7.1 Equal Employment Opportunity and Non-Harassment

The College of Mount Saint Vincent provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic predisposition, military or veteran status in accordance with applicable federal, state or local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

The College expressly prohibits any form of employee harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic predisposition, military or veteran status, or status in any group protected by state or local law. Improper interference with the ability of the College’s employees to perform their expected job duties is not tolerated.

This policy applies to all incidents of alleged harassment, including those which occur off-premises, or off-hours, where the alleged offender is a supervisor, coworker, or even a non-employee with whom the employee is involved, directly or indirectly, in a professional or potential professional relationship.

7.1.1 Complaint Procedure 

Employees are responsible for respecting the rights of their coworkers.

If you experience any job-related harassment based on your sex, race, national origin, disability, or another factor, or believe that you have been treated in an unlawful, discriminatory manner, whether by a supervisor, co-employee, vendor, client, or any other person with whom you come into contact as part of your employment with the College, promptly report the incident to your supervisor, who will report it to the Director of Human Resources. If you believe it would be inappropriate to discuss the matter with your supervisor, you may bypass your supervisor and report it directly to the head of your department or to the Director of Human Resources, who will undertake an investigation. (Faculty members should report any incident to the Provost and refer to the Faculty Handbook for disciplinary procedures.) Your complaint will be kept confidential to the maximum extent possible.

If the College determines that an employee is guilty of harassing another employee, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the offending employee, up to and including termination of employment.

The College prohibits any form of retaliation against any employee for filing a bona fide complaint under this policy or for assisting in a complaint investigation.

Sexual Harassment

The College is committed to maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. The College has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment, and all employees are required to work in a manner that prevents sexual harassment in the workplace. This policy is one component of the College’s commitment to a discrimination-free work environment.

Sexual harassment is against the law. All employees have a legal right to a workplace free from sexual harassment, and employees can enforce this right by filing a complaint internally with their supervisor, Division Vice-President or Director for Human Resources, or with a government agency or in court under federal, state, or local anti-discrimination laws.

The College’s Sexual Harassment Policy applies to all employees, applicants for employment, interns, whether paid or unpaid, contractors and persons conducting business with the College.

Sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Any employee or individual covered by this policy who engages in sexual harassment or retaliation will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Retaliation Prohibition–No person covered by this Policy shall be subject to an adverse employment action including being discharged, disciplined, discriminated against, or otherwise subject to adverse employment because the employee reports an incident of sexual harassment, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of a sexual harassment complaint.

The College has a zero-tolerance policy for such retaliation against anyone who, in good faith complains or provides information about suspected sexual harassment Any employee of the College who retaliates against anyone involved in a sexual harassment investigation will be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Any employee, paid or unpaid intern, or non-employee (e.g. consultant, contractor, vendor, or anyone providing services in the workplace) working in the College who believes they have been subject to such retaliation should inform a supervisor, Division Vice-President or Director for Human Resources. Any employee, paid or unpaid intern or non-employee who believes they have been a victim of such retaliation may also seek compensation in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections.

Sexual Harassment is offensive, is a violation of our policies, is unlawful and subjects the College to liability for harms to victims of sexual harassment. Harassers may also be individually subject to liability. Employees of every level who engage in sexual harassment, including managers and supervisors who engage in sexual harassment or who knowingly allow such behavior to continue, will be penalized for such misconduct.

The College will conduct a prompt, thorough and confidential investigation that ensures due process for all parties, whenever management receives a complaint about sexual harassment, or otherwise knows of possible sexual harassment occurring. Effective corrective action will be taken whenever sexual harassment is found to have occurred. All employees, including managers and supervisors, are required to cooperate with any internal investigation of sexual harassment.

All employees are encouraged to report any harassment or behaviors that violate this policy. The College will provide all employees a complaint form for employees to report harassment and file complaints.

Managers and supervisors are required to report any complaint that they receive, or any harassment that they observe to the Director for Human Resources.

This policy applies to all employees, paid or unpaid interns, and non-employees all must follow and uphold this policy. This policy must be posted prominently in all work locations and be provided to employees upon hiring.

What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state and local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when:

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even if the complaining individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;
  • Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment.

A sexually harassing hostile work environment consists of words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.

Sexual harassment also occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This is also called “quid pro quo” harassment.

Any employee who feels harassed should complain sot hay any violation of this policy can be corrected promptly. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be addressed under this policy.

