The policy on this page is for faculty and staff.

For policies and information pertaining to Sexual and Gender-based misconduct, please see the links below:

For resource and support information, please see Sexual Assault Information.


On this page

Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment Policy

Wheaton College is committed to maintaining an environment free of all Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment, including any forms of coercion that impede the academic freedom, security, or well-being of any member of the community.

Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment is inimical to such an environment. Wheaton does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, mental or physical disability, genetic information, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, age (age 40 or older), religion, sex,1 gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, veteran or military status, membership in the Uniformed Services, or any characteristic protected by law. These are referred to in this Policy as “Legally Protected Categories.” Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment by managers, supervisors, employees, vendors, clients, and contractors will not be tolerated.

This Policy applies to all work-related settings and activities, whether inside or outside the workplace, and includes business trips and business-related social events. College property (e.g., telephones, copiers, scanners, computers, and computer applications, such as e-mail and Internet access) may not be used to engage in conduct that violates this Policy.

Wheaton will investigate all complaints that implicate this Policy, as set forth below. Persons found to have violated this Policy will be subject to disciplinary action, as set forth in this Policy.

Back to top ^

Definitions

Sexual Harassment. Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise. Sexual Harassment may occur between opposite sex or same sex individuals and is not limited by gender or gender identity. In general, Sexual Harassment can be divided into two types of conduct:

(A) Tangible Employment or Educational Action. This type of Sexual Harassment occurs when the terms or conditions of employment, living environment or participation in a College activity is conditioned upon, either explicitly or implicitly, submission to or rejection of unwelcomed sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or such submission or rejection is a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, living environment, or participation in a College program or activity.

(B) Hostile Environment Harassment. This type of Sexual Harassment exists when the conduct is sufficiently serious (i.e., severe, pervasive, or persistent) so as to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s programs, services, opportunities, or activities or when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment. In determining whether a hostile environment exists, consideration will be made as to whether a reasonable person in a similar situation would have also perceived the conduct as objectively offensive.

Retaliation. Any acts or words that constitute intimidation, threats, or coercion because of that person’s:
(1) report of unlawful discrimination or harassment; (2) assistance in reporting unlawful discrimination or harassment; (3) participation in any proceeding under this Policy; or (4) protest of Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment, and that would also deter a reasonable person from reporting or assisting in reporting a violation of this Policy, participating in any proceeding under this Policy, or protesting of unlawful Discrimination and Harassment. An adverse action does not include minor annoyances or another’s lack of good manners as those actions will not deter a reasonable person from engaging in the process.

Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment Based on Legally Protected Categories. Discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment or harassment in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, national origin, disability, genetic information, status as a veteran (including, but not limited to, a veteran of the Vietnam era or a recently separated veteran, or a disabled veteran), membership in uniformed services, or other categories protected by applicable laws.

Back to top ^

Prohibited Conduct

Wheaton employees are prohibited from engaging in:

  1. Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment Based on Legally Protected Categories;
  2. Sexual Harassment; and
  3. Retaliation

Back to top ^

Examples of Conduct Which May Constitute Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome, and may occur in a variety of situations which share a common element: the inappropriate introduction of sexual activities or comments into the work environment. Conduct is unwelcome when those subject to the harassment do not solicit or invite it and regard it as undesirable or offensive. The fact that a person may accept or not voice objection to the conduct does not necessarily mean that he or she welcomes it.

Examples of behavior that might be considered Sexual Harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention or suggestive comments and gestures; inappropriate humor about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation or gender expression; insults and threats based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or gender expression; and other oral, written or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome.
  • Written graffiti or the display or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials; sexually charged name-calling; or the circulation, display, or creation of e-mails, text messages, or web sites of a sexual nature.
  • Display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to an individual or gender group where such display is not directly related to academic freedom, or an educational/pedagogical, artistic, or work purpose.
  • Unwelcome physical contact or suggestive body language, such as touching, patting, pinching, hugging, kissing, or brushing against an individual’s body.
  • Physical coercion or pressure of an individual to engage in sexual activity or punishment for a refusal to respond or comply with sexual advances.
  • Use of a position of power or authority to: (1) threaten or punish, either directly or by implication, for refusing to tolerate Sexual Harassment, for refusing to submit to sexual activity, or for reporting Sexual Harassment; or (2) promise rewards in return for sexual favors.
  • Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping.

In general, sexual and intimate conduct and/or romantic attentions or relationships that are unwelcomed are prohibited.

Sexual and intimate conduct and/or romantic attentions or relationships, even if welcomed, between any members of the college community who have a supervisory relationship or evaluative relationship (for example, grading a student’s work or participating in decisions regarding reviews, promotions, awards, program eligibility, and other privileges) with each other also are prohibited.

In addition, individuals should understand that sexual and intimate conduct and/or romantic attentions or relationships that begin as welcomed sometimes evolve into problematic situations, particularly those relationships between individuals of unequal authority. Such relationships may raise concerns, whether perceived or real, about the validity of consent, conflict of interest, fairness of treatment, or the creation of a hostile or intimidating environment, and the relationship may be called into question under this Policy. Accordingly, the College strongly discourages these types of relationships, even if they are welcomed.

