date of the determination letter. The Chancellor or the Provost, depending on who the appeal is to, may exercise their discretion in granting a waiver of the 30 day timeframe where: the complainant was unable to submit the appeal within the 30 day timeframe because of illness or other incapacitating circumstances and the appeal was filed within 30 days after the period of illness or incapacitation ended; or if there are unique circumstances that have adversely affected the complainant ability to file the appeal in a timely manner.

Applicants for employment or admission to the University or visitors to campus dissatisfied with a finding of insufficient evidence from OED may file a complaint with the appropriate federal or State of Wisconsin agency that are listed below.

What other university personnel can be contacted on specific discrimination issues?

A. Disability

1. ADA Coordinator. Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), as amended, provide that no qualified person with a disability shall, on the basis of their disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity by a public entity or a recipient of federal financial assistance. The University is both a public entity and a recipient of federal financial assistance and is, therefore, covered by both the ADA and Section 504. These statutes apply to virtually all aspects of campus activities, including employment, student programming, and services provided to the community at large. Individuals who have gone through the accommodations process and believe that the University has denied them a reasonable accommodation or an academic adjustment must contact the ADA Coordinator.

2. OED's Disability Coordinator/Employment. A University employee who has a question concerning a disability-related employment matter should contact his or her Divisional Disability Representative.  Information on employment-related disability matters can also be found on the OED's website. University policy covering disability and employment matters can also be found on OED's website. Additional questions should be addressed to Barbara Lanser, OED's Disability Coordinator/Employment, at or 608-263-2378, WTRS 7-1-1, or blanser@cdo.wisc.edu.

3. McBurney Disability Resource Center. Students with disability-related questions involving access to University programs or activities should initially contact the McBurney Disability Resource Center.

B. Title IX Coordinator

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities. This statute applies to virtually all aspects of campus activities including employment, student programming, and services provided to the community at large. Assistant Vice Provost and Director of OED, Luis A. Piñero is the University's Title IX Coordinator. If you have any questions concerning Title IX, or wish to file a complaint based on Title IX, you can contact him through OED at 608-263-2378, WTRS 7-1-1 or by e-mail at lpinero@cdo.wisc.edu.


Are there other agencies where discrimination complaints against the university can be filed?

A. Employment discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces several federal laws which prohibit discrimination in employment.  EEOC can be contacted at:

 

EEOC

Milwaukee District Office

Reuss Federal Plaza

310 West Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 800

Milwaukee, Wl 53203-2292

Phone: 414-297-1111 or 1-800-669-4000

Fax:414-297-4133

TTY: 414-297-1115 or 1-800-669-6820

Office Hours: Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

www.eeoc.gov/milwaukee/index.html

Information regarding the procedures and coverage is located on the EEOC website.

 

The Equal Rights Division (ERD) of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development prohibits discrimination in employment based on a wide variety of bases. ERD can be contacted at:

Equal Rights Division

Madison Office

201 E. Washington Avenue, Room A300

P.O. Box 8928

Madison, WI 53708-8928

608-266-6860

TTY 608-264-8752

Information regarding the procedures and coverage is located on the ERD's website.

 

B. Access to federally assisted programs

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities by recipients of federal financial assistance, such as the University, from the Department of Education. These laws primarily cover student access to educational programs or activities, but they also cover employment and visitors taking part in University programs or activities. OCR can be contacted at:

 

Office for Civil Rights

Chicago Office

U.S. Department of Education

Citigroup Center

500 W. Madison Street

Suite 1475 Chicago, IL 60661

312-730-1560

TDD: 877-521-2172

E-mail: OCR.Chicago@ed.gov

 

Information regarding the procedures and coverage is located on the OCR's website.  

In addition to the Department of Education, allegations of discrimination in the University's federally assisted programs can be filed with the federal agency that provides the financial assistance to the program where the alleged discrimination occurred, for example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the National Science Foundation; or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. OED will help you determine which agency or agencies might be involved, and provide information on how to contact them.