Institutional Equity

Harassment and Discrimination

Harassment

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected class, which includes race, religion, color, nation origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, height, weight, genetic information, marital status, disabled veteran status, veteran status, or disability.

Harassment becomes against University policy where:

  1. Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
  2. The conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive as to substantially or effectively disrupt or undermine a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity, including, but not limited to, employment.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcomed sexual, sex-based, and/or gender-based verbal, written, online, and/or physical conduct that constitutes Hostile Environment Harassment or Quid Pro Quo as defined below.

  • Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: When sexual harassment is severe, persistent or pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive, such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the institution’s education or employment programs.

  • Quid Pro Quo (meaning “this for that”) Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a person having power or authority over another when submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating or evaluating an individual’s education oremployment progress, development or performance. This includes when submission to such conduct would be, or under the circumstances would reasonably be understood to be, a condition for access to receiving the benefits of any educational or employment program.

Discrimination

Discrimination is the unequal or unfair treatment of a person on the basis of that person’s race, religion, color, nation origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, height, weight, genetic information, marital status, disabled veteran status, veteran status, or disability. Discrimination can occur when persons are excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, any University program or activity because of their protected status.

Examples of Prohibited Practices

  • Retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices
  • Denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability.
  • Giving a higher grade to a student who submits to sexual advances.

Hostile Environment

A hostile environment is defined as an environment on campus that, through harassing conduct (e.g. physical, verbal, graphic, or written) based on a person’s protected status (e.g. sexual orientation, age, etc.), becomes sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity.

The University prohibits harassment, as defined above, on its campus and by any person while engaged in University business, whether on or off campus. When the University determines that a hostile environment exists, it takes action reasonably calculated to remedy the harassment and ensure it does not reoccur.

While a person engaging in prohibited harassing behavior often has some form of power or authority over the person being harassed, that is not always the case. The harasser can be a peer or a person who has power over them. The harasser can even be a person who is not a member of the University community, such as a person delivering supplies to a laboratory or refilling vending machines. Regardless of the source, the University does not tolerate prohibited harassment.

Retaliation

The University strictly prohibits and will not tolerate reprisals or retaliation against persons due to their assertion of their protected civil rights, including the filing of internal complaints of discrimination, filing complaints with federal or state civil rights enforcement agencies, or participation in an investigation of such a complaint (e.g., serving as a witness). Retaliation against anyone who is a victim, files a claim/complaint, who is named as a respondent, or who participates in the investigation and/or resolution of a case, regardless of the outcome of the case, is expressly prohibited and could lead to discipline and possible dismissal. Retaliation exists when action is taken against a participant (whether a complainant, witness, respondent, or investigator) which affects their employment, academic/student, or business status which is motivated in whole or in part by their participation in the process. Retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in the complaint process may be found regardless of whether or not the underlying complaint is found to have merit. Individuals who believe they are experiencing this form of retaliation are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate University office, including the Office of Institutional Equity, the Director of Human Resources, or the Dean of Students Office.