AD91 Discrimination and Harassment and Related Inappropriate Conduct
Subject Matter Expert:
Policy Steward:Vice President for Administration>
To establish the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment in all forms, and retaliation related to reports of such conduct. This policy specifically prohibits discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, genetic information or political ideas.
This policy is a companion to University Policy AD85, which sets forth the University’s policy on sexual harassment under Title IX. The new Title IX regulations, effective August 14, 2020, and addressed in University Policy AD85, defines Sexual Harassment as: (1) quid pro quo (“this for that”) behavior; (2) unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity; and (3) Clery Act crimes, including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking (commonly known as Violence Against Women Act or VAWA crimes). In addition, the conduct must have occurred within the United States, either on Penn State property or off campus in a Penn State-sanctioned educational program or activity, which includes only those locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercises substantial control over both the accused and the context in which the sexual harassment occurs.
Reports or formal complaints of sexual harassment that fall outside the guidelines of the new Title IX regulations will be addressed under this Policy, in addition to gender-based discrimination and harassment, and related inappropriate conduct. For resources and reporting information on Title IX sexual harassment, please refer to Policy AD85.
The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated.
This policy shall not be construed to restrict academic freedom at the University, nor shall it be construed to restrict constitutionally protected expression.
Conduct prohibited by this policy may also violate applicable federal and state law. Additional information about how to pursue or report a violation of this policy, is set forth below.
Acts of Bias. Bias incidents refer to conduct that is in violation of a University policy, rule or regulation and is motivated by discriminatory bias against or hatred toward other individuals or groups based on characteristics such as age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, genetic information, national origin, political belief, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation gender identity or veteran status.
Bias incidents may violate the Student Conduct Code, and other University policies or laws, while some acts of bias may be considered protected speech or expression. Penn State protects free expression of ideas, even if they are unpopular, because this is vital in promoting learning in an educational setting. Freedom of speech can sometimes protect controversial ideas and sometimes even offensive and hurtful language; however, it does not protect personal threats, discriminatory conduct or other acts of misconduct that violate the Student Code of Conduct, other University policies or relevant federal, state and local laws.
Discrimination is conduct of any nature that denies an individual the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or living environment, because of the individual’s age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, genetic information or political ideas.
Gender-based harassment is verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostile conduct based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities. For example, persistent disparagement of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity or exclusion from an activity based on sexual orientation or gender identity also may violate this Policy.
Harassment means behavior consisting of physical or verbal conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it substantially interferes with an individual’s employment, education or access to University programs, activities or opportunities and would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances. Harassment may include, but is not limited to, verbal or physical attacks, graphic or written statements, threats, or slurs. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited Harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs and the status of the individuals involved.
Retaliation, as defined in University Policy AD67, is also prohibited by this policy and may subject the individual who retaliates in violation of this or other University policy to discipline or sanctions.
Sex-based harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo); or (2) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment).
Information regarding issues of sex-based harassment specifically, including definitions and information about the University’s procedures for reporting and processing such incidents, can be found in University Policy AD85. After an initial assessment of the facts, the Title IX Coordinator will determine if the alleged Prohibited Conduct falls under the guidelines of Title IX (Policy AD85). If not, the case will be managed subject to the procedures set forth in this Policy.
The University encourages anyone who becomes aware of possible Prohibited Conduct to immediately report such Prohibited Conduct to the appropriate individuals or offices, as set forth below.
If there is any danger to person or property, individuals are strongly encouraged to first report the incident to the applicable police or public safety department.
Sex and gender-based harassment should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator via one of the following methods:
- Fill out the form on the Title IX website
- Contact the Title IX Coordinator directly, via telephone or email:
Christopher Harris, Title IX Coordinator
328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-0471
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
All other forms of potential discrimination should be reported as follows:
|For Conduct Committed by||Report To||Contact Information|
|Students or Student Organizations||Office of Student Conduct||(814) 863-0342
|Employees or third parties||Affirmative Action Office
Office of Human Resources, Employee Relations Division
Office of Ethics and Compliance
|(814) 863-0471, firstname.lastname@example.org
(814) 867-5088, email@example.com
|Students, employees, or third parties affiliated with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics||Robert Boland, Athletics Integrity Officer||(814) 865-0722
|Students, employees, or third-parties at the Penn State College of Medicine||Kim Lantz Yoder, Equity Officer and Deputy Title IX Coordinator||(717) 531-0003, ext. 283353
Anyone may make an anonymous report of Prohibited Conduct by contacting the Ethics and Compliance Hotline at 1-800-560-1637.
