September 18, 2023
The Colleges will not condone any verbal or physical harassment of or discrimination against any employee by another employee, non-employee (e.g. contractors and vendors), student, or guest on any basis including, but not limited to, age, race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, national origin, religion, military or veteran status, marital or familial status, pregnancy, genetic information or any other status protected by law. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that, in the workplace, no employee harasses another or discriminates against another based on any protected status. Discrimination and verbal or physical harassment will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
The Colleges’ commitment to non-discrimination applies, but is not limited, to decisions made with respect to hiring, placement, compensation, benefits, promotions, demotions, tenure, transfers, terminations, administration of benefits, and all other terms and conditions of employment. Likewise, employees are responsible for not engaging in discriminatory behavior toward their co-workers.
Prohibited verbal harassment includes but is not limited to slurs, epithets, derogatory comments, unwelcome jokes, teasing, and threats.
Prohibited physical harassment includes but is not limited to hitting, pushing, groping, touching, or other unwelcome physical contact.
Other forms of prohibited harassment include posting of offensive or discriminatory letters, emails, texts, notes, posters, or invitations.
If you feel you are being discriminated against or harassed on any basis, you should follow the steps outlined in this policy. Your complaint will be promptly investigated, and the investigation will be conducted as confidentially as possible, consistent with the Colleges’ obligation to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation that ensures due process for all involved parties. Adverse action will not be taken against you for reporting or participating in the investigation of a violation of this policy in good faith.
Like all other forms of harassment, the Colleges will not condone any sexual harassment of its employees. All employees, including supervisors and managers, will be subject to severe discipline, up to and including termination, for any substantiated act of sexual harassment they commit. Likewise, managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue will be subject to severe discipline, up to and including termination. The Colleges’ sexual harassment policy can be found in the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy, attached as Appendix 3.
Sexual harassment can include, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances or propositions, preferential or derogatory treatment based on gender, unnecessary touching, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual's body, the display of sexually suggestive materials or pictures, and explicit or offensive comments or jokes with a sexual content or based upon gender. The Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy contains a detailed description of what constitutes sexual harassment.
Procedures for Making, Investigating and Resolving Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaints
Employees who feel they are being discriminated against or harassed are encouraged to report the suspected discrimination or harassment to their supervisor immediately. Although not required, employees may choose to utilize the complaint form attached to this handbook and/or complete the form available in XI. Appendix, 9. Suspected discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should be reported verbally and in writing. If the employee’s immediate supervisor is the source of the alleged discrimination or harassment, or the employee otherwise feels uncomfortable speaking with his or her supervisor, the employee should report the problem to the supervisor’s superior, the Title IX Coordinator, or to the Office of Human Resources. All complaints involving discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression will be handled under the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Supervisors and managers who receive a discrimination or harassment complaint should inform the Office of Human Resources after which an investigation will be undertaken. Confidentiality of a discrimination or harassment complaint will be maintained, to the extent possible, and only those who need to know about such a complaint will be advised of its existence.
Complaints will be investigated as expeditiously as possible. All employees who have knowledge of either the incident in question or similar problems may be interviewed. Both the complaint and the investigative steps and findings will be documented as thoroughly as possible.
An effective harassment and non-discrimination policy requires the support and example of all Colleges’ employees. Colleges’ agents or employees who engage in discrimination, harassment, or retaliation or who fail to cooperate with investigations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may be disciplined, up to and including termination.
Any employee of the Colleges who has been found to have discriminated against or harassed another employee will be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including immediate discharge.Protection Against Retaliation
An employee who, in good faith, reports or participates in the investigation of an alleged incident of discrimination or harassment will under no circumstances be subject to reprisal or retaliation of any kind. Such retaliation is unlawful. Any employee who feels he or she has been subjected to such adverse actions should report the incident to his or her supervisor or the Office of Human Resources. Any employee, however, who is found to have knowingly made a false accusation of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Any employee witnessing harassment as a bystander is encouraged to report it. A supervisor or manager that is a bystander to harassment is required to report it. There are five standard methods of bystander intervention that can be used when anyone witnesses harassment or discrimination and wants to help.
- A bystander can interrupt the harassment by engaging with the individual being harassed and distracting them from the harassing behavior.
- A bystander who feels unsafe interrupting on their own can ask a third party to help intervene in the harassment.
- A bystander can record or take notes on the harassment incident to benefit a future investigation.
- A bystander might check in with the person who has been harassed after the incident, see how they are feeling and let them know the behavior was not ok; and
- If a bystander feels safe, they can confront the harassers and name the behavior as inappropriate. When confronting harassment, physically assaulting an individual is never an appropriate response.
Though not exhaustive, and dependent on the circumstances, the guidelines above can serve as a brief guide of how to react when witnessing harassment in the workplace. Any employee witnessing harassment as a bystander is encouraged to report it. A supervisor or manager that is a bystander to harassment is required to report it.
Legal Protections and External Remedies
While the Colleges encourage all employees who believe they have experienced or witnessed discrimination, sexual harassment, or harassment based on any other status protected by this policy or applicable law to notify the Colleges of any such violations, employees may choose to pursue remedies under the following laws:
- The New York Human Rights Law (HRL), N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15, § 290 et seq., applies to employers in New York State. The HRL prohibits many forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with the Division of Human Rights (DHR) or in New York State Supreme Court. Complaints with DHR may be filed any time within one year of the alleged discrimination (or three years for alleged gender-based discrimination). If an individual did not file at DHR, they can sue directly in state court under the HRL, within three years of the alleged discrimination. An individual does not need an attorney to file a complaint with DRH, and there is no cost to file with DHR. The DHR will investigate your complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. Probable cause cases are forwarded to a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If discrimination is found after a hearing, DHR has the power to award relief, which varies but may include requiring the Colleges to take action to stop the harassment, or redress the damage caused, including paying monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and civil fines. DHR’s main office contact information is: NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth Floor, Bronx, New York 10458, (718) 741-8400, www.dhr.ny.gov. Go to dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint with DHR. The website has a digital complaint process that can be completed on your computer or mobile device from start to finish. The website has a complaint form that can be downloaded, filled out, and mailed to DHR as well as a form that can be submitted online. The website also contains contact information for DHR’s regional offices across New York State. Call the DHR sexual harassment hotline at 1(800) HARASS3 for more information about filing a sexual harassment complaint. This hotline can also provide you with a referral to a volunteer attorney experienced in sexual harassment matters who can provide you with limited free assistance and counsel over the phone.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq, also prohibits many forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days of the alleged harassment. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the complaint and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. If the EEOC determines that the law may have been violated, the EEOC will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If the EEOC cannot reach a settlement, the EEOC (or the Department of Justice in certain cases) will decide whether to file a lawsuit. The EEOC will issue a Notice of Right to Sue permitting workers to file a lawsuit in federal court if the EEOC closes the charge, is unable to determine if federal employment discrimination laws may have been violated or believes that unlawful discrimination occurred by does not file a lawsuit. Individuals may obtain relief in mediation, settlement, or conciliation. In addition, federal courts may award remedies if discrimination is found to have occurred. In general, private employers must have at least 15 employees to come within the jurisdiction of the EEOC. If an employee believes that he/she has been discriminated against at work, he/she can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” The EEOC has district, area, and field offices where complaints can be filed. Contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 (TTY)), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If an individual filed an administrative complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, DHR will automatically file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.
- Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from sexual harassment and discrimination. An individual should contact the county, city, or town in which they live to find out if such a law exists.