It is not advisable (or possible) to formulate a policy so specific that all conceivable incidents are clearly included or excluded from the definition of Sexual Harassment. Decisions about alleged improper conduct and determinations of appropriate action by the institution will be made on a case-by-case basis. Such action may range from a reprimand or counseling to termination of employment, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as the College may deem necessary under the circumstances.

Back to top ^

Examples of Conduct Which May Constitute Retaliation

As stated in this Policy, Retaliation includes any acts or words that constitute intimidation, threats, or coercion because of that person’s: (1) report of unlawful discrimination or harassment; (2) assistance in reporting of Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment; (3) participation in any proceeding under this Policy; or (4) protest of Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment, and that would also deter a reasonable person from reporting or assisting in reporting a violation of this policy, participating in any proceeding under this policy, or protesting of Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment. An adverse action does not include minor annoyances or another’s lack of good manners as those actions will not deter a reasonable person from engaging in the process.

Examples of Retaliation include but are not limited to:

  • exclusion of a complainant from social events because of the complainant’s report of unlawful discrimination or harassment;
  • harassment of any witnesses because of their cooperation in the investigation process;
  • bullying, taunting, or intimidating a complainant because of the complainant’s report of Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment; and
  • termination of College employment, denial of promotion or leadership position because of the complainant’s report of unlawful discrimination or harassment.

The College does not tolerate Retaliation in any form against any persons for their participation or involvement in the reporting, investigation, and/or resolution of matters subject to this policy. The College includes Retaliation as prohibited conduct under this policy. Retaliation may constitute a violation of this policy even when the underlying report made does not result in a finding of responsibility.

Back to top ^

Examples of Conduct Which May Constitute Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment Based on Protected Categories

Depending upon the circumstances, examples of Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment based on any of the Legally Protected Categories could include, but is not limited to, the above examples concerning Sexual Harassment, as well as the following types of conduct:

  • epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, jokes, or bullying, threatening, or intimidating acts that relate to a person’s status within any of the Legally Protected Categories;
  • repeated verbal abuse or innuendo or use of derogatory words concerning any of the Legally Protected Categories;
  • making decisions about an employee’s employment based upon his or her membership in any of the Legally Protected Categories;
  • denying an employee a promotion because that person made a report of a violation of this Policy;
  • an open display of objects or pictures that are reasonably offensive to another person based upon his or her being in any of the Legally Protected Categories.

The conduct listed in the above examples may also constitute Retaliation. Retaliation also includes, but is not limited to, taking an adverse employment action such as denying an employee a promotion, because that employee made a report of a violation of this Policy or assisted the College with an investigation into a reported violation of this Policy.

Back to top ^

Sexual Harassment by Visitors

An important area of concern relates to visitors to the campus. The College prohibits Sexual Harassment by individuals visiting or conducting business on the Wheaton campus or in such places where the College provides educational benefit to its community. Any persons who believe that they have been subjected to conduct by a visitor that could violate this Policy, should call Public Safety. Public Safety will take other appropriate action. If visitors’ behavior is illegal (e.g., vandalism, sexual assault, etc.), they may be subject to arrest. Members of the community have a responsibility to make clear to their visitors that such behavior is not acceptable at the College.

Back to top ^

Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment Complaint and Investigation Procedure

This section explains the process for investigating allegations that the College’s Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment Policy may have been violated, as well as the process of determining and administering any sanctions or remedies. As noted above, this process applies to all such allegations except for those concerning Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct as defined in the Wheaton College Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Staff. To the extent that a complaint involves Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and implicates the Wheaton College Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Staff, the complaint will be handled as per the process outlined in that policy.
For the purposes of this Policy, “Respondent” means a person alleged to have engaged in conduct in violation of this Policy and “Complainant” means an individual who experienced the alleged conduct that violates this Policy.

Back to top ^

Reporting Conduct that Implicates this Policy

Individuals who believe that they have been subject to unlawful discrimination or harassment or Retaliation should notify the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources or one of the persons listed in the “Contact List” at the end of this Policy. Similarly, employees in managerial or supervisory positions have an obligation to notify the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources or one of the persons listed in the “Contact List” at the end of this Policy if they receive complaints or learn about incidents or concerns involving unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Back to top ^

Filing a Complaint

Individuals who believe that they have been discriminated or harassed on the basis of any of the Legally Protected Categories or subject to Retaliation may file a complaint for the college to address. To file a complaint with the college, an employee must make a report to the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources or one of the persons listed in the “Contact List” at the end of this Policy, outlining the specific nature of the complaint and relevant details.

Back to top ^

Resolution Process

The resolution process generally involves an initial review of the complaint, an investigation, determination of responsibility, and disciplinary action. In general, the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources or designee will serve as the investigator. The College can designate that an additional individual assist the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources in the investigation, or the College may designate another appropriate individual on a case-by-case basis to provide a prompt and equitable investigation process.

