How to File a Complaint

This overview is a brief description of how to file a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment at Purdue North Central. For additional information concerning the University’s policies and procedures in this area, please contact the Office of Institutional Equity.

Who may file a complaint?

Any person (e.g., faculty, staff, student, visitor) may report what they believe to be an act of discrimination or harassment to the Office of Institutional Equity as soon as possible after the alleged incident(s).

How do I file a complaint through the Office of Institutional Equity?

You may file a complaint through the Informal Resolution Process by completing the Complaint Information Form, which is available from the Office of Institutional Equity.  The completed form should be submitted to the Office of Institutional Equity located in Schwarz Hall, room 25C, 1401 South U.S. Highway 421, Westville, IN 46391-9542.

You may file a complaint through the Formal Resolution Process by submitting a letter to the Chancellor of Purdue North Central, Schwarz Hall, room 137C, 1401 South U.S. Highway 421, Westville, IN 46391-9542. The letter should describe the alleged incident(s) along with relevant date(s), name(s) of the Respondent(s) and witnesses. The complaint letter needs to be dated and signed by the Complainant.

What is the difference between a formal and an informal complaint?

Both the Informal and Formal Complaints are official University complaints of discrimination and/or harassment; however, there are some key distinctions between the two types of complaint processes.

Informal Complaint:

The goal of the Informal Resolution Process is to attempt to reach a resolution to the complaint that is acceptable to both the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s). Purdue does not make a determination as to whether a Respondent(s) has violated University policy. Instead, Office of Institutional Equity staff will use conflict resolution techniques to attempt to resolve the concern(s) brought forward. The Informal Resolution Process is flexible and invites active participation of all the parties in order to resolve the complaint. Moreover, Office of Institutional Equity staff members will only speak to those people whose involvement is necessary to facilitate a resolution to a complaint. At times, this might include only the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s). The Office of Institutional Equity attempts to reach a resolution to an Informal Complaint within thirty days of the filing of the complaint.

Formal Complaint:

The goal of the Formal Resolution Process is to reach an official determination as to whether a Respondent(s) has violated the University’s Anti-Harassment Policy and/or Nondiscrimination Policy. As part of the Formal Resolution Process, a University Investigator will conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations of the complaint and prepare a report of the investigation. Following the investigation, the Chancellor of Purdue North Central will convene a panel composed of the Chancellor and three members from the Advisory Committee on Equity. Each party has the opportunity to attend the panel meeting, as does the Investigator.  The Advisory Committee members will make recommendations, and the Chancellor will ultimately issue a determination as to 1) whether a University policy concerning discrimination and/or harassment was violated; and 2), if so, what the appropriate sanction should be. There is available a written appeal to the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance if either party wishes to appeal the Chancellor’s determination. This process ordinarily takes approximately sixty days to conclude.

The complaining party selects whether to pursue an Informal or Formal Complaint. A Complainant may choose to first file an Informal Complaint. If, however, the parties are unable to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the Informal Complaint, a Complainant may then file a Formal Complaint provided that the complaint is within the time limitations set out in the Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment.

A complete description of the Informal Resolution Process and the Formal Resolution Process can be found in the University’s Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment, available from the Office of Institutional Equity or online (http://www.purdue.edu/ethics/resolvingcomplaints.html).

What are the possible resolutions parties agree to as a result of an Informal Complaint?

Possible resolutions might include, but are not limited to 1) an agreement by the Respondent to cease the behavior; 2) assisting the Respondent to better understand the effects of his or her conduct and ways in which this behavior might be changed; 3) participation in educational programs about equal opportunity or harassment; 4) verbal or written reprimands; 5) taking away of privileges, such as internet access; or 6) termination of employment. The resolution sought typically depends upon the circumstances of the complaint as well as the wishes of the parties involved.

May I file both an Informal and a Formal Complaint?

Yes. The Informal Resolution Process and the Formal Resolution Process are not mutually exclusive. An individual may attempt to first resolve his or her concerns through an Informal Complaint. If, however, the parties are unable to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of an Informal Complaint, a Complainant may then file a Formal Complaint provided that the complaint is within the time limitations set out in the Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment.

When do I need to file a complaint?

Individuals wishing to report a concern or file a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment are encouraged to do so as soon as possible following the incident(s). Any complaint must be filed within 120 days of the incident of discrimination and/or harassment or, where the behavior is of an ongoing nature, within 120 days from the most recent incident. The time limits for filing complaints cannot be extended.

If an employee leaves the University, the employee must file a complaint relating to alleged discrimination and/or harassment occurring during that individual’s employment with the University within ten days following the employee’s termination of employment from the University.

Do I have to file a complaint once I contact the Office of Institutional Equity?

Any member of the University community may consult the Office of Institutional Equity without obligation to file a complaint. Office of Institutional Equity staff will give University community members information designed to explain the University’s policies and procedures so that they may make an informed choice as to whether they would like to file a complaint. In certain limited situations, however, the information learned by the Office of Institutional Equity may be of sufficient concern that the University must take appropriate action to resolve the concern even though an individual does not wish to file a complaint. An example would be if an individual could be harmed if s/he returns to the environment s/he has described.

Will my complaint be confidential?

Complaints of discrimination and/or harassment are treated with the greatest degree of confidentiality possible. In all situations, confidentiality is maintained on a strict need-to-know basis; however, confidentiality can only be respected insofar as it does not interfere with the University’s obligation to investigate allegations of misconduct that require it to take corrective action.

Am I protected from retaliation if I file a complaint?

Purdue University prohibits retaliation against individuals who file complaints or who participate in the complaint resolution process. Retaliatory action is regarded as a basis for a separate complaint under the University’s Procedures. If you believe that you have been retaliated against for filing a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment, or for participating in the resolution of a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment, please contact the Office of Institutional Equity.

What is the role of the Office of Institutional Equity?

The Office of Institutional Equity is an administrative office, not a judicial or legal office. Its role is to assist campus community members in understanding the University’s policies and procedures in the area of discrimination and harassment and to assist in resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment. The Office of Institutional Equity staff members are impartial administrators who are neither advocates nor adversaries with respect to the parties and witnesses in a complaint-related matter. Instead, Office of Institutional Equity staff members are advocates for the proper and fair administration of the complaint process.

May I file an anonymous complaint?

If you see or suspect unethical or illegal behavior, you may report your concerns anonymously through Purdue University’s enterprise-wide hotline. Visit www.purdue.edu/hotline or call toll free 1-866-818-2620.

Where can I get more information?

The Office of Institutional Equity can further explain the University’s policies and procedures to you and can assist in initiating the complaint process. To make an appointment, please call (219) 785-5545. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Individuals who wish to file a complaint outside the University may be able to file a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Information regarding filing charges with any of these agencies may be obtained from the Office of Institutional Equity or directly from the agencies.