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Title IX resource page

Policy

Policy on Sexual/Gender Discrimination, Misconduct and Harassment

Non-discrimination statement

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) embraces a work and learning environment which recognizes that optimal functioning occurs in environments rich in diversity of experiences, cultures and ideas. GCSOM values diversity and is committed to maintaining a work and education environment free of discrimination. No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any GCSOM educational program or activity. Actions and/or services affecting GCSOM applicants, learners or employees will be applied without regard to sex, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, handicap, disability, marital status, veteran status or disabled veteran status, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by law.

GCSOM is prohibited by Title IX from discriminating on the basis of sex in the education programs and activities that it operates and this requirement to not discriminate extends to admissions and employment. Under Title IX, if GCSOM has actual knowledge of Title IX sexual harassment in its education program or activity against a person in the United States, GCSOM must respond promptly in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent. GCSOM’s response would be deliberately indifferent only if its response to sexual harassment is clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.

Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the Title IX coordinator or the Title IX associate coordinator (referred to collectively as the Title IX coordinators) or to the Federal Office of Civil Rights at OCR@ed.gov or  the regional federal Office of Civil Rights at OCR.Philadelphia@ed.gov

Title IX coordinators and contact information

Title IX Coordinator
Arthur Breese
570-808-5809
Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre
awbreese@geisinger.edu

Title IX Associate Coordinator for School of Medicine (undergraduate medical education and graduate programs)
Jackie Ghormoz
570-504-9073
GCSOM Medical Sciences Building, Room 3007
jghormoz@som.geisinger.edu

GCSOM’s Title IX coordinators oversee compliance with all aspects of the Policy on Sexual/Gender Discrimination, Misconduct, and Harassment, including the sections related to pregnant and parenting students. The Title IX coordinators will be informed of all reports of sexual/gender misconduct, and will oversee GCSOM’s centralized review, investigation and resolution of those reports to ensure GCSOM’s compliance with Title IX and the effective implementation of this policy. Questions about any parts of this policy should be directed to one of the Title IX coordinators. Anyone wishing to make a report relating to sex discrimination or sexual/gender misconduct may do so by reporting the concern to a GCSOM Title IX coordinator or to any school official with authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the school. GCSOM’s officials with authority include the president and dean; vice president for Community Engagement, associate dean for Equity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer; vice president for Academic Affairs and vice dean for Medical Education; associate dean for Student Affairs; associate dean for Educational Administration; associate dean for Clinical Affairs; chair of Medical Education Department; regional associate deans; regional assistant deans; dean for Graduate Education; associate dean of Graduate Education; and assistant dean for Academic Affairs for the School of Graduate Education.

Members of the Geisinger team have been trained through ATIXA. The latest training occurred in September 2018. The link to the training materials can be found here.

Training for the new rule is planned for September 2020 as well as November 2020:

  • Title IX regulatory requirement
  • Institution’s policy (including definitions of sexual harassment and programs and activities)
  • Relevance and credibility
  • Investigation
  • Role of advisors and cross-examination
  • Hearings and adjudications
  • Appeals

Resource advisors

Resource advisors are members of the GCSOM community who are available to provide support and information regarding the Policy on Sexual/Gender Discrimination, Misconduct and Harassment.

Staff resource advisors:

Peer resource advisors:

Title IX campus resources and referral options

Information about medical assistance, emergency services, advocacy and support services and academic accommodations at each campus/site.

Guidance on reporting

Any applicant, learner, employee or member of the GCSOM community who has experienced sex discrimination, sexual/gender misconduct, or Title IX sexual harassment is encouraged to immediately seek help. In circumstances involving sexual violence or assault, GCSOM encourages all individuals to seek assistance from a medical provider and/or law enforcement as indicated immediately after an incident of sexual/gender misconduct, whether or not the individual plans to pursue criminal action.

GCSOM encourages those who have experienced or witnessed any form of sex discrimination or sexual/gender misconduct to report the incident promptly and to pursue GCSOM remedies and interventions, as well as criminal action, if applicable. GCSOM takes complaints seriously and the Title IX coordinators are prepared to assist complainants to ensure their safety and to provide supportive measures. Any person may report sexual/gender discrimination, misconduct or harassment whether or not they are the person alleged to be the receiver of such conduct at any time. In such cases where an individual other than the one experiencing the misconduct makes the report, the Title IX coordinator will reach out to the party involved (complainant) to offer supportive measures and provide information on filing a formal complaint.

