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WPI Anti-Harassment/Anti-Discrimination Policy

Nondiscrimination

It is the policy of WPI that each qualified individual, regardless of (1) race, (2) gender, (3) age, (4) color, (5) national origin, (6) religion, (7) handicap, (8) marital status, (9) sexual orientation, and (10) veteran status, shall have equal opportunity in the education, employment or services of WPI.  Furthermore, WPI prohibits all forms of retaliation for filing complaints of discrimination.

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to discrimination should immediately bring the matter to the attention of the Vice President of Human Resources, who is also the Title IX Coordinator, at 1-508-831-5470, who will make an independent inquiry into any allegations. All allegations of discrimination will be immediately investigated.

Anti-Harassment

Harassment

It is the policy of WPI that all our employees should be able to enjoy a work environment free of disruptive elements (e.g. noise, scents, etc...), discrimination and harassment.  This policy refers to, but is not limited to, harassment in the following areas: (1) race, (2) sex, (3) age, (4) color, (5) national origin, (6) religion, (7) handicap, (8) marital status, (9) sexual orientation, and (10) veteran status. Harassment includes display or circulation of written or electronic materials or pictures degrading to either gender or to racial, ethnic, or religious groups; and verbal abuse or insults directed at or made in the presence of members of a racial, ethnic, or minority group.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment of employees occurring in the workplace or in other settings in which employees may find themselves in connection with their employment is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the University. Further, retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or who has cooperated with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated. To achieve the University's goal of providing a workplace free from sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct described in this policy will be dealt with using the established informal and formal procedures of the University, including disciplinary action, where appropriate.

WPI takes allegations of sexual harassment seriously and will respond promptly to complaints. In fulfilling their obligation to maintain a positive and productive work environment, managers and supervisors are expected to immediately halt any harassment which comes to their attention and are expected to report such violations to the Human Resources office. Where it is determined that such inappropriate conduct has occurred, the University will act promptly to eliminate the conduct.

Sexual Harassment Training

As of January 1, 2007, all employees, both new as well as existing, are asked to complete an on-line sexual harassment training tutorial. WPI has partnered with New Media Learning to create a customized tutorial on sexual harassment, and all employees must take the tutorial, pass the mastery test, and record their certificate of completion in the Office of Human Resources. The tutorial can be accessed 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, from any computer that has internet access. The entry point to the New Media Learning/WPI sexual harassment tutorial can be found on the Training and Development pages of the Division of Human Resources website.  All faculty and staff must complete the sexual harassment tutorial every two years.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

In Massachusetts, the legal definition for sexual harassment is:

Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when

  1. 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 decisions; or
  2. such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

Under these definitions, direct or implied requests by a supervisor for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job benefits such as favorable reviews, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits, or continued employment constitutes sexual harassment.

The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad. In addition to the examples above, other sexually oriented conduct that, whether intended to be or not, is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a work place environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating or humiliating to male or female employees may also constitute sexual harassment.

While it is not possible to list all of the circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct that, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances – whether or not they involve physical touching;
  • Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct; gossip regarding one's sex life; comments on an individual's body; comments 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;
  • Inquiries into one's sexual experiences;
  • Discussion of one's sexual activities.

All employees should take special note that, as stated above, retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or who has cooperated with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the University.

Complaint Procedure

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to harassment from either a co-worker or a supervisor should make it clear to the offender that such behavior is offensive to them and unwelcome, and should immediately bring the matter to the attention of the Vice President for Human Resources (in the case of an Exempt or Non-Exempt staff member charged with harassment), +1-508-831-5470; the Provost (in the case of a member of the faculty charged with harassment, +1-508-831-5222; or the Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life +1-508-831-5060 or the Dean of Students +1-508-831-5021 (in the case of a student charged with harassment), who will make an independent inquiry into any allegations. All allegations of harassment will be immediately investigated. It is important for employees who feel that they have been harassed to report incidents to management.

Anyone found to have engaged in harassment shall be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge.

Sexual Harassment Investigation

When the University receives notice of conduct which appears to be sexual harassment, it will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the University's customary procedures, and in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances and permissible by law. The investigation may, as appropriate, include private interviews with the person filing the complaint, with witnesses, and with the person alleged to have committed sexual harassment.

When the investigation is completed, the person filing the complaint and the person alleged to have committed the conduct will be informed, to the extent appropriate, of the results of the investigation.

Appropriate Response/Disciplinary Action

If it is determined that an employee has been engaged in inappropriate conduct, appropriate action will be taken immediately, using the University's established procedures, to fulfill its obligations under the law to promote a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. Such action may range from counseling to termination of employment, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as appropriate under the University's procedures.

It is the policy of WPI that each qualified individual, regardless of (1) race, (2) gender, (3) age, (4) color, (5) national origin, (6) religion, (7) handicap, (8) marital status, (9) sexual orientation, and (10) veteran status, shall have equal opportunity in the education, employment or services of WPI.  Furthermore, WPI prohibits all forms of retaliation for filing complaints of discrimination.

 
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