Following Logan Isaac’s September 2016 federal complaint, a compliance officer with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) interviewed the Duke University Senior Vice President of Institutional Equity & Chief Diversity Officer, among other managerial employees. The interview was conducted over the phone on January 31, 2017. Here is a link to the OFCCP interview notes which we received through a Freedom of Information Act request. Some commentary is provided below the break which may provide some context as to why this interview is significant.

No less than six questions (29-34) in the interview are demonstrably false. Given this person’s rank and responsibility, they are either negligent for having no knowledge of the status of university policies under their supervision or they are falsifying testimony to a federal investigator.

Here is the “Discrimination Grievance Procedure” policy that applied to Isaac at the time he filed a complaint with the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), which was last updated on April 22, 2015. The third paragraph lists the traits that are covered under the grievance procedure;

race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity

“Veteran Status” does not appear. On November 4, 2016, several days after Isaac was given the results of the OIE inquiry by phone, he requested OIE’s final report in writing, CCing the Senior VP. Three days later the “Discrimination Grievance Procedure” was updated, on November 7th, to add “Veteran Status.” The final report Isaac received in the mail was postmarked November 9th. You can see the updated policy here; notice the “Revised” date in the upper left corner.

OIE, which the Senior VP oversees, also publishes the university’s “Harassment Policy & Procedures.” The document operative over the duration of Isaac’s internal inquiry, which you can view here, underwent one revision on June 17, 2016, not long after Isaac’s complaint was filed. Like the Discrimination Grievance Procedure policy, “Veteran Status” did not appear anywhere in the document until November 7, 2016 (see the first paragraph, linked here), the same date the Discrimination Grievance Procedure was revised. Veteran Status is the only change made on November 7, 2016.

That means that for the entire length of Isaac’s internal complaint, there was neither a formal grievance procedure nor policy against harassment that applied to  protected veterans. That is not only a violation of federal law, but also contradicts the university’s own Affirmative Action Plan.

The Senior VP is therefore either ignorant of this fact or has knowingly misled a federal investigator.

Disclosure of Protected Activity

On August 23, 2016 Isaac attended a required training for teaching assistants on “Implicit Bias,” presented by the Senior VP. The first time he attended the presentation was on February 29, 2016, when the interim Dean‘s office organized the same (voluntary) training for faculty and staff. The presentation made no mention of veteran status either time Isaac attended, although the Senior VP claims in question 19 that it did.

In the same section of the transcript, this person references a question Isaac asked at the end of the August presentation, in which Isaac asked about veterans. Over the seven months since the last time it was offered, OIE’s presentation had remained unchanged, despite two discussions Isaac had with the Senior VP and several Isaac had with their staff. Isaac pointed out to this explicitly on one occasion that, for instance, OIE’s “Diversity Toolkit” contained zero resources on protected veterans.

*As of 11/20/2017, that remains true. There is now a dedicated page on their website, but it’s so new that it hasn’t even been archived by internet service providers yet. 

Isaac’s question came up in the OFCCP interview because the Senior VP’s response was inappropriate and effectively disclosed to all his peers that Isaac had been communicating with his office. The Senior VP’s response, recorded in the transcript, was typically self-protective; “People looked like what does that have to do with the presentation?” But that does not match with the reaction of at least one person in attendance, who shared their perspective on the condition of anonymity, saying

[The Senior VP] took time for questions at the end of the presentation. I was surprised that Isaac asked him about veterans, since the presentation mostly covered racial bias and I don’t recall veterans coming up. I was also surprised when, in answering Isaac’s question, [the Senior VP] disclosed that Isaac was asking about something they’d discussed privately, on a different occasion. It seemed unprofessional for [the Senior VP] to disclose to the whole group that he and Isaac had spoken about the matter before, since Isaac may have been speaking to [the Senior VP] about it in confidence.

Other OFCCP interviews can be found here.

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