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EO Complaint Procedure

Introduction and Scope

The University of Massachusetts Lowell (“the university") is committed to fostering a safe, welcoming, and inclusive working and learning environment. At its most basic level, such a climate requires that no member of the university community, nor visitors such as vendors or contractors, may be subject to discrimination. The university has issued the UMass Lowell Nondiscrimination Guidelines, ("Guidelines") which are in accordance with state and federal laws. This Equal Opportunity Concerns/Complaint Procedure, ("Procedure") describes the process the university uses to review concerns or complaints of Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment based on any Protected Class, or Retaliation. This includes Sexual Misconduct (see definitions below). 
This Procedure does not include Sexual Harassment as defined distinctly under Title IX as published in Part 106 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The university reviews Sexual Harassment concerns according to the university’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure (see that procedure for the Sexual Harassment definition). If the concern or complaint involves both Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment based on the same incident, the Title IX Coordinator may determine that the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure will be followed to review the concerns. If during an Equal Opportunity review, other concerns are reported or arise regarding potential violations of other university’s policies, protocols, or laws not covered by the Nondiscrimination Guidelines, those matters will be referred to appropriate university administrators for their review and determination of next steps.
Administrators, faculty and staff are expected to report possible discriminatory, hostile environment or other inappropriate behavior that could potentially be a violation of the university’s Nondiscrimination Guidelines, to Equal Opportunity and Outreach (“EOO”). Please review the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure to learn about the reporting requirements and review process for matters involving Sexual Harassment.
Concerns regarding student violations are addressed according to the Student Handbook and Conduct Code, available on the university’s Student Conduct Code webpage.
The following sections are included here:

I. Definitions

Advisor of choice is an individual who accompanies and supports the reporting and responding parties, who may provide support but may not speak on behalf of the person or otherwise participate in or contribute to a meeting, grievance proceeding, or hearing. Advisors have additional responsibilities for sexual harassment matters.  Please see the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure, which defines the Advisor role related to a formal Title IX Sexual Harassment complaint.
Confidential Resource Provider means an employee or other individual designated by the university to provide information on: (1) reporting options and the effects of each option; (2) counseling services available on and off campus; (3) medical and health services available on and off campus; (4) available supportive measures; (5) disciplinary process of the university; and (6) the legal process carried out through local law enforcement agencies. Confidential Resource Provider services are available to assist parties in a Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Harassment matter. Their services are confidential unless otherwise required by state or federal law. If requested by the reporting and/or responding party of an alleged sexual assault matter, the Confidential Resource Provider may coordinate with the Associate Vice Chancellor-Equal Opportunity and Outreach and Diversity and Inclusion / Title IX Coordinator to arrange Supportive measures. The Confidential Resource Provider shall notify the parties of their rights and the university’s responsibilities regarding a protection order, no contact order, and any other lawful orders issued by the university or a civil, criminal and tribal court. For additional information regarding supportive measures please see this EOO Complaint Procedure and the university’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure. The party is not required to file a formal complaint to receive assistance from a Confidential Resource Provider. For a list of Confidential Resource Providers, please contact the Vice Chancellor-Equal Opportunity and Outreach and Diversity and Inclusion / Title IX Coordinator.
Harassment, for the purposes of this definition and procedure, does not include Sexual Harassment as defined in the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure. Harassment is conduct by a person or persons against another person or persons based upon their legally protected class that adversely has the effect of:
  • unreasonably interfering with a person or person’s employment, educational benefits, academic grades or opportunities, or participation in university programs or activities; or
  • unreasonably interfering with a person or person’s work or academic performance; or
  • unreasonably creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment. See the definition of sexual harassment included in the university’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure
Protected Classes: Groups of individuals afforded legal and university policy protection from discrimination due to sex (including sexual misconduct; sexual harassment; and pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition), race, color, age over 40, religion or creed, national or ethnic origin or ancestry, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity or gender expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, participation in a civil rights report or complaint proceeding (for retaliation claims), or any other characteristic protected by law.
Reporting Party (Complainant): A student or employee who reports to the university of being subjected to or have information of an incident of a potential violation of the university’s Nondiscrimination Guidelines.
Responding Party (Respondent): A student or employee named as responsible for an alleged incident of a potential violation of the university’s Nondiscrimination Guidelines. 
Retaliation: The interference through intimidation, threats, coercion, or unlawful discrimination, with an individual’s right or privilege secured under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws, or other related equal opportunity laws and the university’s Nondiscrimination Guidelines and related procedures to report or make a complaint, testify, assist or participate or refuse to participate in any manner in an investigation or grievance proceeding, or hearing, or to intervene to prevent a violation of this policy.
Sexual Misconduct is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (including but not limited to sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, gender based violence, violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, sexual assault, or stalking, as defined by M.G.L. Chapter 6 §§ 168D and 168E, when such conduct is not cover under Title IX) when:
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person or persons is used as a basis for employment or educational decisions affecting such person or persons, or participation in university programs or activities; or 
  • such conduct unreasonably (a) interferes with a person's or persons' work or academic performance; (b) interferes with or limits a person's or persons' ability to participate in or benefit from a work or academic program or activity; or (c) creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.  
[Note: Sexual assault as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), dating violence as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a) (10), domestic violence as defined in 34 U.S.C. 1229(a)(8), or stalking as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a) (30), are reviewed pursuant to the university’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure when, for example, the reported conduct happened on campus property, and the university has jurisdiction over both parties. See the university’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure for additional information.]
Unlawful discrimination is behavior that is directed at a specific person or persons that subjects them to treatment that adversely affects their employment, application for employment, education, admissions, university benefits, programs, or activities, because of their religion or religious belief, color, race, marital status, veteran or military status, age, sex (including Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment, pregnancy and related conditions), gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, disability, genetic information, or any other legally Protected Class.
[Note: National origin protections include equal access to individuals of Limited English Proficiency.]

