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Office of General Counsel

Nondiscrimination and Harassment Policy

Following is Merrimack College’s official Nondiscrimination and Harassment Policy and Equal Opportunity Notice.

I. Introduction

It is the goal of Merrimack College to promote a workplace that is free of discriminatory harassment of any type, including sxexual harassment. Discriminatory harassment consists of unwelcome conduct, whether verbal or physical, that is based on a characteristic protected by law. Harassment occurring in the workplace or in other employment settings is unlawful and will not be tolerated by this organization. Any retaliation against an individual who has complained about harassment or retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated. This policy outlines the process and procedures for handling inappropriate conduct and/or complaints of harassment.

Because Merrimack College takes allegations of harassment seriously, we will respond promptly to complaints of harassment. When it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such disciplinary action as necessary, up to and including termination of employment.

Please note that while this policy outlines our goal of promoting a workplace that is free of harassment, the policy is not designed or intended to limit our authority to discipline or take remedial action for workplace conduct which we deem unacceptable, regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the definition of harassment.

II. Definitions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides the following definitions:

Harassment means unwelcome conduct, whether verbal or physical, that is based on a characteristic protected by law. Harassment includes, but is not limited to 1) displaying or circulation of written materials or pictures that are degrading to a person or group as previously described, 2) verbal abuse, slurs, derogatory comments or insults about, directed at or made in the presence of an individual or group as previously described.

Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or 3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working 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 definition of sexual harassment is broad. In addition to the above examples, other unwelcome sexually oriented conduct, whether intended or not, that has the effect of creating a work environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating or humiliating to either male or female workers may also constitute sexual harassment.

While it is not possible to list all those additional circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct, which, 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 they involve physical touching or not.
  • Sexual epithets; jokes; written or oral references to sexual conduct; gossip regarding one’s sex life; comment on an individual’s body; comment 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, and retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint, is unlawful and will not be tolerated by this organization.

III. Complaint Procedures

If any of our employees believe that he or she has been subjected to discriminatory harassment, the employee has the right to file a complaint with our organization. This may be done verbally or in writing.

If you would like to file a complaint, you may do so by contacting the director of human resources at ext. 5157 and/or the vice president for administration at ext. 5131.

Merrimack College is firmly committed to the principle and practice of Equal Employment Opportunity in its community. Every employee and student is entitled to work and/or study in an environment free of discrimination, where employment and study is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications. The college prohibits discrimination of any kind. Discrimination constitutes a serious infraction of college policy, as well as a violation of state and federal law. Any member of the Merrimack College community who discriminates against, excludes, degrades or otherwise devalues another on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, sex, age, mental or physical disability, alienage or citizenship status, marital status, creed, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity (or gender expression), or any other lawfully protected characteristic, will be disciplined accordingly, up to and including dismissal.

It is the policy of Merrimack College to administer all decisions without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, alienage or citizenship status, marital status, creed, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity (or gender expression) or any other lawfully protected category.

The Office of Human Resources has overall responsibility for this policy and maintains reporting and monitoring procedures involving employees of the college. 

For students, the Office of Mission and Student Affairs has responsibility and maintains reporting and monitoring procedures.  Any questions or concerns should be referred to those offices.

Zero Tolerance: Sexual harassment and harassment based upon any protected characteristic, are unlawful and will not be tolerated by the college. Any retaliation against an individual who has complained about harassment or retaliation against individuals for cooperating in an investigation of a harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated. This policy applies to every member of the Merrimack College community, including faculty, staff, administrators, students, student employees, contractors, vendors, visitors, guests and other third parties. Any individual who violates this policy will be disciplined up to and including dismissal or removal from campus.

Merrimack has an obligation to address incidents of sexual harassment that it knows or should know about, even when a complaint or report is not filed, and to respond to all complaints, reports and other incidents of sexual harassment it knows or should know about.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct that is sexual or based on gender if that conduct could reasonably offend another reasonable, similarly situated person, whether or not such conduct was intended to offend.

