Complaint Evaluation and Investigation


Complaint Evaluation

Upon receiving a complaint, the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX will conduct an initial evaluation of the merits of the complaint and determine the appropriate investigatory action required. In employment-related cases, our staff will contact the dean, director, administrator, supervisor, or chairperson responsible for the unit to inform them of the complaint. When necessary, appropriate administrators, staff members or faculty members may participate in the evaluation of the complaint and to facilitate necessary action.

Definitions:

Complainant — The person alleging harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, and/or retaliation.

Respondent — The person alleged to have engaged in behavior that is harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, and/or retaliation.

Investigation

A formal investigation will be initiated if a complaint is complete, timely, within the scope of KU policy and articulates sufficient facts which, if determined to be accurate, would support a finding that the university's policies have been violated.

Investigators assigned to conduct an investigation will be impartial. In conducting investigations into violations of the university’s policies, the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX will use a preponderance of the evidence standard in making factual determinations. A preponderance of the evidence standard means the fact in issue is more probably true than not.

Investigation Timeframe

The university will strive to complete complaint investigations, including issuance of a report of findings to the complainant and respondent, in as timely and efficient a manner as possible within 60 days of receipt of a complaint. However, this timeframe may be extended based on factors such as, schedule and availability of witnesses, holidays or semester breaks including summer break, and complexity of the complaint. If an investigation cannot be completed within 60 days of receipt of the complaint, then the investigator will notify the complainant and respondent of that fact and provide a timeframe for completing the investigation.

Investigation Procedure

Investigations include the following steps:

  • Notice to respondent — The respondent will be provided with a statement of the complaint in writing (the complainant also will receive a copy of this notification). The respondent will be provided an opportunity to meet with the investigator and to respond to the allegation. Respondents may respond in person or in writing within a reasonable time to be determined by the investigators. If a respondent chooses not to participate or refuses to answer a complaint, the non-participation will not prevent the investigation from proceeding and could result in a finding based solely on the information provided by the complainant.
  • Notice regarding retaliation — All parties to a complaint (e.g., complainant, respondent, witnesses and appropriate administrators or supervisors) will be informed that retaliation by an individual or an individual's associates against any person who files a complaint or any person who participates in the investigation of a complaint is prohibited. Individuals who engage in retaliation are subject to disciplinary action.
  • Contact with complainant — If the investigator did not speak with the complainant at the time that the complaint was received by the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX, then the investigator will meet or speak with the complainant at the start of the investigation and throughout the investigation, as appropriate.
  • Representation — In any meeting with the investigators, the parties to the complaint (i.e., complainant and the respondent) may bring a representative to the meeting. If the representative is an attorney, the party must notify the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX in writing at least three business days before the meeting date.
  • Information relevant to investigation — The parties to a complaint (i.e., complainant and respondent) will be informed that they have the opportunity to identify witnesses, present witness statements, and any other evidence they believe relevant to resolution of the complaint. The investigator will interview other persons the investigator determines to be necessary to gather relevant information. The investigator will review any written materials, e-mails or other media that, at the investigator believes may provide relevant information regarding the complaint.
  • Findings of Investigation — The investigator will provide a written summary of their findings to the respondent and the complainant within a reasonable time following the conclusion of the investigation. In addition, the investigator will provide a written report of the investigation findings and recommendations to the appropriate administrators within the university who will determine the appropriate action to be taken in light of the investigation findings and recommendations. The administrators will have 20 working days from receipt of the investigation findings and recommendations to determine, in consultation with the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX, an appropriate resolution. Upon making their decision, the administrators will provide written notification of their decision to both the respondent and complainant.

 

Administrative Closure of a Complaint without Investigation

The university might not proceed with a complaint investigation under a variety of circumstances, for example:

  • A complainant, even after contact and follow up with an investigator, fails to describe in sufficient detail the conduct that is the basis of the complaint.
  • The conduct alleged in the complaint is not covered by a university policy.
  • The complaint is not timely by not having been filed within 180 days.
  • The complainant refuses to cooperate with the university's investigation.
  • The complainant is anonymous.

If it is determined that the university will not proceed with investigation of a complaint, the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX will notify the complainant (if not anonymous) in writing explaining the reasons why the complaint is not being investigated. The notification letter will include a statement that the complainant may appeal the determination not to proceed with an investigation of the complaint to the Vice Provost for Human Resources, Public Safety and Operations within 10 working days of the notice. The request for an appeal must be a signed, written document articulating why the decision to administratively close the complaint without an investigation was in error.

The Vice Provost for Human Resources, Public Safety and Operations will respond to the request for appeal within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal. If the decision to administratively close the complaint without an investigation is upheld, then that decision will constitute final agency action and there is no further appeal within the university. If the decision to administratively close the complaint without an investigation is overturned, the complaint will be sent back to the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX for investigation in accordance with this procedure.