WashU is committed to building a cohesive, collaborative environment that fosters mutual respect and understanding between individuals and is enriched by our differences.
Our Investigations and Conflict Resolution Team consults on formal and informal complaint resolution options and offers additional conflict resolution tools. The process is impartial, objective and aims to address conflict at the earliest opportunity.
The Investigation Process
The following information is intended to provide a general overview of the OIE Investigations process. We respond to each case based on its unique facts and may deviate from these general parameters when necessary. Please note that complaints against faculty members may follow separate Discrimination and Harassment Hearing Committee procedures found in the Discrimination and Harassment policy.
WashU’s Discrimination and Harassment policy is strictly enforced and prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. We strongly encourage community members to report suspected incidents of bias such as discrimination or harassment based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, military status or any other classification protected by applicable law.
Our team consults on formal and informal complaint resolution options and offers additional conflict resolution tools. We focus on bias-related concerns where a University school, department, process or employee is involved. Students should contact Student Affairs for resources. We refer cases outside this scope to other university partners such as the Title IX and Gender Equity Office, Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards and Human Resources Employee Relations.
Filing a Complaint
The preferred method for filing a complaint is through the online, confidential reporting tool found here. Complaints should include detailed information, including dates, people involved, specific claim and any relevant, available evidence. Individuals may also contact the Investigations Team by email to file a complaint. Complaints should be filed in good faith.
The Discrimination and Harassment policy explains that certain University employees, such as people with supervisory authority and faculty supervising students, have an obligation to report suspected instances of discrimination or harassment to their leader or to the Coordinator. Filing a complaint or contacting the Office of Institutional Equity is a good way to ensure that this important step takes place.
Please note that while complaints can be filed anonymously through the Confidential Concern Portal and the University Compliance Hotline, our ability to thoroughly investigate and respond to anonymous complaints may be limited.
What to Expect
The best way for the OIE investigator to understand the facts of a situation is to hear from the person filing the complaint (the “complainant”), the person allegedly involved in the behavior (the “respondent”) and any witnesses or people with relevant information. This is done through interviews, typically through Zoom or in-person meetings. It can be difficult to file a complaint; the investigator makes time to answer any questions and preview next steps.
The investigator takes into consideration how to effectively fact-find in a way that is most likely to preserve privacy, prevent retaliation and limit disruption to business or educational operations. When possible, the investigator consults with the complainant to assess their comfort with the investigation strategy. A typical investigation includes interviewing available witnesses, information sources and the person or people involved in the behavior or problem (the “respondent”). The investigator will gather and review relevant evidence.
Once a finding has been reached, the investigator notifies the complainant and respondent that the investigation has concluded and communicates the finding. The investigator will also collaborate with any other involved university partners and specific department or school leaders to implement any recommendations.
WashU prohibits retaliation against anyone who files a complaint of discrimination or harassment and against anyone who participates in the complaint investigation. The team makes every effort to prevent retaliation by limiting identification of witnesses and information sources’ names. We make no effort to identify anonymous complainants and discourage witnesses and respondents from doing so. The investigator reminds all parties involved in an investigation of the non-retaliation policy. The investigation case file is confidential and is generally not shared with investigation participants.
Employee Reporting Tools
University Reporting Hotline
Raise concerns confidentially with regard to policy violations or your workplace environment. Access online or call 1-844-484-5957.
Below are additional university resources outside of the Office of Institutional Equity’s scope that individuals may use to report a concern or seek guidance.
Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office
Committed to responding to discrimination – including sexual harassment and sexual violence – in an effective, timely and transparent manner. Equally committed to ensuring any individuals involved in these incidents will be treated as respectfully and fairly as possible. Learn more.
SAFE: Supporting a Fair Environment
The School of Medicine’s SAFE reporting tool is available to report a professionalism accolade or concern about a learning environment.
University Compliance Hotline
Contact the Anonymous Compliance Reporting Hotline at 314-362-4998 or fill out the Online Reporting Form.
The Offices of the Ombuds serve as confidential, independent and impartial resources that offer assistance in the informal resolution of university-related conflicts and advocate for fair treatment and process. Washington University has three separate ombuds offices dedicated to our faculty, staff, postdoctoral appointees, and medical and Graduate School students. Find FAQs online.
Student Affairs Student Conduct
WashU’s Student Conduct Code sets guidelines for appropriate behavior and consequences for violations. Find student resources online through the Office of Student Affairs.