Human Resources

Sexual Harassment Policy

Definition of Sexual Harassment

In Massachusetts, the legal definition for sexual harassment is:

Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when

(a) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions;

or

(b) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

Under these definitions, direct or implied requests by a supervisor for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job benefits such as favorable reviews, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits, or continued employment constitutes sexual harassment. For purposes of this policy, senior faculty may be considered to be in a supervisory relationship with junior faculty. Faculty of all ranks may also be in a supervisory relationship with staff and students.

The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad. In addition to the examples above, other sexually oriented conduct that, whether intended to be or not, is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a work place environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating or humiliating to male or female employees may also constitute sexual harassment.

While it is not possible to list all of the circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct that, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances - whether or not they involve physical touching;
  • Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one's sex life, comment on an individual's body, comments about an individual's sexual activity, deficiencies or prowess;
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons;
  • Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments;
  • Inquiries into one's sexual experiences;
  • Discussion of one's sexual activities.

All employees should take special note that, as stated above, retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or who has cooperated with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the College.

Complaints of Sexual Harassment

If any employee believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment, the employee has the right to make use of all the established procedures of the College, including the filing of a complaint. This may be done in writing or orally.

Any employee who wishes to file a complaint may do so by contacting the Title IX Coordinator, 79 South Pleasant Street, Suite 200, telephone 542-5707; or the Director of Human Resources, 79 South Pleasant Street, Suite 200, telephone 542-2372; or the Dean of the Faculty, 103 Converse Hall, telephone 542-2334. These persons as well as Cate Woolner, Ombudsperson, 117 Valentine Hall, telephone 542-5156 are also available to discuss any concerns an employee may have and to provide information about the College's policy on sexual harassment and its complaint procedures under the employee's applicable Handbook.

Sexual Harassment Investigation

When the College receives notice of conduct, which appears to be sexual harassment, it will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the College's customary procedures and in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances and permissible by law. The investigation may, as appropriate, include private interviews with the person filing the complaint, with witnesses, and with the person alleged to have committed sexual harassment. When the investigation is completed the person filing the complaint and the person alleged to have committed the conduct will be informed, to the extent appropriate, of the results of the investigation.

Appropriate Response/Disciplinary Action

If it is determined that an employee has been engaged in inappropriate conduct, appropriate action will be taken immediately, using the College's established procedures, to fulfill its obligation under the law to promote a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. Such action may range from counseling to termination of employment, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as appropriate under the College's procedures.

State and Federal Remedies

In addition to the above, employees who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment may file a formal compliant with either or both of the government agencies below. Using the Colleges' internal complaint process does not prohibit filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies has a specific time period for filing a claim. The time frame for both the EEOC and the MCAD is 300 days from the date of occurrence.

 

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
1 Congress Street - 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02004
(617) 565-3200
 

 

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
Boston Office: Springfield Office:
One Ashburton Place, Room 601 436 Dwight Street, Room 220
Boston, MA 02108 Springfield, MA 01103
(617) 727-3990 (413) 739-2145