Procedures for Filing and Addressing Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Complaints against Faculty, Staff or Student Employees
If a member of the community wishes to make a complaint against an employee (faculty, staff or student employee) of a violation of the College's Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Assault Policy, the procedures below will apply. If both the complainant and the respondent are student employees, the students will instead use the complaint process for students found in the student handbook and on the college website.
1. You may first meet with an appropriate administrator assigned to serve in these cases. Those administrators are as follows:
- Dean of Student Affairs, 914-395-2575.
- Dean of the College, 914-395-2303.
- Vice President of Human Resources, 914-395-2385.
- Dean of Studies and Title IX Coordinator, (914)395-2249
If you are not comfortable speaking with one of the individual listed, you may report an incident to your own supervisor, to your department head or to the department head of any of the individuals listed above.
All College employees (including faculty, resident advisors and staff, with the exception Health Services staff) who become aware of an incident of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and/or sexual assault are required to notify the assistant vice president for public safety and security who will initiate a campus investigation into the matter. The College is required to report incidents of sexual misconduct or sexual assault that constitute a violent felony under the New York State Campus Safety Act, to the local police. The assistant vice president of public safety and security or his or her designee will coordinate such notification to the Yonkers Police.
2. Should the individual decide to file a formal complaint, she/he will meet with the Vice President for Human Resources (VP HR) or his or her designee to discuss the procedure for hearing the complaint. If the complainant so desires, he/she may be accompanied by an advisory of his/her choice
She/he will then provide a written statement to the VP HR, describing the circumstances of the alleged incident or behavior. This statement will constitute the grounds for the complaint.
The VP HR or his/her designee will then meet with the respondent to discuss the complaint. The respondent will be given an opportunity to write a response to the complaint within one week, unless the time is extended because of unusual circumstances as determined by the VP HR.
3. It is expected that complaints will be filed by current employees or students. The College will, however, investigate all complaints made by former employees and by students who are no longer enrolled. The investigation of such complaints will be performed by the assistant vice president of public safety and security. Once the investigation is complete a disciplinary hearing will be conducted by a panel of three employees chosen from among those trained as described in Section 4 (a) below but may or may not take the form of a hearing as described in Section 6 below.
4. Upon receipt of the complaint and completion of the investigation, the VP HR will establish a panel to investigate the complaint. The procedure for forming this panel shall be as follows:
a. Each year a pool of non-faculty employees shall be constituted on the recommendations of the Dean of Studies and Student Life and a pool of faculty members shall be constituted on the recommendations of the General Committee.
- The pool members will serve for a three-year term.
- All members of the pool will be full time regular employees
- The College will strive for gender balance in the pool, to the extent practicable. All members of the pool will receive training for service on the panels.
b. The panel for a specific case will be chosen from that pool through the following procedures:
- Individuals in the pool may recuse themselves in particular cases if there are factors that make objectivity impossible, such as a close friendship or a present or previous academic or professional relationship with the respondent or complainant.
- If the complainant is a student the registrar will be consulted to ensure that none of the faculty members has had an academic relationship with the complainant. Those who have taught or advised the complainant will be eliminated.
- The VP HR will give the list of members in the pool to the complainant and to the respondent. Potential panel members may be excused in the event of a conflict of interest, lack of availability or other valid reason, as determined by the VP HR. The VP HR , reviewing the eligible pool members, will choose three to serve as the panel for that particular case.
- In the event that a panel member resigns or is otherwise unable to serve the VP HR will appoint a replacement from the pool. If the pool does not yield three acceptable members of the panel, the VP HR will appoint an employee who has already gone through the training as a substitute.
5. In all cases the College reserves the right to place the respondent on leave until the case is decided.
6. Hearing procedures
a. The VP HR will gather information to be brought to the panel. This will include (but not be limited to) the statements of the complainant and respondent, a list of witnesses who may have relevant information and other information related to the charges and the investigation report provided by the vice president of public safety and security. The initial list of witnesses will be provided by both the complainant and respondent. Others might be identified during the investigation.
b. Witnesses identified at this stage will be required to submit a written statement describing their knowledge of the case. The VP HR will determine an appropriate deadline for these statements to be submitted, typically a week to ten days after the request. If a witness fails to submit a timely statement the VP HR may exclude any testimony by that witness.
c. The VP HR will serve as the panel coordinator. The panel will review the complaint, the response, and all other witness statements and documents. The panel will then identify a list of witnesses to meet with the panel. The selection of that list will be based on the relevance of the witness’ information (i.e. direct knowledge of the complaint and its alleged consequences). The panel may call witnesses who were not suggested by either the complainant or respondent but who may have relevant information. If time permits the witnesses will be asked to provide written statements. If not the panel will interview the witness in question.
d. The panel will meet with the complainant and respondent. This may take place at the same time or separately.
