Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence

University Policy: 
502
Executive Summary: 

The University is committed to providing a respectful environment for all University community members and guests of the University.  Unlawful discrimination and discriminatory harassment, including any form of Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence, undermine the mission of the University and will not be tolerated. The University also strictly prohibits Retaliation against individuals for reporting Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence or for cooperating in the University’s investigation of Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence.  This Policy provides the definitions of Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, and Retaliation, and sets forth expectations for creating and maintaining an environment free of Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence.  This Policy also describes the University’s processes for investigating and resolving Complaints of Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, and Retaliation that are outside the scope of Title IX Violations covered by the process described in University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy.

I. Statement of Policy

Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence are violations of both law and University policy and will not be tolerated in the University community. Such behaviors are particularly sensitive issues that could affect any member of the University community, and as such, reports of Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence will be dealt with promptly and equitably by the University administration, regardless of whether the allegations are made formally, informally, in writing, or verbally.  Retaliation for reporting a violation of this Policy or for cooperating in the University’s investigation of any such report is also prohibited by law and University policy and will not be tolerated.

The University may be obligated to investigate allegations of Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence even when, for example, (1) an individual reports a concern involving Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence, but does not wish to file a Complaint; (2) an individual reports a concern involving alleged Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence and asks that either the individual’s identity or the information provided be kept confidential; or (3) an individual anonymously reports alleged Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence.

The procedures in this Policy differ from the criminal justice system in scope, purpose, procedure, and outcome, and are not designed to replace state or federal criminal laws or procedures. Individuals may be accountable to both civil authorities and to the University for acts that constitute violations of law and this Policy. The procedures in this Policy will normally proceed during the pendency of criminal proceedings and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident(s) have not been filed or have been dismissed or reduced.

II. Scope

A. Application

This Policy applies to all University community members, including faculty, SHRA and EHRA staff, and students, as well as certain non-University community members such as contractors/affiliates and visitors, unless one of the exceptions in Section II.B applies. 

B. Exceptions

1. Complaints Alleging Title IX Violations

Any alleged conduct that meets the definition of one or more of the Title IX Violations, as set forth in Section III.N, is processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.

2. Complaints Against Students

Complaints of Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, or Retaliation against a University student, whether made by another student, an employee, or a third party, are processed according to University Policy 406, Code of Student Responsibility, and not this Policy.

3. Complaints Filed by SHRA Employees

Complaints alleging Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, or Retaliation filed by employees subject to the State Human Resources Act (SHRA employees) are processed according to State requirements and The University of North Carolina System (UNC) SHRA Employee Grievance Policy.  Employees and applicants covered by the UNC SHRA Employee Grievance Policy who wish to file a grievance that includes allegations of Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, or Retaliation may file a report with the Title IX Office or contact Human Resources, and the two offices will coordinate their response.

For reports filed within 15 calendar days after the event, Human Resources will impartially investigate and respond back to the Complainant within 45 calendar days of the alleged Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, or Retaliation. The 45-day time limit may be extended due to unavoidable delays or occurrences; the Complainant and the University must mutually agree in writing to an extension, which may not exceed 15 calendar days.

For reports made later than 15 calendar days after the event, SHRA employees may file a Complaint with the Title IX Office; such Complaint will be reviewed and addressed through the procedures described in this Policy rather than the UNC SHRA Employee Grievance Policy. 

4. Complaints by or Against Non-University Community Members

The University may consider Complaints by or against unaffiliated individuals (non-University community members) on a case-by-case basis, when the reported concerns impact access to University programs or activities or affect the University working environment.  Although the University has limited jurisdiction to impose discipline against unaffiliated individuals or to extend supportive measures to unaffiliated individuals, the University may pursue corrective actions within its discretion, following an appropriate investigation or in collaboration with University or local law enforcement officials.  Non-University community member Complaints filed against University community members may result in disciplinary action against University community members consistent with this Policy, University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, University Policy 406, Code of Student Responsibility, or relevant personnel policies and procedures, as applicable.  When Complaints involve non-University community members, the University may be restricted regarding what information it can share with those individuals.

