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Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office

The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office carries out federal and state equal opportunity regulations and university policy by managing the University’s affirmative action and antidiscrimination efforts and promoting structural and interpersonal solutions to conflict prevention and resolution.

Welcome to Western's Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office

Students, and Staff engage about what civil rights means to them.

It is Western’s duty to advance an exceptional and representative workforce. The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office recognizes each person’s individuality as their greatest asset in an inclusive campus community and strives to elevate Western as model for supporting and empowering diverse professionals.

Our Services

The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office intakes, processes, investigates, and reports upon employment related complaints under Western’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-discrimination Policies, attempting to resolve issues at the lowest possible level.  The University prohibits and will not tolerate any action that violates federal, state, or local law or this Policy.

We know that filing a complaint can be stressful; we are here to support you through the process. If you are unsure whether your complaint constitutes discrimination or retaliation or how best to proceed, we are available to discuss your concerns. Please see the Consultation section below and feel free to visit the Center for Civil Rights or email CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu with any questions. Please see the Law and Policy section for more information on these policies.

We know that filing a complaint can be stressful; we are here to support you through the process. If you are unsure whether your complaint constitutes discrimination or retaliation or how best to proceed, we are available to discuss your concerns. Please see the Consultation section below and feel free to visit the Center for Civil Rights or email CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu with any questions.

If you would like to submit a complaint of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace you can use the link below, or you can submit a hand-written to the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office.

Submit a Notice of Discrimination

In an ideal world, diverse team members can easily work in tandem for the achievement of a common goal; however, personal differences among team members sometimes lead to misunderstandings or conflict. If you would like assistance in managing a difficult interpersonal situation at work, the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office offers informed, impartial, and empathic counsel and will hold your concerns in confidence, except in the event of risk of harm or as required by law.

Thank you in advance for trusting us with your sensitive or confidential concerns. By talking to you and others about the challenges they face, we can identify institutional trends and bring attention to any policies or aspects of Western’s culture that need to be addressed. We value you as an important stakeholder and partner in this work.

Please visit the Center for Civil Rights or email us at CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu to set up a meeting.

Informal and Formal Conflict Resolution

For complaints that involve violations of Western’s policies, such as the Professional Conduct Policy, contact Western’s Director of Human Resources who manages informal and formal resolutions. The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office and the Human Resources Office are available to discuss various options and resources for addressing your concerns. Please see the Law and Policy section for more information on these policies.

Please visit the Center for Civil Rights or email us at CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu to set up a meeting.

The Department of Human Resources is located in Taylor Hall 321-C or by email at hr@western.edu.

If you would like to submit a complaint of unprofessional conduct or other policy violations, you can use the link below, or you can submit a hand-written grievance to the Human Resources Office.

Notice of Grievance

Bias Reporting

Issues might arise due to differences in gender, culture, personalities which can cause opposing and highly-emotional points of view. Identity is often a factor in conflicts, and such biases – even if not rising to the level of harassment or discrimination – must be acknowledged and addressed.

The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office is available and interested in talking to you in person about these issues, should they arise. Please email us at CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu to set up a meeting.

If you wish you file an anonymous bias report to Western’s CARE Team, you can do so using the link below.

Bias Incident Report

The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office coordinates employee trainings, sessions, workshops and other forms of education to support diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ+) education and professional development in the workplace.

Please check back soon for an opportunity to sign up for the following professional development opportunities offered to individuals and departments.

Managing for DEIJ+: Effective supervision and evaluation practices for leaders of diverse teams

Relating to today’s students: Intersectionality awareness and Culturally responsive strategies

Book club and discussion group

Affirmative Action Plan and Program

Western is required to develop and maintain an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) that is consistent with federal and state statutes, executive orders and rules promulgated by relevant agencies. The AAP contains Western’s equal opportunity policies, anti-discrimination policies and procedures, search procedures and documentation, and statistical analyses of demographic data from Western’s search pools and workforce.

Western’s current AAP demonstrates that Western is in compliance with OFCCP requirements, has thorough, non-discriminatory employment forms, policies and procedures, and does not have disparities in compensation. Western’s current AAP is available for review in the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office by employees and applicants upon request. Please contact CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu.

