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Discrimination Complaint Procedure

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Area Units, welcome and honor people of all races, creeds, cultures, and sexual orientations. The University values intellectual curiosity, pursuit of knowledge, and academic freedom and integrity. In keeping with those values, the policies of the University of Tennessee [1] expressly prohibit the following:

     • discrimination against employees, students, or applicants for employment or admission, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment and conduct prohibited under the University’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation [2] , sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, parental status), national origin, disability, age, genetic information or protected veteran status;
• discrimination against other participants in educational programs and activities (which includes certain individuals who are not employees, students, or applicants for employment or admission) on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability; and,
• retaliation against any person who in good faith reports a practice that he/she believes violates non-discrimination policies or who participates in an investigation of a complaint.
If you are an employee, student, applicant for employment, applicant for admission, or are otherwise a participant in a UT Knoxville Area program or activity, and you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of these policies, the procedure below is designed to help you resolve your complaint.

Where to direct a complaint of discrimination

Complaints of discrimination should be directed to the UT Knoxville Office of Equity and Diversity (OED), 1840 Melrose Ave., Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-3560, telephone (865) 974-2498. Formal complaints must be in writing and filed within 300 days[3] of the alleged discriminatory action. Such complaints may also be submitted by completing and submitting the online OED Discrimination Complaint form. In certain circumstances, at the discretion of OED, complaints filed outside that time limit, or not submitted in writing, may be investigated.

[1] HR0220 – Equal Employment Opportunity; HR0280 – Sexual and other Discriminatory Harassment;
[2] For full policy, see:  titleix.utk.edu;
[3] Complainants who wish to file a complaint with an external agency must be aware that each agency will have a time limit for reporting such a complaint. For example, THRC requires that discrimination complaints be filed within 180 days of the complained-of event. These limits usually run from the last date of unlawful harassment, not the date that the complaint is filed with the agency or resolved with the university.

Procedure

  1. Employees and students are encouraged, but not required, to attempt to resolve a complaint through the administrative structure of the employment unit or academic department. OED will provide assistance to the complainant, employment unit, and/or academic department in order to resolve the complaint.
  2. Complaints (other than those involving sexual assault [4]) received directly by OED may be reported by the director (or the director’s designee) to the appropriate administrator(s), who will attempt to resolve the matter working in conjunction with OED when the reporting party requests informal resolution. Options for addressing the complaint may be limited by the informal process. Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible but is not guaranteed.

If the complaint is not resolved through the methods described above, or the complainant files a formal Complaint, OED may use the following:
a. Complaints should be submitted in writing to OED. The complaint must include (1) the name of the complainant, (2) an explanation of the action or conduct complained of, and (3) the person or department responsible for the action. The complainant should include the resolution sought by the complainant. The head of the responding unit or academic department and the party against whom the complaint has been lodged (respondent) will be notified of the complaint and may be given a copy of the written complaint.
b. OED will conduct an investigation, the nature and scope of which will be determined by OED on a case-by-case basis. The investigation may include any or all of the following, as well as such other action deemed appropriate by OED: interviewing the complainant, interviewing the respondent, interviewing witnesses, submitting questions to or taking statements from parties or witnesses, reviewing documents and other sources of information, and/or setting up an investigative committee.
c. In the event that an investigative committee is deemed appropriate, the relevant chancellor/vice chancellor/vice president or the president (in the event that the complaint is made against a chancellor/vice chancellor/vice president) will be asked by OED to appoint the members of such a committee. OED may assist the appropriate administrator in appointing committee members.
d. OED (or the investigative committee) will make findings of fact and recommendations as to whether the evidence gathered supports a violation of university policy. If OED concludes that a violation has occurred, it will recommend that appropriate corrective action be taken. Those findings, together with a statement outlining the basis for them, will be transmitted by OED to the appropriate administrator. A copy will also be provided to the complainant and respondent. Every effort will be made to issue findings within 60 business days of receipt of the written complaint.

e. The appropriate administrator(s) will review the OED findings, make a determination regarding those findings, and notify the complainant and respondent in writing of the determination within 15 workdays after receipt of the OED report.

f. Appeals.

i. Employees: A complainant or respondent who is an employee who is not                   satisfied with the determination described in Section 3(d) may appeal in                       accordance with applicable University policies and procedures, including                     HR0525, HR0640, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Faculty                         Handbook Chapter 5. The university will offer an appeal to both parties                       consistent with the appeal opportunities offered in applicable policy.

ii. Students: A complainant who is a student and who is not satisfied with the                  determination may appeal in writing to the next higher administrative level                  within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of the determination. The                        University will inform the complainant in the written determination of the                      person to whom an appeal may be made. Both the complainant and the                      respondent will have the same opportunities available within the appeal.

iii. Administrator responsibilities: Any administrator who receives an appeal                     shall make a decision on the appeal within ten (10) business days of the                     administrator’s receipt of the appeal, unless otherwise stated within an                       existing policy/procedure. Decisions on appeals shall be provided in writing                 to the complainant and respondent.

Time Limits

The time limits above are subject to modification on a case-by-case basis taking into account the complexity of the allegations, the complexity of the investigation and resolution, the severity and extent of the alleged misconduct, the number and availability of witnesses, the University calendar and/or unforeseen circumstances.

Retaliation

An individual who is subjected to retaliation (e.g., threats, intimidation, reprisals, or adverse employment or educational actions) because the individual (a) made a report of discrimination in good faith, (b) assisted someone with a report of discrimination, or (c) participated in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a report of discrimination, may make a complaint of retaliation under these procedures.

Corrective Action

The university will take steps to prevent the recurrence of any prohibited discrimination and to correct any discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, as appropriate.

 

 

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Updated September 2019