Policy B18

Policy Name: Complaint and Grievance 

Responsibility for Maintenance: Administration and Compliance  (Civil Rights Compliance Officer)


I. Policy Statement

This Complaint and Grievance Policy provides a uniform process for resolving disputes arising under the policies of Onondaga Community College with specific focus on non-discrimination and non-harassment policies, including, but not limited to:  Policy A10-Student Requests for Accommodation Under the ADA; Policy B16-Whistleblower Policy; C10-Admission of Ex-Offenders; D6-Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Stalking Prevention; Policy I1-Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Student Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy; I3-ADA Policy (for employees); and, I5-Non-Discrimination/Non-Harassment and the Obligation to Report.  In addition, this Policy and its related processes may be used as a single point of entry to resolve complaints and grievances filed by students relating to subjects other than non-discrimination and non-harassment. 
 

To the extent that a college non-discrimination and/or anti-harassment policy is affected by more specific contractual rights; legal rights provided by federal, state, or local law; and/or rights accorded by the State University of New York or the Onondaga Community College Board of Trustees, the more specific policy will apply.  For example, student conduct issues will be resolved under the procedures documented in Policy N5-Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures "The Code," and claims of employee misconduct will be resolved consistent with the collective bargaining agreement, if any, applicable to an accused employee. 

 

II. Reason for Policy

Onondaga Community College does not discriminate and prohibits members of the College community from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics or carrier status, military service or veteran status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by law.  This Policy creates a centralized process by which individuals may file a complaint or grievance alleging:  discrimination, harassment, or improper handling by the College of a discrimination or harassment matter.
 

In addition, the College seeks to provide an accessible and easily understood process to review and resolve complaints and grievances filed by students relating to subjects other than non-discrimination and non-harassment.

   

III. Applicability of the Policy

This policy applies to all members of the College community seeking to make a complaint or grievance related to discrimination and/or harassment.  This policy also applies to all students seeking to make a complaint or grievance relating to discrimination and/or harassment and/or any other subject.
 

IV. Related Statutes and Documents

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 34 CFR Part 100
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 34 CFR Part 106
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 34 CFR Part 104
  • Vocational Education Programs Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, and National Origin, Sex and Handicap, 34 CFR Part 100, Appendix B
  • Title II of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990, 28 CFR Part 35, as amended
  • NYS Human Rights Law, Chapter 18, Consolidated Laws of New York
  • http://www.sunyocc.edu/index.aspx?id=34776  (Title IX Information)
  • http://system.suny.edu/media/suny/content-assets/documents/sexualviolenceprevention/SUNY-Policies-Sexual-Violence-Prevention-Response-Dec012014.pdf    (State University of New York Policies on Violence Prevention and Response)
  • Policy N5-Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures
  • Policy A10-Student Requests for Accommodation Under the ADA
  • Policy B16-Whistleblower Policy
  • Policy C10-Admission of Ex-Offenders
  • Policy D6-Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Stalking Prevention
  • Policy I1-Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Student Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy
  • Policy I3-ADA Policy (for employees)
  • Policy I5-Non-Discrimination/Non-Harassment and the Obligation to Report.

V. Contacts

Subject   Office Name   Title or Position   Telephone Number   Email/URL  
  Administration and Compliance Title IX Coordinator & Civil Rights Compliance Officer (315) 498-2692 urtza@sunyocc.edu 
 

VI. Definitions

Complaint:  A claim that:
  • College policy or an applicable law has been violated;
  • The complaining individual has been impacted by that violation or the complaining individual is the College itself (e.g., Department of Campus Safety & Security, Office of Human Resources) acting to address concerns that College policy has been violated resulting in harm to a specific individual(s) or the College community as a whole;
  • The accused individual is a student or employee of the College; and,
  • The violation occurred on College owned, operated, or controlled property or at any location affecting the mission of the College and/or the well-being of the College community. 
Grievance:  A claim against the College itself, typically alleging that College policies or procedures have been misconstrued or misapplied resulting in the denial of a right provided by College policy, contract, or applicable federal, state, or local laws.
 

Formal Complaint or Grievance:

A formal complaint or grievance is made in writing by an identified person and allows for a full investigation and resolution of the matter. 

