Unlawful Discrimination Policy

I. Policy and Procedure for the Elimination of Unlawful Discrimination, Including Sexual Harassment and Assault

This statement establishes Wentworth’s policy regarding all types of unlawful discrimination by faculty, administrators, supervisors, employees, contractors, guests, vendors, parents and students.[1]

II. Policy

Wentworth fully supports the right of all persons to hold employment without suffering unlawful discrimination of any kind. It is the policy of Wentworth to maintain a work environment that is free of unlawful discriminatory actions based on age, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other protected status. Sexual harassment, which includes sexual assault, is one type of sex discrimination. Unlawful employment discrimination by faculty, administrators, supervisors, employees, contractors, guests, vendors, parents and students will not be tolerated.

III. Sexual Harassment

A. The Definition of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is illegal under both federal and Massachusetts law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX and Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151B. These laws provide that unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual; or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

B. Examples of Conduct That Can Constitute Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment does not refer to behavior or occasional comments considered socially acceptable. Sexual harassment occurs in a variety of situations which share a common element: the unwelcome and inappropriate introduction of sexual activities or comments into the work environment.

Sexual harassment often involves relationships of unequal power (e.g. supervisors and subordinates, staff and student workers). Such situations may contain elements of coercion, such as when compliance with requests for sexual favors becomes a criterion for granting privileges or favorable treatment on the job. However, sexual harassment may also involve relationships among persons of equal authority or power, such as when repeated advances or demeaning verbal comments by a co-worker towards another co-worker have a harmful effect on a person’s ability to perform his or her work. Sexual harassment can also involve employee behavior directed at nonemployees or nonemployee behavior directed at employees.

Depending upon the circumstances, examples of sexual harassment could include such conduct as the following:

  • repeated offensive sexual flirtations, advances or propositions which are offensive;
  • verbal abuse or innuendo of a sexual nature which is continued or repeated;
  • physical contact such as touching, hugging, patting or pinching which is uninvited and unwanted by the other person;
  • verbal comments of a sexual nature about an individual’s body or sexual terms used to describe an individual;
  • an open offensive display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures;
  • jokes or remarks of a sexual nature;
  • unwanted prolonged and apparent staring or leering at a person;
  • obscene gestures or suggestive or insulting sounds made towards people who find them offensive;
  • the demand for sexual favors accompanied by an implied or overt threat concerning an individual’s employment status or promises of preferential treatment;
  • indecent exposure;
  • romantic involvement between supervisors and subordinates that is known to others in the workplace and which impacts the workplace in areas such as assignments, advancement and benefits; and
  • Rape and sexual assault/violence.

C. Dispelling Common Myths About Harassers and Victims

Sexual harassment is not limited to prohibited behavior by a male employee toward a female employee or by a supervisory employee toward a non-supervisory employee. Depending upon the circumstances, sexual harassment can be found in any of the following types of situations:

  • A man as well as a woman may be the victim of sexual harassment, and a woman as well as a man may be the harasser.
  • The harasser does not have to be the victim’s supervisor. He or she may be a supervisory employee who does not supervise the victim, a co-worker, parent, or, in some circumstances, a non-employee such as a contractor or parent present at the workplace.
  • The victim does not have to be the opposite sex from the harasser.
  • The victim does not have to be the person to whom the unwelcome sexual conduct is directed. The victim may be someone who is affected by such conduct even though it is directed at another person. For example, the sexual harassment of one employee may create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive work environment for a co-worker, or may interfere with the co-worker’s work performance. A group of employees who persist in telling offensive or “dirty” jokes, discussing sexuality or describing entertainment presenting sexual themes may create an atmosphere which is hostile and distracting to an employee who is forced to overhear, and who reasonably considers such conversation offensive and inappropriate for the workplace. In addition, consensual sexual behavior in the office between two employees may be offensive to a third employee or result in favoritism that harms the third employee.
  • Sexual harassment does not depend on the victim suffering an economic injury, such as losing a promotion, as a result of a harasser’s conduct. As shown by the examples of improper conduct listed above, sexual harassment can occur whenever unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature creates an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive work environment.

IV. Employee, Supervisor, Faculty Member and Administrator Responsibilities

Each employee, supervisor, faculty member and administrator of Wentworth is responsible for ensuring that his or her conduct does not unlawfully discriminate against any other employee or non‑employee in the workplace.

Each employee, supervisor, faculty member and administrator is responsible for cooperating in any investigation of alleged unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, if requested to do so by the person conducting the investigation.

Each employee, supervisor, faculty member and administrator who becomes aware of instances of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, even in the absence of a complaint, should (or must) report each instance to Human Resources. Anne Gill, Vice President of Human Resources, is the Title IX Coordinator for the Institute (gilla@wit.edu, 617 989-4193).

