The University of Washington encourages prompt resolution of complaints about the behavior of its employees, as referenced in UW Administrative Policy Statement (APS) 46.3. You may seek resolution assistance regarding issues that include but are not restricted to:
Harassing, discriminatory or threatening behavior
Violation of university policy
Mistreatment of members of the public
You have several options for resolving complaints. These options include:
The goal of local resolution is to address and resolve problems as quickly and directly as possible, and to stop any inappropriate behavior that may be taking place. Local resolution generally involves a discussion of the employee’s concerns with the supervisor, administrator, or Human Resources. These are the people who may be closest to the issue and who are able to most quickly take any corrective measures that may be necessary. Local resolution may include a fact-finding investigation, the results of which will be reviewed with the individual raising the concern.
OFFICE OF THE OMBUD
The University’s Ombud is a neutral third party, working within existing University policies and procedures to address and resolve disagreements informally. The goal is to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution of the complaint that is satisfactory to all parties involved. The person raising the complaint is actively involved in the process. The Ombud may facilitate mediation or conciliation between the parties.
The Office of the Ombud is available to all members of the University community for information, education, and a confidential consultation about a broad range of subjects. The Ombudsman will clarify the concerns of the person bringing a complaint and develop an action plan. No action will be taken by the Ombud's office without the explicit consent of the person seeking consultation.
When no resolution occurs, the Ombud will collaborate with the person raising the complaint to identify relevant referrals.
CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATION OFFICE
The Civil Rights Investigation Office investigates complaints made about University employees and students that raise concerns relating to civil rights such as protection from discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual misconduct.
With respect to University employees, the Investigation Office investigates allegations that a University employee may have violated the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual misconduct, and relationship conflict of interest. This includes complaints of discrimination or harassment based on: race, color, or creed; religion; national origin or citizenship status; sex; pregnancy; age; marital status; sexual orientation; gender identity or expression; disability; and veteran status, as well as complaints against employees regarding domestic violence, relationship violence, stalking, sexual assault, retaliation, and relationship conflict of interest.
With respect to students, the Investigation Office investigates complaints that a University student may have engaged in conduct that violates any of the sexual misconduct provisions of the University of Washington’s Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121), including sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, indecent exposure, relationship violence, stalking, and domestic violence.
The Investigation Office also investigates both employees and students who are alleged to have engaged in conduct that may have violated Title IX, including the Title IX regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
If you are concerned about confidentiality, you should discuss this early in your exploration of resolution options to gain a clear understanding of the nature of the confidentiality that is available. Public records law may require the disclosure of certain written documents, and allegations of serious misconduct (such as theft or illegal discrimination, including sexual harassment) must be reported to the appropriate authority.
University policy prohibits retaliation against people who bring a complaint or participate in the complaint process. An employee who is found to engage in retaliatory conduct is subject to appropriate corrective action, including dismissal. All University employees are required to participate, provide information as requested, and otherwise fully cooperate with the complaint process.
Use of Work Time
Under APS 46.3, you are entitled to use some work time to resolve a complaint. In order to be paid for time away from work, you must first obtain approval from your supervisor. In situations where you may not want to notify your supervisor of your concern or complaint, you may be able to arrange a meeting (with an HRC, the Ombud's Office, or the Civil Rights Investigation Office) using paid leave, or during a time outside your normal work schedule. Questions about using paid release time can be directed to Human Resources.
APS 46.3 requires that all faculty and staff members report to their supervisors or the administrative heads of their organizations any complaints of discrimination they receive, and to otherwise fully cooperate with any follow-up that is necessary.
Determining How to Pursue a Complaint
Think about your goals for resolving your complaint:
If you are comfortable discussing the complaint or concern with your supervisor, department administrator, and/or Human Resources, report your complaint to one of these individuals and explain what action you would like to see taken.
If you are interested in a process which emphasizes mediation or conciliation, explore your concerns with the Ombud. Mediation or conciliation involves meeting with the person whose conduct is in question and attempting to resolve the complaint or concern with assistance from the Ombud.