MIT is committed to providing a prompt, fair and impartial process, with informal and formal options, to address concerns of harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate conduct prohibited by MIT policy. The goals of the complaint resolution process are to stop inappropriate conduct, to respond effectively to allegations of inappropriate conduct, and to restore a productive and welcoming working or learning environment.
9.8.1 Application of Policy
The complaint resolution process described in Section 9.8 is available for any complaint by an MIT community member that an MIT faculty member, staff member, or postdoctoral scholar (fellow or associate) engaged in conduct that violates any of the following “Conduct Policies:”
Discrimination or Discriminatory Harassment
- Harassment when the alleged conduct is based on an individual’s protected class as defined in Section 9.3 (Section 9.5)
- Nondiscrimination (Section 9.3)
- Racist Conduct (Section 9.4)
- Retaliation when the alleged conduct is based on an individual’s protected class as defined in Section 9.3 (Section 9.7)
- Violence against Community Members (Section 9.6) based on an individual’s protected class
Other Inappropriate Conduct
- Harassment not based on an individual’s protected class (Section 9.5)
- Personal Conduct and Responsibilities Towards Students and Employees (Section 9.2)
- Introduction to Relations and Responsibilities Within the MIT Community (Section 9.1)
- Retaliation not based on an individual’s protected class (Section 9.7)
- Violence against Community Members (Section 9.6) not based on an individual’s protected class
While non-MIT community members may not file a Complaint, the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office may file an Administrative Complaint (defined below) for allegations brought by a non-MIT community member that an MIT faculty member, staff member, or postdoctoral scholar violated one or more Conduct Policies.
This complaint resolution process is not for complaints against students. Complaints against students follow the procedures set forth in the Mind and Hand Book Section VI and the Committee on Discipline rules, unless a student is alleged to have violated one of MIT’s Conduct Policies while primarily acting in a capacity where they are paid by MIT for their services. Also, this process generally does not apply to complaints against affiliates or other unpaid members of the MIT community (other than complaints against postdoctoral fellows).
This process does not apply to complaints about academic decisions (such as grade appeals, thesis issues, or authorship issues), allegations of research or academic misconduct, and to any other allegations where other internal complaint handling procedures have been established by MIT. This policy also does not apply to reviews of conduct where a Complaint has not been filed, such as a review initiated by manager or supervisor.
For any complaint made against an MIT faculty member, staff member, or postdoctoral scholar that does not allege violation of a Conduct Policy, MIT will determine the process for review of the complaint on a case-by-case basis. In any formal investigation, the steps in Section 220.127.116.11 are usually followed.
Procedures for reporting Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment, including sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, and stalking, are available on the Institute Discrimination & Harassment website. Information on formal complaint processes can also be found on the IDHR website.
- Complaint: A written statement filed online or with the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office alleging a violation of one of the Conduct Policies. A Complaint may be filed by any member of the MIT community.
- Complainant: The faculty, student, staff, or other member of the MIT community who files a Complaint.
- Administrative Complaint: A Complaint filed by the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office where a concern is raised by a non-MIT community member or by an MIT community member who does not want to be a Complainant, and where, in the judgment of the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office, the concern warrants investigation.
- Respondent: The MIT faculty member, staff member, or postdoctoral scholar who is alleged to have violated one of the Conduct Policies.
- Faculty Panel: A panel of three tenured faculty members who determine whether there is a violation of a Conduct Policy when the Respondent is a faculty member, a senior research scientist, senior research engineer, or senior research associate. The three faculty members serving on a particular Faculty Panel are selected by the Associate Provost.
9.8.3 Informal Options for Resolving Complaints
When appropriate and possible, faculty, supervisors, managers and other employees are encouraged to talk directly with one another about any concerns, with the goal of understanding perspectives and resolving differences. Supervisors are encouraged to address concerns informally, and as early as possible (see Section 7.3.1). Employees may also seek assistance from the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office (IDHR), a human resources professional in their department, lab, or center or in the Human Resources office, or from an MIT Ombudsperson to informally resolve a concern.
In some cases, a more structured informal process may be selected by the Complainant and the Respondent. This may include facilitation of an agreement between the parties, individual or group educational or training programs, and coaching or counseling assistance. This type of informal resolution may be conducted with the assistance of the IDHR, a human resources professional in the department, lab or center, the Ombuds Office, or the Human Resources office. As part of this more structured process, there may be factual inquiries to assist in informally resolving the concern. Any resolution resulting from this process is documented by the IDHR (with the exception of resolutions resulting from work with the Ombuds Office, which does not generate records).
