Investigation Procedures

Investigation procedures and steps are thoroughly discussed with a university community member who brings an allegation of harassment or discrimination to the attention of EDC. All EDC staff members are committed to confidentiality, and only those individuals who have a legitimate need to know about the complaint are involved.

Step by step process for filing a complaint of unlawful harassment or discrimination

  • If a university community member ("complainant") wants to file a written complaint, he/she is encouraged to prepare documentation as described in the Personal Narrative Guidelines.
  • Upon receipt of an oral or written complaint, the investigator may conduct a preliminary investigation, including interviews with the complainant and the accused individual ("respondent") and perhaps one or more of the witnesses identified by the complainant.
  • If, at any stage of the process, the investigator concludes that immediate action is necessary to protect any/all involved parties from harm, university administrators and immediate supervisors are notified and actions deemed appropriate are taken.
  • EDC will move as quickly as possible to obtain statements from witnesses, along with other relevant evidence. Witnesses are advised that the investigation process is confidential and that they should not discuss the matter with others.
  • Once the preliminary investigation is completed, the investigator will make a determination as to whether there is sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that university policy may have been violated.
  • If the investigator concludes that the evidence does not support the conclusion that the accused engaged in harassment and/or other forms of impermissible discrimination within the meaning of the law and Appalachian policy, the investigator will advise the complainant and the respondent that the preliminary evidence did not support the allegation, and that the matter has been closed.
  • If the investigator concludes that the preliminary evidence supports the conclusion that university policy may have been violated, and that further investigation is warranted, the respondent is advised of the allegations in writing and asked to provide a written narrative in response to the complaint, along with a witness list and any relevant documentation.
  • EDC staff conducts a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation in consultation with the appropriate supervisors.
  • Witnesses who may have information relevant to the complaint are interviewed.
  • The investigator presents a summary report of the investigation to the appropriate administrator/supervisor.
  • The investigator may make recommendations to the administrator/supervisor, but the administrator/supervisor has the ultimate responsibility to make the decision if disciplinary sanctions are warranted based on the totality of the situation.
  • The investigator follows up with both parties and the appropriate administrators and supervisors to ensure that appropriate monitoring occurs.

Personal Narrative Guidelines

If, as a university community member, you wish to file a written complaint, please prepare documentation in the categories listed below. These materials will ensure that your complaint is handled as fairly as possible. The documents can be hand-written and should be in your own words. Or, if you would prefer, you may dictate your responses into a tape recorder at EDC, and they will be transcribed for your signature by a member of EDC staff.

Your documentation should be brought or sent to EDC in a sealed envelope marked "confidential." These documents, like all of your communications with EDC, will be regarded as confidential materials and may be shared only with university administrators who have a legitimate need to know the information.

  • Chronology
    • Make a factual list of events, starting at the beginning and up through the present time
    • Be as specific, detailed, and accurate as possible
    • Date events as accurately as possible (day, month, year, time of day)
    • Be objective: state "facts" rather than "feelings" in this part of your materials
  • Narrative
    • Describe the effects that the problem has had on you or on your work or educational experience
    • Describe any physical or emotional effects, indicating when they occurred, how long they have lasted, and what help, if any, you have sought to alleviate them (e.g., doctor, clergy, Counseling for Faculty and Staff)
    • This section can be subjective - it can express "feelings"
  • Desired Outcomes
    • While EDC staff members cannot tell you what the outcome of your complaint will be, please describe what you feel would be a reasonable solution to the problem
    • Be as specific as possible about the ways in which you wish the situation to be improved or resolved
  • References
    • Names of individuals who can support your story - witnesses
    • Include full names and phone numbers
  • Photocopies of Other Relevant Documents (retain the originals in your files)
    • Letters or memos (both those you have received and sent)
    • Printouts of e-mail communications
    • Job descriptions or other descriptions of duties and responsibilities
    • Class syllabus and/or other descriptions of requirement