Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan

Category: Harassment Policies School: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Statement Rating: Yellow Last updated: June 28, 2017

Relevant excerpt

Discriminatory harassment. A form of unlawful discrimination including verbal and/or physical conduct based on legally protected characteristics and/or membership in a protected class that:

1. has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment;

2. has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational opportunities; or

3. otherwise unreasonably adversely affects an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

For purposes of this Plan, unwelcome conduct constitutes hostile environment harassment when:

it is targeted against a person on the basis of his/her membership in a protected class;

AND

it is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive; OR

submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; OR

submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual.

The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” is based on the totality of the circumstances. These circumstances could include the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or humiliating. Simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to hostile environment harassment under this Plan.

Examples of discriminatory harassment, all of which are prohibited by this Policy, include, but are not limited to:

  • Physically harassing another individual or group because of that person’s or persons’ membership in a protected class by assaulting, touching, patting, pinching, grabbing, staring, leering at them, making lewd gestures, invading their personal space, blocking their normal movement, or other physical interference.
  • Encouraging others to physically or verbally abuse an individual (or group of individuals) because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
  • Threatening to harm an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
  • Directing epithets, slurs, derogatory comments, unwelcome jokes or stories at an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
  • Displaying hostile, derogatory and/or intimidating symbols/objects, such as offensive posters, cartoons, bulletins, drawings, photographs, magazines, written articles or stories, screen savers, or electronic communications, to an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.

CONDUCT THAT IS NOT PROHIBITED

The Universities are committed to protecting, maintaining and encouraging both freedom of expression and full academic freedom of inquiry, teaching, service, and research. Nothing in this Policy shall be construed to penalize a member of the University community for expressing an opinion, theory, or idea in the process of responsible teaching and learning. Accordingly, any form of speech or conduct that is protected by the principles of academic freedom or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is not subject to this Policy.

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