D. Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct

1. Princeton University is committed to maintaining an environment free of all forms of harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct. All members of the Faculty, academic professionals (Professional Librarians, Professional Researchers, Professional Specialists) and non-academic staffs are responsible for helping to insure a community free of such prohibited conduct. The information provided below describes the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. It also explains the processes through which complaints by or against members of these groups may be brought forward, as well as descriptions of the central roles played by "harassment resolution facilitators" and "confidential resources" in the resolution process. The full text of the University’s Nondiscrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures, prohibiting discrimination and harassment, can be accessed at  http://www.princeton.edu/diversity/policy/antiharassment/. The full text of the University’s statement prohibiting sex discrimination and sexual misconduct can be accessed at  http://www.princeton.edu/pub/rrr/part1/index.xml#comp12.

Complaints of discrimination and harassment against students, including graduate students serving as Assistants in Instruction (AIs), are covered by student disciplinary procedures administered by the Faculty Committee on Discipline. Complaints of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct against students are covered by the sex discrimination and sexual misconduct policies, administered by the Office of the Provost.

2. Discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct are serious violations of University policy as well as violations of federal and state law. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs receiving federal funds. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin in employment practices. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination in employment practices on bases such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, age and gender identity or  expression.

3. As required by law, the University has devised and adopted appropriate procedures for addressing and resolving concerns and complaints of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct by members of the campus community. Under the law, employers and supervisors (i.e., individuals with assigned supervisory duties over employees) have a responsibility to report claims of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct to the appropriate individuals designated in these procedures. "Supervisors" in a university context include Chairs of departments who supervise Faculty, and all individuals who have been assigned formal supervisory duties over employees. For example, apart from the Chair of a department, Faculty do not normally supervise each other, or, in the relevant sense, students. They do, however, often have supervisory responsibility over members of support staff or members of other professional staffs, and are thus under an affirmative obligation to respond to incidents of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct in their areas of supervisory responsibility. Supervisors in the sense just defined are not only responsible for reporting incidents when they receive a specific complaint or concern alleging improper activity on the part of a member of their staff, but they also have a duty to report such matters that come to their attention informally (e.g., by witnessing or otherwise learning of such incidents). Indeed they may be held responsible for not having acted upon matters about which they reasonably should have known.

4. Discrimination against a person on the basis of his/her race, creed, color, sex, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, ancestry, religion, physical or mental disability, veteran's status, marital or domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected under law is unlawful and violates University policy. The University expects all members of the campus community, as well as its visitors, to be treated equally based on merit in all aspects related to its educational programs and activities, and in all aspects related to employment.

Listed below are examples of conduct that can constitute discrimination if based on an individual’s protected characteristic. This list is not all-inclusive; in addition, each situation must be considered in light of the specific facts and circumstances to determine if discrimination has occurred.

  • Singling out or targeting an individual for different or adverse treatment (e.g., more severe discipline, lower salary increase) because of his or her protected characteristic
  • Failing or refusing to hire or admit an individual because of his/her protected characteristic
  • Terminating an individual from employment or an educational program based on his/her protected characteristic

a. Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical behavior which is directed at a person because of his/her race, creed, color, sex, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, ancestry, religion, physical or mental disability, veteran’s status, marital or domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation or other protected characteristic, when these behaviors are sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational experience or working/living conditions by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Listed below are examples of behaviors that can constitute harassment. This list is not all-inclusive; in addition, each situation must be considered in light of the specific facts and circumstances to determine if discrimination has occurred.

  • Unwelcome jokes or comments about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., racial or ethnic jokes);
  • Disparaging remarks to a person about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., negative or offensive remarks or jokes about a person's religion or religious garments);
  • Displaying offensive posters or pictures about a legally protected characteristic;
  • Electronic communications, such as email, text messaging and internet use, that violate this Policy; and
  • Stereotyping.

b. Sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking is defined by and prohibited under the University’s Policy and Disciplinary Procedures for Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct, which can be found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.2.3.  http://www.princeton.edu/pub/rrr/part1/index.xml#comp123. In any case involving an allegation of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, the Policy and Disciplinary Procedures for Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct states the applicable policies and procedures.