Reporting options

Reports of sex discrimination, sexual/gender misconduct, or Title IX sexual harassment can be made to the Title IX coordinators via mail, email, phone or in person.

Title IX Coordinator
Arthur Breese
570-808-5809
Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre
awbreese@geisinger.edu

Title IX Associate Coordinator for School of Medicine (undergraduate medical education and graduate programs)
Jackie Ghormoz
570-504-9073
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3007
jghormoz@som.geisinger.edu

In addition, reports can be made to any GCSOM official with authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the school. These official include the president and dean; vice president for Community Engagement, associate dean for Equity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer; vice president for Academic Affairs and vice dean for Medical Education; associate dean for Student Affairs; associate dean for Educational Administration; associate dean for Clinical Affairs; chair of Medical Education Department; regional associate deans; regional assistant deans; dean for Graduate Education; associate dean of Graduate Education; and assistant dean for Academic Affairs for the School of Graduate Education. These school officials will be required to notify the Title IX coordinators of any reports of sex discrimination or sexual/gender misconduct.

Individuals also have the right to file a formal grievance with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights or the regional OCR office if they believe GCSOM has discriminated on the basis of sex, retaliated against a complainant, witness, or respondent, or failed to follow the procedures set forth in this policy:

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Regional Office:

The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323.
215-656-8541.
Fax: 215-656-8605
OCR.Philadelphia@ed.gov

National Office:
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Customer service hotline: 800-421-3481
Fax: 202-453-6012
TDD#: 877-521-2172
OCR@ed.gov
Website

Anonymous reports

Anonymous reports can be made by anyone experiencing sexual/gender misconduct and/or anyone observing sexual/gender misconduct using the online reporting form posted here.

Or the following reporting hotlines:

  • Employees may report on an anonymous Geisinger hotline hosted by Global Compliance, Inc. at 800-292-1627, or click here.
  • Learners may report at the anonymous ethics hotline 844-600-0042, or click here.

Note that these anonymous reports will prompt a review by the Title IX coordinator. The college’s response to anonymous reports may, however, be limited by the amount of information provided on these reports.In the event that an incident involves alleged misconduct by a Title IX coordinator, reports should be made directly to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs Dr. Tanja Adonizio at Medical Sciences Building, room 3069, 570-504-9612 or tadonizio@som.geisinger.edu.

Resolution procedures for Title IX allegations

Informal resolution procedure

Where it is deemed possible and safe and when the parties agree, an informal resolution procedure may be applied to resolve a formal complaint. The informal procedure will not, however, be used when the complainant is a student and the alleged respondent is an employee.

To initiate the informal resolution procedure, the Title IX coordinator will review the procedure with the complainant and the respondent in a timely manner and elicit their interest in engaging this process. Both parties must give voluntary, informed written consent to participate in the informal resolution procedure. To reach an informal resolution, the Title IX coordinator (or designee) will speak with both parties and any appropriate witnesses to explore what actions and supportive measures can be agreed upon.

If a satisfactory resolution is reached through this informal conversation, the resolution will be documented and signed by both parties. If both parties sign the resolution, they may not then pursue the formal resolution procedure. If these efforts are unsuccessful or if the complainant or respondent do not accept the informal resolution, the formal resolution procedure may commence.

Either party (complainant or respondent) may stop the informal procedure at any time and request that the complaint be handled through the formal procedure. The complainant may request to end the informal or formal procedure at any time and the Title IX coordinator will consider whether granting the request to end the process is consistent with GCSOM’s responsibilities under Title IX and to its students and the public.

Formal resolution procedure

Investigation

Upon the receipt of a signed formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator will assign an objective investigator to commence the investigation. The role of the investigator is to gather the facts, by interviewing all witnesses and collecting appropriate evidence, and document his/her findings in preparation for a live hearing.

The burden of proof and the burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination regarding responsibility rest on GCSOM (as represented by the investigator) and not on the parties. However, both parties must have the opportunity to present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence to the investigator. The investigator cannot access, consider, disclose or otherwise use a party’s records that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional which are made and maintained in connection with the provision of treatment to the party, unless the investigator obtains that party’s voluntary, written consent to do so for the grievance process.

