Policy Number: 59
Reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. The university’s notice of nondiscrimination can be found in HOOP Policy 183 Equal Opportunity, Discrimination and Harassment.
Members of the university community, including employees, contractors, students, residents and other trainees, visitors, volunteers (including faculty appointed without salary), applicants for admission and applicants for employment
- Date Reviewed:
- August 2014
- Responsible Office:
- Human Resources; Office of Academic and Research Affairs
- Responsible Executive:
- Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Associate Vice President, Academic and Research Affairs
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination and inappropriate conduct, which includes all forms of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated, and individuals who engage in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. To ensure compliance with Title IX and other federal and state civil rights laws, the university has developed policies that prohibit sexual misconduct in all of its forms. These policies and the procedures to address alleged policy violations are applicable to all complaints or reports of sexual misconduct made by or against employees, contractors, students, residents and other trainees, visitors, volunteers (including faculty appointed without salary), applicants for admission and applicants for employment. These policies and procedures also apply regardless of the gender of the complainant or the respondent.
The Associate Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs serves as the university’s Title IX Coordinator. The Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer serves as the university’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator. All activities related to prevention of sexual misconduct and responses to reports of sexual misconduct are jointly coordinated by the Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinator. These activities include the following:
- Communicating information to all university constituents regarding the protections afforded by Title IX and the process to file complaints;
- Coordinating university training regarding Title IX;
- Reviewing all university policies and procedures, when applicable, to ensure institutional compliance with Title IX;
- Coordinating with other offices of the university to ensure that complaints are addressed promptly and equitably and that investigations are carried out in compliance with Title IX;
- Directing remediation as appropriate; and
- Initiating and conducting Title IX administrative reviews and campus climate surveys to assess the safety risk to the university’s environment based on a pattern of behavior and directing intervention measures, as appropriate.
For purposes of this policy, references to the “Title IX Coordinator” will encompass the collaborative efforts of the Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, as well as any respective designees.
Any member of the university community who in any way participates in proceedings under this policy regarding a complaint, response and/or investigation may not disclose any information or documents related thereto unless required to do so by law and only after consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs.
Individuals filing a complaint under this policy may ask for confidentiality; the circumstances of the complaint will determine whether the request can be honored. Factors to be considered include the university’s ability to comply with its obligations under state and federal law as well as the nature and severity of the allegations. If the Title IX Coordinator determines that a request for confidentiality cannot be granted, the complainant will be notified. Complainants should be aware that, if a request for confidentiality is honored, it may limit the university’s ability to respond. Confidential counseling services are available to all university employees, residents, and other trainees through UT Counseling and WorkLife Services at (713) 500-3327 and to students through the Student Health Clinic’s Counseling Services at (713) 500-5171.
Sexual Misconduct: a form of sex discrimination and includes all forms of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as other unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or conduct of a sexual nature directed toward another individual.
Sexual Harassment: a form of sex discrimination and includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, student status or participation in university programs or activities; or
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for decisions pertaining to an individual’s employment, education, student status or participation in university programs or activities; or
- Such conduct would be regarded by a reasonable person as so severe and pervasive as to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment that substantially interferes with an individual’s work, education, student status or participation in university programs or activities.
Sexual Assault: forcible or non-forcible sexual activity that occurs when one person threatens or uses violence or coercion to cause another person to participate in any type of oral, anal, vaginal or other sexual act, or attempts to commit such an act.
Other Trainees: postdoctoral research fellows, clinical fellows, and visiting students participating in a university educational or training activity.
The university encourages those who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct to report those offenses to the Title IX Coordinator as outlined in this policy.
Faculty, supervisors, administrators, university officials and Student Affairs Offices are required to report promptly to the Title IX Coordinator incidents of sexual misconduct that come to their attention. Faculty, supervisors, administrators, university officials and Student Affairs Offices should limit their interactions with the complainant regarding the reported incident while referring him or her to the appropriate resources. All other members of the university community who witness or are aware of suspected incidents of sexual misconduct should immediately report the incident as outlined in this policy. Such reports will be documented in writing by the Title IX Coordinator.
The university encourages those who have experienced sexual assault to report the offense immediately to The University of Texas Police - Houston ("UTP-H") by calling 713-792-7867 (713-792-STOP). If violence is occurring or the threat of violence is immediate, 911 should be called.
A. Reporting a Complaint
All incidents of sexual misconduct should be reported in accordance with this policy. Complaints and reports of sexual misconduct should be filed as soon as possible after the conduct giving rise to the complaint.
Complaints or reports alleging that a member of the university community is a victim of sexual misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator via phone at 713-500-3131 or in person at UCT Suite 150. Complaints may also be reported via the Compliance hotline (1-888-472-9868) or web report.
