The American University in Cairo (AUC) is committed to providing a secure educational and work environment for its faculty, students, staff and administrators as set out in its policies on Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and on Discrimination and Sexual Harassment. AUC does not tolerate harassment, including sexual harassment, or any form of discrimination on grounds included in its policies. Accordingly, AUC prohibits such discrimination and sexual harassment.
Discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or disability is prohibited. This applies to hiring, firing, recruitment, testing, retirement, disability leave, reasonable accommodation for the disabled, and other terms applicable to conditions of employment. Agreements between AUC and the Government of Egypt concerning nationality of faculty members and university administration are an exception.
AUC accepts the definition of sexual harassment as covering any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic standing; or
- Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as the/or basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual.
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work/academic environment.
Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, conduct such as:
- Persistent requests for a date
- Unwelcome sexual propositions
- Unwelcome physical contact
- Sexually suggestive objects or pictures at the work place
- Derogatory gender based comments or humour
- Preferential treatment or promise of preferential treatment for submitting to sexual conduct.
The AUC prohibition of discrimination and sexual harassment applies to faculty, students, staff, administrators, visitors and any outside groups or individuals contracted to perform services on AUC premises. AUC considers it the responsibility of its employees and students to foster respect for human dignity and worth by helping to ensure an environment free from discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment.In support of its policy against discrimination and sexual harassment, AUC has assigned a number of responsibilities to its Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EO&AA).
- Promotes understanding of the AUC policy and provides education about discrimination and sexual harassment.
- Provides advice and counselling to complainants, to those who may be required to respond to complaints, and to officials and committees of AUC; Seeks to obtain resolution of complaints; Maintains records of complaints and investigations: and Monitors cases so that correct procedures are followed.
AUC has instituted the following procedures to resolve cases of discrimination and/or sexual harassment. The procedures are available to any person covered by AUC policies who believes that she or he is, or has been subject to discrimination and/or sexual harassment. At any point, a person who believes they are a victim of discrimination or sexual harassment may seek help from the EO&AA in identifying discrimination or sexual harassment and counsel in resolution of the problem. In cases involving students, the EO&AA and/or the Dean of Students may be similarly consulted. Complaint resolution follows a four phase process, but resolution may occur at any point during the process. AUC will not tolerate retaliation against any person who has submitted a complaint in good faith.
Phase 1. Initial Action
As an initial action, the person feeling discriminated against or sexually harassed (hereafter referred to as the complainant) is advised to inform the alleged discriminator or harasser (hereafter referred to as the respondent) to stop the prohibited actions. Further, the complainant should report the alleged discrimination or sexual harassment and the respondent to the respondents' supervisor, unit head, or department chair.
If the conduct does not stop, or if the complainant does not wish to have direct contact with the alleged offender or to speak to the supervisor, then the complainant may seek the assistance of the staff of EO&AA, who will explain the options available and the next phases of the resolution process.
If the complaint is against a person who is not an employee or student of AUC, then it will be referred to the Executive Vice President for Planning and Administration for appropriate action.
Phase 2. EO&AA Mediation and Initial Investigation:
Should the complainant request, the following actions may be taken by EO&AA:
- If the complaint is against an AUC employee or student, then the EO&AA will inform the Area Head of the respondent about the complaint against the respondent.
- The EO&AA will contact the respondent to inform them of the complaint, to receive a response, and to determine whether mediation is a viable option.
- If both parties agree, the EO&AA will conduct mediation between the parties.
- If the mediation is successful and the complaint is resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, then the case will be considered closed and the Area Head of the respondent will be informed.
- If the mediation is unsuccessful, then the EO&AA and Area Head will discuss whether or not the complainant should be advised to seek an initial investigation and report by the EO&AA.
- If the EO&AA determines that mediation is not a viable option and if the complainant requests, then the EO&AA will conduct an initial investigation of the complaint.
The initial investigation by the EO&AA will include the following:
- A written statement from the complainant.
- A written response from the respondent (given within 10 working days of receipt of the written statement from the complainant).
- Interviews by EO&AA of witnesses named by both parties.
- A written report by the EO&AA with their findings.
Meetings between EO&AA and complainant and respondent separately to summarize the findings of the initial investigation and, if appropriate, to discuss resolution of the case.