The investigation will take place in a timely manner. The parties to the complaint will receive the notice of allegations (described above) at least 10 days before their initial meeting with the investigator. The investigator will provide any witnesses with timely notification of the date, location and time of their interview meetings at least three days in advance and will notify the parties of any additional interviews at least three days in advance.  Interviews may occur in person or virtually based on the circumstances and investigators will work with the parties and witnesses to handle any scheduling conflicts. The complainant and respondent may be accompanied to any meetings with an advisor of their choice.

Sharing of evidence: During the investigation, the complainant and respondent will be provided with copies of or allowed to inspect all evidence collected. Either party may submit responses to the evidence to the investigator or may submit any additional evidence contradicting or corroborating the evidence collected by the investigator.

Preliminary investigative report: The investigator will prepare an investigative report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will provide the complainant and respondent and their advisors with a copy of the preliminary investigative report allowing a 10-day response period for both parties to review and respond to the report. The parties will also be notified of a proposed hearing date, at least 25 days from the date of receipt of the preliminary investigative report.

Final investigative report: Once this 10-day response period is concluded, the investigator will review any responses received and finalize the report. The complainant, the respondent and their advisors will simultaneously receive a copy of this written report at least 10 days before the scheduled hearing.

Supportive measures: At any time during the investigation, the investigators may recommend that additional supportive measures, including interim protections, be provided to the parties or witnesses.

Live hearing

Written notice of hearing: The Title IX coordinator and the investigator will provide written notification of the date, time, location, participants, allegations and purpose of the hearing, to all parties and witnesses whose participation is invited or expected within 10 days of the hearing.

Advisors: Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to have an advisor present during all phases of the investigation and hearing. The advisor can be, but is not required to be, an attorney. If a party does not have an advisor for the live hearing, GCSOM will appoint an advisor of its choice without fee or charge to that party, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, to represent the party during the hearing.

Decision-makers: Presiding over the hearing will be an objective decision-making panel, comprised of one GCSOM administrator, one GCSOM faculty member and one outside hearing panelist trained in conducting Title IX hearings. The Title IX coordinator and investigator will not serve on the panel. The role of the hearing panel will be to oversee the resolution of the complaint by interviewing all appropriate parties, including witnesses, determining the relevance of all questions posed under cross-examination, evaluating the relevance of all evidence submitted and rendering a decision of responsibility. If there is any disagreement between the panel members, they will decide on a course of action by majority vote.

Hearing format: The live hearing will be conducted in a manner so that all parties can see and hear testimony at all times. During the hearing, the parties may be in separate rooms (at the request of either party) or the hearing (in-part or in-whole) may be conducted virtually as long as there is appropriate technology to allow for the parties, their advisors, and the panel members to see and hear testimony at all times. The hearing will be recorded or transcribed, and a copy of the recording/transcription will be provided to both the complainant and respondent for review. The hearing will follow this process:

  • The investigator will make an opening statement summarizing the allegations and the relevant evidence.
  • The panel members may ask any questions of the investigator.
  • The investigator will then call upon the parties and the witnesses to testify. Each party and witness may first make a statement describing the events in question.
  • The advisors for the parties may then cross examine the testifying party or witness with the advisor for the complainant going first. Advisors may only ask relevant questions and the panel will be responsible for determining the relevance of questions posed by the parties’ advisers during cross-examination.
  • The decision-making panel will then have the opportunity to question the testifying party or witness.
  • After all of the investigator’s witnesses have been called, the complainant will have an opportunity to call witnesses or present any other evidence. Each witness will be subject to cross-examination by first the complainant’s advisor and then the respondent’s advisor. The same relevance requirements and determinations apply. The panel members will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
  • After all of the complainant’s witnesses have been called, the respondent will have an opportunity to call witnesses or present any other evidence. Each witness will be subject to cross-examination by first the respondent’s advisor and then the complaint’s advisor. The same relevance requirements and determinations apply. The panel members will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
  • After all witnesses have testified, the complaint or his/her advisor may make a final statement and then the respondent or his/her advisor may make a final statement. Each party shall be limited to a five-minute closing statement.

Rules for questioning parties and witnesses: Only the advisors for the parties or the panel members may question the testifying parties and witnesses. All questioning must be conducted in a professional and polite manner. Questioners may only ask relevant questions. Before the party or witness answers a question, the panel must first determine whether the question is relevant and explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant.

Questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such questions and evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent.

The decision-makers may not require, allow, rely upon or otherwise use questions or evidence that constitute, or seek disclosure of, information protected under a legally recognized privilege, unless the person holding such privilege has waived the privilege.

