University policy regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment
(1) This policy sets forth the expectations and responsibilities for maintaining an educational and employment environment free of unlawful discrimination and harassment. This policy, (in accordance with rule 3342-6-02 of the Administrative Code, as well as state and federal law), prohibits unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, genetic information, age, military status, or identity as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era, recently separated veteran, or other protected veteran. Harassment directed toward an individual or a group, through any means, including electronic, and based on any of these categories is a form of unlawful discrimination. The university encourages an atmosphere in which the diversity of its members is understood and appreciated, free of discrimination and harassment based on the above categories. Thus, all members of the university are expected to join in creating a positive atmosphere in which individuals can learn and work in an environment that is respectful and supportive of the dignity of all individuals.
(2) It is the policy of the university to:
(a) Apply the federal and state definitions of unlawful discrimination and harassment in implementing this policy.
(b) Communicate that unlawful discrimination and harassment are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
(c) Educate the university community regarding individual rights with regard to unlawful discrimination and harassment.
(d) Investigate alleged incidents that are reported in an appropriate and timely manner.
(3) This policy is intended to promote the university’s commitment to equal opportunity and diversity. It is not intended to censor first amendment rights to express ideas and opinions on any topic provided that expression is not in the form of unlawful discrimination or harassment.
(4) In accordance with all applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its amendments, this policy shall apply to all university programs and services including, but not limited to, the following: recruiting, admission, access to programs, financial aid, classroom instruction, academic progress/grading, and social, recreational and health programs.
(5) In accordance with all applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in employment this policy shall apply to, but not necessarily be limited to, the following: employment, promotion, demotion or transfer, recruitment or recruitment advertising, layoff or termination, rates of pay or other compensation, and selection for training.
(6) The “office of equal opportunity/affirmative action”, or “EO/AA”, is the university department responsible for administering this policy. The office is located within the division of human resources.
(7) Kent state university prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a complaint of unlawful harassment. Similarly, any person who participates or cooperates in any manner in an investigation or any other aspect of the process described herein shall not be subject to retaliation. Retaliation is itself a violation of this policy and is a serious offense. Complaints regarding allegations of reprisal should be immediately reported to the equal opportunity/affirmative action office.
(B) Eligibility. All students, faculty, staff, independent contractors, guests, visitors, applicants, and university recognized student organizations.
(1) Protected category. Kent state university defines a protected category to include race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, genetic information, age, military status, and identity as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era, recently separated veteran, or other protected veteran.
(2) Unlawful discrimination. An intentional or unintentional act that adversely treats or impacts an individual in a protected category in employment, or in academic or non-academic decision making based on the protected category.
(3) Unlawful harassment. Includes intimidation, ridicule or insults that are sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by the University; creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working and/or learning environment; or otherwise adversely affects an individual’s work or learning opportunities, and is based on an individual’s race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, genetic information, age, military status, identity as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era, recently separated veteran, or other protected veteran.
(4) Hostile environment. An hostile environment may be created by oral, written, graphic or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the university’s academic, student, residential, or employment programs or activities and is based on a protected class.
(5) Unlawful conduct. Unlawful verbal or physical conduct may include, but is not limited to, comments focused on physical features, taunts, epithets/slurs, defacing property and/or items that demonstrate hostility to a person’s protected class.
(6) Race/color/national origin/ancestry unlawful discrimination and harassment.
(a) Race and color. State and federal law prohibit discrimination on the basis of race or color. Race or color discrimination is defined as unlawful treatment of an individual based on characteristics associated with race.
(b) Racial harassment is defined as any verbal or physical behavior or conduct that has the purpose or effect of:
(i) Creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational or university living environment;
(ii) Interfering with an individual’s or group’s educational experience, employment, university living environment, personal safety or participation in university sponsored activity; or
(iii) Threatening an individual’s or multiple individual’s employment or academic opportunities.
(c) National origin/ancestry. National origin or ancestry discrimination is defined as unlawful treatment of an individual based on birthplace, ancestry, culture, or linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group or national origin.
(7) Gender discrimination and harassment
(a) Gender. State and federal law prohibit
s unlawful discrimination based on gender or sex. Both men and women are protected from discrimination. Gender discrimination includes, but is not limited to, discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and disability due to pregnancy, non-conformance to gender stereotypes, and discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender identity.
(b) Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as:
(i) Unfavorable or unwelcome treatment; and
(ii) Made without consent; and
(iii) Is severe or pervasive; and
(iv) Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance; or
(v) Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, academic, or university environment.
(vi) Sexual harassment includes sexual exploitation and sexual misconduct, and is further defined in rule 3342-5-16.2 of the Administrative Code.
(8) Religious discrimination and harassment. State and federal law prohibit
s unlawful discrimination on the basis of religion, and require s reasonable accommodation for religious practices, unless to do so would cause “undue hardship” on the conduct of business. Religion is broadly defined to include all aspects of religious observance, practice and belief.
