Binghamton University, in its continuing effort to seek equity in education and employment and consistent with federal and state anti-discrimination legislation, has adopted a complaint procedure for the prompt and equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status or marital status. Harassment on the basis of any of the above‐protected categories is one form of unlawful discrimination. Conduct that may constitute harassment is described in Appendix A of the Discrimination Complaint form. For more detailed information contact the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
This procedure may be used if the complainant or respondent is a Binghamton student or a state or Research Foundation employee. Employee grievance procedures established through negotiated contracts, academic grievance review committees, student disciplinary grievance boards and any other procedures defined by contract will continue to operate as before.
A complainant is not required to pursue the Binghamton internal procedure before filing a complaint with a state or federal agency. In addition, if the complainant chooses to pursue the Binghamton internal procedure, he or she is free to file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency at any point during the process. Upon filing with an external agency, however, the Binghamton internal complaint may be referred to the Office of the University Counsel for review, defense or, if deemed appropriate by counsel, involvement in mediation, conciliation or settlement with the external agency where the complaint was filed, or such other actions as may be in the interests of the University, including the termination of this internal process.
The full Discrimination Complaint procedures can be reviewed by accessing the Discrimination Complaint form. Some general information about the process is included below.
Role of the Staff of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The chief diversity officer of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and/or designee is trained in investigating and resolving complaints. The staff is available for assistance in filing the complaint with the University and will remain impartial during an investigation. ODEI does not represent any individual or department, but does advocate on behalf of the University’s goals of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination.
The ODEI staff may receive initial inquiries, reports and requests for consultation and counseling. Assistance will be available whether or not a formal complaint is contemplated or even possible. It is the responsibility of the ODEI to respond to all such inquiries, reports and requests as promptly as possible and in a manner appropriate to the particular circumstances. An individual may refuse to reduce a complaint to writing. However, notwithstanding that refusal, there may be a continuing obligation on the part of the campus to investigate the verbal complaint to the best of its ability and proceed with any action that is warranted. Although in certain instances verbal complaints may be acted upon, the procedures set forth here rest upon the submission of a written complaint that will enable the ODEI to conduct a full and fair investigation of the facts.
The ODEI shall solicit information concerning any factors that might prejudice an objective evaluation of the evidence and shall reassign an investigation if a conflict or potential conflict emerges.
The ODEI staff will conduct the investigation in a confidential manner to the extent practicable. The ODEI staff will instruct the parties and all other affected persons that the complaint investigation procedure is best able to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement for resolution of the complaint when confidentiality is not breached. Once breached, it will make it difficult for the ODEI staff to conclude successfully the complaint investigation process to the satisfaction of the complainant.
Who can file a complaint?
Employees may file a written complaint with the chief diversity officer within 90 calendar days following the alleged discriminatory act or the date on which the complainant first knew or reasonably should have known of such act. Complainants may complete an intake form to initiate an investigation (see Discrimination Complaint form, Appendix C). Students must file a complaint within 90 calendar days following the alleged discriminatory act or 90 calendar days after a final grade is received, for the semester during which the discriminatory act occurred, if that date is later.
It is the complainant’s responsibility to be certain that any complaint is filed within the applicable 90-day period. In the event that the complainant would be barred under these procedures, the complainant may contact ODEI with regard to other avenues of recourse that may be available.
If a complainant elects to withdraw a complaint, this decision must be communicated in writing to the ODEI staff indicating the reason for withdrawal. The University may nevertheless pursue its review of the allegations.
Against whom may complaints be brought?
A complaint of unlawful discrimination may be brought against any student or employee.
If your complaint concerns behavior by a vendor or contractor or some other individual who may not be a member of the University community, but who may have an affiliation or a recognized connection to Binghamton, you may bring your concerns to the attention of the ODEI staff and they will assist you, wherever practicable.
If the University president is the respondent, the chief diversity officer reserves the right to refer the complaint to the Office of University Counsel. The findings and recommendation shall be submitted to the SUNY chancellor or her designee. If the chief diversity officer is the respondent, the matter shall be referred to the University president or his designee.
Procedures for resolving complaints
Complaint Consultation and Review
Any member of the University community may consult with the ODEI staff regarding potential discrimination or harassment. The length of time for the consultation varies depending on factors such as the complexity of the situation, office workload, or whether the situation involves actual or imminent loss of employment or academic standing, potential physical harm, or an ongoing relationship between the involved individuals. In a telephone conversation or in-person appointment, a staff member will:
- receive complaints of alleged discrimination or harassment;
- discuss the facts of a situation and help the individual identify the problem(s);
- assist the complainant in the use of the complaint form to define the charge;
- determine if the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is the appropriate University resource to address the concern;
- inform the individual of the ways in which the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion approaches problem solving;
- explore methods of resolving the situation on one’s own, if that is the individual’s preference;
- advise an individual of alternate University resources and external options for resolution that are available; and
- provide the complainant with information about the various internal and external mechanisms through which the complaint may be filed, including applicable time limits for filing with each agency.
Each Party's Rights and Responsibilities
The University’s formal review procedures are not designed to replicate an external judicial process. Consequently:
- complainants and respondents are expected to meet with representatives of ODEI as needed and as requested;
- legal counsel retained by a complainant or a respondent may not participate or be present at any meeting convened by ODEI;
- respondents and complainants are expected to communicate with ODEI directly, not through legal counsel, other intermediaries or persons accompanying the parties; and
- complainants and respondents have the right to receive notice of all actions, recommendations, determinations and findings made by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.