SEXUAL AND OTHER UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT POLICY
New England Conservatory (NEC) is committed to maintaining an environment in which all members of the community—Faculty, Students, and Staff—are treated with respect and dignity. NEC believes that harassment of any individual on any basis—including race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, veteran status or other legally protected status—hurts the individual and threatens this environment. Harassment is a form of dis¬crimination and it is against the law. NEC will not tolerate harassment on any basis. All members of the community are expected to treat each other with respect and dignity and are encouraged to raise any concerns with their supervisors and/or Human Resources.
II. Prohibited Conduct:
Harassment may be defined as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his/her race, creed, color, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law and that:
• has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or learning environment; or
• has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work or academic or artistic performance; or
• otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment or academic or artistic opportunities.
Prohibited conduct or harassment may include, but is not limited to:
• offensive verbal or racial epithets, denigrating jokes; or
• intimidating or hostile acts; or
• slurs, jokes, posters, cartoons, and gestures that are offensive; or
• display or circulation in NEC or in an NEC-related setting of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or a group based on legally protected status.
B. Sexual Harassment:
Sexual harassment may be defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or phys¬ical conduct of a sexual nature such that:
• submission to such conduct is made either explic¬itly or implicitly a term or condition of an individ¬ual’s employment or educational advancement;
• submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting an individual; or
• the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfer¬ing with an individual’s academic or work perfor¬mance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment to a reasonable individual.
Sexual harassment can encompass a wide range of behaviors. The following are examples of conduct that, depending upon the circumstances, may constitute sexual harassment:
• unwelcome and unwanted sexual jokes, language, epithets, advances, or propositions;
• sexually suggestive or obscene comments or gestures;
• written or oral abuse of a sexual nature;
• the display of sexually suggestive objects or images;
• unwelcome and unwanted comments about an individual’s body;
• comments or questions about an individual’s sexual conduct;
• unwelcome touching, leering, whistling, or brushing against the body; and
• demands for sexual favors in exchange for favorable reviews, assignments, promotions, continued employment, educational advancement, or promises of the same.
III. Consensual Relationships:
Sexual harassment may also be an issue in a relationship that began as consensual or that is perceived as consensual by one of the par¬ties to the relationship. Any individual in a position of authority at NEC should be sensitive to the potential for coer¬cion in personal relationships that also involve professional respon¬sibilities. This is of particular concern in the academic community where students and faculty often form strong bonds of dependence and trust.
Not only does sexual harassment betray the special bond between teacher and student, it also unfairly exploits the power inherent in an instructor’s relationship to his or her student. An instructor can have a decisive influence on a student’s academ¬ic success and future career. Sexual or other harassment that occurs as a result of coercion based upon one’s position of authority is an abuse of that authority and will be dealt with accordingly. Sexual relationships that result from direct or indirect coercion by a person in a position of authority constitute an abuse of authority and sexual harass¬ment.
Ultimately, the individual is responsible for the consequences of his or her actions. Faculty and Staff should avoid romantic or sexual relationships with other members of the community whom they teach, evaluate, or supervise. Such relationships in the context of performing one’s responsibilities to NEC represent a conflict of interest and will be treated as such. In addition, even where both parties wholly welcome the relationship, their coworkers and/or fellow students may perceive and resent conflicts of interest.
This policy applies to romantic or sexual relationships without regard to gender and without regard to the sexual orientation of the participants.
All members of the NEC community are responsible for seeing that NEC is free from all forms of harassment and, if any harassment does occur, that it is properly reported. NEC cannot take action to punish and deter harassment if it is not reported.
Individuals in leadership positions have a special responsibility to enforce and support NEC’s policies and procedures, to perform their responsibilities in a manner that maintains a fair and open environment, and to address any situations where harassment or other forms of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior are involved.
Department heads or supervisors who learn of alleged harassment and/or violation(s) of this policy are required to report allegations to Human Resources and/or a member of the Harassment Committee.
