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Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Section: Employee Conduct & Responsibilities
Responsible Office: Human Resources
Effective Date: 9/1/1996
Revised: 1/1/2013, 9/28/2018

Iona College is committed to maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment and discrimination. This Policy is one component of the College’s commitment to a discrimination-free work environment.


All members of the College community may use this procedure. For the purpose of this policy, the College 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 College, vendors and service-providers.


  • Iona College 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.
  • 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 will not be tolerated by Iona College. Such behavior subverts the mission of the College 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 College’s ability to carry out its mission is undermined.
  • 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 College and beyond.
  • While harassment and discrimination most often take place in situations where there is a power differential between the persons involved, the College 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 College community are obligated to report sexual harassment/discrimination as stated below.
  • All members of the College community have an obligation to cooperate in the application of this policy and the investigation of complaints of violations of this policy.
  • The College prohibits retaliation against any person who reports an incident of sexual harassment or discrimination, provides information or otherwise assists in any investigation of a complaint.

Definitions of Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment

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: Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and violates the law. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence when: 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or education; 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; 3) conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, education, or living environment; 4) such conduct has the purpose or effect, when judged from the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the complaining individual, of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for working, learning, or enjoying other College opportunities, programs and activities. This definition of sexual harassment will be interpreted and applied consistently with current legal standards, as well as accepted standards of mature behavior, professional responsibilities, academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Examples of Discrimination-related and Sexual Harassment: Each member of the College community must exercise his or her own good judgment to avoid engaging in conduct that may be perceived by others as harassment. Subjecting employees or students to harassment by a visitor to campus or while off-campus in the course of conducting College business is also prohibited by this policy. Forms of discrimination related 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.

Examples of Discrimination using Terms and Conditions of Employment or Education

  1. Making or threatening to make reprisals as a result of a negative response to harassment by making explicit or implied suggestions that submission to or rejection of sexual advances will affect decisions regarding an individual's terms or conditions of employment or education.
  2. Making employment or educational decisions affecting an individual on the basis of personal characteristics that are protected by law.

Employment terms and conditions can include hiring, job classification, work assignments or status, salary or other compensation, promotion or transfer, discipline, discharge, layoff, leaves of absence, job training, benefits or other terms or conditions affecting one’s employment.

Educational terms and conditions can include academic standing, grades, participation in programs or activities, athletic opportunities, receipt of financial aid, grants, leaves of absence or other terms or conditions affecting one’s education.

Definition of Retaliation

Prohibited retaliation may include taking adverse action or treatment that leads to a negative impact on an individual’s employment or educational experience because that person has made a complaint or participated in the complaint process or has engaged in any other protected activity. Unlawful retaliation can be any action that would keep an individual from coming forward to make or support a discrimination or sexual harassment claim. Individuals who engage in retaliation will also be subject to discipline up to and including termination.

Complaint and Investigation Procedures

A. Complaint Procedure

The College cannot prevent or remedy sexual harassment or discrimination claims unless it is made aware. Any member of the College 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 College community who becomes aware of potentially discriminatory or harassing conduct directed at another member of the College 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 Immediate Supervisor or Dean or VP of Student Life 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. The Director of Human Resources also serves as the College’s Title IX Coordinator for gender equity matters.

Reports of sexual harassment may be made verbally or in writing. A complaint form for submission of a written complaint may be obtained in human resources, and all employees are encouraged to use this Complaint Form. Employees who are reporting discrimination or sexual harassment on behalf of other employees should use the complaint form and note that it is on another employee’s behalf.

Reporting Responsibility:

a. All supervisors and managers who receive a complaint or information about suspected discrimination or 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 discrimination or sexual harassment to the Director of Human Resources. Failure to report may subject a manager or supervisor to employment discipline.

b. All College 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/Title IX Coordinator. 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 College policy.

c. Members of the College community are encouraged to report any alleged harassment and/or discrimination immediately in order to maximize the College’s ability to conduct a thorough, impartial, and reliable investigation. The College’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 College community who believe they have been a victim of discrimination or sexual harassment 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 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 sexual harassment or discrimination will be prompt and thorough, and the College will make reasonable effort to complete its review within 60 days. The College 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.

Confidentiality: Matters involving discrimination and/or sexual harassment 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. College employees who learn of incidents of discrimination and/or harassment 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 College finds that a violation of this policy has occurred, appropriate and timely disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including separation from the College. The College will follow applicable College 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 discrimination and harassment. It is not intended to create, and does not create, an employment contract or a guarantee of continued employment for any employee. Therefore, the College 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 College 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,

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)), or via email at

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 of Civil Rights

The Office of 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 or by telephone at 646-428-3800.

Whistleblower Hotline

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;; Fax: (245) 6893885;