The purpose of this Guideline is to supplement Board Policies 2:02:10:01 and 5:01:02:00 relative to the orderly resolution of complaints of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, and any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law related to the institutions, technology centers, and office of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
A. Fair and prompt consideration shall be given to all complaints in accordance with the procedures set forth.
1. These procedures may be utilized by an employee, applicant for employment or student who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination or harassment.
2. Former employees or students may file complaints concerning conduct which took place during the time of employment or enrollment provided the complaint is timely filed pursuant to Section V.B of this Guideline, and the conduct has a reasonable connection to the institution.
B. All employees, including faculty members, are to be knowledgeable of policies and guidelines concerning discrimination and harassment.
1. Using the procedures outlined in Section IV below, supervisory employees must promptly report, to the appropriate institutional contact, any complaint or conduct which might constitute harassment, whether the information concerning a complaint is received formally or informally.
2. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination
C. All faculty members, students and staff are subject to this Guideline.
1. Any faculty member, student or staff found to have violated this Guideline by engaging in behavior constituting discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action which may include dismissal, expulsion, or termination or other appropriate sanction.
D. All faculty and staff members are required to cooperate with investigations of alleged discrimination or harassment.
1. Failure to cooperate may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
2. Students are also required to cooperate with these investigations; failure to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.
E. Because the courts have imposed strict obligations on employers with regard to discrimination and harassment, institutions must take measures to periodically educate and train employees regarding conduct that could violate this Guideline.
1. All employees, including faculty members, are expected to participate in such education and training.
2. All faculty members, students and staff are responsible for taking reasonable and necessary action to prevent and discourage all types of discrimination and harassment.
II. General Statement
A. It is the intent of the Tennessee Board of Regents that the Board and all of the institutions within the Tennessee Board of Regents System shall fully comply with the applicable provisions of federal and state civil rights laws, including but not limited to;
1. Executive Order 11246, as amended;
2. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended;
3. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended;
4. The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974, as amended;
5. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended;
6. Titles VI and VII for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended;
7. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, as amended;
8. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967;
9. The Age Discrimination Act of 1975;
10. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act;
11. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; and
12. Regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.
B. The Board of Regents will promote equal opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, and any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law.
C. Campuses and the Central Office affirm that they will not tolerate discrimination against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, or genetic information, nor will they tolerate harassment on the basis of these protected categories or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law.
D. Similarly, the campuses shall not subject any student to discrimination or harassment under any educational program and no student shall be discriminatorily excluded from participation nor denied the benefits of any educational program on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law.
III. Discrimination and Harassment
A. Discrimination - Discrimination may occur by:
1. Treating individuals less favorably because of their race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law; or,
2. Having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on protected class members.
B. Harassment - based on a protected class
1. Harassment is conduct that is based on a person's race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law, that;
a. Adversely affects a term or condition of an individual's employment, education, participation in an institution's activities or living environment;
b. Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's employment or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive environment of the individual; or
c. Is used as a basis for or a factor in decisions that tangibly affect that individual's employment, education, participation in an institution's activities or living environment.
2. Examples of such conduct include, but are not limited to verbal or physical conduct relating to an employee's national origin, race surname, skin color or accent, offensive or derogatory jokes based on a protected category, racial or ethnic slurs, pressure for dates or sexual favors, unwelcome comments about a person's religion or religious garments, offensive graffiti, cartoons or pictures, or offensive remarks about a person's age.
3. Not every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group will be considered harassment. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment depends upon the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the conduct in the context within which the alleged incident occurs. Harassment does not include verbal expressions or written material that is relevant and appropriately related to course subject matter or curriculum.
C. Examples of sexual harassment - Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Refusing to hire, promote, or grant or deny certain privileges because of acceptance or rejection of sexual advances;
2. Promising a work-related benefit or a grade in return for sexual favors;
3. Suggestive or inappropriate communications, email, notes, letters, or other written materials displaying objects or pictures which are sexual in nature that would create hostile or offensive work or living environments;
4. Sexual innuendoes, comments, and remarks about a person's clothing, body or activities;
5. Suggestive or insulting sounds;
6. Whistling in a suggestive manner;
7. Humor and jokes about sex that denigrate men or women;
8. Sexual propositions, invitations, or pressure for sexual activity;
9. Use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories, remarks or images in no way or only marginally relevant to the subject matter of the class;
10. Implied or overt sexual threats;
11. Suggestive or obscene gestures;
12. Patting, pinching, and other inappropriate touching;
13. Unnecessary touching or brushing against the body;
14. Attempted or actual kissing or fondling;
15. Sexual violence; including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion;
16. Suggestive or inappropriate acts, such as comments, innuendoes, or physical contact based on one's actual or preceived sexual orientation, gender identity/expression.
a. The examples listed above are not exclusive, but simply represent types of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment. Campus policies may delineate additional examples.
