Skip to main content

Procedures for Resolving Complaints Against Staff Members Relating to Discrimination or Misconduct

Non-Retaliation Policy | Good Faith Participation | Support Person | Confidentiality | Complaint Resolution

Swarthmore College is committed to establishing and maintaining a community rich in equality and free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and misconduct. The College recognizes that all who work and learn at the College are responsible for ensuring that the community is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, assault, and other forms of staff member misconduct. These behaviors threaten our learning, living, and work environments and will not be tolerated. 

The College provides methods for staff members to seek prompt, impartial, and balanced assessment of their workplace concerns. These procedures apply to complaints against staff and may be brought by any members of the College community, including students, staff members, and faculty members, or any individuals regularly employed, studying, living, or having any official capacity at the College. For questions regarding this policy, please contact the EO Officer for private initial consultations.

These procedures are used to resolve concerns and complaints regarding: 

  • discrimination in violation of the College’s Notice of Non-Discrimination against any staff member. Complaints of discrimination will be resolved by these procedures when the person bringing the complaint has reason to believe the discrimination was based on race, color, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, pregnancy, marital status, medical condition, veteran status, disability in any decision regarding the complainant’s admission to, employment, or involvement in a College program or activity. Complaints of discrimination based on sex or gender, including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, are resolved according to the College’s Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy.
  • other forms of misconduct against any staff member. 

Non-Retaliation Policy

Employees may use these procedures without fear of retaliation from supervisors or others against whom a complaint may be lodged. Retaliation against any member of the community for good faith participation in these procedures is a violation of College policy. Retaliation will not be tolerated and will be subject to College disciplinary procedures up to and including dismissal. Any violation of this policy should be reported immediately to Human Resources, the EO Officer, or another appropriate College resource person (e.g., Vice President of Human Resources).

Good Faith Participation

The resolution process is dependent upon the willingness of all those involved to participate in good faith, whether as a complainant, respondent, witness, or support person. Accordingly, it is expected that community members will participate in an open, civil, and respectful manner aimed at productive resolution. Should a community member be found to have knowingly and intentionally brought forward a false charge, provided false witness, or in any other way knowingly and intentionally acted to thwart the resolution process, that person will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Support Person

At any stage of this resolution process, an employee may have a campus support person of their choice—subject to the person’s availability—to attend meetings in order to help the complainant/respondent present their case effectively and to provide moral support. Please note that, since this is an internal campus process, support persons must be Swarthmore College staff or faculty members.

The support person is expected to be a silent and a non-participating observer except to ask for a short break if the staff member requires some time for composure or to collect their thoughts. The support person may communicate with the staff member during meetings in a non-disruptive manner. The support person may not delay, disrupt, or otherwise take action to interfere with the integrity of any meeting. The support person, if disruptive, may be required to leave a meeting. The support person is expected to follow the confidentiality guidelines set forth below.


It is important to recognize that understanding the nature of the complaint and facilitating resolution typically requires speaking with others. The Director, Equal Opportunity and Engagement will take this step only when necessary to resolve the complaint and only with those persons relevant to the resolution of the complaint.

Supervisors, managers, and facilitators of the resolution process are required to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings, and all other participants in a complaint (i.e., complainant, respondent, interviewees, witnesses,) are encouraged to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings to ensure an unencumbered resolution.

Complaint Resolution

Employees and Managers are encouraged to attempt to resolve issues relative to performance through direct conversations with each other. If either person needs assistance with such conversation, they should contact the Equal Opportunity Officer. It is best to hold these conversations as close as possible to the time when the action giving rise to your concern arises. 

If you are uncomfortable approaching a staff member or your supervisor directly, or if you believe you have been subjected to discrimination in violation of College policy, you may bring your concern directly to the Equal Opportunity Officer.  The Equal Opportunity Officer will review thoroughly the concerns raised in a timely fashion and provide a recommendation regarding effective resolution of the issues at hand. This review will include discussions with parties that are directly involved in the matter, documentation that may be pertinent to the concerns raised, and any other relevant information discovered during the review. 

The resolution can range from a follow-up meeting to discuss the nature of the complaint, to a mediated discussion between the complaining employee and the responding employee, to other appropriate measures deemed effective depending upon the results of the review of the complaint. 

Throughout the process, the College’s commitment to fair and equitable treatment and the prohibition to discriminatory behavior will be paramount. The Equal Opportunity Officer is responsible for providing timely updates to the complainant throughout the process.

The EO Officer will take appropriate steps to assess and, in cases claiming discrimination or a College policy violation, will determine if an investigation is appropriate. Typically, an investigation is considered appropriate when the resolution may result in disciplinary action, such as in cases alleging a violation of the College’s Notice of Non-Discrimination or violation of another College policy.

When an investigation is appropriate, the EO Officer  will arrange a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation of the concern. Depending on the nature of the concern and, if conducted, the outcome of the investigation, the EO Officer may also take other appropriate steps to promptly and equitably assess the complaint, offer interim remedies, and recommend and facilitate a resolution of the concern. In cases where discrimination is found, the College will stop the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and provide appropriate remedies in light of the circumstances. The EO Officer will give the complainant and respondent written notice after initial attempts to resolve the concern have concluded and will share available next steps for resolution and a summary of the outcome.

If a legitimate conflict of interest exists such that it would be inappropriate for the matter to be brought to the attention of the EO Officer, the matter may be brought to the attention of the Vice President for Human Resources or their designee. Whether such a conflict is legitimate is within the sole discretion of the College. A legitimate conflict of interest does not exist where a staff member or manager disagrees with the outcome or resolution.  

In addition to the practices outlined above, employees of the College are encouraged to speak with a member of Human Resources to share any workplace concerns.