These FAQs provide additional information and guidance on UTSA’s protections for those who file a complaint, report an incident, or participate in an EOS investigation. These FAQs are created to promote compliance with UTSA’s Non-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct policies. However, the FAQs may not answer specific questions or situations, or may fully communicate all provisions of the relevant laws and policies. You are encouraged to review the policies above or call the EOS office for further guidance at EOS.Office@utsa.edu or by calling 210-458-4120.
Generally, retaliation is an adverse action taken against someone who has engaged in a protected activity because that person engaged in the protected activity.
Retaliation against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment, or for participating in the complaint process, is a violation of university policy and is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal or termination from the university. Students, faculty, staff, and visitors who file discrimination or sexual harassment complaints will be informed about retaliation and the procedures they should take if retaliation occurs.
RETALIATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Who is protected from retaliation?
- What is a "protected activitity"?
- What is "adverse action"?
- How can I help prevent retaliation?
- Is it retalitory for a Respondent to contact a Complainant during the grievance process?
- Is it retaliation for a Complainant to state publicly that the Respondent engaged in prohibited conduct?
- Is it possible for a Respondent's conduct to constitute retaliation against a Complainant even if it is determined that the Respondent did not violate the policy as the Complainant originally alleged?
- Does the retaliation policy apply to Witnesses?
- What should I do if I believe I am being retaliated against?
Anyone who engages in a protected activity, such as filing a complaint or incident report, testifying in a hearing, or participating in any investigative process, is protected from retaliation. They are protected from adverse actions taken against them personally, or someone closely associated with them, because they engaged in protected activity. You are protected from retaliation even if the complaint or report is not substantiated.
Protected activities include:
- Acting as a witness in an investigation, grievance, or complaint process.
- Taking part in a hearing.
- Filing a good-faith report or a complaint under a UTSA policy or procedure, including statements to others or consultations that may lead to someone filing a complaint.
Being the subject of an investigation or Respondent in a matter alone is not a protected activity, but Respondents are protected from harassment and may not be retaliated against for participating (or choosing not to participate) in an investigative process.
Generally, an adverse action is anything that would deter or discourage a reasonable person (under the circumstances) from filing a complaint or engaging in other protected activity – if the action is taken because of the protected activity. An adverse action is any attempt to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual who seeks to exercise or has exercised their rights by participating in the investigative process. Petty slights, minor annoyances, bad manners, and trivial inconveniences do not constitute adverse actions.
Some examples of possible adverse actions may include:
- Intimidating a party not to pursue a grievance or complaint they filed or discouraging them to file a complaint.
- Increasing scrutiny of a party's attendance and/or performance.
- Excluding parties from participating in meetings or events.
- Being denied a job or a promotion.
- Removing or reassigning the party from a lab, group project, or team.
When you learn that someone filed a complaint or report, or engaged in other protected activity, you may want to make them feel supported and that their rights are respected. Avoid anything that is considered or perceived to be punishing or retributive towards the person who engaged in protected activity or anyone else protected from retaliation.
If you become aware of adverse action being taken, speak up, or report it immediately to prevent further adverse actions. If you are the subject of an investigative process (usually referred to as a Respondent), you are free to defend yourself in that investigative process by sharing information you believe to be relevant with the investigator or any hearing officer(s). But retaliation is prohibited and may constitute a separate potential violation of UTSA policy.
Depending on the nature of the contact, a Respondent’s contact with a Complainant could be considered retaliation in violation of UTSA policy. Therefore, it is advised that the Respondent not engage with the Complainant during the investigative process. In addition, a Respondent’s contact, either directly or indirectly, with a Complainant during the grievance or investigative process into the Complainant’s concerns could undermine the integrity of that investigative or grievance process.
In situations where ongoing contact between the parties is necessary and appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator can help establish measures to help mitigate issues or set parameters for the contact. For example, in some cases involving coworkers, it might be necessary and appropriate for the parties to continue some contact in the employment setting. In these cases, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator may help implement certain requirements, such as having a third-party present during meetings, copied on all email correspondence between the parties, or other intervention strategies.
The EOS/Title IX Office at UTSA strongly advises the parties to keep the matter confidential to ensure the integrity of the investigative process. However, UTSA will not unduly restrict the ability of either party to discuss the allegations, events, or their own personal experiences, verbally or in writing, including public statements or social media. However, UTSA prohibits behavior that rises to the level of continued unlawful harassment or retaliation against a party or a witness.
7. Is it possible for a Respondent's conduct to constitute retaliation against a Complainant even if it is determined that the Respondent di dnot violate the policy as the Complainant originally alleged?
Yes. Retaliation against a Complainant for filing a report is prohibited even if it was determined that the Respondent did not engage in the prohibited conduct that was the subject of the complaint. Retaliation is a separate matter from what was alleged in the original complaint.
Yes. Witnesses are protected from being retaliated against for their participation in an investigative or grievance process or decision not to participate in a grievance process.
Witnesses are also prohibited from engaging in retaliation against others. See Witness FAQ for more information.
We encourage you to contact the EOS/Title IX Office at 210-458-4120 or EOS.Office@utsa.edu if you believe you are experiencing any form of retaliation for your participation in the EOS/Title IX investigative process.