Employment Discrimination Policy and Complaint Procedure

From the President

Employment discrimination is a serious matter that interferes with employees reaching their full professional potential. This publication addresses Brooklyn College's employment discrimination policy and describes the complaint procedure you should follow if you believe that you have been discriminated against. Please help ensure that the college is a comfortable place for you to work and for our students to learn by upholding this policy in your interactions with others.

If you have any questions regarding the policy and procedures or feel that you have been discriminated against for any of the reasons mentioned, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs, 718.951.4128. Your concerns will be taken seriously and investigated or otherwise resolved according to the policy.

Karen L. Gould

Introduction

Brooklyn College adheres to federal, state and city laws and regulations, as well as City University of New York (CUNY) policies, regarding equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. Federal laws that incorporate equal employment opportunity components include, among others, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1991; Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974; and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Brooklyn College also complies with New York State and New York City human rights laws.

Collectively, these laws prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of:

  • Age
  • Carrier status
  • Citizenship status
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Marital status
  • Military status
  • National origin
  • Prior arrest or conviction record *
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sabbath observance
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender
  • Victims of domestic violence
* The assessment of the conviction record of an applicant or employee must be reviewed in accordance with CUNY policies and the New York Correction Law, Sec. 752, which, among other things, states that if there is a direct relationship between one or more of the applicant's previous convictions and the specific employment sought, or where employing the applicant poses an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public, then the discrimination is not unlawful.

 

These laws also prohibit retaliation against an individual for raising an allegation of discrimination, filing a complaint alleging discrimination, or participating in a proceeding to determine if discrimination has occurred.

The affirmative action laws governing CUNY and Brooklyn College include Executive Order 11246; as amended, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and Section 402 of the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974.

The affirmative action policies and practices of Brooklyn College are part of CUNY's goal to provide equal employment opportunity and prevent discrimination. Such policies and practices apply to persons in federally protected groups, including women, persons with disabilities, Vietnam Era veterans, Blacks, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific islanders, and American Indians/Alaskan natives. In addition, CUNY and Brooklyn College have designated Italian Americans as a protected group for whom these policies apply.

Discrimination Defined

Discrimination may take several forms. It may occur when a person is excluded from an employment opportunity or treated less favorably than other similarly situated persons because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin or citizenship status, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, prior arrest or conviction record, genetic predisposition or carrier status, Sabbath observance, or any other basis prohibited by law. This type of discrimination is considered disparate treatment or a difference in treatment.

Adverse impact discrimination results from neutral employment policies and practices that may be applied evenly to all applicants or employees but have the effect of disproportionately excluding a group with a protected status.

The failure to provide reasonable accommodations for the known disabilities of an otherwise qualified applicant or employee, or to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an applicant or employee may be discriminatory also.

Additionally, harassment on any of these bases is contrary to law, as is the retaliation against an individual for raising an allegation of discrimination, filing a complaint alleging discrimination, or participating in a proceeding to determine if discrimination has occurred.

Furthermore, state law and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide protections on the basis of a person's perceived protected status.

The laws prohibiting discrimination in employment apply to all terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, recruitment, testing, selection, hiring, work assignments, salary and benefits, performance evaluations, promotions and tenure, training opportunities, transfers, discipline, discharge and working conditions.

Coverage

This equal employment opportunity procedure applies to all job applicants and employees and, in some instances, former employees of Brooklyn College. Students employed by Brooklyn College have the right to equal employment opportunity in their capacity as employees.

The procedure for handling allegations of discrimination is objective and impartial, designed to assist in resolving equal employment opportunity issues and in investigating alleged illegal discrimination. The process does not supplant any rights employees may have to pursue allegations of discrimination through a collective bargaining agreement that includes discrimination as a ground for grievance, or any other rights conferred by law.

Brooklyn College places a strong emphasis on prompt action to resolve complaints alleging discrimination. Members of the college community who believe themselves to have been discriminated against are strongly encouraged to report allegations as promptly as possible. Delay in making a complaint may make it more difficult for the college to investigate the allegations.