Informal Complaint or Grievance:

An informal complaint or grievance is one that is submitted anonymously or with insufficient documentation to confirm the allegations.  Informal complaints or grievances will be investigated and acted upon to the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances.

VII. Procedures

1. An informal complaint or grievance may be brought to the attention of the Civil Rights Compliance Officer for consultation, resource referral, investigation (to the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances), and/or documentation for future reference.  If warranted, as determined by the initial investigation, a reporting individual may be encouraged to file a formal complaint.  Moreover, in appropriate circumstances, the College itself may file a formal complaint or take other action to address discrimination and/or other violations of College policy.  The results of these follow up efforts will be documented and shared, to the extent permissible under applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and policies, with the individual making the informal complaint or grievance, if his or her identity is known.

2. A formal complaint or grievance must be submitted in writing:

  • Provide the name, address, and contact information of the person submitting the complaint or grievance;
  • Describe, to the best of the complaining party's knowledge, the facts alleged to have occurred;
  • State the type of violation alleged to have occurred (e.g., discrimination and/or harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability) and/or the policy or policies alleged to have been violated or misapplied; and
  • Identify any additional facts or circumstances relevant to the matter, including contact information, if known, for any other involved parties.
Prompt filing of a complaint or grievance is encouraged as investigation can become more difficult as time passes.  In general, complaints or grievances filed after 180 days from the date that the alleged violation becomes known to the reporting individual will be considered untimely unless, in the sole discretion of the Civil Rights Compliance Officer, the reporting individual shows compelling reasons for the delay. 
 

3. The Civil Rights Compliance Officer, or his or her designee, will review the complaint or grievance to determine whether it is informal or formal and to identify whether the matter should be resolved via the Complaint and Grievance Policy or a more specific policy.  This determination will be made in consultation with other campus personnel serving as points of entry into complaint and grievance policies and processes of the College.  If a complaint or grievance is determined to fall within a process applicable to specific subject matter or persons (e.g., collective bargaining dispute resolution processes), then the matter will be referred to the individual with responsibility for that process who will act as the designee of the Civil Rights Compliance Officer in applying the appropriate process.  The individual filing the complaint or grievance and the individual or College unit alleged to have committed a violation will be notified in writing, generally within ten (10) College business days, of the forum determined to have jurisdiction over the complaint or grievance, as well as the related procedures.  The Civil Rights Compliance Officer will monitor the progress of the matter through to resolution.

4. All complaints and grievances determined to fall within this Policy will be fully investigated, either by the Department of Campus Safety & Security, or by the Civil Rights Compliance Officer, who has been trained to conduct investigations, including Title IX investigations, and dispute resolution processes, or by a trained designee of the Civil Rights Compliance Officer.  That investigation will include interviews of involved parties and witnesses and review of available documentary or electronic evidence.  Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Civil Rights Compliance Officer will determine whether the matter can be resolved appropriately by agreement of all parties or whether the matter requires a hearing or other applicable process.

5. Formal dispute resolution will occur consistent with the procedures of the forum determined to have jurisdiction over the matter.  If there is no specific forum with jurisdiction, then the process that will be used is as follows:

a. Except where the President of the College is the subject of the grievance or complaint, the Civil Rights Compliance Officer will select a hearing officer to review the formal complaint and relevant materials obtained in the course of the investigation and to conduct a formal hearing.  The hearing officer will be trained in concepts of fundamental fairness and due process and will be advised in the course of the adjudication process by the College’s General Counsel, or his or her designee.  In cases where the College President is the subject of the grievance or complaint, the Chair of the Board of Trustees will identify the hearing officer(s) from among the Trustees.

b. Parties to the matter will be provided with written notice of the time and place of the formal hearing, together with a statement of the claim(s) to be considered, at least five (5) College business days prior to the hearing.  This notice period made be modified for just cause and with appropriate notice to the parties.

c. Parties may be advised in the process by an individual of their choosing provided that the adviser provides advice to the party in a manner that is non-disruptive of the proceedings.

d. Each party may make an opening statement (reporting/complaining party followed by responding party) and then present relevant documents and testimony, including the testimony of witnesses (reporting/complaining party followed by responding party).  The hearing officer will determine the relevance of documents and testimony offered as evidence.

e. The standard of proof to be applied by the hearing officer in reaching a conclusion is a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., whether it is “more likely than not” that the violation occurred and the responding party committed that violation).

f. To the extent permitted by applicable laws and contracts, the parties will receive written notice of the hearing officer’s decision, the rationale for that decision, and the actions, if any, to be implemented.  This notice will be sent within five (5) College business days of the conclusion of the hearing and deliberations process.

