Civil Rights Complaints in Penn State Extension and Research Programs

 

Civil Rights Complaints in Penn State Extension and Research Programs

 

Principle

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences is committed to compliance with applicable federal, state, and local rules and regulations pertaining to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment in extension and research programs. This is consistent with Penn State’s prohibition of discrimination against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, genetic information, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status.

Any individual, group of program participants, or potential program participants may file complaints related to civil rights compliance in extension and research programs. The public must be told of their right to file a discrimination complaint.

One way that the public is told of this right is through the use of the USDA "And Justice for All" poster. This poster must be visibly displayed in extension and research meeting rooms and main offices. The USDA poster advises participants that they can file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights at USDA. This office will investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination in programs operated or assisted by USDA, including Cooperative Extension and Research programs.

Another means in which the public is told of this right to lodge a discrimination complaint is by providing clients the Discrimination Complaint Notification Template included at the end of this document.

 

Organizational Guidelines

The following procedure is recommended for handling complaints of extension or research program discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Acts:

  1. When a client voices a concern about possible discrimination in a program, listen carefully. Do not argue with the client or respond defensively. Write down what the client tells you and repeat what you heard to the client in order to be sure you have accurately documented what they said. Let them know that you take their concerns seriously. Ask them what they would like to see happen differently. Make the client aware that they have the right to file a formal complaint.
  2. If, as a result of your discussion with the client, the complaint can be resolved to the client’s satisfaction, complete step three and you are done.
  3. If the client decides not to file a formal complaint, you should document by letter to the client, a summary of your discussion, the corrective action to be taken or already taken concerning the complaint. In your letter, remind them of their right to file a formal complaint by providing them with a copy of the completed Discrimination Complaint Notification Template below. Copy your supervisor on the letter and file a copy in your unit’s central Civil Rights file.
  4. If the client wishes to file a formal complaint, provide the client with the Discrimination Complaint Notification Template below, with the appropriate information filled in.
  5. Notify your Business Operations Manager, Department Head, or Associate Director of Research and Graduate Programs immediately and send a copy of the details of the complaint.
  6. Upon notice that an allegation has been made that contains any element of discrimination or harassment, the Business Operations Manager, Department Head, or Director of Research and Graduate Programs will notify the Director of Human Relations who will investigate the complaint with appropriate staff or refer it to Penn State’s Affirmative Action Office.
  7. Allegations made, and any remedies obtained, as appropriate, should be documented and maintained in the unit’s central Civil Rights files.

 

Adapted with permission from Virginia Cooperative Extension

 

Draft 9-5-13

Discrimination Complaint Notification Template

This notification should be accessible to all extension and research program participants and be provided to them on request or when a complaint is made known.

If you feel that you have been denied access to services or programs on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, genetic information, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status, please contact one of the following individuals or offices. 

1.) The individual providing the program, if you feel comfortable doing so.

2.) Extension Business Operations Manager, Academic Department Head, or Associate Director of Research and Graduate Programs

Name:
Contact information:

3.)  College of Agricultural Sciences Director of Human Resources

Ms. Erikka Runkle, 814-863-5582, 307A Agricultural Administration, University Park, PA 16802

4.) Penn State Associate Vice President for Affirmative Action

Dr. Suzanne Adair, 814-863- 0471, 328 Boucke, University Park, PA 16802

5.) United States Department of Agriculture

Director, Office of Adjudication

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250-9410

(866) 632-9992 (toll free)

 

Resources:

USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form can be used to file a discrimination complaint about any USDA program or activity.

https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf

To learn more about discrimination complaints at PSU, visit the following Office of Affirmative Action website:  

https://affirmativeaction.psu.edu/welcome/discrimination-complaints/

Use the Report Discrimination Complaint Form at:  https://affirmativeaction.psu.edu/welcome/on-line-report/ to make an online complaint regarding discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Complaints of discrimination may be filed in writing, by phone, or in person. Penn State is committed to afford all interested persons, including the complainant and the person(s) against whom the allegation(s) of discrimination have been made, the opportunity to submit information and documentation regarding the complaint allegations. 

For specific information about what to include in a complaint letter, go to this website: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_program.html