Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation


I. Emerson’s Commitment to Non-Discrimination

Emerson College (“Emerson” or “the 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 or sex (including pregnancy), gender identity or 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 characteristics”).

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.

II. Individuals Covered Under this Policy

This policy applies to all members of the Emerson College community, including students, employees, and Emerson-affiliated third parties.

For the purposes of this policy, employees including students, part-time and full-time faculty, and all members of Emerson’s staff.

Emerson-affiliated third parties may include, but are not limited to, independent contractors, volunteers who perform work for the College, vendors, alumni, and guests or visitors of the College. 

III. Coordination of Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Emerson recognizes that discrimination or harassment prohibited by this policy can occur in conjunction with discrimination or harassment prohibited by the Sexual Misconduct Policy.  Targeting individuals on the basis of any protected characteristics violates Emerson’s community standards and College Policy. When misconduct relates solely to an individual’s sex, gender identity or gender expression (referred to collectively as “gender related status”), the College may address such conduct pursuant to the processes described in the Sexual Misconduct Policy.  When the College receives a report that a community member has engaged in misconduct related to a person’s gender related status and other protected characteristics, the College has discretion to decide under which policy or policies to address the report and will coordinate the investigation and resolution efforts.

IV. Reservation of Rights

Emerson recognizes that reports of violations of this policy can occur in conjunction with reports of conduct which may constitute a violation of other College policies. When a member of the Emerson community is reported to have engaged in conduct violating this policy and others (excluding Sexual Misconduct), the College will ordinarily review the reported violations collectively pursuant to the Process for Resolving Reports of Conduct in Violation of This Policy, set forth below. The Chief Human Resources Officer (“CHRO”), or designee, will generally investigate the reported misconduct and reach conclusions concerning all policy violations.  If the CHRO, or designee, concludes that there has been a violation(s) of this policy and any other College policies, the CHRO, or designee, will determine the responsive action for all misconduct. If the CHRO, or designee, concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support a violation of this Policy, but that there is sufficient evidence to support a violation of other policies, the CHRO, or designee, may determine the responsive action for the other misconduct, or may refer the other violations for resolution by other College administrators, as deemed appropriate by the CHRO, or designee, in his or her discretion and may consult with other College officials to make this determination. 

V. Definitions

Discrimination is unfavorable, unfair, or inequitable treatment of a person or a “class” of people based on protected characteristic(s) such as gender or sex (including pregnancy), gender identity or 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 discrimination may include, but are not limited to, 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 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 sex discrimination, and includes harassing, or otherwise abusing, an individual based on the individual’s sex, gender, or gender identity or expression. Sexual harassment violates both this policy and Emerson’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

A person may be found to have engaged in 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 of, or subject to, of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment may involve conduct towards members of the same or opposite sex as the harasser. Whether unwelcome sexual conduct rises to the level of sexual harassment depends on the severity or pervasiveness of the conduct. Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Unwelcome physical touching of a sexual nature that include lewd, obscene or sexually suggestive displays or sex-based or gender-based remarks;
  • 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);
  • Displaying or distributing sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, graffiti, drawings, media or written materials;
  • Physical contact, such as touching, hugging, kissing, patting, or pinching, that is uninvited and unwanted or unwelcome by the other person;
  • Acts of sexual violence including rape, sexual assault, battery, and coercion; and/or
  • Repeated unwelcome social invitations, sexual flirtations, advances, propositions, or unwanted requests for sexual favors.

Sexual harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome and can occur in a variety of situations, which share a common element: the unwelcome 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.

Retaliation is taking a materially adverse action(s) against someone because the individual has in good faith reported a possible violation of this policy or participated in the College’s review or investigation of a reported violation of this policy. For example, terminating or expelling an individual because the individual has in good faith reported conduct in violation of this policy may constitute retaliation. Retaliation is strictly prohibited by the College. 

VI. Examples of Conduct that Constitute Discrimination or Harassment in Violation of this Policy

Depending upon the circumstances and how they impact the workplace, educational programs, activities, or the academic environment, examples of discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy may include, but are not limited to, the following types of conduct:

  • Making decisions about a person’s employment, compensation, or education based upon or motivated by the person’s protected characteristic(s);
  • Verbal or physical abuse, offensive innuendo or derogatory words, epithets, or comments concerning, based on, or motivated by a person’s protected characteristic(s);
  • A display of objects, pictures, or other media which create a hostile working/learning environment based on or motivated by a person’s protected characteristic(s); or
  • Failure to provide religious or disability-related accommodations when required by applicable law.

VII. Consensual Relationships

See Policy for Consensual Relations: Staff, and the Policy for Consensual Relations: Faculty.

VIII. Responsibilities of College Community Members

Each member of the College community is personally responsible for adhering to this policy and may not discriminate against or harass anyone in the College community. College community members are also expected to cooperate in any investigation of alleged harassment or discrimination, if requested to do so by the College. Failure to cooperate in an investigation of a report of harassment or discrimination, including, but not limited to, failure to meet with College administrators concerning the report, may lead to corrective action, up to, and including dismissal termination of employment, association with Emerson, or dismissal from Emerson.

Any person who observes an incident that may constitute a violation of this policy or who otherwise becomes aware of such an incident is strongly encouraged to immediately notify one of the listed officers below. Individuals in supervisory capacities who observe an incident that may constitute a violation of this policy or who otherwise become aware of such an incident must immediately notify one of the listed officers 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.

