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​​​​​​​​​​5.2.7 Fair Treatment/Complaint Investigation​​

​Respect for the dignity and rights of all people is intrinsic to the Church's mission as a true witness to the spirit of the Gospel. Therefore, all staff are expected to conduct themselves accordingly, and understand and accept that the values of Christian charity, temperance, and tolerance apply to all their interactions with supervisors, colleagues, students, parents/guardians, fellow workers, and all others with whom they come in contact with or on behalf of the archdiocese. All persons involved with the archdiocese are expected to model, teach, and promote behavior in conformity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Circumstances may give rise to conflict and staff members should endeavor to address the matter in a spirit of charity with the person(s) with whom they have a disagreement. To address individual or general complaints, the archdiocese encourages all parties to bring about reconciliation and recognizes the need for a fair treatment process for occasions when a staff member believes that he or she or other staff members have received unfair, inequitable, or arbitrary treatment in the interpretation or application of archdiocesan policies or procedures. Accordingly, the archdiocese has established the following Fair Treatment/Complaint Investigation Process.

The Fair Treatment/Complaint Investigation Process applies to all persons working in the archdiocese. If issues arise in locations other than schools, the person in charge should review this set of policies and, when necessary, consult with the Human Resources Department. The Department of Catholic Schools​ is charged with addressing matters that involve school personnel. The Human Resources Department may act in an advisory capacity at any step for any location. General Conflict Resolution Principles

All those participating in the Fair Treatment Process at any level or at any stage of the process must:

  • Objectively obtain and present facts

  • Strive towards reconciliation

  • Maintain professional conduct

  • Maintain confidentiality and respect for privacy

  • Deal in good faith

To the extent possible, the matter in dispute will be kept confidential, although the complaining staff member's identity and other matters will not be kept secret.

The archdiocesan Human Resources Department will be consulted and depending on the nature of the complaint, may take an active role in resolving the dispute and may arrange for staff persons or consultants to assist as investigative fact finders. If the dispute arises in an archdiocesan school, the assistant regional superintendent assigned to the school will be involved.

The only attorneys or legal professionals who may participate actively in the process are those retained by the archdiocese and their involvement will be protected by the applicable privileges. If a complaining staff member retains an attorney, resolution of the conflict will be deferred to archdiocesan-assigned legal counsel instead of this Fair Treatment Process.

When appropriate, the person(s) involved in the situation may be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the conflict. Consult with the Human Resources Department before placing an employee on administrative leave.

Anonymous complaints are discouraged and will not be investigated unless it is possible to identify the parties involved or to investigate a matter based on the information received. Informal Conflict Resolution Process

If a staff member has a concern about any situation arising out of his or her service in the archdiocese, the individual should first seek to resolve the disagreement promptly with the person(s) involved by discussing it frankly with the persons directly involved.

If the issue is harassment, discrimination, retaliation, the individual should tell the person(s) to stop the conduct considered to be harassing, discriminatory, or retaliatory.

If the staff member finds that the conflict cannot be resolved with the other person(s) with whom he or she has a disagreement, the individual should ask his or her immediate supervisor at the location for help in reaching an amicable resolution. A staff member seeking to resolve a work-related complaint may also discuss it with a representative of the Human Resources Department​​ and if the staff member works in a school, with the assistant regional superintendent assigned to the school.

The location supervisor and/or the Human Resources representative and/or assistant regional ​superintendent will review the facts presented and facilitate a discussion of the problem between the staff member and all persons directly involved. The goal is to achieve a just resolution of the problem and reconciliation between all persons concerned. Depending on the situation, the location supervisor and/or the Human Resources representative and/or assistant regio​nal superintendent may seek additional advice and assistance from archdiocesan administration, with the goal of informally investigating and resolving the matter.

