Alternative/Informal Resolution Pathway
Informal Resolution is a structured, voluntary, confidential process through which the parties to a complaint use an alternative to the Institute’s formal investigation and hearing process to resolve a complaint. The informal resolution process is intended to be flexible while also providing for a large range of possible outcomes.
This process is available under both the Sexual Misconduct Policy and the ADA Discrimination Grievance Policy.
How it Starts
At any point prior to a hearing, either party may ask the Coordinator (ADA or Title IX) overseeing the complaint to offer an informal resolution process to the other party.
Who Is Involved?
The named parties and the facilitator (typically the coordinator serves in this capacity, but it may be a designee). Advisors can support the party they are working with.
How Does it Work?
Once both parties agree to engage in the informal resolution process, the Facilitator presents the option of an informal resolution and proposed terms to each party independently and in writing. Usually, there are meetings with each party (with their advisor) to discuss what each would like to have occur or be included as part of the resolution, including terms and conditions. As long as both parties want to continue to pursue an informal resolution, there are separate communications with both parties (and their advisors) until an agreement has been reached regarding the details of the resolution agreement.
At no point are the parties required to confront each other or be present in the same room during the informal resolution process.
What Can Be Included in An Agreement?
An agreement may include but is not limited to:
- Restrictions on contact, communication, and/or interaction between the parties
- restrictions on parties’ movements or access to locations on campus
- educational remedies
- an admission of responsibility
- written apologies
- disciplinary/punitive sanctions
- training and/or coaching
- involvement in an educational program; and community service.
Other Important Factors to Consider
The Institute and the parties must agree on the terms and conditions of the informal resolution. The facilitator drafts the Informal Resolution Agreement (“IRA”) identifying the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties. Separately, both parties are offered the opportunity to sign the IRA. Either party has the option to end informal resolution discussions and request a formal process at any time until the written resolution agreement is signed. Matters resolved informally are not appealable.
How to access or request informal resolution
Once information on an incident is received, someone from Equity & Compliance Programs will contact you and ask if you’d like to schedule a time to meet or talk by phone. This meeting will serve as an opportunity for you to learn more about the full range of resources and pathways available to you, including informal resolution
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A note on the difference between making a report and submitting a formal complaint to Equity & Compliance Programs:
- The “Submit an incident report” form is to notify Equity & Compliance programs about an incident/situation without yet requesting a formal investigation. This form can be completed by anyone in or outside of Georgia Tech. Once a report is received, our office will reach out to any impacted individuals identified in the incident report to provide information, resources, and support services.
- Formal Complaint - While not required, we do encourage individuals that would like to submit a formal complaint to meet with Equity and Compliance Programs prior to submitting a formal complaint. This will allow for a review of the applicable policies and procedures, as well as learning more about rights, options, and any supportive measures available.
You do not need to file a formal complaint to seek supportive measures. Simply telling Equity and Compliance Programs or a Responsible Employee does not automatically result in a Formal Complaint.
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A formal complaint can be submitted in a number of ways, including a signed written document identified as a Formal Complaint, asking Georgia Tech to investigate an allegation. Any submitted document should:
- Include the entity/individual alleged to have violated the Georgia Tech policy.
- Describe with reasonable specificity the conduct the requesting party believes violated Georgia Tech policy, including the date, time, and location where the conduct occurred.
- Be written in the requesting party’s own words.
- Be signed, either physically or digitally, by the requesting party, or otherwise indicate that the requesting party is the person completing and submitting the Formal Complaint.
- Include any documentation you wish to attach.
Complaints involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or 504 should be directed to the ADA Coordinator at email@example.com.
Complaints involving the Sexual Misconduct Policy should be directed to the Title IX Coordinator at TitleIX@gatech.edu.
Specific information on Dismissal of a Formal Complaint under the Georgia Tech Sexual Misconduct Policy
While Georgia Tech is required to investigate formal complaints of Title IX Sexual Harassment, there are also conditions under which a case must be dismissed under federal law and Institute policy:
- If presuming everything reported is true, the behavior does not meet one of the definitions of Title IX Sexual Harassment or
- If the behavior occurred outside of the jurisdiction of Title IX (e.g. it did not occur towards a person accessing a Georgia Tech program or activity in the United States).
