Navigating the Complaints Process
We are here to help students navigate this process. Unfortunately, we have found that in many ways it is designed to disadvantage victims and discourage them from coming forward. Please contact us if you would like assistance, or if you have received an unsatisfactory outcome from the process.
Filing in your Department
Your department's graduate student handbook should include a procedure for filing a complaint, which typically begins by writing to your DGS (to the best of your ability, describe the nature of your complaint, and detail specific instances with time, place, and witnesses if possible). If your complaint is against the DGS it should be policy that you communicate directly with the Associate Dean (see LGS Committee on Grievances below). Unfortunately, some, if not all, departments limit their grievance process to current students. If you do not receive a satisfactory outcome, there are still several options open to you.
The Office of Equity and Inclusion
The OEI handles complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, and retaliation (for filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment). University policy states, "Discriminatory harassment of any kind, whether it is sexual harassment or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, genetic information, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran’s status, or any factor that is a prohibited consideration under applicable law, by any member of the faculty, staff, administration, student body, a vendor, a contractor, guest or patron on campus, is prohibited at Emory."
Complaints may only be filed within 6 months of the last incident of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
LGS Committee on Grievances
With some exceptions, this committee will only consider your case after you have attempted to resolve it through your department. If your case involves discrimination or harassment they will refer you to the OEI, though we are aware of cases where after a complaint of discrimination was dismissed by the OEI it was considered by the LGS committee. Their policies state: "Students who do not receive satisfaction through these channels [within their department], or who believe that they have recognized academic or professional problems that cannot be presented profitably to their programs, may present grievances to the Laney Graduate School Committee on Grievances."
You can file a complaint with the LGS Committee on Grievances by contacting the LGS Associate Dean, at present Cathryn Johnson.
Their decisions can be appealed to the Laney Graduate School Executive Council. Laney's website does not explain how one initiates such an appeal.
The Emory-Wide "Open-Door Policy"
Emory as a whole has a policy that allows anyone who has "employment-related concerns" to contact "Employee Relations representatives." They should be contacted if one feels one cannot discuss the issue directly with one's supervisor, or if one has already discussed the issue with one's supervisor and it remains unresolved. Laney's Employee Relations contact is Karen Truesdale, 404-712-8873, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside Emory's Internal Process
While an internal complaint is being considered, after it has been closed, or in lieu of filing with Emory's internal agencies, it is possible to file at the governmental level. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may be appropriate places to file.
Emory has an "ombudsperson" who does not handle complaints, but is a "private sounding board and source of assistance to help students find the right resources, navigate Emory systems, and figure out their next steps in addressing an academic or nonacademic concern."
An ombudsperson is defined as "a person who handles complaints," which makes this designation in this case a bit misleading. Still, they are someone you can speak to about these problems.