Informal/Alternative Dispute Resolution Process

Informal/Alternative Dispute Resolution Process

Please note MIT uses the term Informal/Alternative Dispute Resolution to include the informal resolution process as described in the federal Title IX regulations. 

Informal/Alternative Dispute Resolution (I/ADR) is a process by which a mutually agreed upon resolution of allegations related to discrimination and discriminatory harassment are reached prior to a finding on responsibility. In many cases, I/ADR can be requested prior to a formal complaint being filed. Please note that due to new Title IX regulations, individuals raising concerns of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, or stalking may need to file a formal complaint in order to request Alternative Dispute Resolution. To request to initiate I/ADR, an individual must contact IDHR. All parties must consent to participating in I/ADR.

I/ADR encompasses a full range of possible options and appropriate outcomes. For example, IDHR may propose solutions, facilitate communication of proposals between the parties, facilitate direct discussions between the parties, or use other techniques such as mediation with a neutral party. I/ADR is voluntary and can result in a resolution of allegations of discriminatory and discriminatory harassment by agreement of the parties and the Institute. 

It is not necessary to pursue I/ADR first in order to pursue a Formal Complaint and any party participating in I/ADR can stop the process at any time and begin or resume the Formal Complaint process.

The Institute will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to attempt to resolve the matter through I/ADR before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in I/ADR.

Generally, I/ADR may be used to resolve any allegations of discrimination and discriminatory harassment, with one exception: I/ADR may not be used to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed (as defined by Title IX) a student.  In addition, depending on the specific circumstances of a case, the Institute may determine that I/ADR is not appropriate for the case.

I/ADR is available at any time prior to the determination on responsibility. For example, in lieu of proceeding to the hearing or sanctioning process, a Respondent could request to participate in the I/ADR process after IDHR has completed its investigation and issued the investigative report. If the Complainant is also willing to participate in the I/ADR process, the IDHR Director, or designee, will determine whether I/ADR can be used according to the criteria in the section below.

The outcome of the I/ADR process is final and is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written assent to all agreed upon terms of resolution. When the parties cannot agree on all terms of resolution, the Formal Complaint Process will resume at the same point where it was paused.

The IDHR director, or designee, will review all relevant factors in determining whether I/ADR is appropriate for a particular case. Some of the relevant factors may include:

  • The nature and severity of the allegations
  • The parties’ amenability to I/ADR
  • Power dynamics between the parties
  • Civility of the parties
  • Emotional investment of the parties
  • Goals of the parties
  • Risk Assessment
  • Disciplinary history

The ultimate determination of whether I/ADR is available is to be made by the IDHR director, or designee.

Each party will be permitted to have an advisor of choice or support person assist them during the I/ADR process and participate in any meetings with IDHR or designee. In matters against staff and faculty members, P&P, Section 9.8 governs who may serve as an advisor or support person. In matters against students, the COD Rules governs who may serve as an advisor or support person. In any matter alleging sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, or Title IX Sexual Harassment, that parties may select an advisor of their choice, including an attorney.

The parties are strongly encouraged, although not required, to consult with their advisors and any support persons during the entire I/ADR process. If a party would like assistance identifying an advisor, they should contact the IDHR director, or designee.

While an advisor may provide support or advice, they may not speak on behalf of the party or otherwise participate in a disruptive manner. MIT reserves the right to remove any individual whose actions are disruptive to the process.

During the I/ADR process, the facilitator may consult with other colleagues at MIT. For example, they may need to consult with a supervisor about a workplace or scheduling issue, or with an academic advisor or House Team. The I/ADR facilitator reserves the right to consult with other MIT colleagues as necessary during the I/ADR process. 

IDHR, or designee, has to agree that the terms of the I/ADR are appropriate, even if both parties agree. At the conclusion of the I/ADR process, the I/ADR facilitator will draft a resolution agreement. I/ADR agreements may include the voluntary imposition of safety measures, remedies, agreed-upon resolutions by the parties, recognition of harm, and acknowledgement of accountability.

With all informal resolution options, no determination is made by MIT as to whether a Conduct Policy was violated.

IDHR maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive actions, including sanctions.

Either party can request to end the I/ADR process at any time. The I/ADR facilitator can also end the process if the parties are at an impasse or it becomes evident that the I/ADR process will not be successful.

If I/ADR is unsuccessful and either party decides to proceed with the grievance process, IDHR will ensure that the staff member who facilitated the I/ADR process is not assigned to investigate the formal complaint. Generally, any materials submitted by the parties during the I/ADR process, and which relate to the allegations in the formal complaint, would be shared with the Investigators. Materials created specifically for the I/ADR process, including proposed terms of resolution, will typically not be shared with the investigators. These materials will be kept in separate secure file.

  • For students, IDHR will retain a copy of the signed agreement and this document will only be shared with the COD prior to the COD reaching sanctioning decisions on any future unrelated matter, if the agreement included disciplinary sanctions that the COD approved.
  • For employees, IDHR and Central HR will retain a copy of the signed agreement. A copy of the signed agreement will be shared with each person’s supervisor and may be used to reach sanctioning decisions on future unrelated matters.

The parties are expected to honor and comply with the terms of resolution reached through I/ADR. If a breach of the agreement occurs, it is the responsibility of the parties to notify IDHR. A breach of the agreement may be subject to disciplinary action.