5. Complaints of discrimination and harassment will be treated with the maximum possible degree of confidentiality. Confidential resources (including the chaplains in the Office of Religious Life, the Ombuds Officer, and other individuals identified as such) are not authorized to engage in fact-finding or take action on behalf of the University. If after speaking with a confidential resource an individual does not wish to initiate a complaint, the confidential resource will take no action. If an individual does wish to make a complaint, the confidential resource will put the individual in touch with an appropriate University administrator (i.e., a "discrimination/harassment resolution facilitator,") who can also provide counseling and initiate actions to remedy complaints of discrimination and harassment (see Section 6 below).

a. Fear of retaliation should not be a barrier to reporting incidents of discrimination or harassment. Retaliation in any form will not be tolerated and is, in addition to the initial incident, subject to University disciplinary procedures.

b. The Director for Institutional Equity and EEO, in collaboration with the Office of General Counsel and other resources as appropriate, provides assistance and training to individuals and offices relating to discrimination and harassment, as well as information about procedures for pursuing complaints of such behaviors. The Director for Institutional Equity and EEO is also responsible for maintaining records of internal complaints under these policies.

c. All Faculty and academic professionals, current and new, are expected to complete an on-line (computerized) sexual harassment prevention learning module. The purpose is to make employees aware of their rights and responsibilities and to ensure they receive consistent information on the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment.

d. Individuals who have a responsibility under these University policies for taking action to discover and to stop discrimination and harassment do so as agents of the University. Accordingly, these individuals will be defended legally by the University in case of a lawsuit for their actions taken in good faith in accordance with University policies, even if mistaken.

6. Any individual who has information about or believes that he or she might be the victim of a specific act or a pattern of behavior falling within the above definitions of discrimination or harassment carried out by a member of the University community, should discuss the matter with one of the discrimination/harassment resolution facilitators designated in the University’s Nondiscrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures, or the Title IX Coordinator, if applicable. In addition, any individual having information about such acts or patterns of behavior in a supervisory capacity (i.e., where the alleged perpetrator is someone whom he or she supervises in the sense explained in Section 3 above) is under an affirmative duty as part of University employment to act upon such information by bringing it to the attention of one of these designated administrators. She or he should not under such circumstances try to "handle the matter" on her or his own.

These resolution facilitators, listed below, can provide information, answer questions, and receive complaints (both formal and informal) about discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. They also may refer individuals to resources within the University; in emergencies they will obtain assistance to intervene directly to protect the safety of individuals; in appropriate situations they may themselves seek to resolve conflicts between a complainant and respondent. They also may assist complainants in deciding whether to submit a written complaint, including the option to utilize the University’s electronic complaint form, which may be found at http://dof.princeton.edu/discrimination-harassment-complaint-form. Note: in some instances the University may be obligated to act without the consent of the complainant.

The following resolution facilitators stand ready to assess concerns, engage in fact-finding, and will seek to resolve the matter at the lowest possible level:

  • For Undergraduate Students: Associate Deans of Undergraduate Students, or Directors of Student Life
  • For Graduate Students: Associate Deans of the Graduate School
  • For Faculty or Academic Professionals: Associate Deans of the Faculty
  • For Human Resources Staff: Senior Human Resources Managers, or Director of Client Services
  • For Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Staff: Director of Human Resources
  • For any concerns involving sex discrimination or sexual misconduct: Title IX Coordinator

If the complainant fails to achieve satisfactory results through this informal means, however, he or she may still initiate a written formal complaint.

7. An individual who decides, usually after consultation with one of the resolution facilitators, to make a written complaint against a member of the Faculty or a member of the other staffs alleging a violation of the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination or harassment may do so as follows:

a. Complaint Reporting

Any member of the University community who believes she/he has been subjected to or has observed discrimination or harassment may submit a written complaint. A complete list of University resources with contact information can be found at http://www.princeton.edu/diversity/harassment/.

The written complaint should identify the parties involved; describe the behavior, including when and where it occurred; and identify by name or description any witnesses. Written complaints should be treated as confidential and should be provided directly and only to one of the appropriate designated administrators listed at http://www.princeton.edu/diversity/harassment/.

b. Interim Steps

When appropriate, prior to or during the investigation, the Provost’s Office may recommend to the appropriate University official that interim steps be taken to protect the safety and well-being of members of the University community.

c. Investigation Process

The purpose of the investigation is to gather facts relating to the incident(s) outlined in the written complaint and to determine whether it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior occurred and, if so, whether it constitutes harassment. The formal complaint process allows individuals to submit their complaint to one of many offices, although the requisite fact finding in the case of a faculty member will typically be conducted by DOF. The investigator (or co-investigators, as necessary) will conduct a fact-finding inquiry that may include written statements, interviews and any other sources the investigator deems appropriate. During the course of the investigation, the investigator may receive counsel from the Provost’s Office, the Office of General Counsel, or other parties as needed.