D. Please note that incidents of sexual violence may constitute criminal acts and as such, investigation and processing by the criminal justice system, local police, campus security and crisis intervention centers may occur in addition to the process developed under this Guideline.
1. Complainant must be notified of his/her right to file a criminal complaint.
IV. Consensual Relationships
A. Intimate relationships between supervisors and their subordinates and between faculty members and students are strongly discouraged due to the inherent inequality of power in such situations.
1. These relationships could lead to undue favoritism or the perception of undue favoritism, abuse of power, compromised judgment or impaired objectivity.
2. Engaging in a consensual relationship with a student over whom the faculty member has either grading, supervisory, or other evaluative authority (i.e., member of dissertation committee, thesis director, etc.) constitutes a conflict of interest.
3. The faculty member must take steps to remove the conflict by assigning a different supervisor to the student; resigning from the student’s academic committees; or by terminating the relationship at least while the student is in his/her class.
4. Likewise, it is a conflict of interest for a supervisor to engage in a consensual relationship with a subordinate over whom he or she has evaluative or supervisory authority.
a. The supervisor must take action to resolve the conflict of interest by, for example, assigning another individual to supervise and/or evaluate the subordinate.
1. The following procedures are intended to protect the rights of the aggrieved party (hereinafter "the Complainant") as well as the party against whom a complaint of discrimination or harassment is lodged (hereinafter "the Respondent"), as required by state and federal laws. Each complaint must be properly and promptly investigated and, when warranted, appropriate disciplinary action taken against the Respondent.
2. The Office of General Counsel shall always be consulted prior to investigation. If institutions have on-campus legal counsel, that office must be consulted. Hereinafter, references to "Legal Counsel" shall mean either the Office of General Counsel or on-campus legal counsel, as appropriate.
3. In situations that require immediate action because of safety or other concerns, the institution may take any administrative action which is appropriate, e.g., administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
a. Students may be placed on interim suspension under the appropriate circumstances pending the outcome of the investigation.
b. Legal Counsel should be contacted before any immediate action is taken.
4. Each employee, applicant for employment and student shall be notified of the name, office, and telephone number of the designated EEO/AA Officer, Student Affairs, Title VI or Title IX Officer(s) responsible for assuring compliance with this Guideline, Board policy, and federal law.
B. Filing Complaints
1. Any current or former student, applicant for employment, or current or former employee who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination or harassment at an institution or technology center or who believes that he/she has observed discrimination or harassment taking place shall present the complaint to the designated EEO/AA, Student Affairs, Title VI or Title IX Officer (hereinafter "the Investigator") responsible for compliance with this Guideline.
D. Appeal of Decision
Because TBR institutions are committed to a high quality resolution of every case, each institution must afford the Complainant and Respondent an opportunity to appeal the President's/Director's decision concerning Respondent's responsibility for the alleged conduct. The appeal process shall consist of an opportunity for the parties to provide information to the institution's attention that would change the decision. The appeal process will not be a de novo review of the decision, and the parties will not be allowed to present their appeals in person to the President/Director unless the President/Director determines, in his/her discretion, to allow an in-person appeal.
V. Other Applicable Procedures
If the President's/Director's decision includes disciplinary action, the procedures for implementing the decision shall be determined by the applicable policies relating to discipline (e.g., employee grievance/complaint procedure, student disciplinary policies, academic affairs policies).
Complaints under this policy should be reported to the designated EEO/AA, Student Affairs, Title VI or Title IX Officer. At TTU the EEO/AA, Title VI, & Title IX Officer is Rachel Rader, DH305, (931) 372-3016. The Student Affairs Officer is Ed Boucher, RUC339, (931) 372-3237.
Other Available Complaint Procedures
An aggrieved individual may also have the ability to file complaints with external agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC), the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and the courts. Please note that the deadlines for filing with external agencies or courts may be shorter than the deadline established for filing a complaint under this Guideline. Examples of shorter deadlines include, but are not limited to 180 days to file a complaint under Title VI & Title IX, as well as 300 days to file a complaint under Title VII.