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Office of Institutional Equity

FAQs

  • How can I learn about the University’s policies for responding to discrimination and/or harassment?
    Johns Hopkins’ policies regarding discrimination and/or harassment are broadly guided by federal and state law. Discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or other legally protected characteristics are regulated by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and applicable state and local laws.

    There are several policies and procedures designed to protect members of the campus community from discrimination and/or harassment.

    Johns Hopkins University Anti-Harassment Policy
    Johns Hopkins University Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment Complaints

    The University’s process for addressing and responding to discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of sex, specifically, are regulated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

    Johns Hopkins University Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures
  • Whom can I consult for more information about the University’s policies on discrimination and/or harassment?
    The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) is a resource for information on discrimination and/or harassment policies and procedures at the University. For Title IX questions or concerns, OIE Assistant Vice Provost/Title IX Coordinator Joy Gaslevic can offer guidance with or without filing a formal complaint. You may contact her at titleixcoordinator@jhu.edu or 410-516-8075. The University may have an obligation to respond to information you share with OIE.
  • What are Johns Hopkins’s general principles on discrimination and/or harassment?
    Johns Hopkins University is committed to creating and maintaining an educational, working, and living environment free from discrimination and harassment. Any form of discrimination and/or harassment based on a protected characteristic, as defined by the JHU Anti-Harassment Policy is strictly prohibited. When the University becomes aware that a member of the University community may have been subjected to or affected by discriminatory and/or harassing behavior, the University will take prompt action to stop the discrimination and/or harassment. The course of action taken by the University, including any resulting disciplinary actions, will depend on the particular facts and circumstances involved.
  • What behaviors are prohibited under the Johns Hopkins Anti-Harassment Policy?
    The policy prohibits discrimination and/or harassment based on a protected characteristic. It also prohibits retaliation. Discrimination and harassment based on sex are also prohibited behaviors covered under the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.
  • What are protected characteristics?
    Protected characteristics are those personal traits, characteristics and/or beliefs that are defined by applicable law as protected from discrimination and/or harassment. They include sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other legally protected characteristics.
  • Does Johns Hopkins care about types of identity that are not protected characteristics?
    Johns Hopkins is committed to fostering an inclusive campus community in which all forms of identity are valued and all individuals feel welcome on campus. There can be forms of identity and life experiences, such as socioeconomic background, that are not protected by law. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly based on an identity characteristic not included in the list of protected characteristics, consult the Office of Institutional Equity for advice.
  • What is discrimination according to Johns Hopkins’ policies?

    Discrimination is adverse treatment of an individual based on a protected characteristic, rather than individual merit. Examples of conduct that can constitute discrimination if based on an individual’s protected characteristic include but are not limited to:

    • Singling out or targeting an individual for different or less favorable treatment (e.g., more severe discipline, lower salary increase) because of their protected characteristic;
    • Failing or refusing to hire or admit an individual because of their protected characteristic;
    • Terminating an individual from employment or an educational program based on his/her protected characteristic.
  • What is harassment according to Johns Hopkins’ policies?
    General Harassment: Any type of behavior which is based on sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, that is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment. Harassment when directed at an individual because of sex, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, personal appearance, veteran status, or any other legally protected characteristic may include, but is not limited to: unwanted physical contact; use of epithets, inappropriate jokes, comments or innuendos; obscene or harassing telephone calls, e mails, letters, notes or other forms of communication; and, any conduct that may create a hostile working or academic environment.

