FOR RESEARCH FOUNDATION EMPLOYEES:
In order to have questions answered relating to discrimination concerns, contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
To either speak to the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion or to arrange an appointment:
Internal Complaint Process - State Employees
The SUNY Upstate Medical University (SUNY Upstate) does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam Era in all aspects of employment, student admissions and student life, as specified by law.
In responding to complaints of discrimination, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will:
- take appropriate action to provide appropriate remedies when necessary
- handle complaints on a case-by-case basis
- protect the privacy of all those involved to the fullest extent possible
In accordance with existing policies and laws, every effort will be made to protect the privacy of all individuals throughout all phases of the complaint investigation and resolution process. Information about complaints will be maintained in confidence to the fullest extent possible. Additionally, Federal law prohibits retaliation. Adverse action against any individual who files a complaint, or assists or participates in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing is against the law.
The Director for Diversity and Inclusion is available to discuss alleged incidents or problems associated with discrimination. To resolve issues through the internal process, individuals may inquire about their options or they may choose to file a written complaint.
COMPLAINT PROCEDURE FOR REVIEW OF ALLEGATIONS OF UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION
I. OVERVIEW – COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
The State University of New York Upstate Medical University (Upstate), in its continuing effort to seek equity in education and employment and consistent with Federal and State anti-discrimination legislation, has adopted a complaint procedure for the prompt and equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of age, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, veteran status, marital status or retaliation. Harassment, on the basis of the above-protected categories, is a form of unlawful discrimination. Conduct that may constitute harassment is described in Appendix A. For more detailed information see your SUNY Upstate Affirmative Action Officer or consult the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.
This SUNY Upstate complaint procedure provides a mechanism through which the University may identify, respond to, prevent, and eliminate incidents of illegal discrimination. The University recognizes and accepts its responsibility in this regard and believes that the establishment of this internal, non-adversarial complaint procedure will benefit student, faculty, staff and administration by permitting prompt investigation and resolution of problems.
This procedure has been developed in accordance with guidelines and recommendations provided by the SUNY Chancellor’s Office of Affirmative Action. The policy is administered by the Upstate Medical University’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. The Affirmative Action Officer directs that office and reports directly to the University President and the Associate Vice President for Human Resources. These procedures are intended to balance the rights of those bringing complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation (the “Complainant”) with those against whom such claims are brought (the “Respondent.”) Throughout these procedures the term “parties” shall refer to the Complainant, Respondent, and witnesses involved in the complaint.
This procedure may be used by any SUNY Upstate student or employee. Employee grievance procedures established through negotiated contracts, academic grievance review committees, student disciplinary grievance boards and any other procedures defined by contract will continue to operate as before. This procedure does not in any way deprive a Complainant of the right to file with outside enforcement agencies, such as the New York State Division of Human Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance of the Department of Labor. Contact information for these agencies is listed in Appendix B. More detailed information may be obtained from SUNY Upstate’s Affirmative Action Officer. Upon filing with one of these outside enforcement agencies, or upon the initiation of litigation, the SUNY Upstate internal complaint procedure may be terminated and the matter will be referred to the Office of the University Counsel for review and supervision.
The SUNY Upstate Affirmative Action Officer receives all complaints of alleged discrimination, shall assist the Complainant in the procedure and use of the complaint form and shall provide the Complainant with information about various internal and external mechanisms through which the complaint may be filed, including applicable time limits for filing with each agency.
II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
A. Jurisdiction of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Upstate Medical University is responsible for providing a learning and working environment free from discrimination. The University reserves the right to pursue any complaint of discrimination about which it becomes aware. Based on information received by the University’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Affirmative Action Officer or designee may exercise his/her own discretion and initiate a complaint on behalf of the University Community.
In addition, the Affirmative Action Officer may determine that a specific complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment is of such a serious or potentially criminal nature that the investigative steps outlined in this process should be accelerated or eliminated. This determination, if made, shall be communicated to the President or his/her designee and to Labor Relations for appropriate action, which may include the initiation of disciplinary and/or other action.
