Investigative Process

Making a Report of Harassment, Discrimination, or Retaliation

There are multiple ways to make a report to the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO) including, but not limited to:

A report may be filed at any time regardless of the length of time between the alleged occurrence and the decision to report. However, the University strongly encourages persons to report promptly in order to facilitate an effective investigation and access to information. A delay in reporting may compromise the investigation. Also, a report that excludes key information (such as names of involved parties, locations, dates, etc.) may hinder the ability for OEEO to pursue a complete investigation.


The Investigative Process in the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO)

Step 1: Report is Received and Reviewed by OEEO

Every allegation of harassment or discrimination received by the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO) is promptly reviewed and evaluated by the Associate Director (the investigator) who is a trained and qualified OEEO staff member acting as a neutral fact-finder for the report. Often the investigator will contact the person who was adversely impacted by the allegation (the complainant) to seek additional clarity or to obtain more information about the reported allegation.

*Please note: The investigator reserves the right to close the report if a complainant is non-responsive to requests for additional information. Closed reports can be reopened at a later time if requested by the complainant.

Step 2: Complainant & OEEO Determine Next Steps

After the investigator has a complete understanding of the allegation that is being reported, a determination about the next steps will be made in cooperation and consultation with the complainant.  There are a variety of outcomes that may result based upon the complainant's preferences and severity of the allegation being reported. These outcomes can include:

  • The complainant may determine they do not wish to pursue any further action and the report may be closed.*
  • The complainant may be referred to another office at Miami for further review and resolution because the reported allegation does not involve a protected class, or does not rise to the level of a policy violation.
  • The complainant may request an informal resolution for an allegation that does not rise to the level of a policy violation. An informal resolution consists of a meeting between the investigator, the person accused (the respondent) and other additional parties as requested such as an advisor, supervisor, dean, etc.  
  • The complainant may request an investigation. (Refer to "Step 3" below)

 *Closed reports can be reopened at a later time if requested by the complainant

Step 3: The Investigative Process

A investigation will be opened if both of the following two conditions are met:

  1. The investigator has determined the extent and severity of the reported allegation if true would rise to a violation of Miami's Policy Prohibiting Harassment and Discrimination and 
  2. The complainant is agreeable to moving forward with the an investigation

When a investigation is opened, a letter is sent from the investigator to the respondent (with a copy to the complainant) notifying them that an investigation has been initiated. This letter, referred to as the Notice of Investigation or NoI, also includes the allegation made against the respondent. Following the NoI, the investigator will conduct interviews with witnesses and collect evidence pertaining to the reported allegation. All parties will have the opportunity to be accompanied by an advisor, to present information and respond to written reports, and to ask that witnesses be interviewed.  

For cases of harassment or discrimination, the formal investigative process typically take 30 calendar days to complete. Both the complainant and respondent are permitted to review the OEEO investigation file at any time upon request. 

Step 4: The Investigation Conclusion

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will provide written notification to both the complainant and respondent outlining whether or not reasonable cause exists to conclude a policy violation has occurred. This letter is referred to as the Letter of Finding or LoF. Based upon the preponderance of evidence, or the evidence that has the greater weight of credibility, the LoF will include documentation to support the conclusion. If no policy violation is found, the case may be closed and/or referred to a different office if appropriate. If there is a finding of a policy violation, the case is referred to the appropriate authority for discipline/corrective action. OEEO does not make disciplinary decisions. 

After the Letter of Finding is issued, both the complainant and the respondent are permitted to review the OEEO investigation file.

Step 5: Request for Review

The complainant and the respondent each have the right to challenge the conclusion in the report by requesting a review by the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. A request for review must allege one or more of the following deficiencies in the investigative report:

  • That an alleged material violation of this Policy occurred that resulted in a failure to conduct a reasonably thorough investigation, in which case the matter will be remanded back to OEEO for additional investigation;
  • That new evidence exists that was not available at the time of the investigation; or
  • The conclusion is clearly erroneous and not supported by the investigation.

Requests for review must be submitted to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion within five (5) class days of the issuance of the OEEO report. (Note: class days include exam week.)

The request for review must be submitted in writing, stating the basis for review and with all supporting materials attached. The request for review will be shared with all parties and the OEEO for their response, if any. Responses shall be filed within five (5) class days of the parties' and OEEO's receipt of the request for review.

The Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion will issue a written report and share it with all parties and OEEO. 


Confidentiality

The Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity are committed to treating all persons with courtesy, sensitivity, understanding, and professionalism.  OEEO will treat all reports as confidential to the extent permitted by law, but cannot assure complete confidentiality.

Retaliation

Retaliation is a separate and distinct violation of University policy. Examples of retaliatory action include, but are not limited to, assigning low grades, assigning undesirable teaching schedules and giving deflated performance evaluations. This prohibition against retaliation extends to any person who testifies, assists, or participates in any manner in an investigation relative to discrimination or harassment.  The prohibition against retaliation also extends to any person with whom the complainant chooses to communicate the contents of the report. 

False Allegations

It is a violation of policy to knowingly make a false allegation of harassment or discrimination. However, failure to prove a claim of harassment or discrimination is not equivalent to making a false allegation. It is also a policy violation for a respondent or other person interviewed by OEEO to knowingly make a false statement.