With all informal resolution options, no determination is made as to whether a Conduct Policy was violated.
At any time, either the Complainant or the Respondent may end any attempt at informal resolution of a Complaint, in which case the formal investigation process begins or resumes under Section 9.8.4. The IDHR office may also decide that a Complaint needs to be formally investigated even if both Complainant and the Respondent wish to resolve the matter informally.
See the IDHR website or HR website for more information.
9.8.4 Investigation of Complaints
18.104.22.168 Filing and Initial Assessment of a Complaint
Any member of the MIT community may file a Complaint online or with the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office (IDHR) to initiate an investigation of an alleged violation of a Conduct Policy.
The Complainant is encouraged to file a Complaint as soon as possible after the offending conduct occurred. Although MIT does not impose a specific time limit for reviewing a Complaint, the Institute can respond more effectively to a Complaint that is filed while the underlying facts are recent. In its discretion, the IDHR may decide not to undertake an investigation due to the passage of time.
When a Complaint is filed, the IDHR does an initial assessment of the Complaint to determine whether the behavior would violate a Conduct Policy, assuming for purposes of this analysis that the factual allegations contained in the Complaint are true. If the IDHR determines that:
- The Complaint does not state a violation of a Conduct Policy, the IDHR closes the Complaint.
- The Complaint states a violation of a Conduct Policy in the category of Discrimination or Discriminatory Harassment (see Section 9.8.1), the IDHR will begin an investigation of the Complaint or attempt informal resolution.
- The Complaint states a violation of a Conduct Policy in the category of Other Inappropriate Conduct (see Section 9.8.1), the Complaint is referred to the Human Resources office to begin an investigation or attempt informal resolution.
The IDHR will inform the Complainant of its initial assessment decision. The IDHR’s initial assessment decision is final and cannot be appealed.
22.214.171.124 Investigation Process
The formal Investigation Process includes the following steps:
- The Complainant and Respondent are notified in writing of the name of the investigator, the nature of the allegations, and a summary of the process that will be followed. A copy of the written notification is also provided to the Respondent’s supervisor or manager.
- The Complainant and Respondent meet separately with the investigator and provide any information they would like the investigator to consider.
- The investigator may interview witnesses, collect other information, and consult with other individuals or offices, all as the investigator deems appropriate.
- The Complainant and the Respondent have an opportunity to review a draft investigation report and provide comments to the investigator.
- The investigator uses a preponderance of the evidence standard (“more likely than not”) in drafting the investigation report.
Investigations are usually completed within 75 calendar days from the date the investigation begins. See IDHR website for more information.
126.96.36.199 Findings and Discipline – Faculty Members, Senior Research Scientists, Senior Research Engineers, and Senior Research Associates
If the Respondent is a faculty member, senior research scientist, senior research engineer, or senior research associate, the investigator investigates and prepares a report with findings of fact and a recommendation as to whether the Respondent violated any Conduct Policy. The report is provided to a Faculty Panel. The Faculty Panel may meet or consult with the investigator or others but generally does not meet with the Complainant or the Respondent. The Faculty Panel decides if the Respondent violated one or more of the Conduct Policies.
If the Faculty Panel decides that the Respondent violated a Conduct Policy, the Faculty Panel recommends to the appropriate Dean (or other Academic Council member for some senior research scientists, engineers, and associates) what action should be taken in light of the finding. Examples of discipline include, but are not limited to, a reprimand (oral or written), a suspension, a salary reduction, a demotion, a removal of privileges, or termination of employment or appointment. See Section 3.4.2 Faculty Misconduct or Performance Below Standards regarding discipline for tenured faculty.
The Dean reviews the recommendation from the Faculty Panel and determines what discipline will be imposed or other action taken. If the Dean disagrees with the Panel’s recommendation, the Dean must meet with the Faculty Panel to discuss. If the Dean continues to disagree with the Faculty Panel’s recommendation after that discussion, the Dean must inform the Provost in writing of the reason(s) for their disagreement on discipline. In such cases, the Provost will make the final decision on discipline and will inform the Dean and the Faculty Panel of the decision.
The investigation report and the Faculty Panel’s determination regarding any policy violation are confidentially shared with the Complainant, the Respondent, and the Respondent’s supervisor and/or higher level manager. If the Faculty Panel determines that the Respondent violated a Conduct Policy, the report and conclusions are also sent to the Respondent’s department/unit head and to the Dean of the unit in which the Respondent works.