If, at any time during the course of resolving or investigating a complaint of discrimination, the Affirmative Action Officer or designee determines that a complaint is not within the jurisdiction of the office, the complaint shall be referred to the appropriate office and the matter shall be considered concluded for purposes of the Offic of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) .
B. Election of Venue for filing complaint
The Complainant is not required to pursue the SUNY Upstate internal complaint procedure before filing a complaint with a State or Federal agency. In addition, if the Complainant chooses to pursue the SUNY Upstate internal procedure, the Complainant is free to file a complaint with the appropriate State or Federal agency at any point during the process. Upon filing with an external agency, however, the SUNY Upstate internal complaint procedure may be terminated and the matter referred to the Office of the University Counsel for review and involvement as may be in the interests of the University.
In accordance with existing policies and laws, including (III)(B) of this policy, every effort will be made to protect the privacy of all individuals throughout all phases of the complaint and resolution process. Information about complaints or inquires will be maintained in confidence to the fullest extent possible. However, an investigation will generally include interviewing necessary parties and coordination when necessary with offices such as the relevant Department or Dean, Employee/Labor Relations, Graduate Medical Education and/or Student Affairs.
D. Supervisory Responsibility
Complaints or concerns that are reported to an administrator, manager or supervisor concerning an act of discrimination or harassment shall be immediately referred to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Complaints may also be made directly to the Affirmative Action Officer.
An employee or student who participates in the procedure has the right to do so without retaliation or the fear of retaliation. It will be made clear that retaliation against an employee, a student or a witness who has filed a discrimination complaint will result in appropriate sanctions or other disciplinary action as provided by collective bargaining agreements, and/or applicable University policies.
F. Role of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
The ODI staff may receive initial inquiries, reports and requests for consultation and counseling. Assistance will be available whether or not a formal complaint is contemplated or even possible. It is the responsibility of the ODI to respond to all such inquiries, reports and requests as promptly as possible and in a manner appropriate to the particular circumstances. An individual may refuse to reduce a complaint to writing. However, notwithstanding that refusal, there may be a continuing obligation on the part of the campus to investigate the verbal complaint to the best of its ability and proceed with any action that is warranted. Although in certain instances verbal complaints may be acted upon, the procedures set forth here rest upon the submission of a written complaint that will enable the ODI to conduct a full and fair investigation of the facts. It is the responsibility of the Affirmative Action Officer to respond to all such inquiries, reports and requests as promptly as possible in a manner appropriate to the parties circumstances.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion shall solicit information concerning any factors that might prejudice an objective evaluation of the evidence and shall reassign an investigation if a conflict or potential conflict emerges.
Each Party’s Rights and Responsibilities
Upstate’s formal review procedures are not designed to replicate an external judicial process. Therefore:
- Complainants and Respondents are expected to meet with representatives of ODI as needed and as requested.
- Legal counsel retained by a Complainant or a Respondent other than SUNY Counsel may not participate or be present at any meeting convened by ODI.
- Respondents and Complainants are expected to communicate with ODI directly, not through legal counsel, other intermediaries or persons accompanying the parties.
III. Informal Complaint Process (Inquiries)
A. The ODI staff may receive initial inquiries, reports and requests for information, consultation and counseling. Assistance will be available whether or not a formal complaint is contemplated or even possible. It is the responsibility of the ODI to respond to all such inquiries, reports and requests as promptly as possible and in a manner appropriate to the particular circumstances. Informal inquiries generally will not necessitate a full investigation. If a full investigation appears to the ODI to be warranted, a formal complaint process will be initiated. An individual may refuse to reduce a complaint to writing. However, notwithstanding that refusal, there may be a continuing obligation on the part of the campus to investigate the verbal complaint to the best of its ability and proceed with any action that is warranted. Although in certain instances verbal complaints may be acted upon, the procedures set forth here rest upon the submission of a written complaint that will enable the ODI to conduct a full and fair investigation of the facts. It is the responsibility of the Affirmative Action Officer to respond to all such inquiries, reports and requests as promptly as possible in a manner appropriate to the parties circumstances.
B. If there is reasonable cause to believe that illegal discrimination may be occurring, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will conduct a full and fair investigation of the facts related to the inquiry to the best of its ability and will proceed with any action that is warranted, even without the consent of the Complainant.