    Sexual Harassment: Whether between people of different sexes or the same sex, sexual harassment is defined to include, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual violence and other behavior of a sexual nature when: a) submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or participation in an education program; b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for personnel decisions or for academic evaluation or advancement; or c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment. Examples of conduct that may, depending on the facts and circumstances, constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: making comments about someone’s appearance in a sexually suggestive way; staring at someone or making obscene gestures or noises; repeatedly asking someone on a date; stalking (including cyber stalking); “flashing” or exposing body parts; spreading sexual rumors; rating peers or colleagues with respect to sexual performance; non-consensual observation, photographing, or recording of sexual activity or nudity; non-consensual distribution or dissemination of photographs or recordings of sexual activity or nudity, including distribution or dissemination of photographs or recordings that were made consensually; allowing a third party to observe sexual activity without the consent of all parties; and prostituting or trafficking another person.
  • What is sex discrimination, and how does it relate to other policies about discrimination and/or harassment?
    Sex or gender discrimination, including sexual misconduct such as sexual harassment and sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence, is defined by and prohibited under the the Johns Hopkins Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.
  • What happens if I experience harassing behavior, but the other person says that it was unintentional, or a joke?
    Intent is not relevant in determining whether or not behavior is harassing. Regardless of intent, the behavior will be judged by its impact on the recipient, who can be the person directly affected or a third party who witnesses the behavior. In order to assess the impact of behavior, the University considers whether a reasonable person in similar circumstances would find the behavior sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with the educational experience, working conditions or living conditions by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
  • What is a “hostile environment?”
    The phrase “hostile environment” is often misunderstood. Hostile environment is a form of harassment under the law. It describes a situation created when unwelcome conduct based on a protected characteristic is sufficiently severe and/or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, offensive or disruptive educational or working environment for some members of the campus community. Determining hostile environment harassment is a fact-specific exercise, and not all circumstances rise to the level of the legal definition of hostile environment harassment.
    To be considered hostile environment harassment, the conduct or speech must be (1) unwelcome, (2) based on a protected characteristic, (3) severe and/or pervasive (recurring), and (4) unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational experience, working conditions, or living conditions. Persons offended by a hostile environment need not be direct recipients or targets of the offending behavior; they can be third parties who are close by, and behavior that is comfortable between direct participants may be unwelcome to others who cannot avoid observing it
    Conduct and speech is typically considered “hostile” when it goes beyond rudeness or casual joking and is intimidating, abusive, or offensive. Isolated incidents or petty slights, while problematic, are generally not sufficient to create a hostile environment. However, it is important to report seemingly minor conduct because it may signal climate issues that can create the circumstances which allow more problematic, harassing behavior to escalate. It is usually simpler to address minor conduct at an earlier point than to respond to a complaint of harassment through an investigation.
    In determining whether conduct or speech is a minor offense or constitutes hostile environment harassment, the following factors will be considered: the severity of the conduct, how often it occurred, how it impacted the individual making the complaint, and how a “reasonable person” would objectively characterize it under similar circumstances.
  • What is Retaliation?
    Retaliation is any attempt to seek retribution against an individual or group of individuals involved in filing a complaint or report, filing an external complaint, participating in a disciplinary process, or opposing in a reasonable manner an action believed to constitute a violation of University policy. Retaliation can take many forms, including abuse or violence, threats, and intimidation. Actions in response to a good faith report of discrimination or harassment are considered retaliatory if they have a materially adverse effect on the working, academic or University-controlled living environment of an individual, or if they hinder or prevent the individual from effectively carrying out their University responsibilities. Any individual or group of individuals can engage in retaliation.
    Retaliation against an individual who complains of discriminatory harassment is strictly prohibited.
  • Are “microaggressions” prohibited under Johns Hopkins’ policies?
    Microaggressions can be defined as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership” (Derald Wing Sue: Microaggressions in Everyday Life, 2010.) Microaggressions differ from overt, deliberate acts of discrimination because the people perpetrating microaggressions often are unaware they are causing harm. A pattern of microaggressive behavior nonetheless has the potential to constitute prohibited harassment if it is sufficiently severe and/or pervasive.
  • What role does the principle of freedom of expression play in determining whether discrimination and/or harassment have taken place?
    Behavior that constitutes discrimination or harassment under the policy is prohibited. There may be other instances, however, in which individuals express disagreeable or offensive ideas or opinions that do not constitute discrimination or harassment (typically because those ideas or opinions are not directed at another specific individual), but which are rather allowable under the principle of freedom of expression. In responding to complaints, the University considers the circumstances and works to assess the balance between eliminating discrimination and harassment while protecting freedom of expression.
    The University’s Statement on Academic Freedom, which can be found at http://web.jhu.edu/administration/provost/initiatives/academicfreedom/AcademicFreedomatJohnsHopkins.pdf and states: “Our university is committed to the steadfast protection of the right to academic freedom. This commitment emerges from the university’s time-honored role in the creation of knowledge and the sifting and winnowing of ideas. Without full and vigorous protection of this principle, the university’s capacity to discharge its hallowed mission would be compromised. However, academic freedom is not unbounded. As with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, on whose precepts it is based, academic freedom does not guarantee the right to defame or threaten, to deface or harass, or to incite violence or infringe on privacy. And reasonable and viewpoint-neutral rules for the time, place, and manner of expression are a legitimate way to ensure the orderly conduct of the university.”
  • If someone’s speech is deemed offensive or demeaning, but is not subject to discipline because it is protected as freedom of expression, does that mean the University can take no action?
    No. The University may take a variety of actions apart from discipline. For example, the University may call the individual in for a meeting with a Dean or supervisor, in order to explain the concern with the speech, expectations for campus interactions, and the impact the speech is having on others. The University also may sponsor debates or discussions on the topic, or offer awareness programs and trainings to the campus community, in whole or in part. The University may offer resources and support to those who have been offended.
  • I feel that I have experienced discrimination and/or harassment, or I believe that someone else has experienced discrimination and/or harassment. What are my options?
    You are encouraged to report all incidents of discrimination and/or harassment. When you feel that you have been subjected to discrimination and/or harassment or have observed discrimination and/or harassment of others, you have other options, including confidential counseling or filing a complaint with law enforcement. The University recognizes that deciding among these options can be difficult. Individuals are encouraged to seek assistance from a confidential resource before deciding how to proceed. Please see below a list of confidential resources:

