Discrimination and Workplace Harassment (20.072)

Introduction 

Brown University affirms its commitment to:

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

Brown University’s mission “to serve the community, the nation, and the world by discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and by educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation” makes it incumbent on the university to create and maintain an educational, working, and living environment that is free of any form of unlawful discrimination and harassment. Unlawful discrimination and harassment cannot be tolerated in a community aspiring to achieve this mission.

Brown University is committed to creating a work environment for its staff and other members of the University community (including students, faculty, postdocs, and visitors) free from unlawful discrimination and workplace harassment. The University:

  • Prohibits unlawful discrimination or workplace harassment by or toward employees or other members of the Brown community.
  • Prohibits unlawful discrimination or workplace harassment by or towards visitors to the Brown community.
  • Prohibits retaliation against employees and others who report instances of discrimination or workplace harassment.

The University is committed to providing prompt and equitable resolution of employee complaints alleging unlawful discrimination and workplace 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 and harassment.

Unlawful discrimination and workplace 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 this policy has occurred. The relevant determination is whether a reasonable person could have interpreted the alleged behavior to be discrimination or workplace harassment.  Failure to comply with this policy may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

The University will comply fully with applicable federal and/or state law in the administration of all provisions of this policy.  In view of the complexity and detail in laws and regulations governing this subject, it is impractical to express the entire body of relevant information in this policy statement. In situations where this policy does not contain a specific obligation or right, the University will follow applicable federal and/or state 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 workplace harassment: Unlawful harassment is harassment that refers to or is based upon the status of the person or persons being harassed under federal and/or state law includes conduct that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with an employee’s ability to perform her/his job or denies him/her the benefits of their employment and thus creates a hostile work environment.

This policy covers discrimination and harassment based on membership in a protected status as described above. If individuals have concerns not based on their membership in a protected class, they should contact University Human Resources at 863-3175.

Unlawful workplace harassment may occur when:

  • The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance, and/or
  • The work environment is intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

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 member’s work performance
Degree to which the conduct interfered with the staff members full participation in the University community
Relationship between the alleged harasser and person or persons subjected to harassment
Perception of the conduct as welcomed or unwelcomed

The severity and pervasiveness of the conduct is considered from both subjective and objective perspectives (the conduct is viewed as hostile and abusive by both a “reasonable person” and the person who is subjected to the conduct). 

 

Responsibilities 

The following office is responsible for accepting and coordinating complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment of or by staff:

Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (“OIED”) 401-863-2216

Employees:  Employees are required to report complaints of unlawful discrimination or workplace harassment to OIED listed above or to their supervisor or to the Department of Public Safety (401-863-4111) if the complaint arises during a situation that occurs after normal business hours. The Department of Public Safety must report the complaint to OIED no later than the next business day.

Supervisors:  Supervisors are responsible to take and report complaints from employees who feel they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or workplace harassment. Supervisors must report the complaint to OIED listed above no later than the next business day. 

Procedures 

Staff members with concerns regarding discrimination or harassment may discuss their concerns with a number of resources on campus. These include: HR Consultants in University Human Resources, the Director of Labor and Employee Relations, the Director of HR Services, the Director of BioMed HR, and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. These resources will provide information, may assist in resolving concerns informally, and may refer the staff member to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity in order to file a formal complaint. Information about filing a complaint is also available from the University Ombudsperson.

A staff member who believes that s/he has experienced unlawful harassment or discrimination is strongly encouraged to submit a formal complaint. The form should be sent to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. The purpose of the complaint form is to assist the complainant in formulating a concise statement of her/his allegations.

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (“OIED”) will review the complaint form with the complainant and will provide guidance and counseling to the complainant regarding options for proceeding with an investigation  and other services and resources that may be helpful to the complainant. This includes informing the complainant of the right to file a complaint with Brown’s Department of Public Safety and/or city and state law enforcement agencies. Staff always have the option of filing a complaint with an external resource.

If OIED decides that an investigation is not warranted based on facts and circumstances presented in the complaint, the complainant will be informed in writing. If OIED decides that an investigation is warranted, the complainant will be informed and a plan for the investigation will be developed. 

Typically, the first step in the investigation is a meeting with the respondent to let him/her know of the complaint and to ask a preliminary set of questions regarding the allegations in the complaint.

After initial meetings with the complainant and the respondent, others will be interviewed who may have witnessed the alleged harassment or discrimination or who may have other information helpful in determining whether or not a violation of policy occurred.

Meetings with the complainant, respondent, and others regarding a complaint will be scheduled with as much flexibility as possible. Requests from the complainant and/or respondent to bring an advisor to a meeting(s) may also be allowed at OIED’s determination.

Whenever possible, a written report of findings will be issued within 60 days of receiving the original complaint. Copies of the final report will be provided to the Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity, Vice President for Human Resources, and other parties as appropriate.

OIED will also send letters to the complainant and respondent to inform them of the conclusion regarding whether or not Brown’s policy was violated.

If a determination is made that Brown’s policy was not violated, the findings of fact supporting the conclusion will be documented and OIED will close the case.

If a determination is made that Brown’s policy was violated, OIED will refer the case to the Director of Labor and Employee Relations who will determine the appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment and/or other remedy in consultation with the Vice President for Human Resources.

If disciplinary action is determined to be required, the staff member(s) who violated Brown’s policy will be so notified in writing within 30 days of referral of the case to the Director of Labor & Employee Relations, and discipline will be imposed. The complainant will be informed that appropriate action has been taken, but the details regarding the specific discipline imposed will not be shared with the complainant.

A copy of any written notification regarding discipline will be kept in the appropriate employee’s file in University Human Resources. 

 

 

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

Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity
Horace Mann Building, 3rd Floor
Institutional_Diversity@brown.edu
401-863-2216
Paul Mancini
Director of Labor & Employee Relations
University Human Resources
Paul_Mancini@brown.edu
401-863-3896
Revision Date:  Thu, 2018-06-14 13:39