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Policy No: 2088
Responsible Office: Human Resources
Last Review Date: 03/17/2022
Next Required Review: 03/17/2027

Discrimination and Harassment

1. Purpose

Defines and sets forth the University’s zero tolerance of discrimination and harassment.

2. Applicability

This policy applies to all staff employees of the University, including the University General Division, and USA Health. Faculty utilize a separate discrimination and harassment policy and procedure (see section 7). 

3. Definitions

Discrimination:  The laws enforced by EEOC protect employees from employment discrimination when it involves: Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information.

Harassment:  The laws enforced by EEOC protect employees from employment discrimination when it involves: Harassment by managers, co-workers, or others in your workplace, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic information.

4. Policy Guidelines

4.1  Compliance with Federal Law

The University of South Alabama complies with all applicable laws prohibiting discrimination, including, as applicable:

    • Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
    • Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
    • Executive Order 11246;
    • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972;
    • Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Action of 1973;
    • the Vietnam Era Veterans Adjustment Assistance Act;
    • the Age Discrimination Act of 1975;
    • the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990;
    • the ADA Amendments Act of 2008;
    • the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.

Consistent with these laws and University policy, the university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other applicable legally protected basis in admission or access to, or treatment of employment in its programs and services.

Further, no otherwise qualified person with a disability, solely on the basis of such disability, will be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in the administration of any educational program or activity, including admission or access thereto, or in treatment of employment therein by the University of South Alabama.

Discrimination and/or harassment against individuals or groups based on a legally-protected status is against the law, and discrimination and/or harassment against individuals or groups based on same or any status herein discussed is inconsistent with University policy. All members of the University community (including students, faculty, staff, administrators, and visitors) must abide by this policy. University jurisdiction and discipline may attach to conduct which occurs on University premises, or at University related or sponsored activities, whether on or off University premises, or which adversely affects the University community and the pursuit of the objectives of the University.

4.2  Retaliation Prohibited

It is unlawful and against University policy to retaliate against or punish an individual for making a good faith report of discrimination or harassment which violates University policy, including sexual harassment and/or sexual violence, or participating in an investigation of such a complaint. Retaliation includes any action by an individual or group that would discourage a reasonable person or persons from such protected activity. An employee should report retaliation in violation of University policy to the Equal Employment Opportunity Investigator or the Assistant Vice President, Human Resources or your Division Head. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination or expulsion.

5. Procedures

5.1  How and When to Report:  Any employee who believes that he or she is or has been the subject of discrimination or harassment should report such conduct immediately.  A complaint relating to discrimination, or harassment based on any protected status, as defined by University policy, including sexual harassment or sexual violence, or retaliation related to such a complaint, may be filed with the EEO investigator in the Human Resources Office, the Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, or your Division Head. If possible, the complaint should be filed within 180 days of the most recent act. The longer the delay in reporting, the more difficult it is to investigate the complaint fairly and adequately and prevent the repetition of the offensive behavior.

All complaints will be given thorough consideration and appropriate action will be taken. Factors reviewed in determining whether harassment in violation of University policy has occurred include the frequency, severity, and context of the behavior and whether a reasonable person in a similar situation would find that the conduct, when taken as a whole, more likely than not is so pervasive or severe as to create a hostile or abusive work or learning environment. If the event is determined to be isolated or not severe enough to rise to the level of illegal harassment, but is nevertheless inappropriate for the work or learning environment, administrators and supervisors should take corrective action as necessary.

5.2  Good Faith Reporting:  All University employees are expected to act in good faith when making a complaint or participating in the investigation of a complaint. This applies to utilizing any complaint process provided by the University. The complaint process shall not be used to bring frivolous or malicious complaints against students, faculty, staff, administrators, or visitors. If the University determines a complaint has not been made in good faith, disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion may be taken against the person bringing the complaint. Refer to the Human Resources website at your Human Resources office for additional information.

5.3  Confidentiality:  To the extent possible, the confidentiality of all parties involved in a complaint investigation and proceedings related to a claim of discrimination or harassment based on a protected status as defined by University policy, including sexual harassment or sexual violence, will be observed to the extent that it does not interfere with the University’s ability to investigate the allegations, take corrective action, or comply with federal, state, or local laws. Consequently, the University cannot ensure complete confidentiality but will evaluate any request for confidentiality in the context of its responsibility to provide a safe, harassment free, and nondiscriminatory environment for all members of the University community. Information about individual complaints and their disposition is considered confidential and will be shared only as determined to be appropriate by the University or as required by law.

6. Enforcement

The University’s Human Resources department is responsible for implementing and enforcing this policy. Student Affairs is responsible for the same as may pertain to students, and Academic Affairs when regarding faculty.

Persons found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary actions – including, but not limited to – warning/reprimand, demotion, transfer, suspension, or termination or expulsion. Under certain circumstances, acts of harassment, sexual harassment and sexual violence may result in criminal and/or civil sanctions.

Staff employees with questions relating to the University’s discrimination and/or harassment policy should be directed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Investigator in the Human Resources Office.

7. Related Documents

7.1  Faculty Handbook (sections 1.5.2 & 1.5.3)

7.2  The Lowdown