Frequently Asked Questions for Complainants and Respondents
Addendum B – Federal Mandated Hearing Addendum
An Informal Resolution is an agreement between you and the other Party (Complainant or Respondent) that would resolve a Formal Complaint without a hearing. It could also occur after a hearing, as long as it is before the Hearing Officer makes a final decision. There a few things to know about Informal Resolution:
- Informal Resolution may only be offered where a Formal Complaint has been filed;
- It is a completely voluntary process that can occur at any time up to the point where the Hearing Officer makes a final decision;
- The University cannot offer or facilitate Informal Resolution to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student;
- Neither the Complainant nor Respondent should feel pressured to agree to an Informal Resolution; and
- Both Parties and the campus Title IX Coordinator have to agree to the terms of the Informal Resolution before it can become final.
If you would like to pursue Informal Resolution, you can discuss this option with your campus Title IX Coordinator, who will determine if it is appropriate for your case.
If the Title IX Coordinator determines that Informal Resolution is appropriate, they will send you and the other Party a written notice regarding Informal Resolution that includes the following information:
- The allegations of Sexual Harassment, as defined by Addendum B – Federal Mandated Hearing Addendum, made in the Formal Complaint;
- The requirements of the Informal Resolution process including that once the Informal Resolution process is finalized neither Party is permitted to file another Formal Complaint arising from the same allegations;
- An explanation that at any time prior to agreeing to a resolution, any Party has the right to withdraw from the Informal Resolution process and resume the Formal Complaint process;
- An explanation of any consequences resulting from participating in the Informal Resolution process, including the records that will be maintained or could be shared;
- The Parties’ right to consult with a Support Advisor, if any.
You and the other Party will both need to provide your written consent to begin the Informal Resolution process. The Title IX Coordinator will explain how to do this.
The Title IX Coordinator will oversee the Informal Resolution process and make the final determination on all Informal Resolutions facilitated by the Title IX Coordinator or their designee regarding whether the terms agreed to by the Parties are appropriate in light of all of the circumstances of the Formal Complaint.
This will entirely depend on the circumstances of the Formal Complaint, the allegations involved, and the Parties themselves. The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the Student Conduct Administrator and/or other appropriate University Administrator (such as the Human Resources Officer) responsible for the implementation of the terms, must also be satisfied that any proposed terms of an Informal Resolution are appropriate in the circumstances.
An Informal Resolution could include disciplinary sanctions, educational requirements (such as additional training), agreements between the Parties to have no contact with each other, changes in work or housing locations, etc.
The Informal Resolution process may also include a written preliminary assessment of the evidence where this is requested by both Parties and an investigation has been completed such that the Title IX Coordinator has the information with which to make such an assessment.
Findings as to whether the Respondent is responsible for the conduct as alleged by the Complainant can only be made by the Hearing Officer following a hearing. However, as part of an Informal Resolution, at the request of both Parties, the campus will provide a written preliminary assessment of the evidence. The assessment will be provided by the Title IX Coordinator. A preliminary assessment will only be available where an investigation has been completed to the extent that the Title IX Coordinator has the information with which to make such an assessment. This will usually mean that you and the other Party have already received a Preliminary Investigation Report with all the evidence and have both had an opportunity to respond to that Report.
To request a preliminary assessment of the evidence, please contact your Title IX Coordinator. Both you and the other Party will first need to agree to engage in the Informal Resolution process (if you have not already done so) and you will both need to agree to the preliminary assessment being provided.
It is important to know that if a case is not resolved through Informal Resolution and proceeds to a hearing, any preliminary assessment provided as part of the Informal Resolution process will not be given to the Hearing Officer and the Hearing Officer will not be informed that any assessment was made. If either Party or their Hearing Advisor tries to talk about the preliminary assessment during a hearing, it will be considered not relevant and therefore will not be considered by the Hearing Officer in making their decision. If a Party refers to a preliminary assessment in their written response to the Final Investigation Report, that reference will be redacted before the Final Investigation Report is given to the Hearing Officer.
It is important to remember that any preliminary assessment is made by the Title IX Coordinator on the basis of the information available to them at that stage before any hearing takes place. It is possible that a Hearing Officer may reach a different conclusion having considered all the relevant evidence, including that provided during a hearing. The fact that the Title IX Coordinator’s preliminary assessment and a Hearing Officer’s conclusion following a hearing are different does not mean that the either the Title IX Coordinator or the Hearing Officer are “wrong.”
Once you receive a preliminary assessment of the evidence, you may wish to use this information to inform your decision whether or not to continue in the Informal Resolution process and/or what you might propose or be willing to agree to as part of an Informal Resolution. It remains an option to withdraw from Informal Resolution and continue with the investigation and hearing process under Addendum B.
The Title IX Coordinator is available to answer questions about the Informal Resolution process and to facilitate that process. However, the Title IX Coordinator cannot advise you about what you should or should not agree to as part of an Informal Resolution.
You may bring a Support Advisor to any meetings regarding Informal Resolution and you are encouraged to discuss any proposals for Informal Resolution with your Support Advisor. You may choose anyone to be your Support Advisor. This could include an attorney, a union representative, a friend or family member, or any other individual of your choice. Your Support Advisor may provide support and consult with you during meetings and interviews but generally cannot speak on your behalf.
The University is not required to provide you with a Support Advisor. However, the Title IX Coordinator may be able to connect you with various resources for support on campus, which might include someone who can act as your Support Advisor.
[Campuses are encouraged to adapt the final paragraph in this answer according to whether they have Complainant/Respondent Advisors available on their particular campus]
The Informal Resolution process will be completed prior to any determination of responsibility being made, but no later than 60 Working Days after both Parties provide voluntary, written consent to participate in the Informal Resolution process. If an Informal Resolution is not reached within the 60 Working Day timeframe, the case will continue under the Formal Complaint process (investigation and hearing).
No, the University may not require the Parties to participate in an Informal Resolution process, nor may a Party be required to waive their right to the investigation and adjudication of a Formal Complaint as a condition of enrollment or employment, or continuing enrollment or employment.
You have the right to withdraw from the Informal Resolution process and resume the Formal Complaint process at any time prior to a resolution being agreed. If you wish to withdraw from the Informal Resolution process, you should contact the Title IX Coordinator to tell them. If you or the other Party withdraw from the Informal Resolution process, the Formal Complaint will continue to be handled under the Addendum B investigation and hearing processes.
The terms of any Informal Resolution must be put in writing and signed by the Parties, and the Title IX Coordinator before the Informal Resolution is considered final.
Please contact your campus Title IX Coordinator:
Director of Title IX and Clery Compliance
Harold H. Haak Administrative Center
5200 N. Barton Avenue M/S ML52
Fresno, CA 93740