II. Contact information to report a concern or complaint or for support services

A concern or complaint about Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation may be reported by contacting Equal Opportunity and& Outreach, 978-934-3565, Wannalancit, 3rd Floor, 600 Suffolk Street, Lowell, MA 01854. Concerns or complaints may also be submitted by use of the online reporting form. Individuals must meet with Equal Opportunity and Outreach to file a formal complaint. 
Nothing in this Procedure prohibits an individual from pursuing a criminal complaint, a complaint with an external agency, or an available civil action concurrently with the university’s internal process.
In addition to filing a complaint with Equal Opportunity and Outreach, if a crime has been committed against you, you also have the right to option to notify or file a criminal complaint with police. You are not required to do so. This includes unwelcome sexual behavior or physical assault. Police includes UMass Lowell or local police.
Also in addition to filing a complaint with Equal Opportunity and Outreach, you may pursue filing a complaint with an external agency, such as the following, at the same time. You also may pursue any civil action available to you.
  • The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
    Boston Area Office, 8th Floor
    5 Post Office Square
    Boston, MA 02109-3921
    Voice phone 617-289-0111, Facsimile: 617-289-0150
  • The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    Boston Area Office, J.F. Kennedy Federal Building
    15 New Sudbury St., Room 475
    Boston, MA 02203-0506
    Voice phone: 800-669-4000, TTY: 800-669-6820
  • The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
    One Ashburton Place, Suite 601
    Boston, MA 02108
    Voice phone: 617-994-6000, TTY: 617-994-6196
Any individual with a concern of unwelcome sexual behavior in connection with any program or activity receiving assistance from the Department of Energy may submit a complaint in writing to Field Civil Rights Officers located in the Department of Energy’s field offices or to the Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C. 20585. 
For information regarding the counseling, health, safety and other support services available on and off campus please see www.uml.edu/Prevent/Resources. For academic support please contact Student Affairs at 978-934-2100 or student_affairs@uml.edu.
For emergency assistance and/or medical treatment, following are local options. You may obtain support from any of these providers without filing a concern or complaint. None will require you to do so.
  • UMass Lowell Police Department
    University Crossing, Suite 170
    220 Pawtucket Street
    Lowell, MA 01854
    Emergencies: 978-934-4911, Non-Emergencies: 978-934-2398 or Police@uml.edu
    www.uml.edu/Police
  • City of Lowell Police Department
    50 Arcand Drive
    Lowell, MA 01852
    Emergencies: 911, Non-Emergencies: 978-937-3200
    www.lowellma.gov/221/Police-Department
  • Lowell General Hospital (Main Campus)
    SANE Certified Site 
    295 Varnum Avenue
    Lowell, MA 01854
    978)-937-6000
    www.lowellgeneral.org
  • Lowell General Hospital (Saints Campus Emergency Room)
    SANE Certified Site
    1 Hospital Drive
    Lowell, MA 01852
    978-937-6000
    www.lowellgeneral.org
[Note: For information about the preservation of evidence, please contact the Lowell General SANE.]
Additional information and assistance may be available from the following sources: Employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program; Students may contact the UMass Lowell Counseling Center, their Residence Life Staff, coach, or faculty advisor.