V. Dissemination of Policy:
This policy will be included in all handbooks (staff, faculty, and student) and will be made available in the Human Resources, Preparatory and Continuing Education, and Dean of the College offices. Faculty members, staff members, and students will be informed of this policy annually. Faculty and staff members will be trained in the identification and prevention of all types of harassment discussed in this policy.
VI. Academic Freedom:
Conduct claimed to constitute harassment and sexual harassment will be interpreted with regard to academic freedom at NEC, so as to protect a staff member’s, student’s, or faculty member’s right to teach, research, perform, and publish freely. NEC does not intend that this policy will be used to address the normal differences of opinion that may arise in the academic setting and are part of the normal process of teaching and learning.
Because of the sensitive nature of these matters, every reasonable effort will be made to maintain confidentiality, so long as that is possible without hindering the implementation of this policy and the fulfillment of its objectives.
VIII. No Retaliation:
No person need fear retaliation, intimidation, or retri¬bution for making what he or she believes is a justifiable complaint made in good faith. It is unlawful to retaliate against someone for filing a complaint of sexual or other unlawful harassment or for coop¬erating in an investigation of such a complaint.
IX. Statute of limitations:
An allegation or complaint of harassment should be submitted to the Harassment Committee as soon after the offending conduct as possible, but in no event more than one (1) year after the most recent conduct alleged to constitute harassment. This statute of limitations is intended to encourage complainants to come forward as soon as possible after the offending conduct, and to protect respondents against complaints that are too old to be investigated effectively. If the nature of the allegation or complaint is particularly egregious, as determined by the Harassment Committee, the Harassment Committee has the authority to act on the complainant beyond the one (1) year statue of limitations, provided that the Committee initiates the complaint within a year of learning about the alleged incident(s) and the evidence is available to support an effective investigation.
X. Complaint Procedure:
Any person who perceives himself or herself to be the victim of harassment in violation of this policy should promptly take one or more of the procedural steps described below, as applicable. It is not necessary that they all be taken or that they be taken in order with the exception that, prior to invoking the formal complaint procedure, an individual must pursue the informal complaint procedure.
The availability of this complaint procedure does not preclude individuals who believe they are being subjected to discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct from promptly advising the offender that his/her behavior is unwelcome and requesting that it be discontinued.
A. Self Help:
An initial course of action for any faculty member, staff member, or student who feels that he or she has been harassed may be for that person to emphatically tell or otherwise inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome, offensive, violates this policy, and must stop. This may solve the problem, and, if it does, further proceedings will usually not be necessary.
B. Harassment Committee – Informal:
An individual who perceives himself or herself as the victim of harassment should contact one of the members of the Harassment Committee (contact information is listed below). Because of the sensitive nature of these matters, every reasonable effort will be made to maintain confidentiality, so long as that is possible without frus¬trating the implementation of this policy and the fulfillment of its objectives.
Member(s) of the Harassment Committee will help to determine if the perception of harassment is valid; discuss the rights of the person under this policy; discuss methods the person could take to eliminate the unwanted conduct, whether or not it is harassment.
If appropriate, a member of the Harassment Committee and the complainant may develop a letter to the alleged offender outlining the perceived harassing behavior and asserting that the behavior must stop. The member of the Harassment Committee may also assist the complainant in preparation for any meetings with the perceived harasser.
If the member of the Harassment Committee believes mediation (for example, informal dispute resolution managed by the Harassment Committee) is an option, he or she will attempt mediation, forwarding the case to the formal complaint procedure only if, in his or her judgment, mediation has not been successful. If the member of the Harassment Committee believes an issue of harassment is not present, or that mediation or other steps taken have successfully resolved the harassment problem, he or she will advise the complainant of this and no further proceedings will result.
A written summary of the actions taken under this informal complaint procedure will be prepared and, together with any other documentation, be maintained in a file in the Human Resources office.
