Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation
- I. Emerson’s Commitment to Non-Discrimination
- II. Individuals Covered Under this Policy
- III. Definitions
- IV. Examples of Conduct that May Constitute Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment
- V. Consensual Relationships
- VI. Responsibilities of College Community Members
- VII. Complaint Procedure
- VIII. Timeliness in Reporting
- IX. Investigatory Process
- X. Responsive Action
- XI. Confidentiality
- XII. Protection against Retaliation
- XIII. Title IX Coordination
- XIV. State and Federal Agencies
- XV. Conclusion
Emerson College is committed to fostering an environment of mutual respect among its students, staff and faculty, as well as others who participate in the College’s programs and activities. As part of this commitment, Emerson seeks to protect the rights of all members of the College community and any other persons having dealings with the College, and prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender/sex (including pregnancy), gender identity/expression, race, color, religion or religious creed, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability or handicap, age, genetics, marital status, veteran status and any other category protected by law (“protected class status”). Emerson also prohibits discrimination and harassment based on an individual’s participation in a protected activity (such as reporting alleged discrimination or harassment). Retaliation against any individual who raises a good faith report under this policy is strictly prohibited.
Emerson expects that its students, faculty, staff, vendors, contractors, alumni and guests will conduct themselves appropriately and refrain from behavior that violates this and other College policies. Accordingly, individuals who discriminate against or harass others in violation of this policy, regardless of whether such conduct rises to the level of unlawful discrimination or harassment, may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment, association with Emerson, or dismissal from Emerson.
This policy applies to all members of the Emerson College community including students, employees (including all part-time and full-time professors, assistant professors, associate professors, visiting professors, lecturers, instructors, administrators, and staff) as well as independent contractors, volunteers who perform work for the College and vendors, alumni, and guests or visitors of the College.
Unlawful discrimination is unfavorable, unfair or inequitable treatment of a person or a “class” of people based on protected characteristic(s) such as gender/sex (including pregnancy), gender identity/expression, race, color, religion or religious creed, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability or handicap, age, genetics, marital status, veteran status or any other category protected by law. Examples of unlawful discrimination include denying an individual a job or a promotion, or denying a student the opportunity to participate in an educational activity because of his or her protected characteristic(s).
Discriminatory harassment is harassment based on an individual’s protected characteristic(s). Discriminatory harassment is defined, for purposes of this policy, as conduct that degrades or shows hostility towards an individual because of his or her protected characteristic(s) and which: (1) has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s employment or enrollment, or (2) has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile, intimidating or offensive working, living or learning environment (“hostile environment”).
Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination. Both the federal courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have ruled that sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual Harassment, including any form of sexual violence, has also been judged to be prohibtited sex discrimination under Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 as amended. The College is committed to providing a working, living and learning environment that is free from all forms of sexually abusive, violent, harassing or coercive conduct.
A person may be found to have engaged in unlawful sexual harassment if the person makes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or engages in other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where: (1) submission to such advances, requests or conduct by an employee or student is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of his or her employment or educational experience (“quid pro quo” harassment); or (2) such advances, requests, or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee or student’s professional or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work or educational environment (“hostile environment” harassment) or impacts participation in College related programs or activities.
All persons, regardless of gender can be perpetrators and victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can also involve conduct towards members of the same or opposite sex as the harasser. Whether unwelcome sexual conduct rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment depends on the severity or pervasiveness of the conduct. Sexual harassment may include the following: (1) unwelcome physical touching of a sexual nature; (2) unwelcome verbal comments of a sexual nature (lewd jokes, sexual inquiries or comments about individuals’ bodies, repeated requests for dates, or comments about one’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess); (3) displaying or distributing sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, graffiti, drawings, media or written materials, and/or (4) acts of sexual violence including rape, sexual assault, battery and coersion.
Retaliation is taking materially adverse actions against someone because the individual has engaged in legally protected activities. For instance, terminating or expelling an individual because the individual has in good faith complained of conduct raised under this policy could be an example of retaliation. The College will not tolerate members of its community taking adverse actions towards anyone who, in good faith, alleges discrimination or harassment. Nor will the College tolerate retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation related to the individual’s complaint or another individual’s discrimination complaint. Just as if an individual is determined to have violated this policy by engaging in discrimination or harassment, if the College determines that any individual has engaged in retaliation in violation of this policy, that individual may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination of employment, or association with Emerson.
Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace, educational programs, activities or the academic environment, examples of unlawful discrimination could include the following types of conduct:
- Making decisions about a person’s employment, compensation or education based upon or motivated by the person’s protected class status;
- Verbal or physical abuse, offensive innuendo or derogatory words, epithets or comments concerning or based on or motivated by a person’s protected class status;
- A display of objects, pictures, or other media which create a hostile working/learning environment based on or motivated by a person’s protected class status.
- Failure to provide religious or disability related accommodation as may be required under applicable law.
In addition, sexual harassment can take its own unique form. Sexual harassment does not refer to words or actions that are welcome. It refers to behavior that is not welcome and can occur in a variety of situations, which share a common element: the inappropriate introduction of sexual activities or comments into the work or academic environment on the basis of sex. Harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire in order to constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment often involves relationships of unequal power. Such situations may contain elements of coercion, such as when compliance with requests for sexual favors becomes a condition for granting privileges or favorable treatment on the job or in the classroom. However, sexual harassment may also involve relationships among persons of equal authority or power, such as when repeated unwelcome advances or demeaning verbal comments by staff, faculty, student, or affiliate towards another staff, faculty, student, or affiliate unreasonably interferes with a person’s ability to perform his or her work or enjoy an academic environment free of harassment. Sexual harassment can also involve behavior directed to and/or by students of the College, as well as staff, faculty and non-employees of the College.
Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace or academic environment, examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to conduct such as the following:
- verbal abuse, insults, jokes, comments or innuendo of a sexual nature that include lewd, obscene or sexually suggestive displays or sex-based or gender-based remarks;
- physical contact, such as touching, hugging, kissing, patting, or pinching, that is uninvited and unwanted or unwelcome by the other person;
- the requests or demands for sexual favors accompanied by implicit or explicit promised rewards or threats concerning an individual’s employment status or educational status;
- repeated unwelcome social invitations, sexual flirtations, advances, propositions or unwanted requests for sexual favors.
Under this Policy, consenting romantic and sexual relationships where a power differential exists, must realize that, if a charge of sexual harassment (including one alleging a hostile work or academic environment) is subsequently lodged, it will be exceedingly difficult to disprove the claim on the grounds of mutual consent. Because this is so, it should be understood that relationships of this kind pose serious professional risks to any who enter into them and include:
- romantic involvement (even if consensual) between supervisors and subordinates that impacts the workplace and/or other individuals in areas such as assignments, advancements and benefits;
- romantic involvement (even if consensual) between supervisors, staff, faculty and students they supervise or teach that impacts the academic environment, and/or other students in areas such as assignments, grades and academic benefits; or threatened, attempted, or completed physical or sexual assault (rape, sexual battery or coercion) or any indecent exposure.
- The dissolution of these relationships which can create discord and significantly impair the normal operations of the College.
For these reasons, dating, romantic, or sexual relationships between students and College employees during the period of a teacher/student relationship or of any professional responsibility (even when college is not in session or the student is on leave), are prohibited. For purposes of this section, professional responsibility for a student means responsibility over academic matters, including teaching, counseling, grading, advising for a formal project such as a thesis or research, evaluating, hiring, supervising, coaching, making decisions or recommendations that confer benefits such as admissions, registration, financial aid, other awards, remuneration, or fellowships, or performing any other function that might affect teaching, research, or other academic programs, activities, or opportunities. College policy also strongly discourages any sexual relations between faculty or staff and students. The deans, department Chairs, and other administrators should respond to reports of prohibited sexual relationships by inquiring further and, if such reports appear to be accurate, initiating appropriate disciplinary action or remedial measures against the faculty and/or staff member involved.
Each member of the College community covered by this policy is expected to be personally responsible for their own conduct and for taking steps to adhere to this policy such that each individual does not discriminate against or harass anyone in the Campus community. All College community members are also responsible for cooperating in any investigation of alleged harassment or discrimination if requested to do so by the person conducting the investigation.
Any person who observes an incident that may constitute a violation of this policy or who otherwise becomes aware of such an incident must immediately notify one of the College personnel or investigators listed in the Complaint Procedure below.
