*This post is part of a series on Isaac v. Duke, a federal complaint filed with OFCCP.

In most of the eight interviews we received via the freedom of Information Act, or FOIA for short, managerial employees were asked a series of questions under the heading “EEO/Affirmative Action” (typically section III of each interview).

Interviewees were asked the same basic questions, even if the specific order varied between interviews. There were three basic questions (the first of which has been condensed for clarity), regarding 1) training, 2) nondiscrimination statement, and 3) internal complaint process. Each question also asks whether veteran status is baked in to each element. Here are the questions, which I have arranged into three parts;

  1. When and what type of training did you receive regarding the University’s EEO and/or harassment policy and any other of its Affirmative Action Program and EEO obligations?
    • Did the materials or trainingcover veteran status discrimination?
    • Who attended? Did you verify attendance?
    • Was the training required?
  2. Has Duke University ever used an equal employment opportunity or nondiscrimination statement in any of its materials ( e.g. employment manual)? If so, do the materials cover veteran status discrimination?
  3. Does Duke University have an internal complaint process for discrimination, harassment and retaliation issues raised by employees? If so, does that process cover veteran status discrimination issues?

Following each interview, OFCCP types up the responses and invites the interviewee to revise their notes. Before returning the notes to the Compliance Officer, interviewees must sign off that they read the final version and that it “is true.” Here is what they had to say about questions focused on EEO/Affirmative Action, arranged in the order of university rank (interview dates are indicated by parentheses);


Senior Vice President for Institutional Equity (20170131)

  1. EEO Training: (q.28, deferred to q.27) “Anyone who is employed here goes thru the orientation. The University has a department that does all kinds of training on different issues such as multi- cultural issues, inclusion, and so forth. They do presentations and every professional school does something different. Nobody is exempt from the government guidelines, nobody is exempt from that.”
    • vet status: (q.29) “Yes”  
    • attended: (q.31) “Everyone” 
    • required: (q.32) “Yes”
  2. Nondiscrimination Statement & Vet Status: (q.33) “We do training for every manager, and every manager knows the policy, so it depends what type of training you are talking about. But for the orientation all employees need to know our policies.”
  3. Internal Complaint Process & Vet Status: (q.34) “Yes we do and it covers veteran status.”

Assistant Vice President for Harassment and Discrimination Compliance (20161208)

This person failed to answer each question in the entire “EEO/Affirmative Action” section, which is odd given her professional responsibilities. The striking thing is that the rest of the interviews that were conducted with EEO/Affirmative Action in mind clearly contradict the statements above.

Interim Dean (20161207)

  1. EEO Training: (q.29) “No formal training process but a number of meetings with [redacted] and [redacted]. Usually twice a week; frequent telephonic conversation s with the Provost and with the OIE. I came in to be an interim for the divinity school on an emergency basis.”
    • vet status: *This question was not asked by OFCCP
    • attended: *This question was not asked by OFCCP
    • required: *This question was not asked by OFCCP
  2. Nondiscrimination statement & Vet Status: (q.30) “I believe all the materials are available on the website.”
  3. Internal Complaint Process & Vet Status: (q.31) “Thru the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).”

Associate Dean for Academic Programs (20161207)

  • EEO Training: (q.32) “I have not taken a course specifically.”
    • vet status: (q.33) “NA”
    • attended:  (q.35) “NA”
    • required: (q.36) “NA”
  • Nondiscrimination statement & Vet Status: (q.38) “Defer to HR materials”
  • Internal Complaint Process & Vet Status: (q.39) “Yes.”

Associate Dean of External Relations (20161208)

  • EEO Training: (q.31) “Not formal training.”
    • vet status: (q.32) “NA” 
    • attended: (q.33) “NA” 
    • required: (q.35) “NA” 
  • Nondiscrimination statement & Vet Status: (q.37) “Yes, Duke University AAP covers equal employment opportunity or non-discrimination statement and the materials cover veteran status discrimination also.”
  • Internal Complaint Process & Vet Status: (q.38) “Yes , the internal complaint process for discrimination, harassment and retaliation also covers veterans.”

Senior Director of Admissions, Recruitment, & Student Finance (20170208)

*OFCCP did not ask this person any of the EEO/Affirmative Action questions.

Chaplain of the Divinity School (20170203)

  • EEO Training: (q.24) “Over the years that I have been at Duke I would say yes. I know we do not discriminate in our hiring practices.”
    • vet status: (q.25) “I think so.”
    • attended: (q.27) “Everybody.”
    • required: (q.28) “Yes.”
  • Nondiscrimination statement & Vet Status: (q.29) “I’m sure they do.”
  • Internal Complaint Process & Vet Status: (q.30) “Yes.”

Former Registrar (20170223)

  • EEO Training: *This question was not asked by OFCCP, but to q.23, they answer “I believe Duke has an EEOC policy.
    • Q.24 asks about the University’s EEO policy, but they answer “As far as I know there is a formal EEO complaint process.”
  • Nondiscrimination statement & Vet Status: *This question was not asked by OFCCP
  • Internal Complaint Process & Vet Status: (q.26) “Yes.”

Conclusions

The senior manager responsible for EEO and harassment training at a top tier research institution told a federal agency that “everyone” attended mandated training, but this is not supported by the evidence of other testimony obtained by FOIA.

It is not immediately clear why OFCCP asked only some of the managers about EEO and harassment training and not others. The Registrar and Director were not asked the same questions, for example, and the Assistant Vice President did not offer any responses whatsoever. The interviewer did not even record “NA” in the section in question. As for the Chaplain, their testimony is somewhat confusing, as she seems confident that “everybody” attended the “required” training that she cannot recall with any certainty ever having received herself.

Of the managers who were asked the same or similar question, however, every single reply contradicts the claim that “everyone” attended EEO and harassment training;

  • Interim Dean – “No formal training process
  • Academic Dean – “I have not taken a course specifically.”
  • Relations Dean – “Not formal training.”

It stands to reason that perhaps “training” could mean something informal or non-course like. The Interim Dean, after all, mentions “a number of meetings,” but the extent to which these are “required” or attended by “everybody” is not clear (or plausible, given the implied size and intimacy of ‘meeting’). This begs the conclusion that the managers interviewed never received the required training because it was never offered. Furthermore, those trainings that were offered did not include any reference to veteran status at all, which you can read about here.

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