A Message About UCIRO Operations During COVID-19 Situation

UCIRO remains open to receive concerns and conduct intake meetings and investigations.  For the foreseeable future, however, all UCIRO staff are working remotely.  Meetings and interviews will occur via video or phone.  We are committed to continuous service during this challenging time and we look forward to working with you.  To contact us, please email uciro@uw.edu or call us at 206-616-2028.  Thank you.

The University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO) investigates complaints that a University employee has violated the University’s non-discrimination and/or non-retaliation policies. A UCIRO investigation may be requested either by an individual with a complaint about a University employee or by the administrative head of a University department (and, in some cases, as joined by the Title IX Coordinator).

Complaint intake process

At your intake meeting, you’ll talk one-on-one with a UCIRO investigator. The meeting may be conducted in person, via Zoom, or over the phone and typically lasts one to two hours. We’ll ask you questions to help us clarify what happened and when, and to make sure that we understand your concerns and how you would ideally like them resolved. Once we have an accurate overview, we will tell you if the facts of your situation fall within UCIRO’s purview for investigation, as defined by UW policies and procedures. If the facts of your situation fall within UCIRO’s purview, we will discuss the investigation process in more detail, so that you can evaluate your options.

The U.S. Department of Education has mandated special processes for specific types of sexual harassment complaints. More specific information about sexual harassment complaints to which the special Department of Education regulations apply can be found here.

UCIRO’s purview

Certain matters, such as complaints about patient care or student conduct, fall outside of UCIRO’s purview. In addition, matters which occurred more than 365 days prior to a request by an individual will typically not be accepted for a UCIRO investigation. If the facts of your situation do not fall within UCIRO’s purview, we will refer you to other resources.

Local investigation and resolution

Complaints against University employees may be addressed via local investigation and resolution (unless they involve allegations pertaining to sexual harassment, which need to be evaluated by UCIRO first to determine whether the process prescribed by the Department of Education’s federal regulations apply) or by an investigation conducted by UCIRO. The University encourages resolution of complaints at the local level whenever possible. Neither process is required before another may be utilized; however, a local investigation and a UCIRO investigation may not be undertaken simultaneously, and when a local investigation has already occurred, UCIRO does not conduct an appeal process if a person is dissatisfied with the results.

Investigation process

If the facts of your situation fall within UCIRO’s purview and the decision is made to move forward with a UCIRO investigation, we will send you a letter with a summary of your complaint, so that you can verify that the allegations are factually accurate and reflect your perspective fairly. Once the allegations are finalized and you have approved them, we will formally open a complaint investigation. The person whose conduct is the subject of the investigation will receive a formal, written notice of the allegations. UCIRO will also notify other people at the University who have a “business need to know” of the investigation.

An investigator, who may or may not be the same person who conducted the intake meeting, will be assigned to your case. The investigator may ask to interview you to ask more detailed questions about the complaint allegations. In addition, the investigator will interview the person(s) accused, interview witnesses, examine relevant documents, and gather related factual information.

Role of the investigator

The investigator acts as a neutral, objective fact-finder. The investigator is neither an advocate nor an adversary with respect to the person raising the concerns, the person(s) accused, the witnesses and/or the department(s) involved in the matter.

Confidentiality

Information about an investigation is provided only to those who have a “business need to know,” such as the person(s) accused, the administrative head of the University department involved, the appropriate Human Resources Consultant, the University’s Title IX or ADA Coordinator, and/or the Provost’s Office. Because the University is a public institution, after a UCIRO matter is concluded, information contained in UCIRO files may be subject to disclosure under the Washington State Public Records Act. Some information, such as medical information, student records, or information that is otherwise exempt from the Public Records Act, will not be subject to disclosure under that law. Other information obtained by UCIRO may be disclosed if otherwise required by law, for example, pursuant to a subpoena or court order. If you are a complainant or are interviewed as a witness during an investigation, the Public Records Act requires that your name be redacted from any records that are released under the Act. You must notify us before the end of the investigation if you would prefer that your name is released, so we can make this notation in our files in the event of a request made under the Public Records Act.

Retaliation

University policy prohibits retaliation against anyone reporting concerns regarding discrimination, cooperating with any investigation of discrimination, or participating in the complaint investigation process. Let the investigator know if you believe that someone has retaliated against you.

Conclusion of investigation

At the conclusion of an investigation, typically the investigator orally reports the findings to the complainant, the person whose actions are the subject of the investigation, and often, to the department.  These oral reports are made in separate meetings.  During these meetings, the participants may ask questions and learn about the investigative process and the reasoning for the investigation’s conclusions. Also, the investigator will issue a closure notice. The closure notice will include a conclusion that the University’s non-discrimination and/or non-retaliation policies either have or have not been violated. Once the closure notices are issued, the UCIRO matter will be closed. Per UW policy, there is no internal appeal process. Individuals who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint investigation may contact state or federal agencies.

Resolution options

Resolution discussions may be initiated at any point in the process either by the person who has raised concerns or by the department involved in the matter. The investigator facilitates a dialogue between the interested parties in an effort to help them identify potential resolution options. The possibilities for resolution vary greatly depending upon the particular facts of a matter, how an individual may prefer that a matter be resolved, and what proposals are mutually agreeable. Resolution is always voluntary and not all matters result in a resolution. If a resolution is successfully achieved, the UCIRO complaint investigation is administratively closed at that time.

University policies

Administrative Policy Statements 46.3: Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees

Executive Order No. 31: Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action

Executive Order No. 51: Sexual Violence Elimination Policy

Executive Order No. 54: Employee-Student Romantic Relationships and Conflict of Interest

Executive Order No. 70: Compliance with Education Department Sexual Harassment Regulations