It is the goal of the college to promote an educational environment and workplace that is free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment of students or employees occurring in the classroom or the workplace is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the college. Further, any retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated. To achieve our goal of providing a workplace free from sexual harassment, the conduct that is described in this policy will not be tolerated and we have provided a procedure by which inappropriate conduct will be dealt with, if encountered by students or employees.
Because the college take allegations of sexual harassment seriously, we will respond promptly to complaints of sexual harassment and where it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such corrective measures, including disciplinary action where appropriate and consistent with applicable collective bargaining agreements.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment or academic decisions; or
- Such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's academic or work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive learning or working environment
Under these definitions, direct or implied requests by a supervisor or instructor for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job or academic benefits constitute sexual harassment. The following are some examples of conduct, that either alone or in combination, which may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:
- Unwelcome sexual advances - whether they involve physical touching or not
- Repeated, unsolicited propositions for dates and/or sexual intercourse
- Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one's sex life; comment on an individual's body, comment about an individual's sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons
- Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or
- insulting comments
- Verbal harassment or abuse on the basis of sex
- Inquiries into another person’s sexual activities, practices or experiences
- Discussion of one's own sexual activities, practices or experience
The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad and applies to any individual of either gender who participates in the college community, including a student, faculty member, administrator or any other person having dealings with the college. In addition, other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating workplace or academic environment to male or female workers or students may also constitute sexual harassment.
It is important to note that when assessing whether conduct constitutes sexual harassment, a “reasonable person standard” shall be applied. The term “reasonable person” is used to describe an objective standard to determine if harassment has occurred. Under the standard, in order for conduct and behavior to be considered sexual harassment, a reasonable person under similar circumstance would have to conclude that the behavior was harassing or discriminatory. All employees and students should take special note that, as stated above, retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment, or retaliation against individuals who have cooperated with an investigation of sexual harassment is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the college.
Faculty/Administrator/Staff Member Relationships with Students. A romantic and/or sexual relationship, consensual or otherwise, between a faculty member, administrator or staff member and a student is looked upon with disfavor and is strongly discouraged. No faculty member shall have a romantic and/or sexual relationship, consensual or otherwise, with a student who is being taught or advised by the faculty member or whose academic work is being supervised or evaluated, directly or indirectly, by the faculty member. No administrator or staff member shall have a romantic and/or sexual relationship, consensual or otherwise, with a student who the administrator or staff member supervises, evaluates, advises, or provides other professional advice or services as part of the college’s program or activity.
Relationships between Supervisors, Subordinates or Co-Workers. A consenting romantic and/or sexual relationship between a supervisor and subordinate or co-workers may interfere with or impair the performance of professional duties and responsibilities and/or create an appearance of bias or favoritism. Further, such relationships could implicate state ethics laws and/or result in claims of sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation. Therefore, such workplace relationships are strongly discouraged.
Complaints of Sexual Harassment
If any student or employee believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment, the student or employee has the right to file an Affirmative Action Discrimination Complaint Form (see Affirmative Action Policy for Community Colleges form below under "Relevant Forms") with the college. For more information or assistance with filing a complaint, please contact the college’s Affirmative Action Officer or Title IX Coordinator. If the Affirmative Action Officer or the Title IX Coordinator is the subject of a complaint, the President shall designate another college official to administer the Complaint Procedures.
All complaints will be investigated in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. If it is determined that a violation of this Policy has occurred, the college will act promptly to eliminate the harassing conduct, and take disciplinary action where warranted. All disciplinary action taken shall be consistent with any applicable collective bargaining agreement. The Duty to Cooperate, Duty to Report, and the obligation to avoid making False Charges, as discussed previously in this Policy, shall be fully applicable under this section.
State and Federal Remedies
In addition to the above, if you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you may file a formal complaint with the governmental agencies set forth below. Filing a complaint under this Policy does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with these agencies.
Relevant Laws, Guidelines & Policies
Office of Human Resources
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
475 Government Center
Boston, MA 02203
Telephone: (617) 565-3200 or 1 (800) 669-4000
TTY: (617) 565-3204 or 1 (800) 669-6820
Fax: (617) 565-3196
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
800 Purchase Street, Room 501
New Bedford, MA 02740
Telephone: (508) 990-2390
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Office for Civil Rights, Boston Office (“OCR”)
U.S. Department of Education
J. W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse
Room 707, 01-0061
Boston, MA 02109-4557
(617) 223-9662; FAX (617) 223-9669; TDD (617) 223-9695
Related Handbook Sections
Affirmative Action, Equal Employment & Diversity
Cleary Act Security Report