- Is it retaliatory for a respondent to contact a complainant during an informal problem-solving process or investigation?
Respondents should be thoughtful about any communications with a complainant while an informal problem-solving process or investigation is ongoing. Communications from a respondent to a complainant that are reasonably perceived as threatening, intimidating, or harassing could be retaliation in violation of University policy. In addition, a respondent’s contact with a complainant during an investigation into the complainant’s concerns could undermine the integrity of that investigation.
In many cases, ongoing contact between the parties during an informal problem-solving process or investigation is necessary and appropriate. In these cases, the campus Equal Opportunity office can help put measures in place to mitigate that contact where appropriate. For example, in some cases involving coworkers, it might be necessary and appropriate for the parties to continue communication in the employment setting. In these cases, the campus Equal Opportunity office or supervisor may help to implement requirements that a third party be present during meetings or be copied on emails between the parties, or to implement some other intervention.
- Can actions taken by the complainant constitute retaliation against a respondent?
To retaliate against a respondent under this policy, a complainant would need to take adverse action against the respondent because the respondent reported prohibited conduct, expressed opposition to prohibited conduct, or participated in an Equal Opportunity & Title IX process. A complainant’s adverse actions against a respondent for other reasons would not constitute prohibited retaliation.
- Is it retaliation for a complainant to publicly state that the respondent engaged in prohibited conduct?
Generally not. This conduct would only constitute retaliation if done because the respondent reported prohibited conduct, expressed opposition to prohibited conduct, or participated in a Equal Opportunity & Title IX process and if the conduct was sufficiently severe so as to rise to the level of an adverse action. However, a complainant’s discussion with potential witnesses about the facts underlying an investigation or the investigation process, or public dissemination of this information, during an investigation could undermine the integrity of an investigation and is not recommended.
- Can actions constitute retaliation if taken against a complainant for making a report or participating in an investigation if that report was not ultimately substantiated?
Yes. Retaliation against a complainant for making a prohibited conduct report is prohibited even if it was determined that the respondent did not engage in prohibited conduct in violation of University policy.
- Does the retaliation policy apply to witnesses?
Yes. Witnesses are protected from being retaliated against for their participation in an Equal Opportunity & Title IX process. Witnesses are also prohibited from engaging in retaliation against others.
- What should I do if I believe I am being retaliated against?
We encourage you to contact the campus Equal Opportunity office if you believe you are experiencing retaliation. Employees may also contact their supervisor or Human Resources.
Printed on: 11/30/2023. Please go to policy.umn.edu for the most current version of the document.