The Respondent and the IDHR are provided written notice of any discipline. The Complainant is not generally provided with information about the discipline issued unless the discipline directly affects the Complainant, such as a “no contact” order. However, in cases alleging a violation of Section 9.5.1 Sexual Harassment, Section 188.8.131.52 Sexual Misconduct, Section 184.108.40.206 Gender-Based Harassment, Section 220.127.116.11 Title IX Sexual Harassment, or Section 9.5.2 Stalking, the Complainant and Respondent receive simultaneous notification in writing of the result of the investigation (including discipline), procedures for appeal (if applicable), any change to the result, and when the results become final.
Decisions on discipline are final and cannot be appealed.
18.104.22.168 Findings and Discipline - Staff Members and Postdoctoral Scholars
If the Respondent is a staff member or postdoctoral scholar, the investigator investigates and prepares a report with findings of fact and a determination as to whether a Conduct Policy was violated. The report is confidentially shared with the Complainant, the Respondent, and the Respondent’s supervisor and/or higher level manager. If the investigator determines that the Respondent violated a Conduct Policy, the report is also sent to the Respondent’s department/unit head and to the appropriate Dean or other Academic Council member of the unit in which the Respondent works.
The Dean or other Academic Council member will determine the appropriate action to take against the Respondent. This may include, but is not limited to, a reprimand (oral or written), suspension, a salary reduction, a demotion, a removal of privileges, or termination of employment or appointment.
The Respondent and the IDHR are provided written notice of any discipline. The Complainant is not generally provided with information about any discipline issued unless the discipline directly affects the Complainant, such as a “no contact” order. However, in cases alleging a violation of Section 9.4.1 Sexual Harassment, Section 22.214.171.124 Sexual Misconduct, Section 126.96.36.199 Gender-Based Harassment, Section 188.8.131.52 Title IX Sexual Harassment, or Section 9.5.2 Stalking, the Complainant and Respondent both receive written notice of the result of the investigation (including the discipline), procedures for appeal (if applicable), any change to the result, and when the results become final.
Decisions on discipline are final and cannot be appealed.
Either the Complainant or the Respondent may appeal a finding as to whether a policy violation occurred. Neither party may appeal a decision on discipline or other action taken. An appeal must be filed in writing with the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office within 21 calendar days of the date of the written notice of the decision as to whether a policy violation occurred. An appeal is limited to one or more of the following grounds:
- New significant information: There exists significant, substantive, and relevant information that was not available at the time of the decision.
- Material procedural issue: There was a substantial departure from the procedures in Section 9.8 that significantly affected the outcome.
- Material finding against the weight of evidence: A material finding that formed a basis for the decision by the investigator or Faculty Panel was substantially against the weight of the evidence.
Appeals are decided as follows:
- The Provost decides appeals on cases in which the Respondent is a faculty member, senior research scientist/engineer/associate, principal research scientist/engineer/associate, research scientist/engineer/associate, or Academic Instructional staff. However, if the Provost made the decision on discipline due to disagreement between the Faculty Panel and the Dean, the President will decide the appeal.
- The Vice President for Research or the Provost decides appeals on cases in which the Respondent is a postdoctoral scholar.
- The Executive Vice President and Treasurer decides appeals on cases in which the Respondent is another category of employee.
Both the Complainant and the Respondent will be informed in writing of the decision on the appeal. The decision on an appeal is final. Generally, the decision on an appeal is made within 30 calendar days from the date the appeal was submitted.
9.8.5 Provisions Common to Section 9.8
The following provisions apply to all complaints or concerns raised under Section 9.8, whether using an informal resolution option or a formal investigation.
184.108.40.206 Interim and Supportive Measures
The Institute will offer reasonable and appropriate measures if needed for the Complainant and Respondent to facilitate their continued employment or education during any informal resolution process and during an investigation. These measures may be remedial or protective, such as a no-contact order, change in work schedule or location, or placement of the Respondent on administrative leave during the Complaint review process. Additional information about supportive measures in Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment matters can be found on the IDHR website.
220.127.116.11 False Accusations or Testimony
A false Complaint determined by the Institute to have been made in bad faith and any dishonesty in the context of an investigation or other review are serious offenses. Such offenses may be investigated and may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or other affiliation with MIT. False accusations, false testimony, or dishonesty by a student in the course of the complaint process will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.