e. Both the complainant and respondent will have the option of having a personal adviser present when they meet with the panel. Members of the hearing panel or those who will serve as witnesses in the case may not serve as an advisor. The VP HR will instruct the advisors about confidentiality (i.e., that they are expected to preserve in confidence all information they acquire in connection with their role as advisers). The sole role of the advisors is to provide advice and support to the complainant or the respondent. The advisors may not ask questions or speak on behalf of the person they are advising or present evidence.
f. Both complainant and respondent will be required to meet with the panel. If the respondent refuses to do so, she or he will be informed of the possibility of damaging consequences to his/her case, especially in the giving up of direct access to testimony and evidence and the hearing or meetings will proceed in his or her absence. If the complainant refuses to do so without good cause, as determined by the panel, the panel may dismiss the complaint.
g. Persons called as witnesses shall meet with the panel. If a witness is no longer available to attend the hearing or meeting, as determined by the panel, his or her written statement will be accepted in lieu of the interview.
h. The panel hearing or meeting shall be closed to all but the VP HR, the panel, the complainant, the respondent, their advisors, and the witnesses during their interviews. During a hearing that takes place with both the complainant and the respondent present a the same time, the parties will be separated. They will be able to hear each other, but not see each other.
i. If the meeting takes place with both complainant and respondent at the same time, the complainant and respondent may ask questions of each other and of the witnesses. The parties will not ask questions of each other directly, they will provide the question to the VP HR who will ask the question of the other party. If the meetings are separate, both parties will be given the opportunity to provide questions to the panel to obtain responses from the other party and/or the witnesses. The VP HR will determine whether questions are irrelevant or otherwise inappropriate and his/her decisions will be final.
j. In the case of a full hearing, the following is the order of business, variations may occur depending on the circumstances of the individual cases. In the case of separate meetings, the VP HR will conduct the meetings.
- VP HR explains the process
- Opening statement by complainant
- Opening statement by the respondent
- Panel questions the complainant
- Panel questions the respondent
- Complainant and respondent may ask questions of each other by providing questions to the VP HR
- Witnesses are interviewed by panel and parties
- Questions from the parties and further questions from the panel
- Final statement by complainant
- Final statement by respondent
- Dismissal of complainant, respondent, and advisors
- Deliberation by the panel
k. At the conclusion of the hearing or the panel meetings the panel will meet together to complete its review of information and its consideration of the complaint. The panel will use a preponderance of the evidence standard to determine responsibility (i.e. it is more likely than not that the respondent was responsible for the prohibited behavior).The panel will report its findings of fact and its conclusions in writing to the VP HR. The VP HR will determine any penalties to be imposed, as provided below.
- Written warning
- Formal reprimand
- Suspension without pay
In the case of a faculty member, the VP HR will make this recommendation to the Advisory Committee on Appointments.
- Termination of employment
The VP HR will make this recommendation to the President for staff members or to the Advisory Committee on Appointments for faculty members.
l. The VP HR will report the resolution to both the complainant and respondent. This report will include the conclusions of the panel and, where appropriate, any actions taken or penalties imposed. The facts about individual cases and their disposition are confidential. This means that such information is shared by the college only on a bona fide need to know basis. The college reserves the right to correct misinformation that becomes public.
m. The College will strive to complete the investigation and hearing in a prompt manner, consistent with fairness.
7. If a complaint is made against the VP HR, the President will take on the roles normally played by the VP HR and the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees or his/her delegate will serve as the point of appeal. If a complaint is made against the President, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees will be in charge of the process.
The complainant and the respondent have the right to appeal any action taken or penalty imposed to the President (or to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees if the complaint is made against the President.) The appeal must be filed within ten working days of receiving the decision. An appeal does not provide a rehearing of the case. In the case of a tenured faculty member the Dean of the College or his/her designee will consider the appeal.
An appeal may be made on one of three grounds only:
- Newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing.
- An error in procedure sufficient to warrant an overturn of the panel’s conclusion or a new hearing.
- Inappropriate application of College rules, regulations or policies to the facts (This may include an appeal of the penalty imposed)
The President’s, Dean’s (or Chairman of the Board’s) response to an appeal may include without limitation one or more of the following: sending the case back to the panel for further review; ordering a new hearing; revising the penalty; setting aside the decision of the panel.
The decision of the President, Dean (or Chairman of the Board) is final.
9. Use of the internal procedure outlined above does not foreclose subsequent legal action. Complainants and respondents may wish to obtain legal advice as they consider the course of action open to them. The hearings will not be tape recorded, although members of the panel may take written notes.
10. Record keeping: A permanent written record of the formal complaint process and its outcome will be retained by the VP HR. This record will include the charge, all statements by complainant, respondent and witnesses, other documentation or evidence discovered by the investigation. Notes taken by the individual panel members in the process of the panel investigation and hearing will not be maintained in the permanent record.
The VP HR will prepare an annual report for the Administrative Staff Committee on complaints made against staff members and for the General Committee and the Committee on Conditions of Teaching on complaints made against faculty members. The report will include the number and type of complaints and, in general terms, their disposition.