Initial Review

The investigator will conduct an initial review of the complaint. The investigator will gather sufficient information from the Complainant to understand the nature of the complaint and to determine whether the behavior alleged implicates this Policy. If the investigator determines that the alleged conduct implicates this Policy, the investigator will notify the Complainant and the Respondent of the nature of the complaint and the accusations and will confirm that the College will investigate the complaint.

Investigation

As soon as possible, but no later than three (3) business days after receiving notice of the identity of the investigator, the parties should inform the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources of any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest with regard to the selected investigator. The Assistant Vice President of Human Resources or a designee will determine if a conflict of interest exists and, if so, assign an appropriate alternate investigator. The parties will have an additional three (3) business days to notify the Assistant Vice President if there are any additional conflicts with the newly named investigator.
Once affirmed, the investigator will schedule interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and other persons the investigator believes may have information that is relevant and necessary for the investigation. The Complainant and Respondent will have the opportunity to identify evidence and witnesses. In all cases, the investigator will determine the scope of the investigation.

Investigative Report

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will prepare an investigative report that sets forth a determination of responsibility and sanctions, if any. In determining whether a violation of this Policy occurred, the investigator will use the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Back to top ^

Determination of Responsibility and Disciplinary Action

In the event the Respondent is found Not Responsible for a violation, the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources or designee will simultaneously notify the Complainant and Respondent.

In the event the Respondent is found Responsible for a violation, the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources (or designee) will determine the appropriate disciplinary action. Some examples of disciplinary action for staff include, but are not limited to, termination, suspension, reassignment, non-renewal of a contract, and other changes in employment terms or conditions. In all cases, the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources will notify the Complainant and Respondent in writing of the outcome and the option to appeal.

In limited circumstances, when the safety of the College community is at risk, if the material facts are undisputed, if there are extenuating circumstances involving either of the parties, or if the Assistant Vice President or designee, in consultation with appropriate administrators, determines it is in the best interest of the College and/or the community, the College retains the right to determine, in its sole discretion, if it will address a report of conduct that falls under this Policy administratively and outside of the process described in this Policy. Whenever the College determines that it will exercise this provision, its actions will be in accord with and stay true to the processes described in this Policy to the extent possible. The College will also clearly explain to the parties any alternate processes it will take in the given situation.

Back to top ^

Appeal Process

At the conclusion of the determination phase, a Complainant or Respondent may appeal the decision. The guidelines and steps for the appeal process are as follows:

Filing an Appeal:

Within five (5) business days of the date the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources decision is sent in writing to the party, either party may appeal the decision by submitting to the Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration a letter stating why the party requesting the appeal believes the determination of responsibility was inappropriate.

Content for Appeal:

A party may file an appeal only on the following grounds:

  • Newly discovered material information that was not known to the appellant party and unavailable during the investigation and which likely would have changed the finding of responsibility or the sanctions or disciplinary action imposed had it been available; or
  • Substantial procedural error that materially prejudiced the appellant party.

The appellant party must set forth in detail the grounds for review and must attach all materials that the party wishes to have considered in the appeal process.

The Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration will notify the Complainant and Respondent in writing of receipt of the appeal as soon as practicable. The Executive Vice President or his designee will decide appeals. The Executive Vice President may decide to accept, modify or reject the original decision. The Executive Vice President will provide simultaneous written notice of the outcome to the Complainant and Respondent as soon as practicable. In all cases, the decision of the Executive Vice President is final.


1To the extent that a complaint involves Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct as defined in the Wheaton College Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Staff, the complaint will be handled as per the process outlined in that policy.

Back to top ^

Contact List

If you have any questions about this Policy or if you would like to file a complaint of a conduct you believe to be a violation of this Policy, you may do so by contacting the appropriate individual listed below:

For complaints made against members of the staff and other persons working on campus:
Omaira Roy, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources Hebe
(508) 286-3544
roy_omaira@wheatoncollege.edu

For complaints made against members of the faculty:
Renée White, Provost Park Hall, Room 114 (508) 286-8212
white_renee@wheatoncollege.edu

For complaints made against students:
Kate Kenny, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Park Hall, Room 103 (508) 286-8218
kenny_kate@wheatoncollege.edu

Title IX Director (Any student, staff or faculty may contact the Title IX Director)
Rachael Pauze, Director of Title IX Compliance
Science Center, Room 227
(508) 286-3231
pauze_rachael@wheatoncollege.edu

Outside Agencies

In addition to filing a complaint with an official of the college, persons may contact the government agencies listed below to file a complaint of Sexual Harassment. Please note there are time limitations for filing complaints with these agencies and you should contact the agencies if you have questions about the time limitations or the agencies’ complaint processes.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
John F. Kennedy Federal Building
475 Government Center
Boston, MA 02203
(800) 669-4000

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”)

Boston Office:

One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 994-6000

Worcester Office:

484 Main Street, Room 320
Worcester, MA
(508) 453-9630

Springfield Office:

436 Dwight Street, Room 220
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 739-2145

Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”)

US Department of Education
8th Floor
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3921
(617) 289-0111