The AAP provides that statistical foundation for the Affirmative Action Program. The implementation of the Affirmative Action Program is the most important part from the perspective of the OFCCP and Western’s leadership.

Program for Affirmative Action Strategies

The purpose of Western’s Affirmative Action Program is to recruit and retain qualified individuals in all protected classes and to eliminate any inequities in Western’s employment practices. The Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office aims to implement a biannual Affirmative Action Program in a phased approach to ensure that Western is recruiting, valuing, supporting, and retaining an exceptional, diverse, and effective team.

2023-2025 Affirmative Action Program Timeline

2023-2025 Program for Affirmative Action Strategies

Regarding the 2023 Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action

In light of the 2023 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court barring the use of affirmative action in admissions, the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office is increasing efforts to educate the community on its values, policies and practices. Western continues to implement its Affirmative Action Program as required by law. While this landmark decision barred the use of race as a factor in university admissions, it did not affect affirmative action in the workplace, nor the many types of DEIJ+ initiatives we undertake at Western. In their response to the ruling, Western’s Senior Cabinet affirmed, “Our commitment to opportunity, access, and inclusion remains strong and this Supreme Court decision will not change that.”

Law and Policy

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and related conditions, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. They provide guidance on types of discrimination and workplace best practices.

The EEOC enforces these federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. In addition to those enforced by the EEOC, these federal laws prohibit discrimination and regulate workplace issues.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces the legal requirement for entities who do business with or accept funding from the federal government to take affirmative action and not discriminate on the basis of protected status.

The OFCCP enforces the Affirmative Action Program for Minorities & Women (Executive Order 11246), the Affirmative Action Program for Protected Veterans (Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act), and the Affirmative Action Program for Individuals with Disabilities (Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act).

The Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office enforces Western’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, found in Section 1.01 of the Handbook for Professional Personnel.

This policy is in accord with the Trustees Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy and Anti-discrimination Policy and Grievance Procedures, found in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the Trustee Policy Manual (included in the Handbook for Professional Personnel as Appendix L).

In addressing and resolving workplace conflict, the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office references Section 2.02 of the Handbook for Professional Personnel, which outlines what constitutes “Professional Conduct” at Western.

Our Team

Marita Whalen poses with two thumbs upMeet Marita

Marita Miller Whalen has been passionate about equity and access from a young age, pushing her to unique early-life experiences such as medical missions, adaptive ski instruction, volunteer work with Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Peace Corps service in West Africa. Marita has always been committed to public service and interested in interpersonal and structural solutions to systemic injustices.

Marita started her career as a teacher, empowering students with diverse backgrounds and abilities to build authentic connections and access educational opportunities. She acted as a grievance officer and negotiator, participated in multiple policy fellowships and workgroups, and served as department chair among other leadership roles.

Marita observed that many educators and administrators are not equipped for the racial, linguistic, cultural, socio-economic, gender, and neuro- diversity they encounter, and this is a primary reason that educational inequities persist today. Marita also saw many teachers buckle under the stress of the profession, with a disproportionate impact on the highest-need students. She came to understand that these experiences were the result of systemic failings in diversity, equity, and inclusion; she began advocating for policies that supported DEIJ+ in educational environments and for the fair treatment of diverse professionals under such policies.

Marita aims to establish and maintain trust in Western’s complaint processes, provide empathetic and objective counsel, and take a restorative approach to conflict resolution. She believes it is the duty of the institution to guarantee a culture of fairness and inclusivity so that faculty and staff feel supported in creating equitable and meaningful experiences for students. Marita is interested in discussing and modeling culturally responsive strategies with Western’s faculty and staff; she believes that on-going diversity training is necessary for all personnel — not only to promote legal and ethical conduct on campus, but also to ensure that Western fulfills its primary responsibility of inspiring and elevating all students in meaningful ways.

Assessment

Please check back at a later time to view the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office’s ‘Year in Review.’

The Affirmative Action Plan is available for review in the Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office by employees and applicants upon request. Please contact CivilrightsEEOAA@Western.edu.

Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office

Equal Opportunity Officer

Marita Whalen, Ed.S.

Equal Opportunity Officer

Contact Information

970.943.3145

civilrightseeoaa@western.edu

8 a.m. - 5 p.m., M-F

Campus Location

Library 122A

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