    The Counseling Center
    The mission of the Counseling Center is to facilitate the personal growth and development of students. Our counseling services and outreach programs are designed to enhance the personal and interpersonal development of students and to maximize their potential to benefit from the academic environment and experience. We further strive to foster a healthy, caring University community that is beneficial to the intellectual, emotional and physical development of students.

    The Counseling Center serves full-time undergraduate and graduate students from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering at the Homewood Campus. We also serve the Peabody Conservatory. All of these students are encouraged to utilize the services offered by the Center. Counseling Center services are free.

    The Faculty & Staff Assistance Program
    The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) serves employees of the Johns Hopkins University. FASAP offers free, confidential, and professional support and makes referrals to community services and resources for longer-term care.

    The Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program (JHSAP)
    JHSAP provides counseling services to students of the following schools: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Carey Business School, Engineering for Professionals, School of Advanced International Studies, School of Education, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing. JHSAP services are free and confidential, and there is no limit to the number of times you may access services during your academic career. Your spouse, partner, or child may also access JHSAP services.

    Student Health and Wellness Center
    The SHWC provides high quality, confidential health care to students of the Homewood campus and Peabody community. 410-516-8270 (Available by phone 24/7)

    Campus Ministries
    Johns Hopkins University Campus Ministries promotes and supports spiritual development, theological reflections, religious tolerance and social awareness among students, faculty and staff within the university community. 410-516-1880 (Available M-F, 8:30am-5pm)

    University Health Services
    UHS provides medical and mental health services to Hopkins Public Health, Medicine and Nursing students, residents, fellows and trainees and their spouses/domestic partners. Health Services: 410-955-3250 (Available 7 days a week, 8am-5pm) Mental Health Services: 410-955-1892 (Available by phone 24/7. Press “0” to speak with the on-call psychiatrist in an emergency.)
  • Can I file a complaint against a student? Against a faculty member? Against a staff member?
    Yes, any member of the University community can make a complaint against any other member of the community.
  • Is there a “statute of limitations” on filing a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment?
    There is no “statute of limitations” or deadline for filing a complaint of discrimination and/or harassment. The University encourages prompt reporting of complaints because delayed reporting may limit the University’s ability to investigate and respond.
  • Will the information about alleged discrimination and/or harassment be confidential?
    Investigations will be conducted in a confidential manner to the greatest extent possible. However, the investigation of complaints may also require disclosure to the accused individual and to other witnesses for the purpose of gathering pertinent information. In such case, disclosures will be limited to the extent possible.
  • What if I want to remain anonymous?
    Anonymous complaints can be made through the Johns Hopkins Compliance Line. You can make a report by calling 1-844-SPEAK2US (1-844-773-2528) or submitting a report online.

    You may also make an anonymous complaint to OIE or to the JHU Sexual Assault Helpline at 410-516-7333.