III. Reporting Guidelines for UMass Lowell Administrators, Faculty and Supervisors

All UMass Lowell administrators, all faculty and all supervisors have the responsibility to report all possible incidents of potential violations of the university’s Nondiscrimination Guidelines including Unlawful Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation to Equal Opportunity and Outreach (EOO). They must do so regardless of whether an individual wishes to file a complaint alleging a violation, and even if the concerned person requests confidentiality or anonymity, or requests that no action be taken. See the EOO contact information at the beginning of Section II. Individuals designated by the university as Officials with Authority shall report Sexual Harassment as described in the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure.
[Note: For Sexual Harassment matters, only Officials with Authority are required to report any potential incidents of Sexual Harassment to the Title IX Coordinator. However, the University encourages all its employees to share any information they receive related to potential violations. For additional information please review the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure.]
[Note: Under the Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure, a Complainant must choose to file a written complaint to initiate a review of their concerns.]
Privacy will be kept to the extent possible while complying with the requirements of state and federal laws. The university will need to determine what occurred to resolve the situation. For this reason, only Confidential Resource Providers, or others with legal privilege to do so, can keep confidentiality. Administrators, faculty, supervisors and Officials with Authority cannot promise confidentiality to the individual from whom they learned of the possible violation. They are expected to share with Equal Opportunity and Outreach all relevant details about the possible violation that the Reporting Party shared. This includes sharing the names of the alleged respondent (if known), the person against whom the alleged violation occurred, and other relevant facts, including the date, time, and location of the events related to the concern.
Additionally, the administrators, faculty and supervisors must take reasonable proactive steps to become aware of potential incidents. They are expected to report possible as well as known incidents to Equal Opportunity and Outreach.
Whether or not a university employee or student is an administrator, faculty member, or supervisor, all members of the university community are encouraged to practice bystander awareness, that is, to take appropriate actions to report and, if safe, end possible violations of any of the Equal Opportunity Guidelines.

IV. Supportive measures

The university may choose to provide supportive measures after learning of any equal opportunity or Sexual Misconduct concern. The provision by the university of supportive measures is separate from the university’s review of the concerns and does not mean that the university has determined that any violation of the Guidelines has occurred. The university may provide supportive measures even if a formal complaint is not filed and even if a concern did not occur on campus or related to the university’s programs. Such supportive measures may include changes of work locations, living arrangements, course schedules, assignments or tests; temporary leave; transportation; “no contact” orders issued by the university; assistance from the university’s Police Department to obtain a court issued protective order and/or to receive assistance notifying law enforcement of an alleged incident of sexual misconduct; or other measures. If you obtained a court issued protective order, please notify and send a copy of the order to the UMass Lowell Police Department.

[Note: Please review the university’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure for information about supportive measures for matters involving Sexual Harassment as defined by the Title IX regulations.]

V. Informal dispute resolution efforts: A useful first step for some concerns

A person with a concern may request from EOO one of the resolution efforts below. EOO will determine whether such efforts are possible and safe and whether they may be pursued. 
  • EOO may assist the concerned party with discussing the problem or concern with the individual about whom there is a concern. If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual, the concerned party may contact the individual's direct supervisor to attempt to resolve the concern.
  • A concerned employee may request facilitated meetings or mediation.
The process will change to the formal process in sections V and VI below:
  • If either party decides to change to the formal process, at any time,
  • If EOO determines that the formal process should be followed, at any time, or
  • If an informal resolution has not been reached in 30 days.

