Persons connected with the University of Michigan who believe they have experienced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may bring their concerns to the Office for Institutional Equity. A member of the OIE staff is available to provide an overview of the applicable resolution process. OIE remains a neutral third-party in all processes associated with the resolution of a discrimination complaint. There are a variety of available options to address.
Allegations of Discrimination, Harassment and/or Retaliation
Investigation Process. The Office for Institutional Equity will determine the most effective method of investigating the concerns raised by the Complainant. In most cases, this will involve conducting a thorough fact-finding investigation, which includes meeting with the Complainant, Respondent, pertinent witnesses, and reviewing and analyzing relevant documents as they relate to each allegation of the complaint. The Investigator will seek to complete his or her investigation promptly. Occasionally, a different or less formal response to the complaint may be warranted. Although the Office for Institutional Equity may deviate from these guidelines, it will still respond to the complaint in a prompt, thorough and effective manner that is procedurally fair.
Investigation Report. When a formal investigation is conducted, the Investigator will prepare a written report at the conclusion of the investigation. The Complainant and Respondent will be given an opportunity to review a draft of a summary of their respective statements and given five (5) days to submit comments on that draft summary to the Investigator. The Investigator will address factual inaccuracies and misunderstandings, supported by evidence, identified by either party.
Following the receipt of any comments submitted, or after the five (5) day comment period has lapsed without comment, the Investigator will make a determination regarding the merit of the allegations. The Investigator’s written report will contain (1) a summary of the Complainant’s relevant allegations, (2) a summary of the Respondent’s relevant statements in response to the allegations, (3) a description of the relevant information provided by witnesses or obtained from documents including comments submitted in response to the draft report, and (4) the Investigator’s analysis and findings.
The Investigation Report will be provided to the Complainant, the Respondent and the appropriate supervisor. A copy of the investigation report will be provided to OIE if the Investigator is not from OIE, the appropriate Human Resources Office, unit Human Resources Representative and other pertinent University officials as necessary to ensure proper resolution and follow-up regarding the matter. The Investigator’s involvement in the matter concludes when the investigation report is issued.
Evidentiary Standard. The Investigator’s findings of fact will be made using the "preponderance of the evidence" standard. Under this standard, individuals are presumed not to have engaged in the alleged conduct unless a "preponderance of the evidence" supports a finding that the conduct occurred. This "preponderance of the evidence" standard requires that the evidence supporting each finding be more convincing than the evidence offered in opposition to it.
Corrective Action. If the report finds that discrimination or harassment occurred, the University will determine appropriate corrective action, up to and including dismissal. The University may also take corrective action if no discrimination or harassment is found, but Respondent is found to have engaged in inappropriate workplace behavior.
Appeal. Respondent may grieve any corrective action that is disciplinary in nature through the grievance mechanism available to that faculty or staff member. The Investigation Report will be made available to the body hearing the grievance.
A staff employee is afforded the opportunity to file a grievance on matters associated with the employee’s employment relationship with the University or to enter into a dispute resolution process to facilitate resolving misunderstandings and maintain positive work relationships. An allegation that an employee’s rights under this policy have been violated also will be subject to review under the grievance procedure. (This procedure is not available for resolving disputes or concerns regarding the University’s Benefit Plans. A separate procedure, administered by the Benefits Office, exists for those matters.) For more information, please see SPG 201.8.
In addition to OIE conducting an investigation into allegations of impermissible discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, an employee can file a grievance under SPG 201.8 if the employee is alleging any type of prohibited discrimination, with the exception of sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment issues, which are also handled by OIE, are investigated under SPG 201.89.
Faculty members should check with their Dean’s office to access applicable grievance procedures.
Mutual Resolution to Concerns
Regardless of the approach, OIE strives to resolve matters to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. Sometimes a less formal approach to resolve issues is appropriate. OIE staff can assess the situation to help determine the best course of action. For example, sometimes a misunderstanding occurs between two individuals that can be successfully mediated by a third party.
In situations where appropriate, OIE may refer the complainant to the university's Mediation Services for assistance.
A professionally trained, neutral mediator will meet privately with the individual bringing a complaint. The mediator, at their discretion, and with the agreement of both parties, can meet with both the complainant and the individual complained about to facilitate discussion, resolve misunderstanding, and define the future relationship.
Mediation is especially helpful where the working relationship between the individuals is likely to continue, where the alleged harassment may have been unthinking and unintended, and where hearing the other party's concerns may be the most helpful education.
Mediation is confidential. Only the complainant and the individual complained about are involved. The mediator does not contact other witnesses or the department involved, unless the parties themselves have agreed that some such further communication would be helpful in mending the situation.
You can learn more about the services offered to faculty and staff on the Mediation Services website.
Students can contact the Office of the Ombuds for more information.
Information about or assistance with discrimination and harassment issues may be obtained from a variety of university resources. Prior to or concurrent with lodging a complaint, individuals may find it helpful to consult with a counselor or otherwise seek assistance. The following offices can provide advice and support to individuals who believe they are experiencing discrimination or harassment. All information shared with these offices will remain confidential to the extent permitted by law and University policy. Discussions with representatives of these offices will not be considered a report to the University regarding the problematic behavior and will not, without additional action by the Complainant, result in intervention or corrective action.
(Hospital and Health Centers Staff)
Counseling and Psychological Services (Students)
Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (Faculty, Staff and Students)
Office of the Ombuds (Students)
Central Faculty Ombuds (Faculty)
UM-Dearborn Counseling and Support Services (Faculty, Staff and Students)
U-M Flint Faculty Ombuds (Faculty)