Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Process

Suspension of appeals timelines

Due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, EEOA has temporarily suspended the appeals timeline set forth in the EEO Complaint Process. Notwithstanding, EEOA will continue its best efforts to handle all matters in a timely and efficient manner. Please note all filing deadlines set forth in the EEO Complaint Process remain in effect.

The George Washington University is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) employer committed to maintaining a non-discriminatory, harassment-free, and diverse work environment. The university does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics, or on any other basis prohibited by applicable law in any of its programs or activities.

If you are a staff member and believe that you have been treated unfairly in relation to performance, discipline, or any other terms and conditions of, you may contact the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity & Access (EEOA). EEO Office investigators work to ensure compliance with GW’s Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Anti-Harassment Policy. The university encourages all individuals to report a potential violation of the university’s policy to the EEOA Office using the Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Process set forth below.

If you are a staff member and believe you have been subjected to adverse action in the terms and conditions of your employment, please observe the procedures set forth in the Employee Relations Complaint process. 

The EEOA Office may be contacted in person or by mail at 2033 K Street, NW, Suite 205, Washington, D.C. 20006, by telephone at 202-994-9656, or by email at [email protected].

 

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Complaint Process

The George Washington University is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) employer committed to maintaining a non-discriminatory, harassment-free, and diverse work environment. The university does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics, or on any other basis prohibited by applicable law in any of its programs or activities.

If you are a staff member and believe that you have been treated unfairly in relation to performance, discipline, or any other terms and conditions of, you may contact the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity & Access (EEOA). EEOA Office investigators work to ensure compliance with GW’s Equal Opportunity, Non-Discrimination, and Anti-Harassment Policy.

How to Report a Complaint

The university encourages all individuals to report a potential violation of the university’s policy to the EEOA Office in person, by telephone, or by email:

Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Access (EEOA Office)
2033 K Street, NW, Suite 205
Washington, D.C. 20006
202-994-9656
[email protected]

Individuals are encouraged to file a complaint as soon as possible. Passage of time can affect the efficacy of the investigations as well as the quality of evidence.

If you have a Sexual And Gender-Based Harassment And Interpersonal Violence complaint, you have a right to file a complaint directly with the university’s Title IX Office, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement, via 24/7 Sexual Assault Response & Consultation (SARC) at 202-994-7222 or report an Incident, without first reporting to the EEOA Office. 

Who can file a complaint

Anyone who has an allegation of discrimination against a GW staff member may file a complaint under this procedure. This includes staff, faculty, students, contractors, volunteers, and affiliates.

The Complaint Process

All communication associated with the complaint process will be transmitted electronically. 

Stage 1: The Informal Resolution Process 

Upon referral, the EEOA Office will provide an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Complaint Intake Form to the staff member. Should the staff member wish to seek consultation, the completed form must be returned to the EEOA Office via email at [email protected].

Upon receipt and review of the completed form, the complaint will be assigned to an EEO Investigator who will then reach out to the Complainant within five (5) business days of submission.

Consultation provides the staff member with an opportunity to speak with the EEO Investigator in confidence, learn about the EEO complaint process, and determine whether to pursue the EEO complaint process.

At this consultative stage, complainants may request anonymity, that their identity not be shared with the individual(s) they are filing the complaint against, that no investigation be pursued, or that no disciplinary action be taken. The EEOA Office does not guarantee anonymity, but will carefully balance the request for anonymity in the context of the university's commitment to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all university community members.

In some cases, the Investigator may recommend mediation between the Complainant and the party against whom they have lodged the complaint (the “Respondent”). Mediation is an informal meeting, facilitated by the Investigator, to help the Complainant and Respondent explore possible ways to reach a resolution.

Stage II: The Formal Resolution Process

If informal resolution is unsuccessful, the Complainant may choose to move forward with a formal investigation, in which case all appropriate parties, including but not limited to supervisors, will be notified. In limited situations, the EEOA Office will initiate its own investigation into suspected violations of university policies and procedures, even absent a complaining party.

1. Investigation

Complainants will have ten (10) business days from the close of the informal resolution process to provide the Investigator with all relevant documentation including witnesses. The Investigator may request additional evidence from the parties or from other sources and is not restricted to information and witnesses provided by Complainant.