V. Procedure for Resolving Concerns of Unlawful Discrimination

A. The Procedure

  1. Employees: This procedure applies in cases where an employee has a concern about unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, by a faculty member, administrator, supervisor, employee, contractor, guest, vendor or parent.[2]
  2. Students: Students who believe they have been subject to unlawful discrimination or have concerns under Title IX, including sexual harassment or assault, by a faculty member, administrator, supervisor, employee, contractor, guest, vendor, or parent should speak directly to the Title IX coordinator (V.P. Anne Gill: gilla@wit.edu; 617 989 4193). The procedure for handling these cases is the same as noted below for employees under Section B.

    Students who believe they have been subject to unlawful discrimination by another student or student organization or have concerns under Title IX including sexual harassment or assault, may contact the Dean of Students Office (617 989 4410). Information can also be found in the Student Handbook on the Student Affairs web site.

  3. Preliminary Action: In all instances where an employee or student has concerns about unlawful discrimination, including conduct covered under Title IX, it is helpful, to write down a description of the concerning conduct, the date or dates on which it took place, and the names of anyone who witnessed the conduct or heard the remarks. Assistance is available from Human Resources or the Dean of Students Office.

In cases instances where confronting the person engaging in the discriminatory conduct directly may be too intimidating or uncomfortable as with a supervisor or person of authority and in cases involving physical contact and sexual assault, the Complaint and Resolution Process below should be used as soon as possible.

There are times when a response to the unlawful discrimination may be available and appropriate and resolve the behavior. Depending on the circumstances and how severe the unlawful discrimination is, some immediate responses could be:

  • Firmly confront whomever is doing the harassing.
  • State that his/her conduct offends, intimidates, and/or embarrasses you.
  • Describe how the harassment negatively affects your work or environment.
  • Request that he or she stop the conduct immediately.
  • Say things like:

    “Please don’t touch me. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable.”

    “I don’t think jokes like that are funny. Please don’t tell them when I am in the room.”

    “I’d like it a lot better if you’d comment on the quality of my work rather than on the way I look.”

    “My name is __________, not ‘Honey.”

If practical, bring a witness with you for this discussion. After the discussion, write a summary of the conversation, including the date and name of anyone who accompanied you.

B. Complaint and Resolution Process.[3]

Step 1 A person who believes he/she has been subject to unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault, should contact a representative from Human Resources as soon as possible. An employee may also contact his/her supervisor.

A meeting will be held with a representative from Human Resources, or another investigator appointed by Wentworth, to discuss the conduct and events and to answer any questions regarding the process.

In those instances where a resolution is appropriate, a representative from Human Resources, or another investigator, will advise and assist in resolving the matter.

Step 2 In those instances where a resolution is not reached or is not appropriate, a request will be made to submit a written statement to the Vice President of Human Resources. The written statement is most effective when it includes the following information: a description of the incident(s), the name of the person(s) engaging in the conduct, times, locations, specific words/actions, and the name of any witnesses to the incident(s). The investigator will review all information provided and may make requests for additional information. The investigator’s notes and files are not subject to review by the person bringing forward the concern or to the person(s) alleged to have violated this policy.

Step 3 The investigator will meet with the person alleged to have engaged in the conduct. He/she may submit a written statement and any documents in response to the concerns and should provide the names of any possible witnesses and any other materials or documents he/she feels are responsive to the allegation(s) made.

Step 4 The investigator will interview witnesses noted by the person bringing forward the concern and any witnesses named by the person alleged to have engaged in the conduct. The investigator may gather information relating to the concern from any source or person.

Step 5 Upon completion of the investigation, the Vice President of Human Resources will make a finding and inform the person raising the concern and the person(s) alleged to have engaged in the conduct of the result.

Step 6 If the person raising the concern is not satisfied with the finding of the Vice President of Human Resources, he/she may take the issue to the President for review.

In the event that the finding of the Vice President and/or President indicate that unlawful discrimination has not occurred, the matter will be closed.

In the event that the finding of the Vice President and/or President indicate that unlawful discrimination has occurred,further action will be taken including, but not limited to, disciplinary action up to and including termination.

C. Timetable For Investigations

Wentworth recognizes that the interests of all persons are best served by the prompt investigation and resolution of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault. It will strive to investigate concerns in a prompt and reasonable manner, within 60 days, taking into account scheduled breaks, vacation periods and other obligations.

D. Confidentiality

All actions taken to investigate and resolve concerns raised through this process shall be conducted with as much confidentiality as possible without compromising the thoroughness of the investigation. It is Wentworth's position that generally a person raising a concern cannot insist on anonymity because such will impede the fairness and thoroughness of the investigation. The investigator will not discuss the matter with persons other than those involved in, affected by or having information about the matter, or those necessary to implement the investigative process or the disciplinary procedures under this policy.

