Nondiscrimination and Harassment Problem Resolution and Appeal Procedure for Claims of Harassment/Discrimination Against Staff or Faculty
It is the university’s legal and ethical responsibility to prevent harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religious creed, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, veteran status or any other category protected by law, while protecting academic freedom. (See nondiscrimination and harassment policy for specific information and definitions.)Any member of the Brandeis community who has a concern or complaint of harassment or discrimination, whether sexual in nature or otherwise, and without regard to the status of the alleged harasser (supervisor, co-worker, faculty, student, vendor or visitor), should bring the problem to the attention of the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity.
A violation of the university’s policy on harassment and discrimination may result in a range of corrective action, up to and including release from employment or other status. This may also result in mandatory training, transfer to another area or shift, loss of privileges or some other action or combination of actions designed to remediate the situation.
While the definitions and examples of harassment in the university's nondiscrimination and harassment policy are based on the idea that we have a common basis for understanding those definitions and examples, one must remember that in a diverse university environment understanding the differences between events that are merely upsetting or shocking and events that constitute harassment or discrimination is not always easy. In classes, one will be exposed to a wide range of material, in the studies of history and of various cultures, that may include material that some may currently find inappropriate or disturbing. Being exposed to and studying such subject matter may be necessary to the content of certain courses, and if dealt with in a suitably academic manner, would not be considered harassment.
This policy applies to students, staff and faculty including visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. The provisions of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook outline the procedures for complaints against students. Bargaining unit employees may be covered by the terms of the specific collective-bargaining agreement with regard to discipline or termination, but harassment and discrimination concerns are addressed and investigated under this policy. The faculty is covered by the terms of the Faculty Handbook with regard to discipline or termination, but harassment and discrimination concerns are addressed and investigated under this policy.
Brandeis University adheres to the principles and traditions of academic freedom, and recognizes that these freedoms must be in balance with the rights of others, including the right of individuals not to be subjected to discrimination or harassment. It is understood that the principles of academic freedom permit topics of all types to be part of courses, lectures and other academic pursuits. Materials that are used or displayed in an educational setting should be related to educational purposes.
Brandeis University's Problem-Resolution Process
Within a framework of its legal responsibilities, concern for employees' rights and responsibilities, and respect for academic freedom, Brandeis University strives whenever possible to resolve concerns about the possible occurrence of harassment or discrimination in a timely, confidential and informal manner. The terms "harassment" and "discrimination" can have an alarming quality to them and, as a result, people may be concerned about bringing forward concerns of this nature or learning that they are the subject of such a concern.
Very often, however, these issues involve misunderstandings or miscommunications that can be easily resolved. One aim of the university's problem-resolution process is to help individuals feel comfortable bringing issues forward without needing to label the conduct as harassment or discrimination, so that individuals who may be the subject of a complaint are treated fairly, to investigate any conduct that raises concerns and to initiate any resolution that may be required.
The problem-resolution process is also designed to effectively and impartially review harassment and discrimination issues of a more serious nature or which may require more in-depth investigation. In either case, individuals with any concerns of this nature are strongly encouraged to come forward for assistance in resolving the matter independently or with the help of human resources staff. Furthermore, employees should be aware that it is the university's responsibility to pursue harassment and discrimination concerns of which it becomes aware.
The guiding principles of the problem-resolution process are:
- To address concerns about harassment and discrimination while protecting academic freedom.
- To address concerns early on and quickly, while they may be easier to resolve.
- To welcome individuals to voice concerns through this process without needing to label the behavior of concern as harassment or discrimination.
- To protect the confidentiality of the parties involved, whenever possible.
- To attempt informal resolution whenever possible, but provide for a formal review and appeal process for both parties.
- To maintain objectivity while remaining sensitive to concerns of both parties.
- To stop and prevent any conduct that violates the university's nondiscrimination and harassment policy and to initiate any resolution that may be required.
- To provide for a process and solutions that are flexible and based on the unique circumstances of each situation.
- To provide a legally sound process.
Retaliation against any person who, in good faith, initiates a complaint of harassment or discrimination or cooperates in the investigation of a complaint of harassment or discrimination is a separate violation of this policy and is strictly prohibited by law and by this policy. Retaliation may result in corrective action, up to and including termination from employment or loss of privileges.
A determination that an individual intentionally falsified a claim of harassment or discrimination may lead to corrective action, up to and including release from employment or other sanctions.
Management and Faculty Responsibility
Administrators, supervisors and faculty who observe, suspect or are informed of an incident of sexual harassment or other forms of harassment or discrimination should immediately contact the individuals listed below for guidance. Although it may be natural to want to keep such concerns confidential or desire not to escalate the issue, it is imperative that supervisors understand that these concerns must be addressed appropriately and effectively to ensure that any conduct in violation of the university's nondiscrimination and harassment policy ceases and that any required resolution is initiated, with guidance from individuals trained to handle such matters. This is true even if the complainant requests confidentiality.
Complaints About Staff or Faculty
Complaints about staff or faculty (including visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows or graduate students acting in an instructional capacity) should be brought to the attention of the Office of Equal Opportunity at email@example.com or 781-736-4806.
Complaints About Students or Graduate Students
Any person making a complaint about an undergraduate or graduate student should bring the complaint directly to the Office of the Dean of Students at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-736-3600, or the Office of Equal Opportunity at email@example.com or 781-736-4806.
Issues of rape, acquaintance rape, sexual assault, stalking, other sex offenses or threats or acts of violence must be immediately reported to the Department of Public Safety at 781- 736-3333. If on campus, employees seeing any of these acts being committed or if fearful for their own safety or the safety of others, should go to any emergency phone with a blue- green light and dial 6-3333 to be connected with campus police directly.
In certain circumstances, the university may determine that due to the nature or severity of a situation, interim action needs to be taken pending review. Such action may include, but is not limited to, temporarily transferring an individual to another location; placing an individual on leave pending investigation; or otherwise taking appropriate action designed to alleviate concerns pending the review of a matter.