In the educational setting within the College, there exists latitude for a faculty member’s professional judgment in determining the appropriate content and presentation of academic material. Academic curriculum and pedagogical goals that serve legitimate and reasonable educational purposes may not, in and of themselves, constitute sexual harassment or other unlawful discrimination. However, those participating in the educational setting bear a responsibility to balance their professional academic responsibilities and academic freedoms with consideration of the reasonable sensitivities of other participants. Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed to limit the legitimate and reasonable academic responsibilities and academic freedoms of the College’s professional educators.
Reporting an Incident of Discrimination or Harassment/ Notification of Appropriate Staff
If any member of the Emerson College community has witnessed or been subjected to discrimination or harassment prohibited by this policy, whether by a supervisor, a co-worker, faculty member, student, vendor, contractor or any other person with whom the individual has come in contact at the College, the individual must report the incident promptly to the AVP, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator or any of the following persons:
- AVP, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator, ext. 8133
- A Supervisor or Department Head
- Dean of Students, ext. 8640
- Director of Multi-Cultural Affairs/GLBTQ Resources, ext. 8438
- Associate Director of Employment, ext. 8452
- VP, Diversity & Inclusion, ext. 8528
- VP, General Counsel, ext. 8908
- Associate Dean/Director of Housing and Residence Life, ext. 8620
- Resident Director(s)
- Any person listed in the Title IX Coordination section of this policy
NOTE: Public Safety should be immediately notified of harassment, stalking, threats, assault, and sexual assault complaints at (617) 824-8555.
Any person who receives a complaint of harassment or discrimination from a student, faculty, staff or other College community member, or who otherwise knows or has reason to believe that a student, faculty, staff or other College community member has been subjected to harassment or discrimination, must report the incident promptly to the AVP/Title IX Coordinator, ext. 8133.
Federal and state laws and regulations place certain requirements on Emerson College regarding the reporting of sexual harassment. No member of the community who receives a complaint of sexual harassment may ignore it. To the contrary, they should provide the person making the complaint with as much assistance in bringing the complaint to the attention of the AVP of HR or designee as is reasonably appropriate given his or her position at the College and relationship with the person making the complaint. Any employee that receives a compaint of sexual harassment from a student or other member of the community has an affirmative legal duty to report the complaint to the AVP of HR or designee as soon as he or she becomes aware of it.
Similarly, all employees, and others having dealings with the College must report to the AVP of HR any conduct of which they have direct knowledge, and which they in good faith believe constitutes sexual harassment in violation of this Policy.
The College encourages the prompt reporting of complaints and concerns so that timely and effective action can be taken. The prompt reporting of incidents of any perceived discrimination or harassment allows the College to investigate while the memories of the individuals involved are fresh. Early reporting and intervention is the most effective method for resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment.
The College will strive to promptly, equitably, and thoroughly investigate all complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation it receives. The College will not permit or otherwise charge a person who is the subject of a complaint to investigate that complaint. Whenever possible and as appropriate, investigations will include private interviews with the individual filing the complaint, the person alleged to have committed the discrimination or harassment, third-party witnesses, and will also include consideration of other relevant evidence, which may include review of photographs, computer files, email accounts, voicemail records, and other records.
Interim steps may be taken whenever necessary and may include separating parties involved in a complaint, administrative leave for any party involved in an investigation, or other measures necessitated by the circumstances.
When Emerson has completed its investigation, the AVP of HR or a designee will inform both the complainant and the subject of the complaint that the College has concluded its investigation and the College’s determination as to whether sufficient evidence exists to support the complaint. If it is determined that conduct in violation of this policy has occurred, the College will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct, and where appropriate we may also impose disciplinary action up to and including separation from the College.
The following is an outline of the procedure generally followed once a complaint has been brought to the attention of the College:
- The AVP/Human Resources – Title IX Coordinator must be notified immediately of all complaints brought forward under this policy.
- A prompt and impartial investigation of the complaint is conducted by a College Investigator(s) and is overseen by the Title IX Coordinator and/or Deputy Coordinator(s).
- The investigation will consist of (but will not necessarily be limited to) interviews of the individual who made the complaint, of the person or persons against whom the complaint was made and of other individuals who may have witnessed the reported incident or incidents.
