A. It is the policy of the Medical University of South Carolina to prohibit any form of sexual harassment. The offender shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. This policy is in keeping with federal and state guidelines.
B. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct, or written, pictorial, or electronic material of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
1. Submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or advancement; or a condition of instruction; or participation in any other University activity (quid pro quo); or
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals; or used as a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions; or
3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
C. In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, consideration shall be given to facts and circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
II. Preliminary Evaluation
A. The complainant should attempt to resolve the issue by asking the accused harasser to discontinue the offending behavior. If unable to obtain satisfactory relief, or if uncomfortable discussing the matter with the accused harasser, the appropriate recourse for the complainant is to contact the Office of Gender Equity.
B. The complainant should meet with the Office of Gender Equity to discuss the nature and circumstances of the offending conduct. Based on the information presented, one the following will occur:
1. The complainant may decide that he/she does not choose to file a formal complaint. In that event, no further action would be required.
2. Upon hearing the facts as presented, the Office of Gender Equity may determine that the facts do not support a complaint of sexual harassment and that no further inquiry is in order. In that event, within ten working days, the Office of Gender Equity will explain in writing to the complainant the basis for the decision and apprise the complainant of the appeals process (to the Gender Equity Advisory Committee, then to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost).
The complainant will be given all pertinent information relative to review processes outside of the university.
3. Upon hearing the facts as presented, and the complainant having signed a written statement and having been instructed not to discuss the complaint with others, the Office of Gender Equity may determine that further investigation is in order. In that event, within two working days, the alleged harasser will be notified in writing by the Office of Gender Equity that a complaint has been made against him/her by the complainant. The alleged harasser will also be instructed not to discuss the complaint with others.
A ten working day period will begin in which the Office of Gender Equity will further investigate the complaint and determine if a mutually agreed upon settlement can be reached. Any negotiated settlement requires the concurrence of the Office of Gender Equity that the terms are fair, and are reviewed in light of any previous complaints of sexual harassment against the alleged harasser.
If the complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties during the above-mentioned ten working day period, within three working days the Office of Gender Equity will appoint an Investigative Committee and will notify the Dean(s) of the complainant’s and the alleged harasser’s respective colleges.
III. Investigative Committee Hearing Procedure
A. The Investigative Committee will include at least three faculty members of the Medical University representing at least two colleges, but excluding any faculty members from the Department of the alleged harasser or the complainant, and it will have gender diversity. The committee will be selected from a pool of faculty who have participated in sexual harassment training prior to participating on the Committee. The Office of Gender Equity will serve as an ex-officio non-voting member of the Investigative Committee and will provide the members with a review of the pertinent university policies and procedures. The University General Counsel also will serve as legal counsel to the Investigative Committee and will be permitted to question all witnesses but shall not have a vote.
B. Within five working days the Office of Gender Equity will convene the Investigative Committee. The Investigative Committee will conduct its own formal inquiry, calling witnesses, and gathering appropriate information as may be necessary to reach a determination on the merits of the allegations in an expeditious manner. Both the alleged harasser and the complainant may submit in writing a list of individuals whom they believe may offer relevant information. However, the Investigative Committee will determine which witnesses will be called for the formal hearing procedure and will ask the witnesses to appear. If a witness is unable to appear, the Committee may decide to allow the witness to testify via telephone. Testimony given by witnesses will be audio taped to assure accurate reporting. Both the complainant and the alleged harasser may be accompanied for their testimony by personal legal counsel. Neither the complainant nor alleged harasser, nor their respective legal counsels, may be present during the testimony of other witnesses. Written summaries will be prepared by the Investigative Committee. Each witness will have the opportunity to review a copy of his/her summary and make a written response to the summary. Copies of the summaries (and any attached written statements) will be provided to the alleged harasser in order to allow the opportunity for providing an oral or written rebuttal, including additional information that the alleged harasser feels should be collected. Support staff to the Investigative Committee will be provided by the Office of Gender Equity.
Decisions by the Investigative Committee shall be rendered within ten working days of the initiation of its investigation unless there are justifiable delays. Copies of the Investigative Committee’s written report will be provided concurrently to the appropriate Dean(s) and the Office of Gender Equity. The report will be based on the preponderance of evidence and will advise the Dean(s) on any recommended action to be taken. Within five working days, the Dean(s) will make a final decision and inform the Office of Gender Equity. The Office of Gender Equity will, in turn, within two working days, inform the parties of the Investigative Committee’s decision, the actions to be taken, and the appeals process (to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost). The Dean(s) will be responsible for implementing any actions. If an appeal is to be submitted by either party, it must be received in its final and complete form in writing by the Office of the Provost within ten working days. The Provost will render a decision on the appeal within ten working days. In the event that a Dean is the alleged harasser, the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost will receive the report and will be responsible for implementing any actions within the time frames specified above. In the event that the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost is the alleged harasser, the President will receive the report and will be responsible for implementing any actions within the time frames specified above. If the President is the alleged harasser, the Board of Trustees will receive the report and will be responsible for implementing any actions, within the time frames specified above. In all cases, copies of the Investigative report will be given to the complainant, the alleged harasser, and the Office of Gender Equity. At the level of Dean or above, appeals will be made by the next highest authority.
C. If either party appeals and is affirmed, the Office of Gender Equity will inform the parties of their rights to appeal to the appropriate external agencies.
D. All records and documents will be preserved by the Office of Gender Equity for a period of twelve months or until the conclusion of all appeals. Additional records will be maintained by the Office of Gender Equity for legal purposes.
Retaliation against a complainant or witnesses for exercising their rights under this policy and complaint resolution process is strictly prohibited. Retaliation is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
V. Abuse of this Policy
Given the personal nature of sexual harassment, some complaints of sexual harassment may not be substantiated. The possibility of the lack of corroborating evidence should not discourage complainants from seeking relief under this policy outlined above. Making false accusations may subject the complainant to disciplinary actions.