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HOP 3.1.1 Equal Employment Opportunity

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Sec. 1 Purpose

This policy sets forth the legal obligation and the commitment of The University of Texas System Administration (U.T. System) to equal employment opportunity in treating employees and applicants consistently and fairly while in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations in these areas.

Sec. 2 Principles

U.T. System is committed to a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that promotes equal employment opportunities and prohibits unlawful discriminatory practices, including harassment. Furthermore, U.T. System will provide the training necessary to educate staff to understand and respect these policies and procedures.

Sec. 3 Applicability

As provided by Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations and to the extent provided by applicable law, in all matters related to employee hiring or status – including but not limited to: advertising, recruitment, selection, employment, placement, compensation, benefits, training, transfer, promotion, demotion, layoff, and termination – it is the policy of U.T. System to provide equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, citizenship status, veteran status, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws, unless such distinction is required by law. U.T. System prohibits the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression. Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in any form will not be tolerated: and any complaints of sexual misconduct/harassment will be investigated pursuant to HOP 3.7.1 Sexual Harassment and Misconduct.

This policy provides employees who believe they have been discriminated against a means to communicate their concerns and assurance that their concerns will be addressed. Retaliation against persons who oppose a discriminatory practice, file a charge of discrimination, or testify for, assist in, or participate in an investigative proceeding relating to discrimination is prohibited.

The Chief Human Resources Officer or his/her designee serves as the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer for U.T. System.

Sec. 4 Reporting

4.1 U.T. System encourages reporting of perceived incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Individuals who believe that they have experienced such conduct should bring their concerns to their manager or the EEO Officer.

4.2 In addition, U.T. System encourages individuals who believe they are being subjected to such conduct to promptly advise the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome and to request that it be discontinued. Often this action alone will resolve the problem. U.T. System recognizes, however, that an individual may prefer to pursue the matter through complaint procedures.

4.3 U.T. System encourages the prompt reporting of complaints or concerns so that rapid and constructive action can be taken, when appropriate. Early reporting and intervention have proven to be the most effective method of resolving actual or perceived incidents of discrimination or harassment.

4.4 If a manager receives a complaint of discrimination or harassment, the manager should notify an Office of Human Resources representative as soon as he/she becomes aware of the complaint.

4.5 As soon as practicable, an Office of Human Resources representative will contact the person making the complaint (“complainant”) to discuss the details of the alleged discrimination or harassment to acknowledge receipt of the complaint.

4.6 The complaint shall be supported by a written statement containing information provided by the complainant. Information documented should include: the complainant’s name, signature, contact information, a detailed description of the conduct or event that is the basis of the alleged violation, the name of the alleged offender, date(s) of the alleged incident(s), the names of any witnesses or persons having knowledge of such incident(s), the resolution sought; and any documents or information that are relevant to the complaint. While an investigation may begin based on an oral complaint, the complainant should file a written complaint; or the Office of Human Resources will prepare a written statement setting forth the details of the complaint and send such written statement to the complainant for verification of the allegations.

Sec. 5 Investigation

5.1 The Office of Human Resources has discretion to determine whether a complaint warrants an investigation and in how an investigation is conducted. Within five working days of receipt of a complaint, the Chief Human Resources Officer or designee may either dismiss the complaint or authorize an investigation of the complaint. A complaint may be dismissed if the facts alleged in the complaint, even if taken as true, do not constitute a violation of this policy, the complaint fails to allege any facts that suggests a violation, or the appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved, or has been offered and rejected.

5.2 If it is determined that a complaint will not be investigated, the Chief Human Resources Officer or the EEO Officer will send the complainant a notification letter explaining the reason the complaint will not be investigated and informing the complainant that he or she may appeal the decision not to proceed with a complaint investigation to the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee within 10 working days of the notification.

5.3 The written appeal must explain why the decision to dismiss the complaint was in error. The Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee will respond within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal. The Chancellor’s or Chancellor’s designee’s decision is final. If the decision to dismiss the complaint is overturned, the complaint is sent back to the Chief Human Resources Officer or the EEO for investigation in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

5.4 Typically, an investigator (or investigators) designated by the Office of Human Resources will interview the complainant, the respondent, and any other persons whom the investigator determines may have pertinent information related to the complaint. The investigator shall also gather and examine relevant documents. If the complaint is not made in writing, an EEO Officer or designee will prepare a written statement setting forth the details of the complaint and send such written statement to the complainant for verification of the allegations.

5.5 During the investigation process, the complainant and the respondent should provide the investigator with all requested documents regarding the issues raised in the complaint. The accused individual shall be provided with a copy of the complaint and allowed a reasonable time to respond in writing.

5.7 To the extent permitted by law, complaints and information received during an investigation, as well as the results of the investigation, will remain confidential. The investigator will attempt to balance the need for confidentiality with U.T. System’s responsibility to provide a discrimination-free environment. Relevant information should be provided only to those individuals who need to know it to achieve a timely resolution of the complaint.