Determining How to Proceed

Consultation With the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) Officer

A job applicant, employee or former employee who wishes to make a complaint related to affirmative action or equal employment opportunity, including reasonable accommodations for disabilities, may consult with the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) Officer of the college:

Natalie Mason-Kinsey
Director
2147 Boylan Hall
718.951.4128

Issues pertaining to sexual harassment may be directed to the coordinator of the college's Sexual Harassment Panel:

Professor Miriam B. Deutch
412 Library
718.951.5221

Robert Oliva
1303 James Hall
718.951.5956

Any vice president, dean, director, department chairperson, administrator or other person with managerial or supervisory authority who becomes aware that applicants or employees believe that they been discriminated against should advise those applicants or employees to their right to contact AA/EEO Officer.

Employees have the right to meet privately with the AA/EEO Officer during working hours; however, they should obtain approval for leaving a work assignment. Employees need not disclose the details of the purpose of a meeting with the AA/EEO Officer to their supervisor. In other words, complaints of discrimination need not go up the normal chain of command.

Managers and supervisors shall allow employees to meet with the AA/EEO Officer at the earliest practicable time consistent with the operational needs of their units.

The AA/EEO Officer may arrange to meet with an employee outside the college when necessary in order to ensure confidentiality. At an employee's request, arrangements may also be made to hold meetings before or after working hours or during the employee's lunch period.

The initial consultation provides an opportunity for the AA/EEO Officer to learn the general nature of the employee's allegations and to determine whether those allegations would, if demonstrated to be true, violate any law, regulation, or policy related to equal employment opportunity or affirmative action. If the facts presented do not point to any violation of law, regulation, or policy related to equal employment opportunity or affirmative action, the complainant will be so advised. The AA/EEO Officer, whenever possible, will provide information about other college or CUNY offices that might provide guidance or assistance to the employee.

There may be circumstances in which the AA/EEO Officer initiates an investigation of a matter that has come to the attention of the college even when no specific complaint has been made.

Using the Grievance Procedure

In lieu of consulting with the AA/EEO Officer, employees who are covered by collective bargaining agreements may use their contractual grievance procedures, within the time limits provided in those agreements, to report allegations of discrimination. Employees choosing this avenue should contact their union representative directly.

Using External Agencies

Although Brooklyn College would prefer having the opportunity to investigate allegations of discrimination internally and do remedy situations where the law, or college or CUNY policies have been violated, a complainant may, at any time, file a complaint of discrimination with a city, state or federal administrative agency that enforces the law prohibiting discrimination. The names and contact information for such agencies are included below.

Pursuing a Complaint With the AA/EEO Officer

After consultation with the AA/EEO Officer, if it has been determined that a violation may have occurred, the complainant will be informed of options available for subsequent action. These options may fall into two main categories:

  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Internal complaint investigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The objective of this option is to stop the behavior or action that forms the basis for the complaint of illegal discrimination without the college's engaging in a full investigation or making a finding as to whether discrimination has occurred. This option will be recommended if the AA/EEO Officer and the complainant agree that this approach has the potential to address the allegation(s). A decision to proceed through the ADR channel does not preclude a subsequent investigation if the complaint cannot be resolved through ADR. Possible resolutions through ADR include, but are not limited to: the complainant taking steps to resolve the complaint on her or his own without intervention by the AA/EEO Officer or a college official; or having complaint resolution activities facilitated by the AA/EEO Officer or another appropriate college official.

Whenever possible, complaints should be resolved within ninety working days following initiation of the complaint. Any settlement, withdrawal, or other disposition of such a matter does not constitute binding precedent in the resolution of similar complaints.

Internal Complaint Investigation

When ADR is not feasible or possible, the AA/EEO Officer will completely and thoroughly investigate discrimination complaints and will make a determination as to whether an antidiscrimination law, regulation, or Brooklyn College or CUNY policy has been violated. If a violation has occurred, action will be taken to correct it and, where appropriate, to discipline employees who have engaged in discriminatory conduct.

Any employee wishing to pursue an investigation is encouraged to file a written complaint with the AA/EEO Officer. When a complainant is unwilling or unable to file a written complaint, the AA/EEO Officer will nevertheless investigate the complaint, based on the complainant's oral statements, as soon as possible after the AA/EEO Officer receives a complaint.

The appropriate parties will be notified that a complaint has been filed and that an investigation has begun.

If an investigation of a complaint requires it, the AA/EEO Officer shall have the authority to request and examine relevant records and files and to make inquiries necessary to investigate the complaint. All employees of the college are expected to cooperate with the investigation.