Note: Princeton University expects its faculty, staff and students to cooperate fully in the investigation process. An individual who chooses not to cooperate may be subject to discipline.

Note: Adversarial hearings, including confrontation, cross-examination by the parties, and active advocacy by attorneys or other outside advocates, are neither appropriate nor permitted during the investigation process.

d. Complaint Resolution

At the conclusion of the investigation, a determination will be made whether any allegations in the complaint were substantiated and whether University policy was violated. A written report will be submitted to the appropriate Dean (in most instances the Dean of the Faculty) or Vice President (in most instances the Vice President for Human Resources) and to the Provost’s Office.

The Dean/VP to whom the report is submitted may accept the report or return the report for further investigation. The Dean/VP or their designee will, for both parties involved (the person who filed the written complaint as well as the person whose behavior is being investigated), summarize the findings (see range of findings below).

Finding of “No Violation” of the University’s Nondiscrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy

If there is a determination that the behavior investigated did not violate University policy, both parties will be so informed. If retaliatory behavior occurs after the issuance of this determination, either party may bring a new complaint.

Finding of “Inappropriate Behavior Not Rising to the Level of a Violation” of the University’s Nondiscrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy

There may be a determination that the behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional but did not rise to the level of violating University policy. Such inappropriate behavior may merit discipline, ongoing monitoring, coaching, or other appropriate action. Neither party may appeal such a finding. If retaliatory behavior occurs after the issuance of this determination, either party may bring a new complaint.

Finding of “Violation” of the University’s Nondiscrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy

If there is a determination that the behavior did violate University policy, the VP/Dean, in consultation with the appropriate manager or department head, will determine the appropriate corrective actions to be taken. In addition, where appropriate, the Dean/VP/Provost may implement measures to ensure that the person who filed the complaint is not subjected to further harassment, and to remedy the effects of any harassment that may have occurred. Remedial steps, at the discretion of the University, may include, but are not limited to, ongoing monitoring, counseling or training, separation of the parties, and/or discipline of the accused, including a written warning, financial penalty, suspension, demotion or termination in accordance with University policy. The process for appealing such a finding is set forth in item 8 below.

The University’s ability to discipline an individual who is not an employee or student (such as a vendor or contractor) is limited by the degree of control, if any, the University has over the alleged harasser. Nonetheless, the University will seek to take appropriate action in response to violations of this policy.

As it relates to tenured faculty, if the complaint was sustained, the Dean of the Faculty will then recommend appropriate action to the President, including any appropriate penalty in accordance with University rules and regulations. The Dean of the Faculty will inform the complainant and respondent of the findings and any action taken or penalty imposed. If the complaint is sustained, reference to the determination will be discreetly recorded in the respondent’s personnel file. With regard to issues of confidentiality of faculty files and records, the Dean of the Faculty will follow the same procedures as the Committee on Conference and Faculty Appeal.

8. Faculty members found to have violated the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination or harassment may, consistent with the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty, file a written appeal with the Committee on Conference and Faculty Appeal, provided the appeal involves the dismissal or the suspension of a member of the Faculty, or any question of unfair treatment in relation to the appointment, reapppintment, or academic duties or privileges of a member of the Faculty or anyone to whom an offer of a Faculty appointment has been made. In cases of alleged sexual discrimination or sexual misconduct, both parties - the complainant and the respondent - have equal rights of appeal, in writing, on the grounds that (1) there is substantial relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented during investigation; (2) there was procedural unfairness; or (3) on any question of unfair treatment in relation to the dismissal, suspension, appointment, reappointment, or academic duties or privileges of a member of the Faculty or anyone to whom an offer of a Faculty appointment has been made.

Academic Professionals found to have violated the University’s policies prohibiting discrimination or harassment may, consistent with the Rules and Procedures of the Professional Researchers and Specialists and Rules and Procedures of the Professional Library Staff, submit a written request for reconsideration to the Dean of the Faculty on the grounds that: (i) there exists substantial relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented during the investigation, or (ii) the imposed penalty does not fall within the range of penalties imposed for similar misconduct.

Appeals concerning dismissal or suspension, or procedural unfairness will be heard by the Promotions, Continuing Appointment and Review Committee for Professional Librarians or the Committee on Appointments and Advancements for the Professional Researchers and Professional Specialists, as appropriate. For any appeal alleging sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, see the Policy and Disciplinary Procedures for Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct.