Dear Johns Hopkins Community:

Based on recent changes to state and federal law, the University has made several updates to the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures (SMPP) and the Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures (DHPP) as of October 1, 2022.

On October 1, 2022, a new Maryland employment law broadened the state definitions of “harassment” and “sexual harassment” beyond existing standards in federal employment law, expanding the types of conduct that are now considered unlawful harassment in Maryland.  As a result, the University likewise broadened its definitions of Harassment” under the DHPP as well as its definitions of Non-Title IX Sexual Harassment and Non-Title IX Sex-Based Harassment under the SMPP.*  The previous Maryland and policy definitions required that conduct be severe or pervasive in order to constitute harassment; effective October 1, this requirement has been replaced with a lower standard referencing an “abusive or hostile” environment.  Although the Maryland law applies only to Maryland employees, the University will apply these broader definitions to all members of our community.

Also on October 1, 2022, the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Reauthorization Act of 2022 went into effect.  Among many other things, this law updates the definition of “domestic violence” to specifically reference patterns of coercive behavior, including verbal, psychological, economic and technological abuse.  The University has likewise updated its definition of Domestic Violence in the SMPP to reference these forms of abuse and to include VAWA’s new definitions of Economic Abuse and Technological Abuse.

You may recall that the Department of Education released proposed Title IX regulations in June 2022, setting in motion the “notice and comment” period required for federal rule-making.  The notice and comment period closed in September 2022, and the Department of Education is in the process of conducting its mandatory review of each of the 200,000+ public comments that were submitted.  Once this lengthy process is complete, the Department will publish the final Title IX regulations, including a specific date when these regulations will become effective.  There is no set time frame for the release or implementation of the final regulations, however we will update the community as we receive more information.

* The definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment remains the same as prescribed by federal law.