Impact of testimony: If a party or witness does not submit to cross-examination at the live hearing, the decision-making panel must not rely on any statement of that party or witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility (including a statement made to the investigator during the investigation).

The decision-making panel cannot draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’s absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.

Determination regarding responsibility

Generally within 10 days of the hearing, the decision-making panel will issue a written determination regarding responsibility applying the preponderance of the evidence standard. The written determination will include:

  • A list of the allegations potentially constituting Title IX sexual harassment or sexual/gender misconduct;
  • A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence and hearings held;
  • Findings of fact supporting the determination;
  • Conclusions regarding the application of GCSOM’s policies or codes of conduct to the facts;
  • A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility;
  • Any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the respondent;• Whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to GCSOM’s education program or activity will be provided by GCSOM to the complainant; and
  • The procedures and permissible bases for the complainant and respondent to appeal.

Notice of determination of responsibility: The complainant and respondent will be given simultaneous notice, in writing, of the determination of responsibility and any next steps, including the availability of appeal.

Supportive measures

Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the complainant or the respondent. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to GCSOM’s education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or GCSOM’s educational environment, or to deter sexual harassment. Supportive measures are available to complainants with or without the filing of a formal complaint.

Supportive measures may include counseling, extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments, modifications of work or class schedules, adjustment of learning modality, campus escort services, mutual restrictions on contact between the parties, changes in work locations, leaves of absence, increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus, and other similar measures. The chair of the Medical Education Department will be consulted regarding any supportive measures regarding course or program-related adjustments.

When the complainant and the respondent participate in the same courses, or participate in the same activities, the parties may request that a fair and immediate way to reassign and/or move one of the persons be decided upon by the associate dean for Student Affairs, vice dean, human resources generalist or a designee. The associate dean for Student Affairs will consult with the chair of Medical Education Department in making a determination regarding an alternative classroom assignment(s) for the respondent and/or the complainant.

GCSOM will keep any supportive measures provided to the complainant or respondent confidential, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of GCSOM to provide the supportive measures (for example, issuing mutual restrictions on contact requires disclosure to both parties). The Title IX coordinator is responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of supportive measures.

If GCSOM does not provide supportive measures to a complainant, the Title IX coordinator will document the reasons why such a response was not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.

Statement of complainant rights

Geisinger recognizes that sexual/gender misconduct is an offense in which the complainant often feels powerless. GCSOM assures complainants the following rights:

  1. The power to make decisions affecting their medical and emotional treatment and whether they choose to file a formal complaint.
  2. To have control over making decisions about whether to cooperate with law enforcement.
  3. To be notified in advance of the date, time, and location of any investigative meetings and/or hearings in order to effectively prepare.
  4. To review and comment on all evidence that will be considered in the investigation and decision-making process if a formal complaint is filed.
  5. To receive supportive measures from GCSOM including, but not limited to obtaining needed counseling or other support, such as access to victim advocate services in the community.
  6. To be assured of confidentiality by GCSOM to the extent possible and consistent with procedures outlined in this policy.
  7. Have an advisor of their choice, including legal counsel, during any GCSOM investigation, hearing or appeal proceeding.
  8. Not have prior sexual history discussed during the investigation or hearing unless relevant in determining responsibility or consent.
  9. Be informed of the outcome of the informal and formal resolution procedures.
  10. Appeal the final determination (on the permitted grounds) or the dismissal of a formal complaint.

Statement of respondent’s rights

GCSOM assures respondents the following rights:

  1. To receive a notice of allegations of this policy made against them including the complainant, the specific section of this policy or the Code of Conduct allegedly violated, the precise conduct allegedly constituting the potential violation, and the date(s) and location(s) of the alleged incident(s).
  2. To be notified in advance of the date, time, and location of any investigative meetings and/or hearings in order to effectively prepare.
  3. To review and comment on all evidence that will be considered in the investigation and decision-making process if a formal complaint is filed.
  4. To receive support from GCSOM in obtaining needed counseling or other supportive measures, including referral to the appropriate community agencies.
  5. To be assured of confidentiality by GCSOM to the extent possible and consistent with procedures outlined in this policy.
  6. Have an advisor of their choice, including legal counsel, during any GCSOM investigation, hearing or appeal proceeding.
  7. Be informed of the outcome of the informal and formal resolution procedures.
  8. Appeal the final determination (on the permitted grounds) or the dismissal of a formal complaint.