Rice University is committed to a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that promotes equal employment opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment. Therefore, Rice expects that all relationships among persons in the office will be businesslike and free of bias, prejudice and harassment. To learn more access the Rice University General Policy No. 815, Equal Opportunity/Non-discrimination/Affirmative Action Policy.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Retaliation is Also Prohibited
Rice encourages reporting of all perceived incidents of discrimination or
harassment. It is the policy of Rice to investigate such reports. Rice
prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination or
harassment or participates in an investigation of such reports.
Definitions of Harassment
1. Sexual harassment constitutes discrimination and is illegal under
federal, state and local laws. For the purposes of this policy, sexual
harassment is defined, as in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Guidelines, as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other
verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when, for example: (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. To see Rice’s Sexual
Harassment Policy, click here.
2. Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle
and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or
different gender. Depending on the circumstances, these behaviors may include,
but are not limited to: unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors;
sexual jokes and innuendo; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an
individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering, whistling or
touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; display in the workplace
of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; and other physical, verbal or
visual conduct of a sexual nature.
3. Harassment on the basis of any other protected
characteristic is also strictly prohibited. Under this policy, harassment is
verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion
toward an individual because of his /her race, color, religion, sex, sexual
orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, citizenship or
any other characteristic protected by law or that of his/her relatives, friends
or associates, and that: (i) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating,
hostile or offensive work environment; (ii) has the purpose or effect of
unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or (iii)
otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.
4. Harassing conduct includes, but is not limited
to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or
hostile acts; denigrating jokes; and written or graphic material that
denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group and
that is placed on walls or elsewhere on the employer’s premises or circulated
in the workplace.
Individuals and Conduct Covered
These policies apply to all applicants and employees, whether related to
conduct engaged in by fellow employees or someone not directly connected to
Rice (e.g., an outside vendor, consultant or customer). Conduct prohibited by
these policies is unacceptable in the workplace and in any work-related setting
outside the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings and
business-related social events.
Reporting an Incident of Harassment,
Discrimination or Retaliation
Rice encourages reporting of all perceived incidents of discrimination,
harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position.
Individuals who believe that they have been the victim of such conduct should
discuss their concerns with their immediate supervisor, their division
director, vice president or dean, the director of Affirmative Action/Equal
Employment Opportunity, Vice President of Human Resources or Employee
Relations. Please refer to Rice University Human Resources Policy No. 830
for additional information.
In addition, Rice encourages individuals who believe they are being
subjected to such conduct to promptly advise the offender that his or her
behavior is unwelcome and request that it be discontinued. Often this action
alone will resolve the problem. Rice recognizes, however, that an individual
may prefer to pursue the matter through informal or formal complaint
An individual reporting harassment,
discrimination or retaliation should be aware, however, that Rice may decide it
is necessary to take action to address such conduct beyond an informal
discussion. This decision will be discussed with the individual. The best
course of action in any case will depend on many factors and, therefore, the
informal procedure will remain flexible. Moreover, the informal procedure is
not a required first step for the reporting individual.
As noted above, individuals who believe they have been the victims of
conduct prohibited by this policy statement or believe they have witnessed such
conduct should discuss their concerns with the director of AA/EEO, Human
Resources, their immediate supervisor, director, vice president or dean.
Rice encourages the prompt reporting of
complaints or concerns so that rapid and constructive action can be taken
before relationships become irreparably strained. Therefore, while no fixed
reporting period has been established, early reporting and intervention have
proven to be the most effective method of resolving actual or perceived
incidents of harassment.
Any reported allegations of harassment,
discrimination or retaliation will be investigated promptly. The investigation
may include individual interviews with the parties involved and, where
necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may
have other relevant knowledge.
Confidentiality will be maintained throughout
the investigatory process to the extent consistent with adequate investigation
and appropriate corrective action. The investigation will only be discussed
with others on a need to know basis.
Retaliation against an individual for reporting
harassment or discrimination or for participating in an investigation of a
claim of harassment or discrimination is a serious violation of Rice policy
and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary
action. Acts of retaliation should be reported immediately and will be promptly
investigated and addressed.
Misconduct constituting harassment,
discrimination or retaliation will be dealt with appropriately. Responsive
action may include, for example, training, referral to counseling and/or
disciplinary action such as warning, reprimand, reassignment, suspension
without pay or termination, as Rice believes appropriate under the
If a party to a complaint does not agree with
its resolution, that party may appeal utilizing Problem Solving Policy No. 429.
False and malicious complaints of harassment, discrimination or retaliation as
opposed to complaints, which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, may be
the subject of appropriate disciplinary action.
Any employee who has any questions or concerns
about discrimination, harassment or retaliation should talk with the director
of AA/EEO at x4350 or the director of Employee Relations at x4755.
For further information regarding sexual harassment,
please review the following document: Sexual Harassment and Retaliation or visit the EEO/AA website.