Additional information can also be found at https://www.uth.edu/hr/department/equal-opportunity/index.htm.
During the complaint process, a complainant or respondent may be assisted by a person of his or her choosing; however, the person assisting may not examine witnesses or otherwise actively participate in meetings or interviews.
2. Interim Measures
The Title IX Coordinator will work with the appropriate university office in determining what immediate and effective steps can be taken to end any sexual misconduct, prevent its recurrence, protect and minimize the burden for the parties, and/or ensure equal access to educational programs and activities when students, residents or other trainees are involved. This includes taking interim steps during any investigation or disciplinary process while protecting the rights of the involved parties. These interim steps may include, but are not limited to, suspension and bar from university property when it reasonably appears to the Title IX Coordinator that the continuing presence of one or more of the involved parties poses a potential danger to persons or property or a potential threat for disrupting any activity authorized by the university.
3. Concurrent Criminal or Civil Proceedings
In complaints involving potential criminal conduct, the Title IX Coordinator shall inform the complainant of his or her option to file a criminal complaint. Police and criminal or civil justice procedures, findings, or outcomes are not determinative of either these grievance procedures or university disciplinary procedures.
B. Resolving a Complaint
Anyone who believes that he or she has been subject to sexual misconduct may immediately file a formal complaint. For complaints or reports other than those involving sexual assault, complainants may contact the Title IX Coordinator for assistance in resolving the complaint informally prior to filing a formal complaint. If an informal resolution is reached, it will be documented in writing by the Title IX Coordinator and signed by the complainant and respondent. The Title IX Coordinator will notify any other appropriate university office of the resolution. The university may take formal action, including disciplinary action, to ensure an environment free of sexual misconduct. If an informal resolution is not reached, the facts of the complaint as well as the failure to reach an informal resolution shall be documented by the Title IX Coordinator.
To initiate a formal complaint and the investigation process, the complainant should submit a signed, written statement setting out the details of the conduct that is the subject of the complaint, including the complainant’s name, and contact information; the name of the person directly responsible for the alleged violation; a detailed description of the conduct or event that is the basis of the alleged violation; the date(s) and location(s) of the occurrence(s); the names of any witnesses to the occurrence(s); and any documents or information relevant to the complaint. Any supervisor, faculty member, administrator, university official or Student Affairs Office receiving a written or verbal complaint must immediately contact the Title IX Coordinator.
Within seven calendar days after receipt of a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether to authorize an investigation of the complaint. If an investigation is determined to be warranted, the Title IX Coordinator will appoint one or more individuals to investigate the complaint in accordance with the procedures outlined in Appendix A.
If the facts alleged in the complaint, even if taken as true, do not constitute sexual misconduct, the complaint fails to allege any facts that suggest sexual misconduct occurred, or the appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved, or has been offered and rejected, an investigation will not be pursued. If it is determined that an investigation will not be pursued, the Title IX Coordinator will send the complainant a notification letter explaining the reason and informing the complainant that, within 14 calendar days of the notification, he or she may appeal the decision not to proceed with an investigation. Calculation of calendar days for purposes of all sections of this policy does not include holidays or "skeleton crew" days indicated on the published university calendar.
Decisions not to pursue an investigation may be appealed as specified in the notification letter to the complainant. The official designated in the notification letter will respond within 14 calendar days of receipt of the appeal. His or her decision is final. If the decision not to pursue an investigation is overturned, the complaint is sent back for investigation in accordance with the procedures outlined in Appendix A.
Members of the university community who retaliate in any way against an individual who has brought a request for resolution or a complaint pursuant to this policy or against an individual who has participated in an investigation of a complaint are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination or dismissal. Reports of retaliation shall be made to and investigated by the Office of Institutional Compliance. See HOOP 108, Protection from Retaliation.
D. Time Limits and Exceptions
Time limits specified in this policy may be extended for good cause by the Title IX Coordinator.
E. False Statements
Any person who recklessly or knowingly and intentionally files a false complaint under this policy or makes false statements in the course of an investigation is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination or dismissal.
F. Dissemination of Policy and Education
This policy will be made available to all members of the university community online and in appropriate publications. The university will periodically educate employees, students, residents, other trainees, and volunteers (including faculty appointed without salary) regarding this policy and conduct that could constitute a violation of this policy. UTP-H will be provided training on sexual misconduct policy and procedures, including their obligation to advise complainants of their option to file a complaint under these procedures as well as to file a criminal complaint.
Eric Solberg, Title IX Coordinator
Office of Academic Affairs
Eric Fernette, Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Renee Williams, Deputy Title IX Coordinator
The University of Texas Police - Houston (UTP-H)