The investigation may include individual interviews with the parties involved where necessary, and with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have other relevant knowledge. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigatory process to the extent possible, consistent with adequate investigation and appropriate corrective action. 

2. Determination

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will make a determination based on a preponderance of evidence (i.e., whether it is more likely than not that the violation occurred). If discipline or a performance management action is the subject of the grievance, the Investigator will determine whether the university followed the appropriate process and, if applicable, whether the corrective action issued is commensurate with the underlying behavior.

All appropriate parties will be formally notified of the outcome of the investigation. Note that a finding that the complaint was substantiated does not guarantee any requested relief or corrective action.

If a violation is found, the Investigator will issue recommendations for corrective action to end the misconduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects. However, the EEOA Office does not itself have disciplinary authority. Under limited circumstances, including a threat to health or safety of any individual or to comply with applicable law, the EEOA Office may independently notify the University’s safety and security department. 

All investigation-related materials and reports are confidential and will not be shared with Complainants, Respondents, or other investigation participants. The distribution of investigation materials and reports will be restricted to those with a legitimate ‘need to know.’

3. Appeals

This section is currently being updated to reflect new business processes.

Administrative Discretion

  • In limited situations, the EEOA Office will conduct an investigation into allegation(s) of a violation of university policies and procedures where no staff member has filed a specific complaint. 
  • In limited situations, the EEOA Office will not conduct an investigation, if after reviewing the allegations set forth in the complaint form and consulting with the Complainant, it is  concluded that the Complainant has not alleged a cause of action that violates the law and/or GW policies.

Timeframe

The EEOA Office timeframe to conduct an equitable investigation may depend upon various extenuating circumstances. The standard of proof is based on a preponderance of evidence.

The timeframe for the appeals process depends upon a variety of factors, although every effort is made to complete the appeal process as quickly as possible.

Expectations 

Non-Retaliation 

Retaliation against a person who makes a good faith report or complaint, or participates in an investigation or proceeding covered by this process is prohibited. More information about non-retaliation is available in GW's Non-Retaliation policy

Allegations of retaliation will be investigated and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of the accused retaliator if substantiated. Members of the university community who believe that they have been retaliated against may submit a complaint to the EEOA Office or report anonymously using the Regulatory Compliance Help and Referral Line at 888-508-5275.

Obligation to Provide Truthful Information

All university community members are expected to provide truthful information in this process. Intentionally submitting or providing false or misleading information may subject you to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. This provision does not apply to reports made or information provided in good faith, even if the facts alleged in the report are unsubstantiated.    

Cooperation

All university community members are expected to cooperate fully with the investigation and disciplinary procedures. 

Confidentiality and Privacy

To the extent possible, the university will protect the confidentiality of Complainants, witnesses, and accused parties and, if information is disclosed, will disclose it on a need-to-know basis. However, parties should understand that in order to investigate the matter and provide the other party with notice of the allegations and an opportunity to respond, the university may need to reveal the identity of the grievant and relevant witnesses.Individuals involved in investigations or disciplinary proceedings under this complaint process are encouraged to exercise discretion in sharing information with individuals outside the EEOA office in order to safeguard the integrity of the process. All parties, however, are encouraged to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information gathered or learned in the process.

Actions upon Completion of Investigation and/or Appeal

In all instances, the Disciplinary Authority may consult with the HR Representative to ensure that the sanction and/or remedies satisfy the university’s obligation to maintain a non-discriminatory, harassment-free, and diverse work environment.

EEO Complaint Process Overview

  1. Written Complaint: 
    • Complainant submits an EEO intake form for EEO-related complaint via email as soon as possible.
  2. Consultation and Mediation: 
    • EEOA will reach out within 5 business days to schedule a consultation. May propose mediation.
  3. Investigation: 
    • If informal resolution is unsuccessful, provide all relevant documentation within 10 business days to begin formal investigation.
  4. Review & Determination:
    • Investigator reviews the file and issues a Letter of Determination. A finding in the Complainant’s favor is not indicative of relief or corrective action taken.
  5. Request for Appeal: 
    • Either party submits a request within 5 business days of Determination.