Staff Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment (20.072)

Introduction 

Brown University affirms its' commitment to:

  • Create a working environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment
  • Comply with applicable federal, state and local laws prohibiting unlawful discrimination and harassment 
Policy Statement 

Brown University is committed to creating a work environment for its staff free from unlawful discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. The University:

  • Prohibits unlawful discrimination or harassment by or toward employees.

  • Prohibits retaliation against employees and others who report instances of discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment.

The University has a process to provide prompt and equitable resolution of employee complaints alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Staff and other members of the university community who have relevant information are required to cooperate with the university’s investigation of allegations of discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment.

Brown University recognizes that discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment need not be intentional. The intent of the person who is alleged to have behaved improperly is not relevant to determining whether a violation of Brown's Policy has occurred. The relevant determination is whether a reasonable person could have interpreted the alleged behavior to be discrimination, harassment, or sexual in nature.  Failure to comply with this policy may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

The University will fully comply with applicable law in the administration of these Staff Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment provisions.  In view of the complexity and detail in the various statutes, it is impractical to express the entire body of relevant information in policy documents. In situations where this policy does not contain a specific obligation or right, the University will follow applicable state or federal requirements.

Definitions 

Unlawful discrimination: Unlawful discrimination under federal and/or state law includes unfavorable or unfair treatment of a person or class of persons because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Unlawful harassment: Unlawful harassment under federal and/or state law includes conduct that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with a staff member's ability to perform her/his job or denies him/her the benefits of their employment.

Unlawful sexual harassment: Unlawful workplace sexual harassment under federal and/or state law is commonly categorized as quid pro quo or hostile environment sexual harassment, defined as follows:
1. Quid Pro Quo are unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic success, and
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individuals

2. Hostile Environments are unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct when:

  • The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance, and
  • Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
  • The factors to be considered in determining to what extent a hostile work environment has been created include, but are not limited to:
    Frequency of the conduct
    Severity of the conduct
    Pervasiveness of the conduct
    Physically threatening conduct
    Degree to which the conduct interfered with the staff's work performance
    Degree to which the conduct interfered with the staff's full enjoyment of the University
    Relationship between the alleged harasser and person or persons subjected to harassment
    Perception of the degree of conduct as welcomed or unwelcomed 
Responsibilities 

Director of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA Officer:  Brown has designated an employee who is responsible for accepting and coordinating complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment by staff.

Wendy McRae-Owoeye   
Director of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA Officer
Brown Office Building, Box 1879 Campus
401-863-1787      

All employees must contact the Director of Staff Diversity and University Equal Employment Opportunity Officer when filing an unlawful discrimination or harassment complaint.  Additionally:

  • A staff member with a complaint may also contact their supervisor.

  • The supervisor is required to report the complaint to the Director of Staff Diversity and University Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Officer no later than the next business day to report the complaint.

For after hour emergencies, contact the Department of Public Safety at 401-863-4111 after 5:00 p.m. ((TDD telephone line at: 401-863-1740).  The Department of Public Safety must report the complaint to the Director of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA Officer no later than the next business day.

Employees:  Employees are responsible and must report complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment by staff to the Director of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA Officer.  Employees may also report the complaint to their supervisor or, in an emergency, to the Department of Public Safety.

Supervisors:  Supervisors are responsible to take and report complaints from employees who feel they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment by staff.  Supervisors must contact the Director of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA Officer to report and process the complaint no later than the next business day.

Department of Public Safety: In an emergency situation, please contact the Brown University’s Department of Public Safety at: 401-863-4111.  The Department of Public Safety must report the complaint to the Director of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA Officer no later than the next business day.

Procedures 

Brown University has a process for investigating complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. The University is committed to the prompt and equitable resolution of employee complaints. A staff member who believes that s/he is subject to unlawful discrimination or harassment should report the allegations to the Director of Staff Diversity.

The status of the alleged harasser-- staff, faculty, student, postdoctoral, or guest-- will determine the office designated to initiate and lead the investigation of the complaint. The Director of Staff Diversity will serve as a liaison between the complainant and the investigating office. 

Alleged Harrasser Investigating Office Contact Name Telephone Number
Student Office of Student Life Dean J. Allen Ward
Dean on Call (24 hrs)
Police and Security 
(401) 863-3145
(401) 863-3411
(401) 863-3411 
Faculty  Associate Provost for Academic Development and Diversity  Liza Cariaga-Lo  (401) 863-2216 
Staff Office of Staff Diversity and University EEO/AA  Wendy McRae-Owoeye  (401) 863-1787 
Forms/Instructions
Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can Brown University retaliate against me for filing a sexual harassment claim?

A1: No. Federal law prohibits retaliation against employees who report unlawful employment practices or who file a claim for workplace discrimination or sexual harassment.

Q2: If a coworker or supervisor comments on my clothing or appearance, is that sexual harassment?

A2: It depends on the nature of the comment. Telling an employee to dress more professionally is unlikely to be seen as sexual harassment. Frequently suggesting to an employee that she wear more revealing clothes as a way to impress the manager, however, could be seen as sexual harassment. Likewise, an innocent compliment, such as "that's a nice sweater," would not be harassment; but if it were followed up with a sexual reference - "it really shows off your body", that type of behavior would be inappropriate. The key is whether the behavior, occurring because of the sex of the employee, creates a hostile or abusive work environment.

Q3: The other day, a fellow employee told me a joke that had mild sexual content. I wasn't offended by it, and we both found the joke to be funny. Today, we both got a memo from our boss saying our conduct was inappropriate and a potential violation of the company's sexual harassment policy. Was the joke harassment?

A3: While one joke alone may not be harassment, it could part of a hostile environment. In this situation, you need to remember that the question is not whether you or the employee who told the joke was offended, but whether a "reasonable person" would find it offensive. The other point to remember is that someone must have found the joke offensive enough to report it, causing the boss to send the memo. This should be a warning that not everyone you work with shares your opinion as to what is or is not offensive. Take it as a sign that you need to be more careful with what you say at work. 

Policy Owner
Approved by 
Vice President for Human Resources
Contact(s) 

Wendy McRae-Owoeye
Director of Staff Diversity and University Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Officer (EEO/AA)
University Human Resources
Brown Office Building, 3rd Floor
Wendy_McRae-Owoeye@brown.edu
401-863-1787     


Revision Date:  Thu, 2014-05-22 11:04