III. Definitions

  1. Appropriate University Official is the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for cases involving faculty Respondents. For SHRA staff or EHRA non-faculty Respondents, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources is the Appropriate University Official.
  2. Complainant is the individual who submits a Complaint or the individual on whose behalf a Complaint is submitted and who either directly experienced the alleged Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation or whose access to the University’s programs, activities, or workplaces was impacted by Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation.  
  3. Complaint is an allegation of Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation referred to the University’s Title IX Office for processing. 
  4. Dating Violence is committing violence against an individual with whom the Respondent is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (a) the length of the relationship; (b) the type of relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the individuals involved in the relationship.  Dating Violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.  Dating Violence does not include conduct that meets the definition of Domestic Violence under this Policy. If alleged Dating Violence occurs within a University Education Program or Activity and against a person in the United States, it is processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.
  5. Domestic Violence is committing violence that may constitute a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence against an individual (a) who is a current or former spouse or intimate partner; (b) with whom the Respondent shares a child in common; (c) with whom the Respondent cohabitates or has cohabitated as a spouse or intimate partner; (d) who is similarly situated as a spouse under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or (e) who is a youth or adult and is protected from that Respondent’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred. If alleged Domestic Violence occurs within a University Education Program or Activity and against a person in the United States, it is processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.
  6. Education Program or Activity includes locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercised substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the alleged Title IX Violation occurred, and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the University.
  7. Interpersonal Violence includes Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking. The definition of Interpersonal Violence under this Policy does not include alleged Title IX Violations, which are processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.
  8. Respondent is an individual who allegedly committed Sexual Harassment, Interpersonal Violence, or Retaliation.
  9. Retaliation includes threatening, intimidating, or coercive behaviors and other adverse actions that would deter a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances from reporting Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence or cooperating in the University’s investigation of any such report, even if the behaviors do not ultimately have that effect. 
  10. Sexual Assault is any sexual act directed against another person, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Sexual Assault includes:
    1. the penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without consent;
    2. the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without consent;
    3. sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent; and
    4. sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

If alleged Sexual Assault occurs within a University Education Program or Activity and against a person in the United States, it is processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.

  1. Sexual Harassment is a form of sex discrimination.  Sexual Harassment includes:
    1. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature if such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit another individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or create a hostile or abusive educational or employment environment, unless such conduct constitutes Title IX Sexual Harassment, as defined in subsection L below; or
    2. “Quid pro quo” harassment, defined as instances when a University employee, who has supervisory or other authority over another individual, explicitly or implicitly conditions the individual’s employment or participation in an education program or activity on the individual’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, unless such conduct constitutes Title IX Sexual Harassment, as defined in subsection L below.  “Quid pro quo” harassment is prohibited whether the individual resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.  Allegations of “quid pro quo” harassment may also implicate University Policy 101.3, Relationships between Students and Faculty Members or Other University Employees, which requires disclosure of amorous relationships between employees and students they supervise.  Compliance with the disclosure requirements of University Policy 101.3 will not necessarily insulate the employee from review under this Policy.
  2. Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct (two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties [by any action, method, device, or means] follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about an individual, or interferes with an individual’s property) directed at a specific individual that would cause a reasonable individual (under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim) to (a) fear for their safety or the safety of others or (b) suffer substantial emotional distress. If alleged Stalking is based on sex and occurs within a University’s Education Program or Activity and against a person in the United States, it is processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.
  3. Title IX Sexual Harassment is (a) a University employee conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct or (b) unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s Education Program or Activity.  Title IX Sexual Harassment is processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.
  4. Title IX Violations are, individually or collectively, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Title IX Sexual Harassment that occur within the University’s Education Program or Activity and against a person in the United States. Alleged Title IX Violations are processed according to University Policy 504, Title IX Grievance Policy, and not this Policy.

