Sexual Harassment Policy

The University of Detroit Mercy is committed to respecting our fellow human beings and promoting an ethical and just way of life. Sexual harassment violates human dignity and engenders fear into relationships founded upon trust. Committed to the education of persons for their intellectual, spiritual, moral and social development, the University does not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind. There are three primary factors that guide our approach to sexual harassment prevention:
  • Every member of the UDM community—students, faculty and staff—is entitled to a sexual harassment-free environment.
  • Every member of the UDM community—students, faculty and staff—is responsible for ensuring a harassment-free environment for their colleagues and classmates.
  • The University has a policy and procedure in place to prevent sexual harassment and deal with it quickly and effectively if it does occur.

All members of the University community are strongly encouraged to complete the Sexual Harassment Prevention Online course which provides information and guidance regarding sexual harassment prevention. If you or anyone you know has been sexually harassed or would like information about sexual harassment prevention, contact the Human Resources Department at (313) 993-1036.


Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment

THIS POLICY provides information about sexual harassment procedures and prevention. If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed or requires information about sexual harassment prevention, please contact the Human Resources department.


Statement of Purpose

Consistent with its missions and the educational traditions of its founding religious communities, the Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus, the University of Detroit Mercy, stresses the dignity of each person and the promotion of social justice. These traditions result in an educational and working environment which supports professional development through mutual respect. Every form of harassment subverts this mission.

Sexual harassment, therefore, will not be tolerated at University of Detroit Mercy in any context, whether in a faculty/student, faculty/faculty, supervisor/employee, employee/employee, student/student, employee/student, or other relationship. All members of the University Community are responsible for ensuring that their conduct does not introduce sexuality into relationships inappropriately and contrary to the wording and intent of this policy. Independent contractors, vendors and others who do business with the University, on or off campus, are also required to comply with this policy.

The policy statement affirms the University's commitment to educate, counsel and train all members of the University community about the harm caused when professional relationships are distorted by sexual harassment. It affirms the ethical obligation of each member of the University community to foster a learning and working environment free from sexual coercion, intimidation and exploitation.

Sexual harassment constitutes a form of sex discrimination which is illegal under Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated 37.2101-37.2210, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In addition to any sanctions that may be imposed by University of Detroit Mercy as a result of this policy, individuals who sexually harass others may be held personally liable to their victims and subject to additional sanctions.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

General

For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome expressive or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or status in a course, program, or other University-related activity; or
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for an employment-related, educational, or other decision affecting an individual; or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work, educational performance, or status; or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Professional Conduct:

For purposes of this policy, and with express reference to behavior between a faculty member and a student of that faculty member, any sort of sexual or romantic advances or relationship between the student and faculty member, whether consensual or otherwise, places at serious risk the standard of professionalism which is part of the faculty member's responsibility and he or she should make every effort to prevent it. Recognizing the potential for abuse of the power with which faculty are entrusted, and recognizing the actual or apparent effect of such a relationship upon that student's and other student's academic careers, such relationships constitute a breach of professional conduct threatening to the academic freedom of both that particular student and other students.

  • A student is considered a student of a faculty member when the student is registered in a course taught by the faculty member and has not yet received a final grade, when the student is assigned to be advised by the faculty member, when a faculty member will serve as a member of the student's thesis or dissertation committee, or at any time when a faculty member has a supervisory or evaluative relationship with a student.
  • If a consensual sexual and/or romantic relationship develops between a student and a faculty member who does not have responsibility for the student's academic progress and, subsequently, the faculty member finds herself/himself in a position to affect indirectly the student's evaluation or career opportunities, the faculty member should excuse herself/himself from any such activities. An example of this might be a situation in which the faculty member serves on a fellowship committee.
  • If a consensual sexual and/or romantic relationship develops between a student and a faculty member who has responsibility for the student's academic progress and the faculty member is in a position to affect indirectly the student's evaluation or career opportunities, the faculty member should excuse herself/himself from any such activities. An example of this might be a situation in which the faculty member serves on a fellowship committee.