18.104.22.168 Confidentiality and Privacy
MIT recognizes that many participants in the Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process may wish that these matters remain confidential and want the Institute to protect the privacy of all involved, to the extent possible. MIT also recognizes that participants may need or wish to disclose information related to matters resolved under Section 9.8.3 Informal Options for Resolving Complaints, or Section 9.8.4 Investigation of Complaints. MIT seeks to balance these competing interests to encourage parties and witnesses to participate in the process to ensure its integrity and to resolve the issues without undue disruption. To meet these competing interests:
- MIT expects the parties to maintain the confidentiality of an ongoing Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process, except as necessary to gather and present relevant evidence.
- MIT prohibits the parties from distributing, in any form or by any medium, documents (which include emails) obtained in the course of their participation in a Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process—including but not limited to, the complaint, interview transcripts and summaries, and the investigative record and report—other than for the purpose of consulting with their advisor, or as part of a civil, criminal, or administrative legal proceeding.
- In certain circumstances, disclosing information about a Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process may be construed as retaliation or harassment in violation of MIT policy. Participants should keep in mind that any action that would discourage a reasonable person from participating in an informal or formal complaint or investigation process may be construed as retaliation.
- Participants should also keep in mind that during the investigation of a Section 9.8 Complaint, disclosure of information about the matter by the parties or any witnesses has the potential to compromise the integrity of the investigation.
- Once a Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process is complete, the parties are not prohibited from sharing the determination as to whether a Conduct Policy was violated; however, MIT nonetheless strongly encourages all parties to be thoughtful about whether they share information and to be mindful of the prohibitions against retaliation and harassment as noted above.
- The Institute will take reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of proceedings under Section 9.8 and records created or collected during any Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process. MIT will communicate information regarding a Section 9.8 Complaint Resolution process—including: interim measures; an informal resolution under Section 9.8.3; or the findings of fact, determination as to whether a Conduct Policy was violated, and discipline under Section 9.8.4—to individuals at MIT only on a legitimate need-to-know basis, as required by law, or in appropriate circumstances as determined by senior administrators. In addition, in some matters, MIT may be obligated to notify agencies or research sponsors about certain violations of MIT’s policies on harassment or discrimination.
22.214.171.124 Assistance During the Complaint Resolution Process
All parties involved in a dispute are encouraged to seek assistance from resources at the Institute such as their departmental human resources professional, their human resources officer, ombudspersons, or other departmental managers.
During an informal resolution process or during a formal investigation, both the Complainant and the Respondent may be accompanied by a member of the MIT community to any meeting about the Complaint. These individuals may not be family members, subordinates, or attorneys (except as noted below), although parties may, of course, consult with an attorney or other advisor on their own before or after any meeting at MIT. In cases alleging a violation of Section 9.5.1 Sexual Harassment, Section 126.96.36.199 Sexual Misconduct, Section 188.8.131.52 Gender-Based Harassment, Section 184.108.40.206 Title IX Sexual Harassment, or Section 9.5.2 Stalking, the parties may have an advisor who is an attorney or person outside the MIT community, as long as that person is not a witness or party to the Complaint.
In cases of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking, the parties may have an advisor who is an attorney or person outside the MIT community, as long as that person is not a witness or a party to the Complaint.
220.127.116.11 Pay Status for Time Spent in Complaint Resolution Process
Where complaint resolution occurs during an employee’s normal working hours, a reasonable amount of paid release time may be granted.
18.104.22.168 Departure of Complainant or Respondent from MIT
If either the Complainant or the Respondent leaves MIT after a Complaint is filed, MIT generally continues the investigation to the extent possible. If an individual sues or files a complaint with an external agency before MIT’s complaint resolution process is completed, MIT also generally continues an ongoing investigation. However, the provisions of this Section 9.8 may be modified by MIT to reflect the fact that one or more parties is no longer at the Institute.
Notwithstanding the above, MIT may decide to terminate an investigation if one or both of the parties have left MIT, or if a lawsuit or agency complaint has been filed.
22.214.171.124 Legal Information
These procedures serve as the complaint and grievance procedure for employees (including student employees) as required by all relevant state and federal laws, specifically including concerns about race, sex, gender, disability, color, nationality, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, and veteran's status (including Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972), and all other forms of proscribed discrimination. Questions on this subject may be addressed to the Ombuds Office, the Vice President for Human Resources as the Institute’s Equal Opportunity Officer, or the Title IX Coordinator.
Individuals may also file complaints of violations of law with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), John F. Kennedy Federal Building, 475 Government Center, Boston, MA 02203, (800) 669-4000; and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD"), One Ashburton Place, Rm. 601, Boston, MA 02108, (617) 994-6000. For both the EEOC and the MCAD, the time period for filing a complaint is 300 days from the date of the last alleged discriminatory event.