6. Any party that is dissatisfied with the decision reached may file a written objection within five (5) business days of delivery of the written decision with the Civil Rights Compliance Officer.  Except where the College President is the subject of the grievance or complaint, any objection(s) received will be reviewed by the College President, or his or her designee, who will approve, disapprove, or modify the decision.  In matters where the College President is the subject of the grievance or complaint, the Chair of the Board of Trustees will conduct this final review.  The decision of the College President, or his or her designee, or the Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, will be communicated in writing, generally within fifteen (15) business days, and is final.

7. Extensions of any deadline provided for by these procedures may be granted for compelling reasons by the Civil Rights Compliance Officer, or his or her designee, with written notice to all parties.

8. A party seeking additional review of a Civil Rights-related complaint or grievance following the final determination of the College may at any time contact:  

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)—Enforcement Office*
U.S. Department of Education

32 Old Slip, 26th Floor

New York, NY 10005-2500

Telephone:  646-428-3900

FAX:  646-428-3843

TDD:  877-521-2172

 

*The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education generally requires that complaints either be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory incident(s) or within 60 days of receipt of the determination reached by the institution regarding an internal grievance or complaint, whichever is later.  Further, OCR does not have an exhaustion requirement and accepts complaints from complainants who never filed internal complaints or grievances.

 

AND

New York State Division of Human Rights

(http://www.dhr.ny.gov/)

333 E. Washington Street, Room 543

Syracuse, NY 13202

Telephone:  315-428-4633

InfoSyracuse@dhr.ny.gov

 

9. A record of each action handled through this Policy will be maintained by the Civil Rights Compliance Officer, consistent with College policy on records retention.

10. The College will maintain the confidentiality of the process to the extent permitted by law or contract and to the extent reasonably practicable under the circumstances.

 

VIII. Resources

The College’s Civil Rights Compliance Officer has general responsibility for ensuring institutional compliance with applicable non-discrimination and non-harassment laws and policies, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  The Civil Rights Compliance Officer serves as a central point of entry to the Complaint and Grievance Policy and related processes.
 

The Civil Rights Compliance Officer is: 

Anastasia L. Urtz

4585 West Seneca Turnpike

207A Whitney Applied Technology Center

Syracuse, NY 13215

315-498-2692

urtza@sunyocc.edu

 

The College also maintains numerous other points of entry to the Complaint and Grievance process, including the following:

 
  • Vice President, Human Resources, or his or her designee (employee concerns), 100 JS Coyne Hall, 315-498-6019, j.j.geer@sunyocc.edu;
  • Vice President, Student Engagement, or his or her designee (student concerns, including ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), 220 Gordon Hall, 315-498-2119, r.a.hoda-kearse@sunyocc.edu;
  • Senior Vice President and Provost, or his or her designee (academic concerns), 104 Whitney Applied Technology Center, 315-498-7270, provost@sunyocc.edu;
  • Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, or his or her designee (financial misconduct concerns), 200 JS Coyne Hall, 315-498-2268, m.r.manning@sunyocc.edu.
  • Third-party, 24-hour, anonymous and confidential reporting service (any concern).  Reports may be submitted at www.fraudhl.com (Company ID: SUNYOCC) or (toll-free): 1-855-FRAUD-HL (1-855-372-8345).
 

These various points of entry will operate in coordination with the Civil Rights Compliance Officer to ensure that applicable policies and procedures of the College are observed consistently.

Individuals wishing to file a complaint or grievance will receive assistance in doing so, including reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, either from the Civil Rights Compliance Officer, or his or her designee, or from one of the other points of entry listed above, as appropriate to the circumstances. 
     

Approved by the OCC Board of Trustees September 27, 2016