IV. Reporting Responsibilities

A. Supervisors/Administrators

University administrators and supervisors have special responsibilities to create and maintain an environment free of Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence. Should an administrator or supervisor have knowledge of conduct involving Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence or receive allegations of Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence, they must report what they know, including all relevant details, to the Title IX Office, regardless of whether the impacted individual or individuals have expressed an interest in engaging the Complaint process. Administrators or supervisors who report to Employee Relations in Human Resources or to the Office of the Provost will also have met their obligations under this Policy, and those offices will notify the Title IX Office. 

B. University Officials with Authority to Institute Corrective Action

University officials who have the authority to institute corrective action on the University’s behalf are required to provide to the Title IX Coordinator any and all information they receive concerning alleged Title IX Sexual Harassment. University officials who have the authority to institute corrective action on the University’s behalf include, but are not limited to, all University officials at the Vice Chancellor level or above, all staff members in the Title IX Office, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, all staff members in the Human Resources Employee Relations Office, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Housing & Residence Life, and the Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students. 

C. All Other Employees, Students, and Any Other Person

It is expected that every University employee will report incidents that implicate this Policy to the Title IX Coordinator via an online form or as described below.

Any person may report sex discrimination, including Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence, whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to be the victim of the conduct. Reports may be made in person, by mail, by telephone, or by electronic mail, to the Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report. The Title IX Coordinator’s contact information is available at titleix.uncc.edu.

The Title IX Coordinator will review all reports, and in collaboration with the appropriate offices, will determine which University policy applies.

V. University Response to Reports of Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence

The University’s response to reports of Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence is managed cooperatively by the Office of the Provost, Human Resources, and the Title IX Office. To address the sensitive nature of situations involving Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence and to assure prompt and equitable resolution of these issues, the University has established two response options, following receipt of a Complaint: (1) a mutual resolution process, which is available but not required before initiating an investigation, and (2) an investigation. Both processes are described in more detail in Sections V.B and V.C below.  If at any time during the process outlined in this Policy, the Respondent is no longer employed by the University, the University may decide not to continue with the process. 

A. Preliminary Response to Reported Violations

Following receipt of a Complaint, the Title IX Office will work cooperatively with the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate.  The Title IX Office will ensure that the Complainant is provided with information required by federal law, as applicable, which information may include, but is not limited to, information about academic, housing, transportation, and employment accommodations; information about support resources and services both on- and off-campus; and information about available grievance procedures, including but not limited to this Policy.

The Title IX Office, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate, will first assess whether the reported behaviors, if true, would violate this Policy or other related policies, and determine which policy or procedure applies.  In order to make this assessment, the Title IX Office may seek additional clarification from the individual who submitted the Complaint and/or the Complainant.

The Title IX Coordinator is also authorized, upon receiving the Complaint, to notify appropriate administrators of the need to take immediate action, where such action appears necessary, to protect the interests of the Complainant or the Respondent or others impacted by the reported behaviors. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, temporary adjustment of schedules, temporary adjustment of supervisory relationships, or other appropriate interim measures.

If the Title IX Coordinator, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate, determines that the Complaint, following clarification, would not violate this Policy or other related policies, the Title IX Coordinator may dismiss the Complaint and refer the Complainant to another procedure, if the behaviors alleged may violate another University policy. A decision to dismiss a Complaint on this basis may be appealed in writing within fourteen (14) calendar days following the Title IX Coordinator’s determination to the Appropriate University Official, unless another decision-maker is identified per Section V.C below.

