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Grievances

Why is it that, as a culture,
we are more comfortable seeing two men holding
guns than holding hands?

—Ernest Gaines

The Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department (EAD) is responsible for investigating and resolving complaints of discrimination, harassment and related retaliation within Vanderbilt University, whether the complaints originate internally or externally.  Complaints can come from a number of sources including, but not limited to, employees, faculty, staff, students, patients, vendors and government agencies.

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Grievant

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Respondent

How to File a Complaint

The Investigation

The Decision

FAQs

 

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Grievant

The EAD accepts grievances of discrimination, harassment and related retaliation on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression in areas of:

If you believe someone within Vanderbilt has discriminated against, harassed or retaliated against you, please contact the EAD. Grievances may be filed at any time; however, it may be to your advantage to contact the EAD as soon as possible after the act in question occurred.  If the EAD is not the proper place to handle your complaint, it will direct you to the appropriate department.

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Respondent

As the person responding to the grievance, you will be informed of the allegations and given every opportunity to ask questions, provide information and offer names of witnesses or other relevant people. The EAD attempts at all times to protect you from unfounded allegations of discrimination.  As such, it expects full and truthful cooperation from you and that you will respect confidentiality. 

The EAD procedure is administrative. In an investigation, the EAD may request access to premises, records and documents relevant to the grievance. Your cooperation in an objective investigation can assure you of a fair decision on the grievance.

Consistent with Vanderbilt’s nondiscrimination policies, you must not retaliate against a person who files a complaint, participates in an investigation, encourages one to file, or opposes discrimination.  In addition, you must not interfere with an investigation. 

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How to File a Complaint

To file a grievance of discrimination, harassment or related retaliation with the EAD, please call the office at 615-322-4705, visit or write.  For contact information, please see the “Contact Us” tab to the left.

If you call or visit the EAD, a staff person will assist you in writing a brief outline of the facts. The staff person will assess the nature of your complaint and either submit your complaint to the Director or refer you to the appropriate department. If your complaint falls within the EAD’s purview, an investigator will contact you to set up a time for further discussion. If appropriate, the investigator will assist you in completing a grievance form, and once signed, an investigation will follow. If it is not appropriate, the investigator will refer you to the appropriate department.

If you write to the EAD, please be sure to include what happened and when; names of all parties involved, including witnesses (if any); supporting documentation; your belief as to why the act in question occurred; and your contact information. You know your complaint better than anyone else. Give the EAD staff person all of the details and answer all questions as fully as you can. Names, dates, places, and details of what happened should be as accurate as possible. Supporting documents, such as payroll slips or performance documentation can help to support allegations. If witnesses were present, it’s important to give full names, what they will know and how the EAD can contact them.

The Investigation

For grievances, the EAD investigator will seek a response from the person(s) the complaint is against, known as the respondent(s). The investigator will interview relevant persons who may have pertinent knowledge. Supporting documentation and statistical data may be collected and analyzed. The EAD staff may ask that you clarify some aspects of your complaint. If you learn or remember any additional information, you should notify the EAD investigator immediately. Once the relevant evidence is gathered, the investigator will determine whether the alleged acts violate a Vanderbilt non-discrimination policy. 

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The Decision

The EAD has the authority to decide whether or not the complaint is justified. The EAD may find:

If you filed a grievance, the investigator will notify you, and other appropriate parties, of the finding.  If you filed a charge with an agency outside of Vanderbilt, the investigator will not be able to notify you of the finding; your inquiries must be made to the agency where you filed your charge.

If you have filed a dispute in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Process, you must contact Employee Relations within ten calendar days from receipt of notice of the decision. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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