If the meetings between the EO&AA do not result in resolution of the case, then the EO&AA shall present a report with recommendations for action to the Area Head of the respondent and to the Area Head of the complainant, if they are different Area Heads.
The report will not be made available to either the complainant or the respondent. The Area Head of the respondent shall take appropriate action.
If either party is not satisfied with the action of the Area Head of the respondent, then they may request a formal investigation by a Committee of Investigation within 10 working days of the action by the Area Head.
Phase 3. Formal Investigation by Committee of Investigation:
A Committee of Investigation is formed as a result of actions and outcomes in Phase 2, including a request made by either party following the initial investigation by the EO&AA and action by the Area Head.
The request is made in writing to the Area Head of the respondent, and the Committee is normally formed within ten working days of receipt of the request. The Committee consists of five members appointed by the Area Head of the respondent. The appointments should be made in consultation with the Area Head of the complainant, if two Area Heads are involved, and the membership should reflect the constituencies from which the complainant and respondent are drawn.
The Area Head should seek the technical expertise of the Director of EO&AA to determine the definitions and requirements to establish evidence of discrimination and/or sexual harassment before the Committee is empanelled. The Area Head shall fully inform the Committee of the issues at stake and of the past history of the case and the actions taken in prior phases of the process. The Committee shall continue to have access to the Director of EO&AA for technical advice and information. The Committee may call upon the Director of EO&AA as a witness during its investigation. The Area Head of the respondent will arrange for administrative support to the Committee.
The Committee's work shall consist of the following:
- Interviewing and hearing evidence from the complainant and respondent, each of whom has the right to be accompanied by a support person.
- Interviewing and hearing evidence from witnesses called to the Committee by either party. Either party may know and respond to the evidence presented by the other party and witnesses.
- Requesting additional information or interviewing witnesses not called by the parties that the Committee feels have relevant information.
- Determining whether a violation has occurred.
- Providing a report with findings and recommendations to the Area Head (or both Area Heads, if different), normally no later than 25 working days from the time it was appointed.
A majority vote (three of five) is required to determine whether a violation has occurred.
If the Committee finds a violation it shall recommend appropriate sanctions or other measures. If the Committee finds no violation, then it must determine if a false complaint was knowingly filed. If a complaint was filed in good faith and it was later determined that no violation occurred, the complaint shall be dismissed and the Area Head(s) of both parties informed. If the Committee determines that a false complaint was knowingly filed, then it shall recommend appropriate sanctions or other measures to the Area Head of the complainant.
In either the case of a violation or a false complaint, the respective Area Head shall consider the Committee's findings and recommendations, decide on appropriate action, and notify the complainant and respondent. Normally, decision on action should happen within ten working days of receipt of the recommendations.
Records of proceedings will be maintained under strict confidentiality in the Office of EO&AA. All written material pertaining to the case, including investigation reports, Committee documents, recommendations, written complaints and responses, requests for investigations and correspondence between Area Heads, complainant, and respondent must be sent to the Director of the EO&AA.
Phase 4. Appeal:
The complainant and respondent have ten working days to appeal the decision and action of the Area Head(s). An appeal is made in writing to the President, who shall be given all documentation of the case, including the committee's report and the explanation for the Area Head's decision. The President shall make the final decision regarding the violation, if any, and the appropriate action to take.
Monitoring the resolution of cases of discrimination and sexual harassment is the responsibility of the EO&AA. In cases where a violation is found, the EO&AA shall periodically contact the complainant to insure that no further discrimination or sexual harassment or retaliation has occurred. Contact shall be made no less than once every three months over a period of twelve months.
If there is a recurrence of the violation, or if there is retaliation, then the Area Head or President of the University, as appropriate, shall be immediately informed so that appropriate measures may be taken.
Sanctions for violations of the AUC discrimination and sexual harassment policies, or for knowingly filing a false complaint, may range from oral reprimand to suspension or termination.
Complete records of proceedings, together with all supporting documents, shall be maintained in confidentiality in the EO&AA. If a case is dismissed, no records shall be maintained in any other office of the University. If a charge is upheld and sanctions are applied, then an additional record of the outcome and the sanctions will be a part of the files:
- In the Provost's Office in the case of faculty
- In the Office of Human Resources in the case of staff, and
- In the Office of the Dean of Students in the case of Students.