Suffolk University does not tolerate any behavior by administrators, faculty, staff, or students which constitutes unlawful harassment of students on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, Vietnam-era or disabled veteran status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information or physical or mental disability regardless of whether the level of conduct rises to unlawful harassment or discrimination.

Such forms of harassment have been recognized as discriminatory and as such violate University policy as well as state and federal statutes. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. It is legally defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical or verbal conduct or written communication of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to, or rejection of, such advances, requests, or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or educational status or as a basis for employment or educational decisions; and/or
  • Such advances, requests, or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or sexually offensive work or educational 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. Direct or implied requests by a faculty member of a student for sexual favors in exchange for improved grades or favorable recommendations also constitute sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment incidents can involve a male harasser and a female victim, a female harasser and a male victim, and also same-sex harassment.

Some examples of sexual harassment include unwelcome sexual advances—regardless of whether they involve physical touching; sexual epithets; jokes; written or oral references to sexual conduct; gossip regarding one’s sex life; comments about an individual’s body; comments about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess; displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or cartoons; unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, or suggestive or insulting comments; inquiries into one’s sexual experiences; and discussion of one’s sexual activities.

All faculty, administrators, staff, and students are held accountable for compliance with this policy. All members of the Suffolk community should take special note that retaliation against an individual who has complained about unlawful discrimination or harassment, and retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment, is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the University.

The University has developed internal procedures that employees or students may use to file a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination or harassment. The procedure to be used by students in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Sawyer Business School is outlined in the following grievance procedure. In addition, an employee or student who believes that he/she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth next.

Using the University’s grievance process does not prohibit an employee or student from filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies has a time period for filing a claim: EEOC—300 days; MCAD—300 days.

  1. United States Equal Employment
    Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    JFK Federal Building, Room 475
    Government Center
    Boston, MA 02203
    617.565.3200
    1.800.669.4000
  2. Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
    Boston Office:
    1 Ashburton Place, Room 601
    Boston, MA 02108
    617.727.3990

    Springfield Office:
    424 Dwight Street, Room 220
    Springfield, MA 01103
    413.739.2145

Grievance Procedures for Students Claiming Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment, Including Sexual Harassment

Claims of harassment or discrimination are (1) claims of violation of the University’s non-discrimination policy, and (2) claims of violation of the University policy in opposition to harassment.

Ordinarily, grievances, if they occur, are best dealt with informally and are ideally resolved quickly. Any student who feels that he/she has been unlawfully harassed or discriminated against should, if he/she feels comfortable, attempt to resolve the situation through a discussion with the other party.

If that is not possible, the student should consult with the senior associate dean of students, or designee. The purpose of this consultation is multifold. The vice president for student affairs, or designee, will provide information and assistance to help the student resolve the problem independently, will help the student assess whether the behavior is harassing or discriminatory, will explain the University’s grievance procedure, and will provide guidance in the use of the formal grievance procedure.

Informal Grievance Procedure

The student may request that the senior associate dean of students, or designee, attempt to resolve the grievance informally. The request for an informal resolution must be made within 75 working days of the occurrence of the incident. If the student requests an informal resolution, the vice president for student affairs, or designee, will attempt to provide an informal resolution within 20 working days of receipt of the student’s request.

Formal Grievance Procedure

If the student requests a formal resolution, or if the grievance cannot be resolved informally within the stated time period, the following formal grievance procedure is used.

  1. Where to File a Formal Complaint?
    If the person alleged to be responsible for the alleged harassment or discriminatory
    activity is:
    1. A Faculty Member—File with the dean of the appropriate school
    2. An Administrator or Staff Member—File with the director of human resources
    3. A Student, a Work-study Student, or a Graduate Assistant—File with the senior associate dean of students
  2. What Should Be Filed?
    The grievance should be in writing, should summarize the alleged discrimination or harassment, should identify the person allegedly responsible for the discrimination or harassment, and should describe the resolution sought.
  3. When Should the Formal Grievance Be Filed?
    The grievance should be filed within 75 working days of the occurrence of the alleged incident. A filing time of 110 working days from the occurrence of the alleged incident is allowed for claims that were unresolved at the informal level.
  4. How Will the Formal Grievance Be Processed?
    1. If the person alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment is a student, the vice president for student affairs or her designee will investigate the allegation.
    2. If the person alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment is a faculty member, the dean or his or her designee will investigate the allegation.
    3. If the person alleged to be responsible for the discrimination or harassment is an administrator or staff member, the director of human resources or her designee will investigate the allegation.

      The allegation will be investigated in a fair and expeditious manner. It will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent possible under the circumstances. The investigation will include a private interview with the person filing the grievance, the person alleged to have committed the harassment or discrimination, and witnesses, if appropriate. When the investigation is complete, to the extent appropriate, the person filing the complaint and the person alleged to have committed the conduct will be informed of the results of the investigation. A confidential written record of the investigation, including all documentary materials, will be maintained in a private file in the office of the official charged with the investigation. The entire investigation will be completed within 20 working days from the date the written grievance was received by the person responsible for the investigation.

      If it is determined that discrimination or harassment has occurred, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. Such action may range from a warning or required counseling to termination of employment or dismissal.
  5. What Is the Appeal Process?
    If the student filing the grievance believes that the decision was substantially flawed by procedural error in the investigation or finds new information not known at the time of the investigation that is sufficient to alter the results of the investigation, he/she may request a review by the president, or designee. Likewise, if the complaint is brought against a student, if he/she believes that the decision was substantially flawed by procedural error in the investigation or finds new information not known at the time of the investigation that is sufficient to alter the results of the investigation, he/she may request a review by the president, or designee. The request for review by the president, or designee, must be made within 5 working days of receipt of the result of the investigation. The president, or designee, will review the written record and submit a written decision to both parties within 30 working days of receipt of the appeal.

Note: These procedures have been designed to provide a prompt resolution to a grievance. The steps in the procedures contain time limits measured in working days—the days when the administrative offices are regularly open for business. Weekends, holidays, snow days, and days when the University is closed for other reasons shall not be counted as working days. If the person investigating the complaint determines that additional working days are necessary to complete the investigation, he/she will notify the parties of the anticipated completion date of the investigation.

University Extensions and Work Addresses

The telephone extensions and work addresses for the people with whom a grievance may be
filed are:

  • Dr. Kenneth Greenberg
    Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
    617.573.8265
    Donahue Building, 1st floor
  • William O’Neill, Esq.
    Dean, Sawyer Business School
    617.573.8300
    73 Tremont Street, 12th floor
  • Camille Nelson, Esq.
    Dean, Law School
    617.573.8155
    Sargent Hall, 4th floor
  • Dr. Ann Coyne
    Senior Associate Dean of Students for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School
    617.573.8239
    73 Tremont Street, 12th floor
  • Laura Ferrari, Esq.
    Dean of Students for the Law School
    617.573.8157
    Sargent Hall, 4th floor
  • Director of Human Resources
    617.573.8415
    73 Tremont Street, 5th floor