IX. Report Process

Reporting an Incident of Discrimination or Harassment

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 is strongly encouraged to (or, in the case of supervisors, must) report the incident promptly to any of the following persons:

  • Chief Human Resources Officer (“CHRO”) ext. 8133
  • Dean of Students, ext. 8640
  • VP, General Counsel, ext. 8908

NOTE: Public Safety should be immediately notified of harassment, stalking, threats, or assault or other acts of violence at (617) 824-8555.

Any person who receives a report 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 information promptly.

The only exception to the reporting requirement is that persons designated by Emerson as ‘confidential’ reporting options need not share information that they receive in confidence, except if they are required to do so under law, such as the obligation to report knowledge of child abuse, or belief that a person poses an imminent and ongoing threat of harm to a person or persons. Information concerning the contact information for confidential resources and support options is available in the Sexual Misconduct Policy at Section V, Part C.

Except for employees designated as Confidential Resources (see Sexual Misconduct Policy at Resources at Section V, Part C), all Emerson employees and Emerson-affiliated third parties are required to promptly inform the CHRO about incidents of sexual harassment reported to have been committed by Emerson community members.  Similarly, except for employees designated as Confidential Resources (see Sexual Misconduct Policy at Resources at Section V, Part C), all Emerson employees and Emerson-affiliated third parties must report to the CHRO any conduct of which they have direct knowledge, and which they in good faith believe constitutes sexual harassment in violation of this policy.

Timeliness in Reporting

The College encourages the prompt reporting of information concerning a possible violation of this policy so that timely and effective action can be taken. Prompt reporting of incidents of 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 reports of discrimination and harassment. 

X. Corrective Action

If the College’s investigation concludes that a member of the Emerson community has engaged in misconduct constituting discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in violation of this policy, the College may take prompt corrective action to eliminate the misconduct and to put measures in place to prevent its recurrence and correct its effects, including, where appropriate, imposing discipline on the offender. Such disciplinary action may include but is not limited to the following:

For Employees and Emerson-Affiliated Third Parties
reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privileges, mandatory training or suspension and/or immediate termination or end of contractual or business relationship with the College.

For Students
censure, disciplinary probation, loss of privileges, educational assignment, counseling, deferred suspension, suspension and/or dismissal.

XI. Confidentiality

All actions taken to investigate and resolve reports of violations of this policy shall be conducted with privacy to the extent possible without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation and in accordance with applicable law. To conduct a thorough investigation, the CHRO or designee may discuss the report with witnesses and other individuals involved in or affected by the report, and with persons necessary to assist in the investigation or to implement appropriate corrective actions, as appropriate in the discretion of the CHRO or designee. Therefore, the College cannot make promises of confidentiality.

XII. Protection against Retaliation

Retaliation against an individual for reporting discrimination or harassment or assisting in providing information relevant to a report of discrimination or harassment is strictly prohibited by Emerson and constitutes a violation of this policy. If the College concludes that any member of the College community has engaged in retaliation in violation of this policy, including, but not limited to, by intimidating, threatening, or taking adverse actions against someone for bringing forward a good faith complaint of discrimination or harassment, or attempting such actions, that individual will be subject to 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 dismissal/termination or end of contractual or business relationship with the College. If the College concludes that a member of the College community has retaliated against someone for making a report of discrimination or harassment or for participating in the College’s investigation of such a report, that person may be subject to discipline by the College regardless of whether the College concludes that the reported discrimination or harassment occurred.

Any suspected retaliation should be reported immediately to the CHRO (ext. 8133), Dean of Students (ext. 8640), or VP, General Counsel (ext. 8908).The College may investigate and determine appropriate measures to take in response to the report.

XIII. Title IX Coordination

The College has appointed a Title IX Coordinator who can be reached at ext. 8999. The Title IX Coordinator is supported by several College administrators who serve as Deputy Title IX Coordinators. Additional contact information for the Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinators is listed at Appendix C to the Sexual Misconduct Policy. See Appendix C: Title IX Team. The Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinators may also be contacted to initiate an investigation under this policy.

XIV. State and Federal Agencies

In addition to or in lieu of filing an internal complaint with Emerson College, employees, students, or Emerson-affiliated third parties who believe that they have 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 report 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
617-994-6000
http://www.mass.gov/mcad/

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
800-884-1684; TTY (800) 700-2320; videophone for hearing impaired (916) 226-5285
Contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov; or www.dfeh.ca.gov

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
1-800-669-4000
http://www.eeoc.gov

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
United States Department of Education
5 Post Office Square, 8th Floor 
Boston, MA 02109-3921 
(617) 289-0111     
Email: OCR.Boston@ed.gov

United Stated Department of Education
50 Beale Street, Suite 7200
San Francisco, CA  94105-1813
(415) 486-5555
Email: ocr.sanfrancisco@ed.gov

Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr

XV. Conclusion

Emerson strives to provide a campus environment free from discrimination and harassment. Any employee who has questions or concerns about this policy should speak with the Chief Human Resource Officer or the Vice President and General Counsel.

As part of its efforts to provide a campus that is free from discrimination or harassment, the College requires all employees to undergo mandatory non-discrimination training at their time of hire, and every two years thereafter.


Last Update

9/01/2015


For more information: Maureen Murphy