SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Office of Diversity & Inclusion
Policy On Sexual Harassment
Colleges and universities have a dual responsibility in the prevention of sexual harassment. As employees, we must meet the obligations imposed by the 1980 guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In addition, institutions of higher education also must provide protection from and access to redress for sexual harassment against students, as recommended in Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments. SUNY Downstate Medical Center, as employer and as educator, remains committed to providing an environment free from harassment for its employees and students.
It is the policy of SUNY Downstate Medical Center (Downstate), in keeping with efforts to establish an environment in which the dignity and worth of all members of our community are respected, that sexual harassment of employees and students is unacceptable conduct and will not be tolerated. Sexual Harassment situations that are brought to management's attention will be dealt with immediately, and appropriate corrective action will be taken promptly. Sexual Harassment may involve the behavior of a person of the opposite or same sex, when that behavior falls within the definition outlined below.
Sexual harassment of employees and students at Downstate is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, as well as gender-based harassment that need not include sexual advances, when:
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or status as a student;
- submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for decisions affecting the employment or academic status of that individual; or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or educational experience, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment. A hostile environment is created by, but not limited to, discriminatory intimidation, ridicule or insult. It need not result in an economic loss to the affected person.
These guidelines define sexual harassment and recognize it as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are many types of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment. Some examples include, but are not limited to, demanding sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or raise, changing performance expectations after a subordinate refuses repeated requests for a date, comments about body parts or sex life, leering, offensive e-mail, off-color jokes, touching inappropriately, gestures, suggestive pictures, and/or personal gifts.
III. COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
Persons who feel that they have been sexually harassed under the definition described above and wish further information, or assistance in filing a complaint, should contact Downstate's Office of Diversity & Affirmative Action (ODI), at extension 1738, 151 East 34 Street, Room AF-103-H. Recipients of sexual harassment also have the option to contact the Office of Labor Relations at extension 1972 during regular business hours. Those persons who feel physically threatened or are the victims of a crime must contact University Police/Public Safety at extension 2626. Complaints will be kept confidential to the extent possible.
Filing a complaint internally does not preclude an employee or student from filing a complaint with the appropriate external agency. More information is available in the ODI.
For those who have a complaint concerning sexual harassment that they wish to make during off-hours (5:00 p.m. - 9:00 a.m.), the following procedures are available:
- For incidents that take place within University Hospital, employees or students or members of the public may contact University Police/Public Safety at extension 2626 to notify them of the complaint. A University Police/Public Safety Supervisor will arrange to take the complaint and will simultaneously notify the Hospital Administrator on Duty (AOD) or the Nursing Supervisor on Duty. The AOD or the Nursing Supervisor will have the responsibility to take any immediate steps that may be necessary to protect the complainant until the next business day, when the ODI initiates contact with the complainant. University Police/Public Safety and the AOD will transmit the information to ODI by hand by 9:00 a.m. the next business day.
- If, for any reason, the complainant chooses not to report the incident(s) to University Police/Public Safety (if, for example, the alleged harasser may be a member of that Department), then the complainant should call extension 2121, the Page Operator, and page the Hospital Administrator on Duty (AOD), or, in the AOD's absence, the Nursing Supervisor on Duty. The AOD or the Nursing Supervisor will respond by contacting the complainant, meeting with her/him and taking a brief statement.
In this instance, the AOD or the Nursing Supervisor will be solely responsible for an administrative response that protects the complainant until the ODI initiates contact with the complainant and has an opportunity to investigate. The AOD or the Nursing Supervisor will transmit the report to ODI at 9:00 a.m. the next business day.
- For incidents that occur outside University Hospital proper [for example, in the Basic Science Building or the Health Science Education Building, or a satellite clinic], persons should contact University Police/Public Safety at extension 2626 to report any complaint of sexual harassment. A University Police/Public Safety Supervisor will respond, take the complaint and have the responsibility to take any immediate steps that may be necessary to protect the complainant until the next business day, when ODI initiates contact with the complainant and has an opportunity to investigate. University Police/Public Safety will transmit the report to ODI at 9:00 a.m. the next business day.
- The person who believes that she/he has experienced sexual harassment may also leave a telephone message at extension 1738, the ODI, if the caller believes an administrative response to the report can wait until the next day. The caller should leave a clear message as to how to contact her/him the next morning. ODI will respond to the complaint during the next business day.
- The person who believes she/he has experienced sexual harassment is strongly encouraged to promptly give a written statement to ODI. This procedure provides a better opportunity to investigate and expeditiously remedy any misconduct.
- Retaliation of any kind will not be tolerated. This prohibition includes any retaliation against a person who has filed a complaint of sexual harassment as well as anyone who assists in an investigation or in good faith provides information on behalf of a party.
To effect this policy, every student and employee should consider it a civic and moral obligation to report knowledge of any illegal discrimination to the Office of Diversity & Affirmative Action.
Therefore, we strongly encourage students and employees to offer support to anyone who believes he or she is a recipient of illegal discrimination. Part of that support should consist of urging the person to report such an incident to the Office of Diversity & Affirmative Action, to one's supervisor, to Labor Relations or, if appropriate, to University Police/Public Safety.
Recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court make it clear that aggrieved persons may forfeit their opportunity to successfully litigate cases if they unreasonably fail to bring matters of discrimination to the attention of the in-house officer responsible for investigating those matters. SUNY Downstate Medical Center's Office of Diversity & Affirmative Action stands ready to thoroughly and objectively examine every formal complaint that is brought to its attention.