5.8 Any persons thought to have information relevant to the complaint may be interviewed and such interviews shall be appropriately documented. Other acceptable methods for gathering information include but are not limited to visual inspection of materials alleged to be offensive and follow-up interviews as necessary.

5.9 Employees are expected to cooperate with investigations of alleged discrimination. Any employee who knowingly makes false statements or who inappropriately discloses confidential information during an investigation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

5.10 After the investigation is complete, the EEO Officer will create a written report, make a determination, and informs the respondent’s manager. The report will include a recommendation of whether a violation of the policy occurred, an analysis of the facts discovered during the investigation, and recommended disciplinary action if a violation of the policy occurred. If the investigation reveals that an employee violated this policy, the employee’s manager in consultation with the EEO Officer will determine and implement the appropriate resolution, which could include discipline, up to and including termination.

5.11 A copy of the report will be sent to the appropriate department head or administrative official, the appropriate Vice Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor or Chancellor, the complainant, and the respondent. The complainant and respondent have seven working days from the date of the report to submit comments regarding the report to the department head or administrative official.

5.12 Within a reasonable time following the determination, the EEO Officer will provide the complainant with appropriate information regarding the determination made and actions taken. The complainant may respond in writing to the determination.

5.13 Within 30 working days of receiving any comments submitted by the complainant or respondent, the appropriate department head or administrative official will take one of the following actions:

a) request further investigation into the complaint;

b) dismiss the complaint if the results of the completed investigation are inconclusive or there is insufficient reasonable, credible evidence to support the allegation(s); or

c) find that this Policy was violated.

5.14 Investigations exceeding 60 days shall be reviewed by the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee. Justification for the prolonged investigation will be documented. The accused individual and supervisor will be provided an update on the progress of the investigation after the review.

5.15 A decision that the policy was violated will be made based upon the evidence provided by the investigator and any comments submitted by the complainant or respondent during the seven-day review period. The decision will be based on the totality of circumstances surrounding the complaint, including but not limited to, the context of that conduct, its severity and/or frequency. Facts will be considered based on a reasonable person standard.

5.16 If the appropriate department head or administrative official determines that this policy was violated, he or she will take disciplinary action that is appropriate for the severity of the conduct. Disciplinary actions include but are not limited to written reprimands, the imposition of conditions, reassignment, suspension, and dismissal. The complainant and the respondent will be informed in writing of the department head or administrative official's decision and will be provided a copy of the final statement of findings.

5.17 If an employee is disciplined as a result of an investigation under this policy, procedures outlined in HOP 3.7.3 Discipline/Dismissal of Employees will be followed.

5.18 Any employee disciplined for a violation of this policy may protest that action in accordance with the applicable process outlined in HOP 3.5.3 Grievance.

Sec. 6 Retaliation Prohibited

6.1 An employee who retaliates against an individual for filing a claim of discrimination or harassment, participating in an investigation of a claim of discrimination or harassment, or opposing a discriminatory or harassing practice is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

6.2 Any person covered by this policy who believes they have been subject to retaliation should report these concerns to the Office of Human Resources with reasonable promptness.

Sec. 7 Training

7.1 All newly hired employees shall be provided training on institutional policies and procedures that prohibit discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, no later than 30 days after the date of hire. Program completion by all newly-hired employees is mandatory.

7.2 All employees shall be provided supplemental training on institutional policies and procedures that prohibit discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, every two years. Program completion by all employees is mandatory.

7.3 Electronic or signed documentation of each employee’s completion of the required new employee and supplemental training is required.

7.4 The Office of Human Resources will review the listing of employees having completed the required training and report to the U.T. System Administration Compliance Office the names and departments of all employees not completing the required training.

7.5 The U.T. Systemwide Compliance Officer will undertake appropriate action to assure the completion of the required training by these employees.

Sec. 8 Hiring

The Office of Human Resources will work with hiring officials to comply with all federal and state regulations and equal employment opportunity principles. All job postings will include a statement that U.T. System Administration is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Definitions

Discrimination - Conduct directed at a specific individual or a group of identifiable individuals that subjects the individual or group to treatment that adversely affects their employment or education because of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, citizenship status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Harassment – As a form of discrimination is defined as verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual or group because of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, citizenship status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression when such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to have the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's or group's academic or work performance; or of creating a hostile academic or work environment.

Retaliation - any action that adversely affects the employment or other institutional status of an individual (including, but not limited to: discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or in any other manner negatively impacting an employee in the terms and conditions of employment) because the individual has, in good faith, made an allegation concerning the violation of a law, rule, policy, or procedure, or of inadequate institutional response thereto, or has cooperated in good faith with an investigation of such allegation.