(a) The religious beliefs must be sincere to the person seeking protection.
(b) Conduct including, but not limited to, insistence, either implicitly or explicitly, that an individual participate in or not participate in religious activities or hold or not hold particular religious views, may constitute religious harassment.
(9) Disability discrimination and harassment
(a) The Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAA), sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code prohibit unlawful discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This includes individuals who:
(i) Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities;
(ii) Have a record of such an impairment; or
(iii) Are regarded as having such an impairment.
(b) Federal law requires making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability unless to do so would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the business.
(10) Age Discrimination and harassment
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as well as Chapter 4112, of the Revised Code, prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of age with respect to individuals who are at least forty years of age.
(11) Sexual Orientation discrimination and harassment
(a) Kent state university policy prohibits unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation. This includes gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals.
(b) Sexual orientation harassment is defined as any verbal or physical behavior or conduct that has the purpose or effect of:
(i) Creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational or university-based living environment;
(ii) Interfering with an individual’s or multiple individual’s employment or academic opportunities.
(iii) Limiting an individual’s access to employment, admission, academic success, or university activities and facilities because of the individual’s sexual orientation.
The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 prohibits unlawful discrimination and requires affirmative action in all employment practices for special disabled veterans and Vietnam era veterans.
(13) Military status.
Federal and state law prohibit
sunlawful discrimination on the basis of military status in employment decisions. Military status includes active duty, active duty for training, initial active duty for training, inactive duty for training, full-time national guard duty and performances of duty or training by a member of the Ohio organized militia.
(14) Genetic information
Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, (GINA) protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on genetic information in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment. GINA also restricts employers' acquisition of genetic information and strictly limits disclosure of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about genetic tests of applicants, employees, or their family members; the manifestation of diseases or disorders in family members (family medical history); and requests for or receipt of genetic services by applicants, employees, or their family members.
(1) The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action and/or the Title IX coordinator (when applicable) is responsible for administering this policy.
(2) To determine the most appropriate complaint and resolution process, anyone who believes that unlawful harassment or discrimination has occurred may contact their immediate supervisor and/or one of the following university offices: the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action, employee relations, dean of students, student ombuds, the student multicultural center, the division of diversity, equity and inclusion, the women’s center, the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, or an appropriate university employee. Anyone who feels physically threatened or has been physically harmed should immediately contact the appropriate law enforcement agency. All offices receiving complaints must notify the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action, or when applicable, the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator, per rules 3342-5-16.1 and 3342-5-16.2 of the Administrative Code.
(3) A violation of this policy should be reported as soon as possible after an incident occurs so appropriate action can be taken according to university policy.
(4) The confidentiality of all parties will be honored to the extent legally protected and which provides for an appropriate investigation. Persons seeking information or guidance concerning potential discrimination or harassment allegations are advised that the university may take action once it is informed of an allegation whether or not the person wants to pursue a complaint. However, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires the university investigate all allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. The administrative investigation, addressed in rule 3342-5-16.2 of the Administrative Code, is separate from any other investigations, including investigations by law enforcement.
(1) It is a violation of this policy and federal and state laws for anyone to engage in unlawful discrimination and/or harassment as defined in paragraph (C) of this rule.
(2) The university is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and harassment, wherever they occur in the university community, by taking corrective action as a result of violations of this policy. Violations may lead to disciplinary action which may include separation from the university.
(3) Retaliation against persons who file complaints or cooperate with the investigation of a complaint of discrimination or harassment is a violation of this policy as well as the law, and is strictly prohibited. Overt or covert acts of reprisal, interference, restraint, penalty or intimidation against any person for exercising rights under this policy will be subject to appropriate and prompt disciplinary and remedial action.
(4) If the office of equal opportunity/affirmative action determines that a complainant intentionally falsely accused another of harassment, appropriate sanctions will be recommended against the complainant.
If it is found that an individual’s conduct violates this policy, sanctions will be recommended. Action may include, but is not limited to, counseling, training, oral or written warning, no-contact orders, transfer, suspension, termination or expulsion. The degree of action may be determined based on the intent and outcome of the behavior. Sanctions shall be based on the nature and severity of the offense and the extent of the findings. Any processes and sanctions will be in accordance with the provisions of the appropriate collective bargaining agreement, student conduct code, employee disciplinary procedure, or other appropriate university policy, and will be provided in writing to both the respondent and complainant.
(1) The office of equal opportunity/affirmative action, or the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators (when applicable) are responsible for administering this policy.
(2) It is expected that all members of the university community share the responsibility for non-discrimination and harassment prevention and report all instances of discrimination or harassment (rules 3342-5-16.1 and 3342-5-16.2 of the Administrative Code).
Effective: March 1, 2015
Prior Effective Dates: 4/5/1982, 11/22/1985, 12/29/1986, 5/4/1991, 6/29/1992, 4/21/2003, 2/10/2005, 6/1/2007, 3/5/2008, 2/25/2009, 6/25/2010, 6/20/2012, 6/13/2014