- Upon completion of the investigation, the person who conducted the investigation will prepare a written conclusion and meet individually with the individual who made the complaint and the individual or individuals against whom the complaint was made, to
- report the results of the investigation and, where a remedy is determined to be appropriate,
- to inform the parties of the steps that will be taken to remedy the situation. See also Faculty and Student Handbooks for Disciplinary Proceedings Applicable to Violations of this Policy.
- The AVP/Human Resources – Title IX Coordinator is notified of the outcome and a file of the investigation and outcome are maintained in the Office of Human Resources.
If the College’s investigation reveals that a member of the Emerson community has engaged in misconduct constituting discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, the College will take prompt remedial action towards eliminating the conduct, putting measures in place to prevent recurrence and correcting its effects, including, where appropriate, imposing discipline on the offender. Such disciplinary action, depending on the persons involved may include, among others, loss of College privileges, or:
Staff & Faculty
In the event that the investigation reveals that harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate or unprofessional conduct (even if not unlawful) in violation of this policy has occurred, further action will be taken, including disciplinary action, such as but not limited to reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privileges, mandatory training or suspension and/or immediate termination.
In the event that the investigation reveals that harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate or unprofessional conduct (even if not unlawful) in violation of this policy has occurred, further action will be taken consistent with applicable student policies, including disciplinary action, such as but not limited to censure, disciplinary probation, loss of privileges, educational assignment, counseling, deferred suspension, suspension and/or dismissal.
All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much privacy, discretion and confidentiality as possible without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation. All persons involved are expected to treat the situation under investigation with respect. To conduct a thorough investigation, the investigator(s) may discuss the complaint with witnesses and those persons involved in or affected by the complaint, and those persons necessary to assist in the investigation or to implement appropriate disciplinary actions.
Retaliation against an individual for reporting discrimination or harassment or assisting in providing information relevant to a claim of discrimination or harassment is a serious violation of this policy. The College will treat retaliation with the same strict discipline as discrimination or harassment. As such, any acts determined retaliatory will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, including but not limited to censure/reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privileges, disciplinary probation, mandatory training, deferred suspension or suspension and/or immediate dismissal/termination.
Any concern of retaliation should be reported immediately and the College will promptly investigate.
The College has designated the AVP, Human Resources, as the College’s Title IX Coordinator. Additionally, the following Deputy Coordinators and Investigators are designated as those persons charged with coordinating the College’s implementation of this policy, and investigating complaints of harassment and discrimination in violation of this policy, for the College. They may be contacted to initiate an investigation under the policy or to answer questions regarding this policy. The College also reserves the right to retain an outside investigator to investigate complaints regarding violations of this policy.
|Title IX Coordinator||
Alexa Jackson, AVP Human Resources
Jim Lane, Executive Director (LA Program)
Tikesha R. Morgan
In addition to or in lieu of filing a interal complaint with Emerson College an employee (staff / faculty), student, or volunteer who believes that he or she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may file a formal complaint with the government agencies that are identified below. Using the College’s complaint process does not prohibit an employee from filing a complaint with these agencies.
Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD)
One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
Note: The statute of limitations for most claims is set at 300 days from last date of discrimination.
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
Government Center Room 475
Boston, MA 02203-0506
Note: The statute of limitations for most claims is set at 300 days from last date of discrimination.
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
United States Department of Education
5 Post Office Square, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02109-3921
United Stated Department of Education
50 Beale Street, Suite 7200
San Francisco, CA 94105-1813
Note: The statute of limitations for most claims filed with OCR is set at 180 days from last date of discrimination. Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment (including sexual violence), is enforced by OCR and may apply to both student and employment matters. Depending on the claim filed, OCR may handle complaints filed by employees or refer them to the EEOC.
Emerson strives to provide a campus environment free from discrimination and harassment . The College will make efforts to familiarize employees with this policy and to address and investigate and/or resolve appropriately every complaint received under this policy. Any employee who has questions or concerns about this policy should speak with the Associate Vice President, Human Reosurces, or the Vice President, Inclusive Excellence, or the Vice President, General Counsel. This policy works cooperatively with other College policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment consistent with this policy. As such, members of the Emerson community are encouraged to also review the policies and procedures of the student and faculty handbooks for further information.
As part of its commitment to maintaining a campus that is free from unlawful discrimination or harassment, the College requires all employees to undergo mandatory non-discrimination training at their time of hire, and every two years thereafter.