All University employees.
The purpose of this Policy is to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws prohibiting unlawful Harassment and to foster Thomas More University’s commitment to providing an educational and working environment free from unlawful Harassment.
Sexual Harassment: Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifically defines sexual harassment as “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) 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.” Sexual Harassment and discrimination is prohibited at Thomas More University and is addressed by the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, as are other forms of Sexual Misconduct defined therein (including sexual assault, dating or relationship violence or stalking).
Examples of Sexual Harassment include, but are not limited to, unwanted sexual advances, demands for sexual favors in exchange for favorable treatment or continued employment; repeated sexual jokes, flirtations, advances or propositions; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; graphic, verbal commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering; whistling; touching; pinching; assault; coerced sexual acts; suggestive, insulting, obscene comments or gestures; and display in the work place of sexually suggestive objects or pictures.
Harassment based on Protected Characteristics Other than Sex: includes any unwelcome conduct against an individual that is based on race, color, religion or creed, disability of a qualified individual, veteran status, military service, age, national or ethnic origin (including ancestry), citizenship, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, sexual preference (or orientation), or any other applicable legally protected status. Harassment by way of words, actions, gestures, pictures or other behavior becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
Examples include disparaging statements about a person’s heritage, race, religion, color, etc. This includes jokes, gestures and epithets that have negative connotations.
The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” or harassing must be based on all of the circumstances, giving consideration to whether a reasonable person in a similar situation would have perceived the conduct as objectively offensive. Also, the following factors will be among those considered by the University in assessing whether a “hostile” environment has been created, maintained or promoted: (a) the degree to which the conduct affected the individual’s employment; (b) the nature, scope, frequency, duration, severity, and location of incident or incidents; (c) the intent, purpose or objective(s) of the participants involved in the conduct; and (d) the identity, number, and relationships of persons involved. While the intent of the actors involved will be considered as part of the overall assessment of whether a “hostile” environment has been created, maintained or promoted, the absence of intent to offend, demean, injure or harass will not be determinative of the issue. A single or isolated incident of Harassment may create (and may support a finding of) a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents in finding a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical in nature.
Retaliation: taking adverse action against an individual making a complaint under this Policy or against any person cooperating in the investigation of a complaint under this Policy. Retaliation includes intimidation, threats, harassment, and other adverse action including adverse job action and adverse academic action against any such complainant or third party.
University Official: an employee’s supervisor, a member of the President’s Cabinet, or the University’s General Counsel.
Harassment of any employee by any individual or group because of the employee(s)’ race, color, sex, sexual preference (or orientation), religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, veteran status, genetic information, or any other applicable legally protected status will not be tolerated. The University is committed to maintaining a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere, which is free of discriminatory practices, including harassment. This Policy further provides guidance for reporting, investigating and documenting claims of Harassment not involving sex -based discrimination or harassment, and for taking disciplinary action where appropriate. Furthermore, the University forbids retaliation and/or any form of Harassment against an individual as a result of filing a complaint of Harassment or as a result of participating in an investigation of a complaint of Harassment.
In addition, in compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Violence Against Women Act as reauthorized by the Campus SaVE Act, and other applicable federal, state and local laws, the University has adopted a Sexual Misconduct Policy that specifically addresses incidents of Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Exploitation, and Stalking. All employees of the University are expected to carefully review the Sexual Misconduct Policy and are responsible for complying with its terms. Violations of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy may result in the imposition of sanctions up to and including termination, dismissal, or expulsion.
Note: There will be instances where conduct alleged to be in violation of this Harassment in the Workplace Policy also would constitute a reported violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. When alleged misconduct relates to both a person’s sex and another protected characteristic, the University will coordinate response efforts by following the process set forth in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy to address any and all harassment and discrimination. When the alleged misconduct relates to any other protected characteristic, the University’s investigation and resolution efforts will be guided by this Policy. The determination of which policy will govern is in the sole discretion of the University.
Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
The Age Discrimination Act of 1975
Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADAAA)
Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991
Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344)
Employee Accommodations (ADAA) Policy
Sexual Misconduct Policy
Complaint and Resolution Procedures
Employees who feel they have experienced any form of Harassment based on Protected Characteristics Other than Sex (hereinafter “Harassment”) by co-workers, supervisors, University Volunteers, or third-parties are encouraged to make a personal effort to handle the situation, although it is not necessary or required to do so. Often times harassment problems can effectively be stopped at this personal level. This attempt need not be confrontational in nature. It may involve speaking directly to the individual (either face-to-face or by telephone) or writing an email or letter to the individuals.
Any attempt at direct resolution should be regarded as strictly voluntary. An employee is never required to confront or complain to the harassing party and a decision not to confront an individual will not be viewed negatively by the University. If direct resolution measures prove unsuccessful, other methods of resolution as described below may be pursued.
Note: An effort at direct resolution is not appropriate where the alleged offense involves force or threat of force. In such cases, a report should be made immediately, as set forth below.
A report of Harassment in violation of this Policy becomes a formal Complaint in one of the following ways:
Once a complaint is initiated, the individual making the complaint will be referred to as a “Complainant” and the member alleged to have violated this Policy will be referred to as the “Respondent.”
Any complaint that, in the judgment of the Director of Human Resources, may constitute Sexual Misconduct will be immediately referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
Note: Knowingly filing a false complaint of Harassment or Retaliation is a violation of this Policy. Such conduct may be pursued using the steps followed for a complaint of Harassment, and if found to have occurred, may result in disciplinary action that may include termination.
A. Receipt of Complaint
No more than 5 business days after a complaint is received, the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) will meet with the Complainant to discuss the matter.
Within 5 business days after meeting with the Complainant, the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) will meet separately with the Respondent to discuss the matter. If the Respondent chooses not to participate or refuses to answer a complaint, such non-participation will not prevent the matter from proceeding.
B. Initial Assessment
After meeting with the Complainant and the Respondent, the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) will make a determination as to whether (1) a Formal Investigation is warranted to resolve the case; (2) the case can possibly be resolved through Informal Resolution; or (3) there are no reasonable grounds that exist for believing that the conduct at issue constitutes Harassment.
In the event that the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) determines there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the conduct at issue constitutes Harassment as defined by this Policy, he or she will close the complaint and promptly notify the parties and the Respondent’s supervisors of such resolution in writing.
C. Informal Resolution
In the event that the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) determines there are reasonable grounds for believing that the conduct at issue constitutes Harassment as defined by this Policy and Informal Resolution is an appropriate mechanism of resolution, the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) will discuss this option with the Complainant. If the Complainant agrees, the assigned University administrator (or designee) will discuss informal resolution with the Respondent. Consent from both parties is required to proceed further in the Informal Resolution process.
It is not necessary to pursue Informal Resolution first in order to proceed to the Formal Resolution stage. Moreover, either party may terminate the Informal Resolution process at any time and proceed with Formal Resolution. The Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) may also terminate Informal Resolution at any time and order that the parties proceed with Formal Resolution instead. In such cases, statements or disclosures made by the parties in the course of the Informal Resolution process may be considered in the subsequent Formal Resolution proceedings.
If Informal Resolution is determined to be appropriate and the parties agree to proceed, the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) will meet separately with both parties to present and discuss an informal resolution based on the information available. In the informal resolution process, the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) does not serve in the role of fact finder but rather identifies possible resolution(s) to the complaint. If both Complainant and Respondent are satisfied with a proposed resolution and the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee), the resolution will be implemented, and the matter will be closed. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the Formal Resolution process will commence.
D. Formal Resolution
In the event that the Director of Human Resources (or his or her designee) determines there are reasonable grounds for believing that the conduct at issue constitutes Harassment as defined by this Policy and Informal Resolution was either inappropriate or unsuccessful, the matter will be referred for resolution as follows:
This is a new policy, replacing language in the Staff Manual (May 2014).
There are no appendices to this Policy.
Laura Custer, Director of Human Resources
Dr. Kathleen Jagger, Acting President