Harassment and Discrimination Policy
Section: Employee Conduct & Responsibilities
Responsible Office: Human Resources
Effective Date: 9/1/1996
Revised: 1/1/2013, 9/28/2018, 10/30/20
Iona University is committed to maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment and discrimination. This Policy is one component of the University’s commitment to a discrimination-free work environment.
All members of the University community may use this procedure for complaints and investigations related to Harassment and Discrimination. For the purpose of this policy, the University community includes, but is not limited to, all faculty, staff (including student workers), students, alumni, interns (paid and unpaid), applicants, volunteers and visitors to the University, vendors and service-providers.
Student complaints for sexual misconduct and harassment are covered under the Sexual Misconduct Policy (Part I, II, III and IV). Employee complaints that meet the definition of “covered sexual harassment” in the Final Rule under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 issued by the US Department of Education dated May 19, 2020, are covered under the Title IX Grievance Procedure – For Employees.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Director of Human Resources will determine whether the Harassment and Discrimination Policy or the Title IX Grievance Process for employees should apply to the complaint.
The Title IX Grievance Procedure will apply when all of the following elements are met, in the reasonable determination of the Title IX Coordinator:
- The conduct is alleged to have occurred in Iona University’s education program or activity. This includes but is not limited to in-person conduct as well as actions taken virtually, electronically and through social media.
- The conduct is alleged to have occurred on or after August 14, 2020;
- The conduct is alleged to have occurred in the United States;
- The alleged conduct, if true, would constitute covered sexual harassment as defined in the Title IX Grievance Procedure; and
- Complainant is currently participating in, or attempting to participate in, the education programs or activities Iona University.
- Respondent is any individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute covered sexual harassment.
- The Director of Human Resources will advise Complainant of the appropriate procedure to follow.
- Iona University complies with applicable provisions of local, state and federal law that prohibit discrimination in employment, in admission or access to its educational or extracurricular programs, activities, or facilities, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, service in the armed forces of the United States, or against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability.
- Harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated by Iona University. Such behavior subverts the mission of the University and threatens the careers, educational experience, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. In both obvious and subtle ways, harassment and discrimination are destructive to individual students, faculty, staff, and the academic community as a whole. When through fear of reprisal, a student, staff member, or faculty member is subject to harassment or discrimination, the University’s ability to carry out its mission is undermined.
- Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. All employees and students are entitled to work and study in an environment free from sexual harassment and discrimination.
- Harassment and discrimination are especially serious when they threaten relationships between a faculty member and student or supervisor and subordinate. In such situations, harassment and discrimination unfairly exploit the power inherent in a faculty member’s or supervisor’s position. Through grades or recommendations for graduate work, wage increases or promotions and the like, a faculty member or supervisor can have a decisive influence on a student’s, staff member’s or faculty member’s career at the University and beyond.
- While harassment and discrimination most often take place in situations where there is a power differential between the persons involved, the University also recognizes that harassment and discrimination may occur between persons of the same status or a superior, a subordinate, a coworker or anyone in the workplace including an independent contractor, contract worker, vendor, client, customer or visitor.
- Supervisors, managers and members of the University community are obligated to report harassment or discrimination behaviors as stated below.
- All members of the University community have an obligation to cooperate in the application of this policy and the investigation of complaints of violations of this Harassment and Discrimination policy.
DEFINITIONS OF PROHIBITED HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION
Discrimination: This includes employment and educational decisions made on the basis of race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex (including sexual harassment and sexual violence), sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship status, disability, genetic information, status as a victim of domestic violence or status in the uniformed services of the United States (including veteran status).
Discrimination-related Harassment: Verbal or physical conduct that creates an unwelcoming and hostile environment for people because of their personal characteristics that are protected by law.
Sexual Harassment: means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including but not limited to, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:
- Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education or campus life activities, or used as the basis of any academic, student life or employment decision (quid pro quo); or
- Such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive such that it unreasonably interferes with, or limits an individual’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment). Whether a hostile environment has been created will be evaluated from both a subjective and an objective perspective.