For students: Confidential assistance is always available through the licensed professionals at the Center for Wellness and Disability Services (617) 989-4390 or Health Services (24 hours a day) (617) 989-4070. Other resources which provide confidential assistance are: Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (24-hour free hotline) 1-800-841-8371; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: 617-667-7000 (SANE); Boston Medical Center: 617-638-8000 (SANE) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital: 617-732-6462 (SANE).

For faculty and staff: Confidential assistance is always available through the EAP (Employee Assistance Provider), AllOneHealth, (24 hours a day) at 800-451-1834 or at the website at www.allonehealtheap.com.

E. No Retaliation For Raising a Good Faith Complaint of Unlawful Discrimination, Including Sexual Harassment or Assault.

No faculty member, administrator, supervisor, employee or student shall be retaliated or discriminated against in any way for making a good faith complaint of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, and/or for assisting/cooperating in the investigation of such a complaint. Such retaliation is unlawful and will not be tolerated by Wentworth. Any person who believes, in good faith, that they have been retaliated against for reporting an incident, bringing forward a complaint or assisting a person in bringing forth a complaint or in the process of investigation should immediately contact Human Resources.

VI. Violations of this Policy

A. Interim Remedial Actions:

Once concerns about unlawful discrimination, including Title IX concerns, are brought forward to Human Resources or the Office of Student Affairs, interim measures may be available while the investigation is ongoing.

strong>Interim measures for students may include: counseling assistance from the Center for Wellness and Disability Services, a leave of absence, time off from classes, change of class schedule or activities, change of housing, no contact notices, targeted education programs and limitations/restriction on campus access/activities for the person alleged to have engaged in the unlawful conduct.

strong>Interim measures for faculty, administrators, supervisors and employees may include: assistance from the EAP, leave of absence, or time off from work, a change of schedule or activities, no contact notices and limitations/restrictions on campus access/activities for the person alleged to have engaged in the unlawful discrimination.

B. Discipline:

If an investigation of unlawful discrimination reveals that a faculty member, administrator, supervisor, or employee has engaged in unlawful discrimination, disciplinary action will be taken, in the complete discretion of Wentworth.

Disciplinary action may consist of a warning, reassignment, suspension, mandatory counseling, termination of employment and/or banning from campus or events. The disciplinary action taken will depend upon the seriousness of the violation and the totality of the circumstances. There is no particular sequence or level of disciplinary action. The concept of progressive discipline does not apply. The final disciplinary action taken as the result of an investigation is not shared with the person bringing forward the concern or complaint, except to the extent it involves prohibiting further contact.

C. Prohibited Conduct:

  1. Any faculty member, administrator, supervisor or employee who prevents or attempts to prevent an individual from raising a concern of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, or who impedes or fails to cooperate with or interferes in any way with the investigation of a concern, will be subject to the disciplinary action.
  2. Any faculty member, administrator, supervisor or employee who retaliates or discriminates in any way against a person who raises a concern of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, or assists in the investigation of a concern will be subject to disciplinary action.
  3. Any non‑employee (contractor, guest, vendor or parent) found to have committed an act of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, may be removed or barred from Wentworth's premises, or other appropriate action may be taken.
  4. Any student found to have committed an act of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, may be subject to the sanctions found in the Student Handbook, including but not limited to, probation, suspension and expulsion.

VI. Assistance Outside Wentworth

There are state and federal agencies that share responsibility for administering the laws of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault. Individuals may contact these agencies by telephone or in person. The agencies are:

State

Commission Against Discrimination
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 727‑3990

Springfield Office:
424 Dwight Street, Room 220
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 739‑2145

Federal

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
One Congress Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 565‑3200

Office of Civil Rights
Leon Rodriguez, Director
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Room 509F HHH Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Susan Rhodes, Acting Regional Manager
Office for Civil Rights Region I
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Government Center
J.F.K Federal Building - Room 1875
Boston, MA 02203
Voice phone (800) 368-1019
FAX (617) 565-3809
TDD (800) 537-7697


[1]This policy is subject to change by Wentworth in its discretion. This policy shall not be construed as a contract of employment or the terms thereof, nor shall this policy itself, if not followed, give rise to any claim against Wentworth or any person charged with responsibility for Wentworth.

This policy and process were designed and implemented at Wentworth’s discretion to achieve substantial fairness. Therefore, the failure of Wentworth to comply with any particular provision(s) shall not invalidate the resolution of any complaint or concern.

[2]Faculty, administrators, supervisors and employees who believe they have been subject to unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment or assault, by a student may contact Dean of Students Office or Human Resources.

[3]Wentworth will investigate any concerns of unlawful discrimination, to the extent possible, including sexual harassment or assault, raised or reported to Human Resources from any source, even in the cases where a person chooses not to submit a written statement or decides not to pursue the situation him/herself. Wentworth will take all remedial actions appropriate under the circumstances.

Resources