    It can be difficult for the University to fully investigate anonymous complaints due to lack of information and inability to interact with the complainant. If an individual self-identifies but asks to remain anonymous during the investigation, the University will consider how to proceed, taking into account the individual’s wishes, the University’s commitment to provide a non-discriminatory environment, and the rights of other involved parties to have notice of the allegations.
  • What steps will Johns Hopkins take to support my well-being if I report a concern or an investigation is launched?
    When appropriate, prior to or during the investigation, the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, the Assistant Vice Provost/Title IX Coordinator or other University officials may assist with your living, academic, or working situation in order to protect the your safety and well-being and/or that of other members of the University community. The Vice Provost for Institutional Equity or other University officials can also take these steps even if you choose not to pursue a formal complaint, or the matter does not lend itself to investigation. Adjustments might include:
    • Access to counseling services
    • Rescheduling of exams and assignments
    • Change in class schedule, including the ability to transfer course sections or withdraw from a course
    • Change in work schedule or job assignment
    • Change in campus housing
    • Imposition of an on-campus “no contact order,” or other administrative remedies designed to curtail contact and communications between or more individuals.
  • I feel that I’ve experienced discrimination and/or harassment. How do I make a complaint?
    Contact the Office of Instutitonal Equity at 410.516.8075.
    •  
    A complaint can also be submitted to the Office of Institutional Equity online.
  • Who investigates complaints, and how are they trained?
    OIE investigates all complaints against students, faculty and staff.

    All individuals involved in investigating or adjudicating cases receive training in discrimination, harassment and compliance.

    The Office of Institutional Equity’s investigators have law degrees and experience investigating and resolving discrimination/harassment complaints.

    Investigators and adjudicators are also trained to conduct effective investigations, and to review information according to appropriate evidentiary standards.
  • I feel that I have experienced discrimination and/or harassment by someone who is not an employee or student. Do I have any options?
    Yes. The University’s ability to discipline an individual who is not an employee or student (such as a vendor or contractor) is limited by the degree of control, if any, that the University has over such individual. Nonetheless, the University will seek to take appropriate action in response to allegations of discrimination and/or harassment. That may include providing accomodations to you and speaking with the third-party regarding the issue.
  • I’ve had a singular experience that I think might be part of a broader pattern of problematic conduct by an individual or of problematic interactions within a unit. What should I do?
    If you have had a singular experience that would not meet the definition of discrimination or harassment but that could be part of a problematic pattern, you should inform the Office of Institutional Equity. OIE can consider the report and determine whether intervention is warranted.
  • I’ve had an experience that I don’t feel I need to report to anyone officially and would prefer to handle independently. What is the best way to do that?
    It can be hard to resolve problematic behavior independently if there is a power differential between the parties. How you prefer to handle an experience is your decision, however. If you change your mind, OIE is available as a resource irrespective of when in the process you choose to reach out for guidance or assistance.

    There are times when an issue or concern can be resolved by direct communication. If you feel comfortable, tell the offending party to stop the problematic behavior and document the conversation in writing. If the problematic behavior continues, consult the Office of Institutional Equity or a confidential resource about your options.

    If you feel that the problematic behavior may have been unintentional or uninformed (for example, based on unconscious bias or a stereotype), you can explain your concerns to the offending party and see if you can reach an understanding.
  • I want to file a discrimination and/or harassment complaint externally. How do I do that?
    In addition to or instead of filing an internal complaint, you may file a discrimination and/or harassment complaint with an external body, including a federal or state agency authorized to investigate such claims. The appropriate agency will depend on the status of the complainant and the nature of the complaint. Examples of such agencies include: the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education, the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, and the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights.

    The following resources can provide assitance to both students and employees of the University:

    EEOC Baltimore Field Office
    City Crescent Building
    10 S. Howard Street, Third Floor
    Baltimore, MD 21201
    1-800-669-4000 / (TTY) 1-800-669-6820
    https://www.eeoc.gov/field/baltimore

    Maryland Commission On Civil Rights
    6 St. Paul Street, Suite 900
    Baltimore, MD 21202-1631
    1-800-637-6247 / (TTY) 711
    http://mccr.maryland.gov

    U.S. Department of Education
    Office for Civil Rights
    Philadelphia Office
    The Wanamaker Building
    100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    215-656-8541
    OCR.Philadelphia@ed.gov
    http://ed.gov/ocr