This procedure replaces all previous procedures for investigation of complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.
This procedure applies to all George Mason University faculty, staff, students, university contractors, and visitors.
The Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Grievance Procedure is the responsibility of the Office of Equity and Diversity Services (OEDS). The procedure assists the university in carrying out its responsibilities in administering and enforcing applicable federal and state laws and university policies related to nondiscrimination and investigation of complaints. The OEDS may amend this process as necessary. Any student, faculty member, staff employee, or visitor who feels he or she is the victim of harassment or other form of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, or veteran status should follow the grievance procedures outlined below. Consistent with George Mason University’s duty to provide a work and academic environment free from unlawful harassment or discrimination, the University reserves the right to investigate any allegation of harassment or discrimination upon receipt of sufficient evidence to sustain such claims.
The OEDS also investigates and resolves allegations of retaliation against individuals who have raised claims of discrimination based on the above factors or who have cooperated in an investigative process in some manner. Retaliation is a negative action taken against an individual as a result of a complaint being filed or after an individual has cooperated with an investigative process. Retaliation is prohibited whether or not the charging party prevails in the original charge. No agent, employee or student of the university may harass, coerce, intimidate, or discriminate against an individual who has filed an Equal Opportunity complaint or participated in the Equal Opportunity complaint resolution process. Charges of retaliation will be treated as separate and distinct from the original charges and allegations, and will be investigated by the OEDS. Those in a supervisory position must monitor the academic or work environment to ensure that it is free from retaliation.
Complaints must be filed with OEDS. Complainants will be asked to complete a form describing the alleged discrimination and/or harassment. Assistance will be arranged, if needed.
A complaint should be filed within 180 calendar days of the most recent incident. The University will consider requests to extend this period where the complainant can show he or she needed additional time due to circumstances beyond his or her control.
The complainant will meet with a representative from the Office of Equity and Diversity Services to discuss options (informal, formal) for proceeding. The Title IX and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) Coordinator is the Associate Director of Equal Opportunity in the Office of Equity and Diversity Services, located in Mason Hall D105, 703-993-8730, firstname.lastname@example.org. The complainant is not required to follow the informal procedure before filing a formal complaint. The respondent (the individual accused of discrimination) will be notified of the complaint within 10 working days after it is filed.
Informal. Discuss allegations and concerns with respondent (the accused) and attempt to resolve the situation. The respondent is reminded that George Mason University expects all to adhere to our equal opportunity policies. Respondent is put on notice that behavior has been questioned, and informal resolution sought, if possible. If attempts to resolve the situation are not successful, the complainant may pursue a formal complaint. The Office reserves the right to investigate any allegation brought forward if it finds sufficient information to indicate a serious or continuing violation of the equal opportunity policy.
Formal. A full investigation is conducted by the Office complete with written findings. If a violation is found, the Office will recommend corrective actions. These may include a directive to stop any ongoing discrimination, harassment, or retaliation; disciplinary or other corrective action against the respondent or others; relief for the complainant to remedy the effects of the discrimination, harassment or retaliation; and any other action considered necessary to ensure that this or similar conduct will not happen again.
Appeal. A finding may be appealed in writing to the Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity Services by either party within 10 working days of receipt of OEDS’ determination. A party may appeal a decision based on discovery of new evidence previously unavailable or a significant irregularity in the procedural process which could affect the outcome of finding. The appellant should be as specific as possible in setting out basis for appeal; general dissatisfaction with the decision will not be sufficient. The determination of the Office of Equity and Diversity Services is final.
At any time, prior to filing a charge, or while a complaint proceeding is in progress, a complainant may file their complaint with the appropriate external agencies. A complete list of agencies, along with contact information, is available from the Office of Equity and Diversity Services, Mason Hall D105, MS 2C2, Fairfax, VA 22030. Phone (703) 993-8730. TTY: (703) 993-8787. Fax (703) 993-8899.
Time Line for Investigation Process
The Office of Equity and Diversity Services will complete its investigations as expeditiously as possible. The investigation shall normally be completed within 45 working days from the filing of a formal complaint, including notification of the parties of the outcome of the investigation. In extraordinary circumstances, OEDS reserves the right to extend this time to a reasonable period. All parties will be notified if such an extension is necessary. Many factors can interfere with an investigative fact-finder’s commitment to complete a determination promptly, including unavailability of witnesses or the complexity of the issues involved. The Office of Equity and Diversity Services will maintain contact with the Complainant and Respondent throughout the course of the investigation to keep them up to date on the process.
The OEDS takes any allegation of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation seriously and is committed to protecting the integrity of the investigation process including confidentiality and the due process rights of all individuals. Note that all those involved (the respondent, the complainant, and the witnesses) have privacy interests. Therefore, outside the scope of the investigation, all parties are cautioned not to publicize or divulge the nature of the proceedings, or the identity of those involved.
The complainant and the respondent each have the right to bring an advisor to the investigative meeting. If either party chooses to exercise this option, he or she shall submit the name of the advisor in writing to the Office of Equity and Diversity Services at least 72 hours prior to the meeting. If either the complainant or the respondent's advisor is a person degreed or qualified in law, the Office of Equity and Diversity Services must be notified.
Consistent with federal and state laws and university policies related to nondiscrimination, the OEDS only investigates complaints of unlawful discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, or veteran status. The OEDS investigates such complaints of discrimination and/or harassment at George Mason University and renders a determination following such investigations.
Transfer of Function
If a complaint, whether informal or formal, is directed against the Office of Equity and Diversity Services, the functions assigned to the Office by these procedures will transfer to the Office of the President or to the president's designee. If a complaint, whether informal or formal, is directed against the President, the functions assigned to the Office by these procedures will transfer to the Board of Visitors.