If the matter is serious and no solution is achieved at this level, the staff member may pursue the Formal Complaint Investigation Process. If the complaint concerns, is about, or is from clergy or religious, then the vicar for clergy​ and the vicar for women religious​​, as applicable, will also be consulted and the relevant canon law and policies will also apply. Formal Complaint Investigation Process

After pursuing the Informal Conflict Resolution Process, all staff may pursue the following Formal Complaint Investigation Process to resolve their grievances:

Step One

The staff member should submit the complaint in writing, if possible, to the person in charge; or if the complaint is against the person in charge, to the Human Resources Department​​; or if the complaint involves staff members working at a school, to the assistant regional superintendent assigned to the school.

If the complaint relates to sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, the complaining staff member may submit the complaint to a person in charge or a designated person in charge for the process who is of the same sex as the staff member. In that case, the person to whom the complaint has been submitted will inform the person in charge, the Human Resources Department, the vicar for clergy for clergy matters, or the assistant regional superintendent for school matters, as the case may be, that a complaint has been made.

The complaint should:

  • State the facts as succinctly and as objectively as possible (who, what, when, where, how)

  • Identify witnesses

  • Describe any actions the complaining staff member has taken to remedy the situation and what the response has been to the Informal Conflict Resolution Process​

  • Include any documents (e.g., memos, electronic communications, pictures, cartoons, or photographs) that relate to the complaint

  • Explain why the complaining staff member believes the situation needs to be addressed by the person in charge

  • Describe the remedy sought

Step Two

The person who receives the complaint will investigate as promptly and as thoroughly as the allegations in the complaint warrant. The process will be completed within 20 business days, although the time may be extended by the investigator if necessary. The complaining staff member will be informed if additional time is needed.

The investigator will:

  • Interview the complaining staff member, witnesses, and/or any others identified in the complaint as involved in the situation

  • Review any documents or other evidence submitted

  • When necessary, conduct follow-up interviews with the complaining staff member, the other person(s) involved, or the witnesses

  • When necessary, ask for additional documentation or other evidence

  • Maintain appropriate respect for each person's right to privacy and the right to be deemed "innocent until proven guilty"

  • Keep a written objective summary of the facts, interviews, and copies of all documents and other evidence submitted by all persons

Step Three

When the investigation is concluded, the person in charge of the investigation will recommend action(s) to be taken. In the case of complaints involving such issues as harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, appropriate discipline will be imposed, including termination. Accusations that are proven false constitute calumny or detraction (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2477​) and may also result in discipline, including termination. The complaining staff member will be informed in writing within 10 business days after the process is completed of the outcome of the investigation and whether action is going to be taken or discipline imposed, but the individual will not be told the precise nature of the action or discipline.

Step Four

If the complaining staff member is not satisfied with the outcome of the process, he or she may seek review of the complaint from the senior director of human resources​ for the archdiocese, or with respect to school issues, the regional supe​rintendent  as appropriate. The request for review should be submitted in writing within five days of receipt of the written outcome of the investigation. The request for review should contain the following:

  • The original complaint and all supporting documentation submitted

  • A brief statement of the reasons for seeking review, including the written report of the outcome of the investigation

  • The remedy sought

The senior director of human resources for the archdiocese, or the regional superintendent, as applicable, will review all available materials. At the sole discretion of such person, the complaining staff member and other persons involved, including the witnesses and investigator, may be interviewed and asked for additional information. Within 30 days of receiving the request for review the director or regional superintendent will issue a decision in writing that is final and binding on all parties, unless additional time is required. The complaining staff member will be informed of the need for additional time.

If the complaint concerns, is about, or is from clergy or religious, then the vicar for clergy​​ and the vicar for women religious, as applicable, will also be consulted and the relevant canon law and policies will also apply.

[Note that by adopting this Fair Treatment/Complaint Investigation policy, the archdiocese is not waiving any legal exceptions or exemptions that may apply to it as a religious nonprofit organization.]

3-8-2021, 6-29-2022, 8-16-2022