Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
1. Policy Statement on Affirmative Action and Non-Discrimination
The Department of Higher Education of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (DHE) is responsible, pursuant to Chapter 15A of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for the overall governance of the public higher education system, which includes the nine State Universities. MCLA is committed to maintain and promote a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, political belief or affiliation, and veteran status.
This policy incorporates by reference, and where applicable, the requirements of: Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1968; Titles I and II of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its regulations found at 34 C.F.R. part 106; Equal Pay Act of 1963; Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988; Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; Section 402 of the Vietnam-era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974, Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); Age Discrimination Act of 1975; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended; Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993; Federal Executive Order 11246 of 1965, as amended by Executive Order 11375 of 1967; Federal Executive Order 12900 of 1994; Federal Executive Order 13145 of 2000; Federal Executive Order 13160 of 2000; Federal Executive Order 13166 of 2000; Massachusetts Civil Rights Act; Massachusetts General Laws Chapters 151B, 151C, and Chapter 149; directives of the DHE, the Boards of Trustees of the State Colleges and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and other applicable local, state and federal constitutions, statutes, regulations and executive orders.
Where to Get Help
Students are encouraged to talk with the Student Affairs Division Office or other Student Affairs staff if they witness discriminatory behavior or if they feel they may be the object of discrimination. All Student Affairs staff are prepared to assist students who feel they may have been discriminated against. Students who feel they have been discriminated against or harassed as defined by these policies should file complaints with the Affirmative Action Officer (located in Mark Hopkins Hall).
2. Policy Against Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation
MCLA is committed to educate, train, and prepare our students to live and work in our increasingly global and diverse workforce. It is our commitment to take all possible steps to provide an inclusive and diverse learning, living, and work environment that values diversity and cultural tolerance and looks with disfavor on intolerance and bigotry. Any condition or force that impedes the fullest utilization of the human and intellectual resources available represents a force of destructive consequences for the development of our Commonwealth and ultimately, our nation.
a. Discrimination. An intentional or unintentional act that adversely affects employment and/or educational opportunities because of a person's membership in a protected class or association with a member(s) of a protected class. Discrimination may be classified as either disparate impact (the result of an employment policy, practice or procedure that, in practical application, has less favorable consequences for a protected class than for the dominant group) or disparate treatment (employment practices, such as tests or educational requirements, that are fair and neutral on their face, but which are applied or administered in an unequal manner). A single act of discrimination or discriminatory harassment may be based on more than one protected class status.
b. Discriminatory Harassment. A form of unlawful discrimination including verbal and/or physical conduct based on legally protected characteristics and/or membership in a protected class that: has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment; has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or learning performance; or otherwise unreasonably adversely affects an individual's employment or educational opportunities.
c. Retaliation. Taking adverse employment or educational action against a person who files claims, complaints or charges under these procedures or under applicable local, State or Federal statute, who is suspected of having filed such claims, complaints or charges, who has assisted or participated in an investigation or resolution of such claims, complaints or charges or who has protested practices alleged to have violated the non-discrimination policy of the College, the Department of Higher Education or local, State or Federal regulation or statute. Retaliation, even in the absence of provable discrimination in the original complaint or charge, constitutes as serious a violation of this Policy as proved discrimination under the original claim, complaint or charge.
This Policy prohibits all conditions and all actions or omissions, including all acts of discrimination, discriminatory harassment and retaliation, which deny or have the effect of denying to any person their rights to equity and security on the basis of their membership in or association with a member(s) of any protected class. This policy reaffirms the values of civility, appreciation for racial/ethnic/cultural/religious pluralism and pre-eminence of individual human dignity as preconditions to the achievement of an academic community, which recognizes and utilizes the resources of all people.
In order to promote an atmosphere in which diversity is valued and the worth of individuals is recognized, the College will distribute policy statements and conduct educational programs to combat discrimination, discriminatory harassment and retaliation.
The prohibited conduct contained in this Policy shall apply to and be enforced against all members of the College community, including, but not limited to, faculty, librarians, administrators, staff, students, vendors, contractors and all others having dealings with the institution.
3. Policy Against Sexual Harassment
The MCLA prohibits any member of the College community, male or female, from sexually harassing another employee, student or other person having dealings with the College. The College is committed to providing a working, living, and learning environment that is free from all forms of sexually abusive, harassing or coercive conduct. Sexual harassment is a form of behavior that fundamentally undermines the integrity of academic and employment relationships. It is of particular concern within educational institutions where all members of the community, including students, faculty, librarians, staff and administrators, are connected by strong bonds of intellectual interdependence and trust.
Both the federal courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have ruled that sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment is judged to be prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 as amended and under Chapters 151B and 151C of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome verbal, non-verbal and/or physical behavior of a sexual nature that has the effect of interfering with a person's academic, employment or other status or of creating a sexually intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. Sexual harassment incidents can involve a male harasser and a female victim, a female harasser and a male victim, and also same gender same sex harassment and harassment because of gender identity or orientation.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
a. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education;
b. submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual;
c. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating a sexually intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, educational or living environment.
Consenting romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and student, librarian and student, administrator and student, classified staff member and student or supervisor and employee are deemed unprofessional. Because such relationships interfere with or impair required professional responsibilities and relationships, they are looked upon with disfavor and are strongly discouraged under this Policy.
4. Policy for Reasonable Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities
MCLA is committed to providing equal access to employment and educational opportunities for otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. The College recognizes that individuals with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to have equally effective opportunities to participate in or benefit from educational programs, services, activities, and employment.
a. Individual with a Disability. An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities are activities that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty such as walking, breathing, seeing, hearing, speaking, learning, and working.
b. Qualified Individual with a Disability. A qualified student with a disability is someone who possesses the skills necessary to complete the essential academic requirements of a course and/or degree program, with or without reasonable accommodation. The essential academic requirements of a course and/or degree program are the knowledge and skills that must be acquired and demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning objectives of the course or degree program.
c. Reasonable Accommodation. Modifications or adjustments to an application process, job, work environment, the way in which work is customarily performed or a course of study that permits a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a position or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment or education equally with persons without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations in education may include, but are not limited to: in-class aids such as note takers; extended time for examination; quiet rooms or alternate locations for testing; alternatively formatted testing; alternatively formatted textbooks and other course materials; and/or access to assistive technology. Possible course reductions or substitutions on the basis of a disability will be carefully evaluated. Students with disabilities must meet the essential requirements of all academic degree programs.
Any student of the College seeking reasonable accommodation for a disability may contact the Learning Specialist in the Center for Student Success & Engagement for more information.
5. Grievance Procedures
MCLA has established complaint procedures to help resolve claims and complaints of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and retaliation on our campus. These procedures will also specifically address claims and complaints of sexual harassment and failure to accommodate or to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and academic adjustments for a person with disabilities as prescribed by the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Massachusetts General Laws Chapters 151B and 151C. The Discrimination Complaint Procedures serve as a system of review and resolution for both informal claims and formal complaints of discrimination, discriminatory and sexual harassment and retaliation on any of the above-mentioned protected bases. Any applicant for employment or admission, or any other member of the College community who believes that they have been a victim of discrimination or harassment may initiate an informal claim or formal complaint as outlined in the Discrimination Complaint Procedures, the full text of which is located on the College's website and in the Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Diversity Plan. Further advice or information may be obtained by contacting the Student Affairs Division Office or other Student Affairs staff or the Affirmative Action Officer (located in Mark Hopkins Hall).