If the Title IX Coordinator, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate, determines that the reported behaviors would, if substantiated, violate this Policy or other related policies, the Title IX Office will inform the Complainant of the right to proceed with a mutual resolution, if deemed appropriate by the Title IX Coordinator, or an investigation.  The University may be compelled to proceed with an investigation even if the Complainant does not elect to participate based on:

  • the seriousness of the alleged Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation;
  • whether there have been other known reports of Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation against the same Respondent at the University or any other school or known prior criminal charges against the Respondent;
  • whether the Respondent threatened further Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation against the Complainant or others;
  • whether the Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation was committed by multiple individuals;
  • whether the Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation involved use of a weapon;
  • the ages and respective roles of the Complainant and the Respondent;
  • whether the University possesses other means to obtain relevant information of the Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Harassment, or Retaliation;
  • whether the report reveals a pattern of conduct at a particular location, within a particular University unit, or by a particular University group; and
  • the Respondent’s right to receive information about the allegation(s) if the information is maintained by the University as an "education record" under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or personnel information under the SHRA.

The Title IX Office, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate, will review the matter discretely, sharing information on a need-to-know basis only, ensuring that all individuals who may be the subject of the investigation are advised regarding the University’s policy prohibiting Retaliation against individuals who report violations of this Policy or who cooperate in the University’s investigation of any reported violations.  If the Title IX Office moves forward with a mutual resolution or an investigation, it or its designee will offer to meet with the Respondent to provide the Respondent with information required by federal law, as applicable, which may include but not be limited to information about academic, housing, transportation, and employment accommodations; information about support resources and services both on- and off-campus; and information about applicable procedures, including but not limited to this Policy.

B. Mutual Resolution of Complaints

The University encourages mutual resolution of Complaints of Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Violence when such resolution is deemed appropriate by the University’s Title IX Coordinator, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate. Such resolutions may or may not include the imposition of disciplinary sanctions. The Title IX Coordinator, or a University official designated by that officer, is authorized to assist the Complainant and Respondent in achieving such resolutions. The Title IX Coordinator is authorized to approve such a resolution on behalf of the University after approval by the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee.  Where the Title IX Coordinator or designee assists in the effort to resolve a Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence grievance mutually, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will maintain a confidential record of the nature of the Complaint and its resolution (if any) summarizing the case and its disposition. The Title IX Coordinator may, in the Coordinator’s sole discretion, discuss the matter in confidence with the administrator or administrators responsible for the units in which the problem has arisen so that the situation may be monitored and appropriate steps taken to avoid future problems.  

C. Investigation

A neutral investigator, as determined by the Title IX Coordinator, will have responsibility for conducting the investigation of alleged Sexual Harassment or Interpersonal Violence. The purpose of the investigation shall be to advise the Appropriate University Official regarding whether there is sufficient evidence of a violation of this Policy or other related policy to justify further administrative review and potential remedial action.

If a Complaint is made against a supervisor or administrator who would otherwise play a role in responding to and attempting to resolve the Complaint, or who may have a relationship with the Complainant or Respondent that undermines the supervisor’s or administrator’s neutrality, the function assigned to that person by these procedures may be assigned to another person.  Concerns regarding the neutrality of the relevant decision-maker should be directed to the Title IX Coordinator.  If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the neutrality of the decision-maker is reasonably in question, the Title IX Coordinator shall request that the Chancellor designate another decision-maker.

The scope of the investigation will be determined cooperatively by the Title IX Coordinator and the Office of the Provost and/or Human Resources as appropriate, according to the charge and the allegations in the Complaint. The method of investigation shall be within the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator and/or the investigator. However, the following requirements shall be observed:  

  1. All evidence collected during the investigation shall be preserved per the University’s applicable records retention schedule. All party and witness interviews shall be audio recorded by the University but not by any party or witness.
  2. Both the Complainant and the Respondent may be accompanied by an advisor throughout the investigation.  The advisor may provide support and advice to the Complainant or Respondent but may not unduly delay, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with the investigation.  
  3. The Complainant and Respondent will be provided an equal opportunity to present relevant information or evidence and identify potential witnesses. As to any evidence collected during the investigation, the investigator may ask questions or request additional information and may refuse to consider any evidence submitted which the investigator concludes is repetitious, irrelevant, or otherwise without sufficient value to the investigation.  
  4. Multiple interviews may be conducted with the Complainant, Respondent, or any other person if necessary to aid the investigator in understanding relevant facts. Likewise, the investigator may obtain any University information reasonably deemed relevant to the investigation and may request from the Complainant, Respondent, witnesses, or other sources any relevant documents or other information.  
  5. After gathering relevant information and interviewing the parties and relevant witnesses, the investigator will prepare a Preliminary Report, which shall include, at a minimum:
    1. a list of witnesses interviewed and evidence reviewed,
    2. a summary of relevant information from interviews,
    3. an assessment of the parties’ credibility,
    4. a summary of established facts, and
    5. a recommendation regarding whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations in the Complaint.
  6. Both the Complainant and the Respondent will be provided a reasonable opportunity to review the Preliminary Report in person but are not entitled to a copy.  Both parties will also be provided a reasonable opportunity to respond to the Preliminary Report.  
  7. After considering such response(s) to the Preliminary Report as the Complainant and Respondent may choose to make, the investigator will prepare a Final Report. The Final Report will be provided to the Appropriate University Official.
  8. The Appropriate University Official will review the Final Report, including the facts gathered as well as the recommendations.  If the Appropriate University Official determines that the facts support that the Respondent has violated this Policy or other related policies, the Appropriate University Official will obtain from the relevant University administrator or administrators a confidential statement summarizing past instances, if any, in which the Respondent has been found responsible for or otherwise admitted to other violations of University policy, including but not limited to this Policy. Subject to the limitations imposed by applicable disciplinary policy, the Appropriate University Official will consider such records in any recommendation to impose discipline on the person found to have violated the Policy.  
  9. Following consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, the Appropriate University Official will write a memorandum summarizing the main points of the investigation, applying the preponderance of the evidence standard, determining whether or not a violation occurred, and implementing any appropriate sanctions.  The Appropriate University Official will notify the parties when the memorandum and the Final Report are available and provide the parties with an opportunity to review the documents.  The parties will receive simultaneous notification of the outcome, which will also include information regarding their appeal rights, as applicable, and when the results become final.  The University’s Affirmative Action Officer will receive a copy of the memorandum.
  10. If the Appropriate University Official’s memorandum concludes that the Respondent has violated this or any other related University policy, it will also include:  
    1. In consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, a decision regarding remedial measures that will be extended to the Complainant, and
    2. In consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, a decision regarding whether the Respondent shall be subject to discipline. Disciplinary actions will depend on the severity of the incident. In accordance with University Policy 102.13, Tenure Policies, Regulations, and Procedures of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, if the Respondent is a covered faculty member, a decision to implement serious sanctions, as defined by Section 8 of that policy, must be supported by “clear and convincing evidence” and will trigger commencement of disciplinary procedures.
  11. At any time prior to implementation of a disciplinary action against a Respondent, the University may, after consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, negotiate an agreement with the Respondent to resolve the disciplinary charge against the Respondent. While resolution is not contingent on the Complainant’s approval, the University will seek input from the Complainant prior to finalizing such negotiated agreement. No such negotiated agreement is effective on behalf of the University unless it has been approved by the Chancellor.  

D. Appeals

Decisions that do not implicate Section 8 of University Policy 102.13, Tenure Policies, Regulations, and Procedures of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte may be appealed by the Complainant or the Respondent to the Chancellor within fourteen (14) calendar days following issuance of the Appropriate University Official’s memorandum and Final Report.  The appeal must be in writing and provide the procedural basis for the appeal. The basis for appeal is limited to procedural irregularities that affected the outcome of the matter.  The Chancellor may:

  1. Affirm the decision in its entirety;
  2. Affirm the decision and reduce but not eliminate the sanction(s); or
  3. Remand the case to the Appropriate University Official or a different decision-maker as appropriate.

The Chancellor’s decision is final.  The parties will be simultaneously notified regarding any changes to previously reported results of the investigation, as a result of the appeal.

Revision History: 

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office: Institutional Integrity

Related Resources: