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Non-Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy

MassArt commits to the valuing of human dignity, and to the appreciation of the necessity of providing all members of the community an experience that equips them to relate to all persons and groups in the increasingly global and diverse world in which we all live and work. This policy applies to all members of the campus communities, including, but not limited to, students, faculty, librarians, staff, visitors, contractors and applicants for employment or admission. The policy also applies to off-campus conduct that negatively affects a community member’s experience in the college environment.

MassArt does not unlawfully discriminate in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital or parental status, or veteran status. MassArt prohibits unlawful discrimination or discriminatory harassment on all of those bases. Such behaviors that violate this Policy, will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion.

This Policy reaffirms the values of civility, 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. Anyone with questions, concerns or complaints regarding discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation may contact the Chief Diversity Officer.

Reporting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

No member of the MassArt community, including a faculty member, can ignore a report of discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation. They should provide the reporter as much assistance in bringing it to the attention of the Chief Diversity Officer as is reasonably appropriate given their position at the college and relationship with the reporter.

Any trustee, administrator, department chair, program coordinator, manager or supervisor who receives such a complaint from a student or other member of the MassArt community is obligated to report the complaint to the Chief Diversity Officer as soon as they becomes aware of it. Likewise, members of the campus community are encouraged to report any conduct of which they have direct knowledge and which they in good faith believe constitutes discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation in violation of this Policy.

Any member of the community who has a question about their responsibilities under this Policy should contact the Chief Diversity Officer

Helpful Definitions 

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 (facially neutral practices that fall more harshly on one group than another and cannot be justified by business necessity) or disparate treatment (treatment of an individual that is less favorable than treatment of others based on discriminatory reasons). A single act of discrimination may be based on more than one protected class status.

Examples of discrimination, all of which are prohibited by this Policy, include, but are not limited to:

  • Differences in terms, conditions and privileges of employment (including, but not limited to hiring, promotion, reassignment, termination, salary, salary increases, discipline, granting of tenure, selection for awards, etc.) on a prohibited basis.
  • Unlawful disparity of treatment in educational programs and related support services on the basis of membership in a protected class.
  • Developing position descriptions or qualifications, which, without lawful justification, are so specific as to have a disparate exclusionary impact on a group of individuals because of their membership in a protected class.
  • Limiting access to housing, or participation in athletic, social, cultural or other activities to students because of membership in a protected class not based on a bona fide requirement or distinction.
  • Classifying a position or positions as unsuitable for persons of certain religions.
  • Advising students of similar interests and backgrounds differently because of their gender or gender identity.
  • Placing unreasonable expectations upon students of particular races or national origins on the basis of stereotyped assumptions that members of those protected classes have a better aptitude for certain academic subjects than students not of those races or national origins.
Discriminatory Harrassment

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 educational opportunities; or
  • otherwise unreasonably adversely affects an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

Reasonable directions or warnings by authorized personnel as to the time, place and manner in which employees perform their assigned responsibilities, students carry out their educational assignments or program participants engage in sponsored activities do not constitute evidence of discriminatory harassment under this Policy.

For purposes of this Plan, unwelcome conduct constitutes hostile environment harassment when: it is targeted against a person on the basis of their membership in a protected class; AND/OR

  • it is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive;
  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education;
  • submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual.

The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” is based on the totality of the circumstances. These could include the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or humiliating. Simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to hostile environment harassment under this Plan.

Conduct that is not based on a person’s membership in a protected class is not considered hostile under this Plan.

Examples of discriminatory harassment, all of which are prohibited by this Policy, include, but are not limited to:

  • Physically harassing another individual or group because of that person’s or persons’ membership in a protected class by assaulting, touching, patting, pinching, grabbing, staring, leering at them, making lewd gestures, invading their personal space, blocking their normal movement, or other physical interference.
  • Encouraging others to physically or verbally abuse an individual (or group of individuals) because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
  • Threatening to harm an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
  • Directing epithets, slurs, derogatory comments, unwelcome jokes or stories at an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
  • Displaying hostile, derogatory and/or intimidating symbols/objects, such as offensive posters, cartoons, bulletins, drawings, photographs, magazines, written articles or stories, screen savers, or electronic communications, to an individual or group because of that person or persons’ membership in a protected class.
Retaliation

Taking adverse employment or educational action against a person who: (a) files claims, complaints or charges under this Plan, or under applicable local, state or federal statute; (2) is suspected of having filed such claims, complaints or charges; (3) has assisted or participated in an investigation or resolution of such claims, complaints or charges; or, (4) has protested practices alleged to be violative of the non-discrimination policies of the University, the BHE, 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 Plan as proved discrimination under the original claim, complaint or charge.

Examples of retaliation, all of which are prohibited by this Policy, include, but are not limited to:

  • Terminating an employee for stating an intention to file a complaint of discrimination or for assisting another employee in filing a discrimination complaint.
  • Refusing to hire an employee because employee pursued an age discrimination charge against a former employer.
  • Denying a promotion to an employee for complaining about alleged sexual orientation harassment.
  • Refusing tenure to a faculty member for filing a complaint of sexual harassment pursuant to the Complaint Investigation and Resolution Procedures.
  • Issuing an unjustified negative evaluation to an employee for testifying in a legal proceeding concerning a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
  • Assigning a student an unearned poor grade for requesting a reasonable academic accommodation based on religion.
  • Assigning a student an unearned failing grade for cooperating with an internal investigation of alleged discriminatory practices or a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
  • Refusing to admit a student for requesting a reasonable accommodation based on disability in the admission process.

For more information about MassArt’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy and for more examples of discrimination, discriminatory harassment and retaliation, please visit the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan, page 10.