For the purposes of Title IX grievance process, sexual harassment is defined as conduct, on the basis of sex, that:
- An employee conditioning education benefits on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (i.e., quid pro quo);
- Unwelcome conduct (by anyone) that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a personal equal access to the educational institution’s education program or activity; or
- Sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), or dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Examples of Harassment and Discrimination: Each member of the University community must exercise his or her own good judgment to avoid engaging in conduct that may be perceived by others as harassment. Forms of discrimination related Harassment and sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Verbal: Repeated sexual innuendoes, racial or sexual epithets, derogatory slurs, off-color jokes, propositions, threats or suggestive or insulting sounds, phone calls.
- Visual/Non-Verbal: Derogatory posters, cartoons, or drawings; suggestive objects or pictures; graphic commentaries; leering; obscene gestures or exhibitionism; transmission of such offensive material through the mail or using any electronic communication medium (e.g. text messages, email, a social networking service or the Internet)
- Physical: Unwanted physical contact, including touching, patting, pinching, hugging, brushing against another's body, or interference with an individual’s normal physical movements, attempted sexual assault, sexual assault.
DEFINITION OF RETALIATION
The University prohibits Retaliation against any person who reports Harassment or Discrimination, or participates in any proceeding under this Policy, including person has made a complaint or participated in the complaint process or has engaged in any other protected activity. Retaliation should be reported promptly to the Director of Human Resources. Reports of Retaliation will be investigated, and individuals found to have engaged in Retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action independent of the remedial and disciplinary actions imposed in response to the underlying allegations of harassment and discrimination.
COMPLAINT AND INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES
A. Complaint Procedure
The University cannot prevent or remedy harassment or discrimination claims unless it is made aware. Any member of the University community who believes that he or she has experienced prohibited discrimination or discrimination-related harassment or sexual harassment in employment or in the context of academic pursuits should use the Complaint Procedure described herein for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints. Similarly, any member of the University community who becomes aware of potentially discriminatory or harassing conduct directed at another member of the University community should report such conduct to Human Resources.
- Staff: Report to Immediate Supervisor or Director of Human Resources.
- Faculty: Report to Department Chair or Dean or Director of Human Resources.
- Students: Report to Dean or Dean of Students or Director of Human Resources.
Individuals may also report a complaint directly to the Human Resources located in McSpedon Hall, 2nd Floor, and may be reached at (914) 633-2067.
A complaint form for submission of a written report of harassment or discrimination may be obtained in human resources, and all employees are encouraged to use this complaint form. Employees who are reporting discrimination or harassment on behalf of other employees should use the complaint form and note that it is on another employee’s behalf.
a. All supervisors and managers who receive a complaint or information about suspected discrimination or harassment, observe what may be harassing behavior or for any reason suspect that harassment is occurring, are required to report such suspected discrimination or harassment to the Director of Human Resources. Failure to report may subject a manager or supervisor to employment discipline.
b. All University employees who have the authority to redress sexual misconduct, who have a duty to report incidents of sexual misconduct, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty are required to report any incident involving sexual harassment or discrimination involving a student to the Director of Human Resources. Every effort will be made to maintain Privacy, and information reported to human resources and will be shared only with those having a need to know such information in order to respond in accordance with University policy.
c. Members of the University community are encouraged to report any alleged harassment and/or discrimination immediately in order to maximize the University’s ability to conduct a thorough, impartial, and reliable investigation. The University’s ability to investigate and respond effectively may be reduced with the passage of time. No individual will be precluded from reporting despite the passage of time.
Members of the University community who believe they have been a victim of harassment or discrimination may also seek assistance in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections.