Examples of Sexual Harassment
The following describes some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:

  • Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as:
    Touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another employee’s body or poking another employees’ body;
    Rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults.
  • Unwanted sexual advances or propositions, such as:
    Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the victim’s job performance evaluation, a promotion or other job benefits or detriments; subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities.
  • Sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks, jokes or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience, which create a hostile work environment.

Who can be a target of Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex or gender. New York Law protects employees, paid or unpaid interns, and non-employees, including independent contractors, and those employed by companies contracting to provide services in the workplace. A perpetrator of sexual harassment can be a superior, subordinate, co-worker or anyone in the workplace including an independent contractor, contract worker, vendor, client, customer or visitor.

Employees, paid or unpaid interns or non-employees who believe they have been a victim of sexual harassment may also seek assistance in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections.

Supervisory Responsibilities
All supervisors and managers who receive a complaint or information about suspected sexual harassment, observe what may be sexually harassing behavior or for any reason suspect that sexual harassment is occurring, are required to report such suspected sexual harassment to the Director for Human Resources.

In addition to being subject to discipline if they engaged in sexually harassing conduct themselves, supervisors and managers will be subject to discipline for failing to report suspected sexual harassment or otherwise knowingly allowing sexual harassment to continue.

Supervisors and managers will also be subject to discipline for engaging in any retaliation.

Complaint and Investigation of Sexual Harassment
All complaints or information about suspected sexual harassment will be investigated, whether that information was reported in verbal or written form. Investigations will be conducted in a timely manner, and will be confidential to the extent possible.

Investigation of any complaint information or knowledge of suspected sexual harassment will be prompt and thorough, and should be completed within 30 days. The investigation will be confidential to the extent possible. All persons involved, including complainants, witnesses and alleged perpetrators will be accorded due process to protect their rights to a fair and impartial investigation. Complaint forms can be found in the Office of Human Resources.

Any employee may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected sexual harassment. Employees who participate in any investigation will not be retaliated against.

Investigations will be done in accordance with the following steps:

  • Upon receipt of the complaint, Human Resources will conduct an immediate review of the allegations, and take any interim actions, as appropriate. If complaint is oral, encourage the individual to complete the Complaint Form in writing. If he or she refuses, prepare a Complaint Form based on the oral reporting.
  • If documents, emails, or phone records are relevant to the allegations, take steps to obtain and preserve them.
  • Request and review all relevant documents, including all electronic communications.
  • Interview all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses.
  • Create a written documentation of the investigation, which contains the following:
    1. A list of all documents reviewed, along with a detailed summary of relevant documents.
    2. A list of names of those interviewed, along with a detailed summary of their statements.
    3. A timeline of events
    4. A summary of prior relevant incidents, reported or unreported and
    5. The final resolution of the complaint, together with any corrective action(s).
  • Keep the written documentation and associated documents in the employer’s records.
  • Promptly notify the individual who complained and the individual(s) who responded of the final determination and implement any corrective actions identified in the written document.
  • Inform the individual who complained of their right to file a complaint or charge externally as outlined below.

Legal Protections and External Remedies
Sexual harassment is not only prohibited by the College but is also prohibited by state, federal and local law.

Aside from the internal process at the College, employees may also choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities at any time.

New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR)
The Human Rights Law (HRL) applies to employers in New York State with regard to sexual harassment, and protects employees, paid or unpaid interns and non-employees regardless of immigration status. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with the DHR or in New York State Supreme Court.

Complaints with the DHR may be filed any time within one year of the harassment. 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 may not file with DHR if they have already filed a HRL complaint in state court.

Complaining internally to the College does not extend your time to file with DHR or in court. The one year or three years is counted from the date of the most recent incident of harassment.

You do not need an attorney to file a complaint with DHR, and there is no cost to file with DHR.

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 your employer 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. You can contact DHR at (888) 392-3644 or visit dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint.

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. An individual can file a complaint with the EOC anytime within 300 days from the 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, at which point the EEOC will issue a Right to Sue letter permitting the individual to file a complaint in federal court.

The EEOC does not hold hearings or award relief, but may take other action including pursuing cases in federal court on behalf of complaining parties. Federal courts may award remedies if discrimination is found to have occurred.

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 (800) 669-4000, or visiting their website at eeoc.gov.

If an individual filed an administrative complaint with DHR, DHR will file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.

New York City Commission on Human Rights
Employees may file complaints of sexual harassment with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Their main office is located on 40 Rector Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY. The contact information is (212) 306-7450 or visit nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/home/home.shtml

Local Police Department
If the harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Contact the local police department.

Approved October 9, 2018