IV.7. Legal Documentation

Equally important to prompt investigation is reliable, objective documentation (i.e., a memo of record) of any potentially damaging behavior or activity within the department. A single incident may not constitute illegal activity; however, a cumulative pattern of behavior may contribute to a hostile working environment or discriminatory situation. Without a “paper trail,” it may be difficult to make a compelling case to the college dean and/or the Human Resource Services staff. A memo of record should include the date and approximate time of the event, the names and titles of the persons involved, and an objective description of the behavior, the conversation, as well as any attempts to intervene or correct the situation. The most credible documentation occurs close to the event. Do not characterize (e.g., the employee was hostile); rather record exactly what was said and done (e.g., the faculty member refused to show up for class). Be prepared to defend any documentation legally.

Unless the complaint includes a formal statement from a student, faculty or staff member, the documentation should remain in the chair’s office files until corrective action is appropriate. Formal complaints, however, must be brought to the attention of the alleged violator and any written record that is added to a personnel file must be shared with that person, even if the complaint is not actionable (see Bylaws, Article 12).

If the complaint originates with a student and involves one or more grades in a course, the chair may advise him or her about the grade appeal process, either undergraduate or graduate, as appropriate. If the complaint involves the allegation of a grievable act, the chair should follow the procedures described in the Bylaws, Article 11.

Separate disciplinary procedures apply to civil service staff (Labor and Employee Relations) and instructors (Collective Bargaining Agreement). Contact Human Resource Services for more information.