Supervisory Conduct:

For purposes of this policy, and with express reference to all supervisory relationships, any person who has the power to evaluate the work performance of another, or to dispense or influence rewards or punishments of another, may not subject such other person to any continuing unwelcome sexual conduct regardless of whether submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a basis for a decision affecting such person or whether such conduct creates a hostile environment. While such conduct may fall short of unlawful conduct, University of Detroit Mercy recognizes its responsibility to prevent such conduct from reaching the level of unlawful conduct through early intervention.

Examples

Sexual harassment consists of verbal and physical behaviors. Examples of behaviors prohibited by this policy include, but are not limited to:

  • persistent, unwelcome flirtation, advances, and/or propositions of a sexual nature;

  • repeated insults, humor, jokes, and/or anecdotes that belittle or demean an individual's or a group's sexuality;

  • repeated, unwelcome comments of a sexual nature about an individual's body or clothing;

  • repeated, unwelcome gestures of a sexual nature;

  • unwarranted displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures;

  • unnecessary and unwelcome touching, such as patting, pinching, hugging, or repeated brushing against an individual's body;

  • suggestions that submission to or rejection of sexual advances will affect decisions regarding such matters as employment, assignments, status, salary, grades, financial aid, recommendations, etc.; and

  • sexual assault, which constitutes an extreme example of sexual harassment.

Warning About Retaliation

Retaliation against anyone who has reported, or is thought to have reported, or who has participated as a witness in a complaint of sexual harassment is prohibited. Such retaliation shall be considered a serious violation of this policy and shall be independent of whether a charge or informal complaint of sexual harassment is substantiated. Encouraging others to retaliate also violates this policy. Examples of retaliation include, but are not limited to, unfair grading, unfair evaluation, unfair assignments, withholding or delaying of necessary information, ridicule, oral or written threats or bribes, unfair increase or reduction of work loads and arbitrary denial of leave, or cancellation of classes.

Frivolous or False Charges

This policy shall not be used to bring frivolous or malicious charges against students or employees. Any person who files a complaint, whether informal or formal, which is deemed to be frivolous, malicious or made in bad faith shall be subject to the same discipline as outlined in the Formal Complaint Proceedings.

Complaint Resolution Procedures

The informal and formal complaint procedures set forth below are internal procedures of the University. These informal and formal complaint procedures are supplementary and do not displace other disciplinary procedures set forth in any applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Information and Advice:

Persons seeking general information or guidance about sexual harassment may be concerned about the confidentiality of the information they are sharing. The Sexual Harassment Officer on each campus will designate several persons of each campus as Sexual Harassment Contact Persons (hereafter, Contact Persons). Any member of the University community may request information or guidance from a Contact Person, with the assurance of total confidentiality, as long as he/she does not disclose any information about a specific instance of sexual harassment.

A list of Contact Persons shall be widely published throughout the University community at the start of each academic semester. The persons so designated must be knowledgeable about sexual harassment, trained to assist in understanding and resolving such matters, and well placed in the office or school to help. They should be sensitive to the feelings, rights and interests of all parties, and they should have demonstrated ability to handle confidential and sensitive matters in a discrete manner.

Informal Resolution Procedures:

Once an individual discloses identifying information about an alleged case of sexual harassment to the Contact Person, she/he will be considered to have filed an informal complaint with the University. In many instances informal discussion, counseling and mediation will be adequate to resolve perceived instances of sexual harassment. However, because the University is obligated to act to eliminate sexual harassment from the University community, the Contact Person has the responsibility to determine when any situation warrants further action. If the contact person determines that no further action will be taken, then no report or record will be kept.

The Contact Persons functions include:

  • to be receptive to the individual and sensitive to his/her perception of the incident.

  • to provide information about sexual harassment and options for addressing it, including applicable University policies and procedures, both informal and formal, as well as strategies which the complainant may use if she/he wishes to attempt resolution individually.

  • to seek informal resolution between the complainant and the alleged offender, if the complainant so desires.

  • to facilitate the complainant's filing of a formal complaint with the campus Sexual Harassment Officer, if the complainant so desires.

  • for non-faculty employees and students, to maintain in a locked file the notes necessary for handling active, informal complaints. Upon completion of informal actions, the Contact Person will file with the Sexual Harassment Officer a confidential report which records the allegation made, that the complainant in question declined to file a formal complaint, and the informal counseling which occurred. These records will be retained in a locked file by the University's Office of Sexual Harassment Resolution, until such time as there is an Equal Employment officer at the University.