VI. Information about Equal Opportunity reviews

A Reporting Party is encouraged to file a complaint as soon as possible. A complaint must be reported to Equal Opportunity and Outreach within three hundred (300) calendar days of the Reporting Party’s first knowledge of the alleged discriminatory act. 
Knowingly filing false allegations of discrimination is prohibited. 
Any party, witness, or other participant involved in the review of a concern may request a reasonable accommodation based on a medical reason under the Americans with Disabilities Act, by contacting the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator, Clara I. Reynolds, J.D., Associate Vice Chancellor of Equal Opportunity and Diversity & Inclusion, 978-934-3565, Clara_Reynolds@uml.edu.
In processing a complaint, privacy will be kept to the extent possible while complying with the requirements of state and federal law. While information is only provided on a need-to-know basis, confidentiality cannot be ensured. During the review, the identities of the parties will not be disclosed except as necessary to conduct the investigation.

VII. Filing an Equal Opportunity complaint

To file an Equal Opportunity complaint, an individual must meet with Equal Opportunity and Outreach. The individual reporting the concern must provide in writing all known information relevant to the alleged violation, including their name(s), student status or employee title, contact information, the name of the person(s) alleged to have violated the policy, their student or employee status if known, the date(s), time(s), and location(s) of the alleged occurrence(s), the names and contact information for any witnesses of the alleged occurrence(s), a detailed description of the occurrence(s), and a list of relevant supportive documentation. The supportive documentation must be provided as quickly as possible to the Investigator(s). It must be provided before the Investigator makes a determination.
If the report is made by someone who was not involved, the university will inform the party against whom the violation allegedly occurred, and ask whether they wish to file a complaint. The university may review the concerns if it decides doing so is in the best interest of the UMass Lowell community. 
The Reporting Party may indicate any sanction or remedy sought, if relevant. The university, not the person bringing the concern/complaint, determines sanctions and remedies. 
As stated earlier in this Procedure, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Privacy will be kept to the extent possible while complying with the requirements of state and federal law.
Retaliation is against the law and against university policy. The university will take steps to prevent retaliation, and also take strong responsive action if it occurs. A concern of retaliation should be immediately reported and will be immediately investigated. Examples of behavior which may be perceived as retaliatory are willful violation of “no-contact” orders, excluding someone from education or employment-related activities or correspondence, attempts to learn of or to influence accounts made during the course of the review, and unwarranted disciplinary actions.

VIII. Review, Resolution and Remedies

Trained Investigators  conduct a neutral review process of each complaint. They presume that the responding party is not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the process. Investigators first consider the reported facts and may conduct preliminary interviews to determine whether the allegations, if true, could constitute a violation of the Nondiscrimination Guidelines. If it is possible that there was a violation, the procedure will proceed as follows. If not, the complaint will be closed with no further action, and the complainant would be notified.

[Note: The university’s Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, Investigators, and other employees involved in the disciplinary process participate annually in training related to Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, gender-based discrimination and harassment, and Title IX training. Such training serves to help protect the safety and rights of students and employees, and to promote accountability. In addition, new employees and new students are expected to complete training in the prevention of and response to unwelcome sexual behavior, within 45 days of beginning to work, study, or live at the university.]

For a Sexual Misconduct concern, the Investigator will provide the Responding Party with written notification of the alleged dates and locations of the alleged incidents, and the applicable policy statement that may relate to the concerns. This will be provided prior to the scheduled meeting.

The Reporting Party and Responding Party are each required to meet with the Investigator(s), separately. Both parties have the right to be accompanied by an Advisor of their choice. The parties will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegation(s), to provide names and contact information of witnesses, and to provide documentation in support of their accounts. 

For Sexual Misconduct matters, each party also may suggest relevant questions for the Investigator to ask the other party and witnesses. All relevant documentation is kept as part of the Equal Opportunity and Outreach investigative file. 

Investigators will determine relevant witnesses to interview, and will gather accounts and additional information, at their discretion. Investigators will review the relevant evidence related to the allegations, including accounts, documentation, and any other relevant facts. 

[Note: Prior sexual activity and character witness accounts shall not be provided to the other party.]

During the review by Equal Opportunity and Outreach, both parties will be provided with periodic status updates. A copy of the UMass Lowell Nondiscrimination Guidelines, this Equal Opportunity Concerns/ Complaint Procedure, and a listing of rights will be provided to both parties and to witnesses. Equal Opportunity and Outreach will provide these prior to its first meeting with each of these individuals. If the Reporting Party does not schedule a meeting in advance, these documents will be provided during that meeting or as soon as possible afterward.

