Formal Complaint Process
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Formal Complaint Process

Formal Complaint:  The Formal Report process will generally be used when the informal report for early resolution is inappropriate (e.g. when the facts are in dispute regarding allegations of serious misconduct or there are reports of a pattern of inappropriate behavior/alleged criminal acts such as stalking or physical assault) or in cases where the informal process is unsuccessful.  See below for more details regarding this process. 

Before filing a formal complaint, the Complainant should consult with the Director of Staff & Student Diversity.

What is the formal complaint process? 

Step 1:  You must complete the written Formal Unlawful Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF).  Copies of the form are also available from the Office of Staff & Student Diversity (Communications Building, Room 201-D).

For Unlawful Discrimination involving a District Employee:

A formal unlawful discrimination complaint must be filed within 180 days of the date the alleged unlawful discrimination occurred, to be extended by no more than 90 days following the 180 days if  the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged violation after the 180 days.  Complaints filed beyond this time period may be investigated, however, failure to timely report will impede the District's ability to investigate and remediate.

For Unlawful Discrimination not involving a District Employee:

A formal unlawful discrimination complaint must be filed within one year of the date of the alleged unlawful discrimination or within one year of the date on which the complainant knew or should have known of the facts underlying the alleged unlawful discrimination.

Step 2: You must file the completed Formal Unlawful Discrimination Complaint Form with the Office of Staff & Student Diversity or directly to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. 

Step 3:  Within ten (10) business days of the date it is received, the Office of Staff & Student Diversity will determine whether the complaint may be credible such that an investigation is necessary.  In certain cases, the determination of credibility may take a longer period of time.  The District shall make diligent efforts to promptly reach a determination.  Additional clarification and/or information may be requested.   Complaints will be deemed to be credible if they allege violations of the District's Discrimination and Harassment policies, or allege violations of state or federal discrimination and harassment laws and administrative rules.

Where complaints are determined by the Office of Staff & Student Diversity to be credible, it will provide to both Parties notice of receipt of the complaint and a request for investigative interviews.  The Office of Staff & Student Diversity will also provide written notice of the complaint to the department supervisors for any District employee named as a Respondent.  Written notice will not be provided to respective union representatives without the Respondent’s consent.   

During the investigation process, the Complainant and the Respondent are not to contact each other about the complaint.  All parties to a complaint are expected to fully cooperate with any investigation in a timely manner.  If either party refuses to cooperate, the failure to cooperate may be considered in the Investigative Findings.

Step 4: The Investigative Process.  The Investigator will conduct a fact-finding investigation, which will include interviewing the Complainant, Respondent, and any available witnesses, as well as a review of all available evidence.

Both Complainant and Respondent (including employees subject to a collective bargaining unit) may have a single Advisor present during their own investigative interviews and meetings. The advisor’s role is limited to observing and consulting with and providing support to the Complainant or Respondent. An Advisor may not participate (speak) in the interview on the Party’s behalf; and may not in any way disrupt or interfere with the investigative or any related appeal process. The advisor should also maintain confidentiality.

All District Employees have the duty to prevent unlawful discrimination at work.   Failure to participate in the investigatory process, including refusal to participate in an investigatory interview or withholding relevant evidence, may result in disciplinary action.

Disclosure of facts to parties and witnesses shall be limited to what is reasonably necessary to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.  Participants in an investigation will be advised that maintaining confidentiality is essential to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Step 5:  The District shall make reasonable, diligent efforts to complete its investigation within ninety (90) days from the date in which the complaint was filed unless there are extenuating circumstances that prohibit the timeliness of the completion of the investigation.  If additional time is needed, the Office of Staff & Student Diversity will notify the Parties of the extension. 

Notice of the outcome of the investigation will be given to both Parties (and to the department supervisors and/or Union representative for any District employee named as a Respondent, if applicable).  The Notice of Administrative Determination (for Complainant) and Notice of Investigative Findings (for Respondent) will include an overview of the allegations, applicable Board Policies, investigative findings, and applicable appeal rights; and will be kept as confidential as possible.  

When a violation of discrimination and harassment policies is substantiated, the Investigator will make a recommendation for appropriate remedial action, which may include disciplinary action or sanctions against those involved in the complaint.

Any recommendation for disciplinary action or sanctions by the Investigator shall be forwarded to the District, which will review the recommendations and determine an appropriate course of action.  Any discipline or sanctions against a party by the District shall be imposed in accordance with applicable District policy, Board policy, applicable collective agreements, and law.

When is the formal reporting process appropriate?  The formal report process will be used when the informal report for early resolution is inappropriate (e.g. allegations of serious misconduct, reports of a pattern of inappropriate behavior, alleged criminal acts such as stalking or assault) or in cases where the informal process for early resolution is unsuccessful.   

Appeals Processes

The Complainant may file an appeal of the Notice of Administrative Determination within fifteen (15) days of the Notice pursuant to Title V.  For a full explanation of the Appeals Procedure, please see California Code of Regulations, Title V, Section 59338 and 59339.

The Appeal of any applicable sanctions resulting from an unlawful discrimination investigation must be addressed through the appropriate District Disciplinary Officer directly.

The District’s primary correspondence and notification mechanism with Parties shall be through the District assigned email account. At the District’s discretion, Complainants may be notified via U.S. certified mail, delivery in person, or by an alternate email on record as shown on District record.