  • for faculty members, these records will be retained in a locked file in the office of the Academic Vice President with access limited to the Academic Vice President until there is an Office of Equal Opportunity officer at the University of Detroit Mercy, at which time the records shall be kept by the Office of Equal Opportunity officer. In addition, the UDMPU President will have access to the records with the permission of the faculty member charged.

Confidentiality:

Informal resolution is primarily an information and non-disciplinary procedure. Therefore, during informal resolution, all reasonable efforts will be made to insure the confidentiality of information received, including the identification of the parties. If it is impossible to resolve the complaint while maintain such confidentiality, the complaining party will be informed and may be given the options of proceeding or withdrawing from the informal resolution process unless the seriousness of the complaint requires further investigation.

Formal Complaint Resolution:

A Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO) will be appointed for each of the four campuses by the University President who will designate one Officer as Chair to coordinate the activities of the Office of Sexual Harassment Resolution.

The functions of the SHO are as follows:

  • to provide appropriate training for all Sexual Harassment Contact Persons and for the campus community;
  • to participate with other SHO's in a panel to investigate, hold hearings, and determine outcomes in formal complaint resolutions.

Filing of Formal Complaint:

Members of the University community who believe that they are victims of sexual harassment may bring a formal complaint of sexual harassment by filing a written complaint with the Sexual Harassment Office of the campus on which they work or study. In the event that a UDMPU member is charged with sexual harassment, the UDM officer responsible for the investigation will immediately (within two working days) notify the charged member and the UDMPU President of the nature of the allegations and possible consequences which might follow from such allegations.

The SHO will furnish, within five working days, a copy to the alleged offender. The alleged offender must file a response in writing with the SHO within ten working days after receipt of the complaint. A copy of this reply will be sent to the complainant. (For good cause, the SHO may waive the time limits stated here.) If this exchange does not result in resolution, the SHO will initiate a formal investigation to make a determination as to whether the allegations contained in the complaint might be a violation of the sexual harassment policy.

Investigation:

The SHO will be responsible for convening the Sexual Harassment Resolution Panel for conducting a prompt investigation. The Panel will include three Sexual Harassment Officers and one Contact Person from the campus involved. The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy has occurred. The investigation may entail interviews with the complainant, the accused, witnesses, and other persons believed to have pertinent factual information. During any phase of this process, both the complainant and the alleged offender may be accompanied by a support person (not including legal counsel). Every reasonable effort will be made to protect the privacy rights of all parties, but complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. The investigation will be completed within 30 working days after receipt of the alleged offenders response.

Outcomes:

Within five days after the end of the investigation, the SHO will prepare a written report which includes a determination that the complaint should be dismissed, or that a violation of the sexual harassment policy exists. If the case is to be dismissed, notice of that decision goes to the complainant, the alleged offender, and the file of the Office of Sexual Harassment Resolution. If a violation has been determined, the SHO's report will be forwarded to the appropriate administrator for disposition. Any actions (hearing, finding, penalties, and the like) taken by the University under this Sexual Harassment Policy will be considered an exercise of Article V Paragraph 12 of the UDM-UDMPU Contract, Discipline and Discharge, and therefore subject to Article VIII. Grievance Procedure.

Formal Disciplinary Proceedings

For violations of this policy by students,  the Vice President of Student Affairs will initiate disciplinary sanctions as outlined in the student handbook. These actions may range from official reprimand to suspension and expulsion. A written report of the sanctions taken will be filed with the Office of Sexual Harassment Resolution within 30 days of receipt of the notice of violation.

For violations of this policy by employees of the University,  the Office of Human Resources or the Academic Vice President (whichever is applicable) will initiate disciplinary measures as described in the faculty, administrative, and staff manuals. Any disciplinary action, and the investigation preceding the imposition of discipline, shall be in conformance with the applicable collective bargaining agreements covering the accused employee. A written report of the sanctions taken will be filed with the Office of Sexual Harassment Resolution within 30 days of receipt of the notice of violation.