The University is committed to its long-standing tradition of academic freedom and free expression. The University is an institution whose members may express themselves, while protecting and respecting the rights of others to learn, to do research, and to carry out the essential functions of the University free from interference or obstruction. When addressing complaints of violations of this policy, the University will take all permissible actions to respond appropriately while respecting the rights of free expression and academic freedom. See AC64, AD47 and AD51.
The University encourages all individuals with a pertinent complaint to follow the process in this Policy. However, individuals may always choose to make a discrimination complaint directly with outside agencies, including, but not limited to, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education based in Philadelphia, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Harrisburg Regional Office. Contact information for these agencies can be found at the Affirmative Action Office website.
EMPLOYEE and THIRD-PARTY PROCEDURES FOR REPORTS OF NON-TITLE IX SEXUAL AND GENDER HARASSMENT AND OTHER FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
The procedures for assessment, investigation, determination and appeal of non-Title IX reports of sexual and gender-based harassment and other forms of discrimination filed against employees and third parties are located on the Affirmative Action Office’s website.
STUDENT PROCEEDINGS FOR REPORTS OF NON-TITLE IX SEXUAL AND GENDER HARASSMENT AND OTHER FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
The procedures for assessment, investigation, determination and appeal of non-Title IX reports of sexual and gender-based harassment and other forms of discrimination filed against students are located in the Code of Conduct & Student Conduct Procedures Manual.
Against Students: Disciplinary sanctions for student violations of this policy will be imposed in accordance with the “Code of Conduct & Student Conduct Procedures Manual." Sanctions range from conduct conversation, conduct warning, conduct probation, conduct suspension, and indefinite expulsion, and permanent expulsion. In addition, possible secondary administrative sanctions may include housing review, room reassignment, loss of housing, and loss of privilege. The University reserves the right to impose other sanctions in addition to those listed above in response to a specific circumstances of a case.
Against Employees: Disciplinary sanctions for employee violations of this policy, which may range from a disciplinary warning to termination from the University, will be imposed in accordance with applicable University policies. Disciplinary sanctions may include one or more of the following measures:
- Termination from the University
- Unpaid suspension
- Restrictions from all or portions of campus
- Change in working facility
- Mandated education
- Written reprimand in personnel file
- Removal from classroom teaching
- Tenure revocation
- Withhold salary increase (from one to several years)
- Removal of endowed chair
- Removal of emeritus status
- Removal of graduate school status
- Termination of research project funding
- Removal from administrative position
For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.
AC64 - Academic Freedom
AD47 - General Standards of Professional Ethics
AD51 - Use of Outdoor Areas for Expressive Activities
AD67 - Disclosure of Wrongful Conduct and Protection From Retaliation
AD85 - Sexual And/or Gender-Based Harassment and Misconduct (Including Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Related Inappropriate Conduct) (Formerly Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Related Inappropriate Conduct)
Most Recent Changes:
- June 21, 2021 - Editorial changes. Changed Proceedings to Procedures in title: Employee and Third-Party Procedures for Reports of Non-Title IX Sexual and Gender Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination. Updated link in this same section.
Revision History (and effective dates):
- February 11, 2021 - Editorial changes. Reference to HR64 changed to AC64.
- December 7, 2020 - Updated link to Affirmative Action website in Cross References section.
- August 14, 2020 - Editorial changes to reflect language required by new Title IX regulations.
- August 24, 2018 - Editorial changes to update personnel information for the Title IX Coordinator and the Athletics Integrity Officer.
May 14, 2018 - Editorial changes to update hyperlinks.
August 22, 2017 - Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinator personnel changes.
- September 29, 2016- New Policy. Verbiage addressing general discrimination and harrassment and related inappropriate conduct has been moved from AD85 to create this new policy.
Date Approved:August 14, 2020>
Date Published:August 14, 2020>