This policy applies to employees, applicants for employment, students, visitors, patients, community members and third-parties.
Tufts will take all available steps to promptly, thoroughly, and impartially investigate and address complaints of discrimination, including discriminatory harassment and other discriminatory misconduct by and against its employees and third parties (including visitors, patients and community members). These procedures are intended to be consistent with applicable state and federal requirements, including federal Title IX regulations which cover all university programs and activities as well as federal Title VII employment regulations and the corresponding state employment law statute 151B.
The University will always respond to complaints, reports, allegations and information about harassment/discrimination that it knows or should know about, in order to stop prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence and address any lingering effects on campus and/or in the workplace from such conduct. Under these policies and procedures, Tufts will consider the effects of off-campus conduct for faculty, staff, students, patients, visitors and community members when evaluating whether there is discrimination or a hostile environment on campus.
Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person is harassed or treated arbitrarily or differently because of the person’s real or implied membership in a "protected category."
In the employment context, discrimination may begin with an adverse employment action, which is something an employer has done that is unfair to an employee (for example: terminating the employee or not selecting him/her/them for hire or a promotion, harassing the employee, denying the employee's request for a reasonable accommodation, etc.). If OEO determines, through fact-finding, that the employee or applicant’s membership in a protected category was the reason for the adverse employment action, this may lead to a policy violation of the non-discrimination policy and/or any other policy herein. Please see the process flow for this type of investigation.
Personality differences or conflicts, general mistreatment not based on the above protected categories, or a response to poor performance are usually employee relations issues, not discrimination matters. Human Resources can help you with these matters and will refer you to the appropriate resources.
Students and Community Members
If a student or community member believes that s/he was treated differently in their education program or activity because of their real or implied membership in a protected category as defined above, OEO will conduct a fact-finding investigation to determine whether or not the Complainant’s protected class was the reason for the different treatment and if that treatment violated the non-discrimination policy and/or any other policy herein.
The OEO reviews each case uniquely and the formal process is sometimes not linear or fixed. In most cases, the investigative process will take approximately 60 business days, though more complex cases may take longer. If a complaint is filed before summer, before finals or before a university break, there may be a delay in the investigative process.
To begin the formal process, the complainant or reporter must submit a written complaint or a completed Title VII/employee complaint form to the OEO. This form is shared with the respondent and should include things like date, time, location and enough details for the OEO to investigate the allegations and for the respondent to understand the nature of the complaint.
Investigation and Interviews
OEO will assign an investigator who will complete interviews with the complainant, respondent and/or any witnesses. The investigator will also gather any documentation and evidence relevant to the complaint.
Tufts does allow one support person with the complainant or respondent in each meeting/interview. Witnesses are not allowed to bring a support person to their interview or meeting. Parties should inform the investigator at least a day prior to an interview if they plan to bring a support person to a meeting with OEO. Unionized staff are permitted to attend investigative interviews with a union representative. Support persons will not be allowed to engage with or interact with the investigator during these meetings but are allowed to confer with the party if they wish. If a support person interrupts or is disruptive in these meetings they will be asked to leave the meeting.
Parties may request an accommodation at any point in this process by contacting the OEO Executive Director Jill Zellmer at 617-627-3298 or at Jill.Zellmer@tufts.edu.
Preliminary Findings Report
The investigator will complete a fact-finding report with preliminary findings. This report will be shared with the complainant and respondent using the secure OneHub portal. Note that reports may be partially redacted for reasons of confidentiality. Parties will need to request access for their support person, if necessary.
Both the complainant and respondent have the opportunity to submit an appeal or rebuttal within seven (7) days. The OEO reviews any final due process information. If no further investigation is required, the OEO will make a final decision as to a violation of policy. A letter of outcome will be delivered to both parties in writing and will outline any policy violations and other relevant information.
Resolution of Complaint and Corrective Actions
OEO does not make disciplinary decisions and refers the final report and letter of outcome with policy violations (if any) to the relevant decision-makers for any relevant action consistent with the final OEO decision. Relevant decision-makers may include the Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP), a respondent's supervisor, department chair, Dean, Provost or other member of leadership.
At any point in the investigative process, including at the beginning, middle or conclusion of an investigation and/or at the disciplinary stage, the university may implement interim remedial measures to address the safety of the complainant, other witness(es), or the Tufts community. Interim measures may also be available to those who decide against filing a formal complaint or choose not to pursue a complaint.
If you would like to request an interim measure or other support, please contact OEO Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator, Jill Zellmer at Jill.firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at: 617-627-3298.
Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or facilitated conversations are available as an option and alternative to the formal process in appropriate cases. Complainants may be able to choose anonymity in this process and the OEO staff will work with the complainant as to what to include in any discussion or conversation. Note that this option is not appropriate for cases involving sexual or other discriminatory assault or other sexual or discrimination related violence.
Privacy and Confidentiality
Cooperation and truthfulness from all participants is expected in all OEO investigations. The university recognizes the importance of privacy and confidentiality in these matters and the OEO will uphold the privacy and confidentiality of all parties to the extent practicable.
Some individuals filing complaints or involved in an investigation may want their identity to remain confidential. In informal instances, the respondent can be spoken to without the complainant being identified. In other cases, issues of confidentiality must be balanced against the university’s need to investigate and take appropriate action. While discretion remains important, parties are not restricted from discussing and sharing information relating to their complaints with others who may support them or assist them in presenting their case.
Regardless of the process used in an individual case, OEO will maintain its investigative files (including policy related decisions, if any and if known) for compliance-related interests. Any and all documents retained at the conclusion of a formal or informal resolution of a complaint will be maintained by the university in a safe and confidential manner.
Freedom from Retaliation
Any member of the University community has the right to raise concerns about or file a good faith complaint of discrimination without fear of retaliation. It is unlawful and a violation of university policy to retaliate against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination or for cooperating in a discrimination investigation. Retaliation is strictly prohibited against anyone who reports an incident of discrimination or brings forward a complaint or who in any way participates in an inquiry or investigation of discrimination. Retaliation is also prohibited against anyone who opposes, in a reasonable manner, an act or policy believed to constitute a violation of the Tufts non-discrimination policies.
Retaliation may include things like hostility, intimidation, threats, exclusion or in any way discriminating against an individual because of the individual’s complaint or participation (or perceived participation) in the investigative process. Any person who retaliates against an individual reporting discrimination, filing a discrimination complaint, or participating in a discrimination investigation is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from the university.