B. Investigation Procedure
Upon receipt of complaint, the Director of Human Resources or designee will determine whether the Harassment and Discrimination Policy or the Title IX Grievance Process for employees should apply to the complaint. When the Harassment and Discrimination Policy applies, Human Resources will conduct an immediate review of the allegations, and (if appropriate, in consultation with key supervisory personnel) take any interim actions, including interim suspension, as deemed appropriate. If complaint is verbal, the Director or designee will encourage the individual to complete the complaint form in writing. If he or she refuses, the Director will prepare a Complaint Form based on the verbal reporting. The Director or designee will commence an investigation of the complaint in order to make a determination whether there was a violation of this policy. The investigation may consist of the following:
- Gather and review relevant documents including emails, texts, electronic communications or phone records and preserving them.
- Meet with the individual bringing the complaint and with the individual responding to discuss the available procedures and possible avenues for resolution of the complaint.
- Interview all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses.
- Create a written documentation of the investigation.
- Notify the individual who complained and the individual(s) who responded of the final determination and implement any corrective actions identified.
- Inform the individual who complained of their right to file a complaint or charge externally as outlined below.
Timeliness: An investigation of any complaint, information or knowledge of suspected harassment or discrimination will be prompt and thorough, and the University will make an effort to conclude an investigation within a reasonably prompt manner after the filing of the complaint, provided that the process may be extended for a good reason, including but not limited to administrative delay. The University may, at its discretion, extend any of the time limits imposed in this policy. If the Complainant fails to respond within the time limits provided, upon written notice of such failure, the complaint may be deemed to have been withdrawn.
Privacy and Confidentiality: Matters involving harassment or discrimination are particularly sensitive and demand special attention to issues of confidentiality. Dissemination of information relating to the case should be limited to individuals who have a legitimate need to know or who have information. University employees who learn of incidents of harassment or discrimination have an obligation to report and cannot guarantee confidentiality. Their privacy and that of the complainant will be maintained to the greatest extent possible.
Remedial and Disciplinary Action: The Director of Human Resources (and if appropriate, key supervisory personnel) will communicate as appropriate with the individual complaining and the individual responding any resulting remedial action and/or discipline imposed. When the University finds that a violation of this policy has occurred, appropriate and timely disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including separation from the University. The University will follow applicable University procedures including those provided in the Faculty Handbook, in taking any disciplinary action.
EMPLOYMENT AT WILL
This complaint procedure is intended to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee complaints alleging harassment and discrimination. It is not intended to create, and does not create, an employment contract or a guarantee of continued employment for any employee. Therefore, the University is free to discharge at-will employees at any time for any reason, just as an employee may resign at any time for any reason. Furthermore, the University may amend or rescind any of the provisions of this policy and the complaint procedure from time to time in its sole discretion.
LEGAL PROTECTIONS AND EXTERNAL REMEDIES
Aside from the internal process 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 New York State Human Rights Law (HRL) applies to employers in New York State with regard to discrimination and sexual harassment claims. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with DHR within one year or in New York State Supreme Court within three years. 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.
UNITED STATES EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC)
The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act (codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days from the harassment. Contact the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 (TTY)), www.eeoc.gov or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Westchester County enforces laws protecting individuals from sexual harassment and discrimination. An individual may contact the Westchester County HRC at 112 East Post Rd., 3rd Fl. White Plains, NY 10601 or (914) 995-7710.
OFFICE for CIVIL RIGHTS
The Office for Civil Rights addresses questions concerning sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination including Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Questions concerning civil rights may be made to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education, Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20202-1100 or call the OCR main numbers (800) 421-3481 FREE, TDD or (800) 877-8339 FRE or email the OCR’s New York office email@example.com or by telephone at 646-428-3800.
Employees of Iona may also report instances of harassment or discrimination or any violation of policy to the Whistleblower hotline. Reports made to the hotline will be reviewed internally by Iona personnel. Phone: (877) 472-2110; firstname.lastname@example.org; Fax: (245) 6893885; www.lighthouse-services.com/iona.