Harassment Committee Members:
Elise Comeau (Co-Chair) - Director of Human Resources NEC Faculty
(617) 585-1229 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Handel (Co-Chair) - Dean of Students (617) 585-1310 email@example.com
Robert Sullivan - NEC Faculty & Chair of the Faculty Senate (617) 585-1346 firstname.lastname@example.org
C. Harassment Committee – Formal:
If the informal complaint procedure fails to resolve the issue, a member of the Harassment Committee will open a formal investigation into the allegation(s). The person who believes that he or she is a victim of harassment and a member of the Harassment Committee will create a formal written complaint which will be given to the President.
An Investigator will be appointed. The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the complainant, the alleged harasser, and any other individuals who may have knowledge of the alleged incident(s) or circumstances giving rise to the complaint and a review of any relevant documentation and/or other evidence. In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes a violation of this policy, the Investigator should consider the surrounding circumstances, any relevant documents, the nature of the behavior, past incidents or past or continuing patterns of behavior, and the relationship between the parties involved. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a determination based on all the facts and surrounding circumstances. Special care will be taken to make sure that the person(s) accused of harassment has full and fair opportunity to explain his or her side of the story.
The Investigator will gather any other information or conduct any investigation or other interviews that the Investigator believes necessary. Whenever possible, the Investigator will complete the investigation and report within 15 work days after the complaint has been filed; the report should indicate whether the allegations have been substantiated as factual or not.
The President, the Investigator, and members of the Harassment Committee will meet to discuss the formal complaint, the investigation, the informal options and their results, and plan a strategy to resolve the issue.
If necessary, the President may convene a hearing with the parties involved to hear evidence. Upon completion of the hearing, the President shall decide on a course of action. One of the co-chairs of the Harassment Committee will inform the accused and the accuser of the decision of the President.
The President or his or her designee will decide on the disciplinary action to be taken for an NEC employee who is found to have violated NEC policy. The severity of the penalty will depend on the seriousness of the offense.
A faculty member, staff member, or student who is found to have violated NEC policy may appeal the decision by submitting a written statement to the President within ten (10) work days upon receipt of the decision.
The President will decide if an appeal should be heard. This decision will be based on new evidence or a failure to observe due process. Appeals will not be heard to reconsider penalties. If the President decides that an appeal should be heard, he or she will convene an Appeals Board. The Appeals Board may consist of the President (or his or her designee), two (2) faculty members, and two (2) members of the Harassment Committee.
Whenever there has been a finding of violation of this policy, the responsible official will prepare a summary statement of the final disposition, which will become a part of the respondent’s departmental file or disciplinary record; as such it is subject to the same rights to access, privacy, and confidentiality as other items in such files.
Human Resources shall maintain a file on each case in which it is aware of an evaluation of alleged harassment, whether the case has been handled through an informal or formal process. This file shall include a written statement of the final disposition of the case. The file shall be subject to the confidentiality provisions of the Harassment Policy.
The policy should not be construed to limit NEC’s ability to address independently acts of harassment that fall outside the parameters of this policy. Furthermore, this policy is not a contract of employment or part of any such contract. NEC reserves the right to revise, modify, amend, or terminate any part or all of the policy at any time at NEC’s sole discretion.
XI. State and Federal Enforcement Agencies:
In addition to the procedures described above, an employee who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual or other unlawful harassment may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies listed below. Using NEC’s complaint process does not prohibit employees from filing a complaint with these agencies.
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
One Ashburton Place, Room 601,
Boston, MA 02108
TEL: (617) 994-6000; TTY: (617) 994-6196
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Boston Area Office
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
475 Government Center, Boston, MA 02203
TEL: (617) 565-3200; (800) 669-4000
TTY: (617) 565-3204; (800) 669-6820
XII. Disciplinary Sanctions:
Any member of NEC community who is found to have violated this policy will be subject to dis¬ciplinary action that may include, but need not be limited to, warnings or reprimands, suspension or expulsion, discharge, or dismissal, commensurate with the scope, severity, and frequency of the offense.
UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT CAN BE STOPPED.
If you are experiencing behavior that you believe may be sexual or other unlawful harassment,
please contact one of the people listed above.
The alternative that we do not recommend is that you do nothing.
SILENCE IS NOT THE ANSWER.