For Sexual Misconduct matters, the Investigator will provide an opportunity for the Parties to review all the relevant evidence that is directly related to the allegations.  They may respond in writing within five (5) business days.

[Note: The investigator(s) determine what questions are relevant to ask, and whether any evidence presented is directly relevant.]

Determination and written outcome by Equal Opportunity and Outreach

The Investigator will then determine whether conduct occurred in violation of the university’s Nondiscrimination Guidelines. This determination is made based on the preponderance of the evidence, that is, whether it is more likely than not that such violation occurred. 

The Investigator will provide a written outcome to the Reporting Party and Responding Party. For Sexual Misconduct matters, this will be provided within seven (7) business days after arriving at the determination.

Sanctions by the university

If the determination was that it is more likely than not that a violation of the university’s guidelines has occurred, the matter will be referred to the appropriate administrator of the Responding Party for the determination of next steps, in coordination with Human Resources. Sanctions are not determined by Equal Opportunity and Outreach. The university or appropriate administrator will take sanctions or disciplinary actions to promptly and effectively end the prohibited behavior, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. 

Sanctions shall be based upon the nature and severity of the offense as well as any record of prior sanction imposed on the Responding Party. In general, sanctions may include, but are not limited to: written warnings, letters of reprimand, attendance in training or workshops, change in job duties including in supervisory responsibilities, reduction of regular and/or overtime hours, reduction in pay, transfer, demotion, removal from administrative or supervisory duties, leave without pay, suspension, termination, and barring from campus. For student sanctions, please refer to the Student Conduct Code.

If the university or a person in the Responding Party’s line of supervision decides to impose sanctions for an employee, that employee may have a letter placed in their personnel file. The letter may include a statement of the Equal Opportunity determination and a description of the university sanctions taken.

Each party will be notified of the sanctions which are directly relevant to themselves, or as otherwise required by law. 

Remedies by the university

Remedies for Reporting Party might include but are not limited to: campus escort, ensuring Reporting Party and Responding Party are not required to interact at work or do not attend the same classes if possible; moving either or both parties to a different work schedule, work location, or residence hall; “no-contact” orders; change of reporting structure; counseling and/or medical services for students; academic or work/life support services; course withdrawal without penalty; and other remedies to assist with the completion of academics or work. Additional remedies may be enacted for the broader university population, including but not limited to policy review; and educational, awareness and prevention programs including anti-discrimination education.

Each party will be notified of the remedies which are directly relevant to themselves, or as otherwise required by law. 

Appeal rights for Sexual Misconduct matters reviewed under this Equal Opportunity Complaint Procedure

Both parties have the right to appeal the Investigator’s determination  within ten calendar days of receiving the written outcome. Please note, this timeframe can be extended for good cause. If it extended, EOO will notify both parties in writing of the extension. Either party may appeal the Investigator’s determination if they have one or more of the following reasons for appealing:

  1. There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  2. New evidence has become available. New evidence means relevant evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination was made, and that could affect the outcome of the matter; or
  3. The Investigator had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally, or against the individual complainant or respondent, that affected the outcome of the matter.
[Note: Employees have the right to appeal only the Investigator’(s’) determination of whether a violation occurred. Concerns regarding university-imposed sanctions are reviewed pursuant to the employees’ collective bargaining agreement and for non-unit employees through Human Resources.]

The parties must submit the appeal within the timeframe above. It must be in writing and signed, and provided to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Equal Opportunity and Outreach and Diversity & Inclusion (“AVC, EOO & DI”).  The AVC, EOO & DI will assign the appeal to a trained Appeal Officer who will then review and make a determination. The Appeal Officer must provide both parties a copy of the appeal. The party who did not file the appeal will then have 10 calendar days to submit any written responses to the appeal. The Appeal Officer will then issue a written decision to both parties simultaneously. The written decision will state whether the original written outcome has been overturned, and will explain the reasons for the decision. The decision of the Appeal Officer is final.

[Note: If the grounds for appeal include conflict of interest or bias by the AVC, EEO & DI, the appeal may be submitted to the Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Organizational Strategy and Effectiveness.]