Anonymous complaints will be investigated, to the extent possible, as any other complaint to ascertain the existence of illegal discrimination and to remedy the problem, if necessary.

Possible Outcomes of an Internal Investigation

Finding that the allegations are not supported by the facts. In the event that the investigation uncovers no reasonable basis for the allegations of discrimination, the complainant, the president, and all other appropriate parties will be notified of such outcome in writing. At that time, the complainant will be notified of options available to her or him.

Finding that the allegations are supported by the facts. When the allegations of discrimination are substantiated by the facts, the AA/EEO Officer shall make a written summary of the findings for the president. Following receipt of the report, the president shall promptly take such action as she or he deems necessary and proper to correct the effects or to prevent further harm to an affected party or others similarly situated.

Examples of corrective action include, but are not limited to, commencing disciplinary proceedings that could result in discharge, issuing verbal warnings, transferring an employee, and/or granting a benefit wrongfully withheld. The college's action will vary from case to case and will depend upon the degree and type of violation that has occurred. If, before an investigation is fully completed, the president feels immediate action must be taken to protect the college community, she or he may do so.

Withdrawal of Complaint

The complainant has the right to request that the investigation be terminated at any stage of the process; however, the AA/EEO Officer may not terminate an investigation when there is evidence that the law or a CUNY or Brooklyn College policy has been violated. In such an instance, the investigation must continue until a finding is made. If an investigation is terminated at the request of a complainant, however, all parties will be notified in writing of the termination.

Confidentiality

This procedure seeks to protect the privacy of persons making inquiries about their rights as well as the rights of persons otherwise involved in an investigation. Therefore, while it is not possible to provide absolute confidentiality, the entire complaint, investigation, and resolution process will be handled discreetly. Information concerning the process will be divulged only on a need-to-know basis. All parties to the process are requested to adhere to a similar standard of discretion.

Record Keeping

The AA/EEO Officer will maintain records of all complaints of discrimination whether they are processed through ADR, an internal investigation, or by an outside agency.

Retaliation Prohibited

It is a violation of federal, state and city law, as well as college policy, to retaliate against any person for opposing discrimination, filing a complaint, or participating in a proceeding to determine if discrimination has occurred. Complaints of retaliation will be investigated and a finding reached. Where findings warrant, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

Time Limits

Applicants and employees are encouraged to consult with the AA/EEO Officer as soon as they become aware of an alleged violation. Delays in reporting allegations may impair the ability of the AA/EEO Officer to conduct a proper investigation and reach a resolution. Thus, employees are encouraged to report allegations immediately. Also, time limits, some of which are extremely short, apply when filing complaints with external agencies or when filing grievances under collective bargaining agreements. Those administrative agencies and/or labor relations representatives should be consulted directly for time limits and other filing requirements (see below).

External Agencies Where a Complaint May Be Filed

All applicants, employees, or former employees seeking to file a discrimination complaint are encouraged to file such complaint internally with the AA/EEO Officer; by contacting the AA/EEO Officer, a person does not forfeit her or his right to file an external complain with an administrative agency handling discrimination complaints. Once such an agency has intervened in a complaint, the AA/EEO Office will surrender jurisdiction of the matter to the CUNY Office of the General Counsel, which will take over administration of the complaint.

The following external administrative agencies enforce laws prohibiting discrimination. Each agency has a time limit governing the filing of complaints. Agencies should be contacted directly for information pertaining to filing a complaint.

New York City Commission on Human Rights

40 Rector Street
New York, NY 10006
212.306.7500
212.306.7686 (TTY)

New York State Division of Human Rights

163 West 125 Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10027
212.961.8650
(212) 961-8999 (TTY)

270 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, NY
212.417.5041

55 Hanson Place, 3rd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217
718.722.2856

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

New York District Office
201 Varick Street
Suite #1009
New York, NY 10014
212.741.2783
212.748.3080 (TTY)

U.S. Office of Civil Rights, Region II

U.S. Department of Education
26 Federal Plaza, 33rd Floor
New York, NY 10278
212.264.5180
212.264.9464

U. S. Department of Justice

Constitution Avenue & 10th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
202.514.0301
202.514.0381 (TTY)