OEO Standards of Investigation

OEO is the university office designated to conduct investigations of allegations of discrimination on the basis of protected status, and to coordinate university responses to these complaints.

OEO will conduct an investigation in response to complaints of discrimination when the allegations, if true, would constitute a violation of the policies against discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. In such cases, the individual making the report [complainant] shall be encouraged to file a written complaint.

In cases where OEO has notice of alleged discrimination, OEO may initiate an investigation after making a preliminary inquiry into the facts, and will inform the person(s) who were allegedly harmed by discrimination of the decision to initiate an investigation.

Investigations will incorporate the following standards:

  1. OEO will evaluate the inquiry to determine if the office has a duty to investigate. If OEO is not the proper office to handle the inquiry, the Complainant will be referred to the appropriate office for assistance. If OEO determines that the inquiry is viable, it will be moved forward for investigation.
  2. Complaints of discrimination made against OEO staff will be referred to the Office of Institutional Compliance for further action.
  3. The individual(s) conducting the investigation shall be familiar with the policies prohibiting discrimination and retaliation, and have training and/or experience in conducting investigations.
  4. The alleged perpetrator [Respondent] shall be informed of the substance of the allegations. If the Respondent cannot be located, attempts at notification shall be documented.
  5. OEO will notify the Respondent’s supervisor of the allegations of discrimination. In cases where the supervisor is named as a Respondent, OEO will provide notice of the allegations to the next appropriate supervisor.
  6. If the Respondent is an employee, OEO will notify Human Resources [HR] of the existence of the complaint and the general nature of the complaint.
  7. The investigation generally shall include, as appropriate, interviews with the Complainant and Respondent, interviews with witnesses, and a review of relevant documents. Witnesses should be able to describe incidents they have seen, heard or experienced to help the investigator understand the situation. Parties may be interviewed more than once, or may be contacted to clarify an earlier statement.
  8. OEO will disclose facts to witnesses as reasonably necessary to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Participants in an investigation shall be advised that maintaining privacy is essential to protect the integrity of the investigation and will be asked to refrain from discussing the pending investigation. Participants will also be advised of the university’s prohibition against retaliation.
  9. At any time during the investigation, the investigator may recommend that interim protections or remedies for the Complainant or witnesses be provided by appropriate university officials. These protections or remedies may include separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between the parties, placing the Respondent on administrative leave or reassignment, or making alternative workplace or student housing arrangements. Failure to comply with the terms of interim protections may be considered a separate violation of university policy and subject to further disciplinary action.
  10. The investigation shall be completed as promptly as possible and in most cases within 45 business days of the date the written complaint was received. OEO may extend this timeline due to extenuating circumstances, and in such cases the parties shall be notified in writing.
  11. Any contemplated adverse employment actions towards the parties involved in an investigation must be brought to the attention of OEO prior to implementation. OEO will consult with supervisors, administrators, HR, and the Office of General Counsel [OGC] as necessary on measures to protect parties from retaliation.
  12. An investigation will result in a written report that, at a minimum, includes a statement of the allegations and issues, a summary and an analysis of the information considered, and a determination by the investigator as to whether university policy has been violated. For allegations of discrimination or retaliatory behavior, there are two possible findings:
    • Substantiated: It is more likely than not that the allegation is true, based on the evidence reviewed.
    • Unsubstantiated: There is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove that the allegation is true.
  13. OEO may make recommendations for resolution of the situation or to prevent further contact between the Complainant and the Respondent. These recommendations are directed to individuals who have authority to make decisions to ensure enforcement of the recommendations, such as an academic department chair, a residence life administrator, or a supervisor/manager. These recommendations could include educational programs, counseling/coaching, mediation, remedies for the Complainant, and a referral to disciplinary procedures, as appropriate. The supervisor or manager will copy OEO on a written statement documenting the implementation of such actions.
  14. When the investigation is completed, the Complainant and Respondent will receive written notification, and a copy of the investigative report.
  15. Copies of the investigative report will be provided to the Respondent’s supervisor and to the supervisor of the academic or administrative unit which employs the Respondent. These individuals are directly responsible for implementing measures to correct and prevent discriminatory or retaliatory conditions.
  16. The report may be used to inform other related proceedings such as the investigation of subsequent complaints, grievances and/or disciplinary actions.
  17. If further corrective action is taken against a Respondent, HR will copy OEO on documents authorizing such action.
  18. Regardless of the method of resolution or the outcome, the Complainant is at all times free to pursue a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Texas Workforce Commission (Civil Rights Division), the United States Department of Education (Office for Civil Rights), the United States Department of Labor (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs), or to consult with a labor/employment attorney at the Complainant’s own expense.