Georgia Tech may also dismiss a case under the Sexual Misconduct Policy when:
- The complainant provides written notice to withdraw the complaint,
- The respondent is no longer enrolled or employed at Georgia Tech, or
- Circumstances prevent Georgia Tech from gathering enough information to determine what occurred.
A party may appeal a dismissal of a complaint, with additional information provided to all named parties upon the decision to dismiss by the Coordinator.
Once a complainant has filed a formal complaint and the Equity & Compliance Programs office has determined that the nature and context of the reported incident(s) meet the standards, the office will provide written notice to the parties which will include information about the reported incident (as well as any known identities of the parties involved, the nature of the incident(s) and when/where it occurred) as well as a description of the investigation and resolution procedures. An investigator will be assigned and will coordinate the fact-finding portion. Please note that all timelines utilize business days (not calendar days).
- Should additional information about possible other violations arise during an investigation, an updated written notice will be provided to the relevant parties of any further possible violations being investigated.
- Georgia Tech reserves the right to consolidate into one investigation or separate formal complaints into the individual investigation(s), at the discretion of the supervising Coordinator, when the reported conduct appears to arise from the same circumstances, such as multiple complainants reporting harassment by the same respondent(s) or one complainant reports harassment by multiple respondent(s).
The investigation process provides the parties with the following opportunities:
- written notice and reasonable opportunity to prepare in advance for any meeting or interview,
- to describe their experiences/perspectives, offer witnesses, and share any information relevant to the allegation(s) under investigation, and
- to review and respond to any and all evidence directly related to the reported conduct. For incidents involving the Sexual Misconduct Policy, at least ten business days are provided to review and respond to all evidence before completing the investigation report.
Unless dismissed or resolved informally, any investigated formal complaint will move to the adjudication phase. Formal complaints under the ADA/504 are reviewed administratively, with decisions provided to the involved parties. Formal complaints under the Georgia Tech Sexual Misconduct Policy involving a Georgia Tech student or employee respondent will proceed to a hearing (in-person or virtual) conducted by a trained decision-maker(s) who is free from bias or conflicts of interest. Basic elements of the hearing process include the opportunity to review the investigation report in advance of the hearing, the opportunity for the parties’ respective advisors to ask questions of any other parties and witnesses during the hearing, and access to all evidence during the hearing. Procedural details will be provided in writing to the parties in advance of any hearing.
Administrative Adjudication of Discrimination Cases
For those cases involving disability discrimination, upon conclusion of the investigation process, a trained decision-maker who is free from bias or conflicts of interest will be assigned to adjudicate the case. This is a paper-based review, not an in-person hearing or proceeding.
Decisions: Findings and Sanctions
The decision-maker(s) will determine whether, based on a preponderance of the evidence (i.e. whether it is more likely than not), the respondent is responsible or not responsible for committing the underlying conduct that is the basis of the allegation(s). In making this determination, the decision-maker(s) will consider all available information in the case, including any live hearing testimony, the investigation summary, appendices, and other relevant evidence submitted or obtained during the investigation. If the respondent is found responsible for committing a violation, the decision-maker(s) will also determine the appropriate sanction(s) and may consider any relevant prior substantiated conduct or findings of responsibility and disciplinary/corrective action in doing so.
Either named party (complainant or respondent) may appeal a determination of responsibility and/or the dismissal of all or part of a complaint of based on any of the following:
- The procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the decision was made that could affect the outcome, or
- The Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome.
A written appeal must be submitted as described in the outcome letter from the original decision-maker. Appeals are generally due within a few days of the issuance of the outcomes. Appeals are a paper-review process and the written decision(s) of the second & final appellate officer is the final Institute determination of resolution of the complaint.
The parties will be notified simultaneously, in writing, of the outcome of the appeal and any changes to the outcome(s).
In accordance with USG Policy 6.26, an individual can submit an application for Discretionary Review to the University System Office of Legal Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org within twenty (20) calendar days following the final Institution decision.