Examples of sexual harassment can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Verbal harassment, including jokes, comments or threats relating to sexual activity, body parts or other matters of a sexual nature.
  • Nonverbal harassment, including staring at a person’s body in a sexually suggestive manner, sexually related gestures or motions and/or circulating sexually suggestive material.
  • Physical conduct, including grabbing, hugging, kissing, tickling, massaging, displaying private body parts, unnecessary touching or other unwelcome physical conduct.
  • An employment decision (including promotion, demotion, compensation, scheduling) made by a supervisor based on the employee’s submission to or rejection of sexual conduct; or an academic decision by a faculty member based on a student’s submission to or rejection of sexual conduct.
  • A discretionary decision of a student in a position of power (resident adviser, elected official) based on sex or submission to a sexual act.
  • Submission to sexual conduct as an implicit or explicit condition of employment or academic status.
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures or cartoons.
  • Conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to a person because of his/her gender and creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
  • Any other sexual conduct that unreasonably interferes with another person’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment or adversely affects another person’s employment or educational opportunities.

Merrimack College follows through on its commitment to nondiscrimination, in part, through the implementation of a Sexual Misconduct Policy that defines prohibited conduct and the process by which the college will address such conduct in different circumstances.

Sexual Misconduct Proceedings (Students): Allegations of sexual misconduct, dating violence and/or stalking involving students will be addressed within the Merrimack College student conduct system. Due to the sensitivity of these types of allegations, there are unique procedures that are used to facilitate the process. Violations will be jointly investigated by the director of community standards and the Merrimack College Police Department. Upon the completion of the investigation, the director of community standards and Merrimack College Police Department will summarize their findings and recommendations for resolution and maintain detailed records of each informal and formal complaint, including individuals involved, investigative steps taken, documentation received, individuals interviewed, decisions reached and reason(s) for decision(s) reached. The investigators will present their findings and recommendations to both the parties involved for their review. The parties involved will then have an opportunity to review the investigators’ findings in an administrative conference. The parties have the opportunity to agree to the recommendations of the investigators. If either of the parties does not agree with the recommendations of the investigators, the findings will be forwarded to a panel of the Student Conduct Board for an administrative hearing. Hearing boards convened to discuss allegations of sexual misconduct will adhere to the guidelines found in the Student Handbook.

Merrimack College also provides resources to its community as part of the college’s ongoing efforts to ensure an environment free of discrimination on the basis of sex.

Sexual Misconduct Proceedings (Employees): Upon receiving a complaint, an investigation will be promptly conducted by the director of human resources or other administrator or external delegate of the college. If it is determined that sexual harassment or other misconduct has occurred, Merrimack College will take immediate and appropriate corrective action including, but not limited to, disciplinary action against the offender ranging from a warning to termination. The director of human resources shall ensure that any action determined is carried out.

The Sexual Misconduct Policy applies to all Merrimack College community members, and all members of the Merrimack College community are responsible for being familiar with and abiding by the Sexual Misconduct Policy at all times. No college procedure or process can reverse or alter a factual finding, remedy or other decision made through the college’s sexual misconduct policy and procedures.

How to File an Internal Complaint: Any member of the college community, whether an employee, faculty, staff, contractor, administrator or student, who feels subjected to discrimination or harassment should immediately report it in writing, by telephone, in person or by any other means of communication to any supervisory employee at the director level or to any official of the college with whom they feel comfortable. You may also direct any complaints involving Merrimack College employees to Denice Baker, director of human resources (ext. 5231). For complaints involving students, you may direct your concerns to Fr. Ray Dlugos, vice president of mission and student affairs (ext. 5130); Nicholas I. McDonald, vice president and general counsel and interim Title IX coordinator (ext. 3597); Allison Gill, deputy Title IX coordinator (ext. 5174).

Complaint Investigation

When we receive the complaint, we will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner to determine whether there has been a violation of our policy. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. Our investigation will include private interviews with the person filing the complaint and with witnesses. We will also interview the person alleged to have committed harassment. When we have completed our investigation, we will, to the extent appropriate, inform the person filing the complaint and the person alleged to have committed the conduct of the results of that investigation.

Disciplinary Action

If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and will take such action as is appropriate under the circumstances. Such action may range from counseling to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

State and Federal Remedies

In addition to our complaint process, if you believe you have been subjected to discriminatory harassment of any type, including sexual harassment, you may file a formal complaint with one or both of the government agencies listed below. Using our complaint process does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies requires that claims be filed within 300 days from the date of the alleged incident.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
One Congress Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 565-3200

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)

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

New Bedford Office: 800 Purchase St., Room 501, New Bedford, MA 02740, (508) 990-2390.

Springfield Office: 424 Dwight St,, Room 220, Springfield, MA 01103, (413) 739-2145.

Worcester Office: Worcester City Hall, 455 Main St., Room 101, Worcester, MA 01608, (508) 799-8010.