C. As with formal complaints, informal complaints or inquiries should be made within 90 days from the date which the Complainant first knew or reasonably should have known of such act.
IV. Formal Complaint Process
A. Although in rare instances verbal complaints/inquiries may be acted upon, the procedure set forth here rests upon the submission of a written complaint that will enable there to be a full and fair investigation of the facts. Failure to cooperate in filing the complaint or providing information may result in the case being dismissed.
B. Employees may file a written complaint with the Affirmative Action Officer within 90 calendar days following the alleged discriminatory act or the date on which the Complainant first knew or reasonably should have known of such act. Complainants will complete an intake form to initiate an investigation (see Appendix C). Students must file a complaint within 90 calendar days following the alleged discriminatory act or 90 calendar days after a final grade is received, for the semester during which the discriminatory acts occurred, if that date is later.
C. It is the Complainant’s responsibility to be certain that any complaint is filed within the applicable 90-day period. In the event that the Complainant would be barred under these procedures, the Complainant may contact ODI with regard to other avenues of recourse that may be available. (See Appendix B for a list of alternative forums)
D. If a Complainant elects to withdraw a complaint, this decision must be communicated in writing to the ODI staff indicating the reason for withdrawal. The University may nevertheless pursue its review of the allegations. However, if at any time during an investigation a Complainant declines to cooperate with the ODI, or if the office determines that the Complainant no longer wishes to pursue his/her complaint; ODI may consider the matter closed and take no further action, with appropriate notification to the Complainant.
E. In filing a formal complaint, the Complainant shall contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to complete the authorized complaint form, which includes the following information:
- The name, address, and telephone number(s) of the Complainant.
- A statement of facts explaining what happened and what the Complainant believes constituted the unlawful discriminatory acts in sufficient detail to conduct an investigation and to give each Respondent reasonable notice of what is claimed against him/her. The statement should include the date, approximate time and place where the alleged acts of unlawful discrimination or harassment occurred. If the acts occurred on more than one date, the statement should also include the last date on which the acts occurred as well as detailed information about the prior acts. The names of any potential witnesses should be provided.
- The name(s) of the person(s) claimed to have committed the act(s) of unlawful discrimination.
- Identification of the status of the persons charged whether faculty, staff, student, or other if known.
- A statement indicating whether or not the Complainant has filed or reported information concerning the incident(s) referred to in the complaint with an external official or agency, under any other complaint or complaint procedure. If an external complaint has been filed, the statement should indicate the name of the department or agency with which the information was filed and its address.
- Such other or supplemental information as may be requested.
F. If a Complainant elects to file a written complaint, the Affirmative Action Officer will investigate and make a determination, which will be communicated, to the Complainant in writing.
V. Procedures for Processing a Formal Complaint
A. The SUNY Upstate Affirmative Action Officer shall receive any complaint of alleged discrimination, shall assist the Complainant in the use of the complaint form and shall provide the Complainant with information about various internal and external mechanisms through which the complaint may be filed, including applicable time limits for filing with each agency.
B. In investigating the complaint, the SUNY Upstate Affirmative Action Officer shall have the right to all relevant information and to interview pertinent witnesses. When SUNY Upstate’s Affirmative Action Officer deems it warranted. Vice Presidents, University Counsel or other University official may be contacted for information, assistance and/or consultation.
C. Upon completion of the investigation, the SUNY Upstate Affirmative Action Officer shall send a letter to the Complainant acknowledging the completion of the investigation. A copy of the response shall be attached to the original complaint form in the Officer’s file. The witnesses interviewed, the results of the investigation, the basis for the determination, and corrective action imposed, if any, shall remain confidential except as required by law.
D. Within 20 days of the date the response was issued, the Complainant may request, in writing, that the matter be reviewed by the President or designee. The President shall either uphold the determination, refer it to a designee for review or remand it to the Affirmative Action Officer for further investigation or action. The Complainant will be advised of his or her right to proceed to the appropriate external enforcement agencies.
E. There is no right of appeal when the Office of Diversity and Inclusion determines that there is insufficient reasonable, credible evidence to support the allegations(s) of discrimination, and that finding is upheld by the President.