HANDLING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
The University has established guidelines for addressing
and resolving complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment and
rape/sexual assault, which apply to sexual harassment complaints. These
guidelines address only the available University procedures, and do not
include other processes that may be available under federal, state, or
local law. The University guidelines are set forth below.
The purpose of this section is to clarify the
University's policy and procedures for responding to sexual harassment
and community members' options in the event an incident occurs. As
explained below, the University provides community members with two
types of resources: confidential counseling and reporting offices. Each
type is offered at several different locations within the University.
A community member may seek confidential counseling; opt
to make a report and seek informal resolution; file a complaint and
seek formal resolution; or pursue any combination of the three
foregoing options. Counseling is considered to be confidential and will
not, by itself, trigger further University action. Reports, on the
other hand, will be kept confidential only to the extent consistent
with the University's obligation to investigate and address complaints.
These points are explained in greater detail below. In addition, this
guidance lists the counseling and reporting offices of the University
available to community members.
Community members also are advised to refer to the
University's Sexual Harassment Policy, most recently republished in the
March 15, 2005 Almanac
(vol. 51, no. 24). The University's Acquaintance Rape and Sexual
Violence Policy is available online at http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osl/acqrape.html
II. University Resources
All members of the University community should be aware
of the many University resources available to victims of unlawful
discrimination or harassment or sexual assault. These are internal to
the University, and they fall into two categories: confidential
counselors and reporting offices. They are described below.
Community members also should be aware that similar
resources are available to all victims of unlawful discrimination or
harassment, not just sexual harassment. Discrimination or harassment on
the basis of race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation,
gender identity, or any other characteristic protected by applicable
law is against University policy.
- A. Confidential Counselors
Faculty, staff, and students who believe that they, or
someone they know, have been a victim of discrimination, harassment, or
rape/sexual assault may seek advice, counseling, or support from any of
the resources listed below. Conversations with these offices are
considered confidential, to the extent permitted by law. These offices
may provide support, information, options, and counseling. To protect
the confidential nature of these discussions, all parties should be
aware that discussing a matter with any of these offices is not
considered a report to the University or a request that any action be
taken by the University in response to any allegation.
Penn Women's Center
African American Resource Center
Special Services Unit, Department of Public Safety
Counseling and Psychological Services
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center
Student Health Services
Employee Assistance Program
Representatives of these offices, moreover, should
advise any person initiating the discussion that in order to trigger
University action or a response, the person must report the incident to
one of the reporting offices listed below. A confidential counselor may
also support the community member throughout any aspect of the
reporting processes described below.
In any case involving an allegation of rape/sexual
assault, the Special Services Unit, Department of Public Safety, should
always be involved. The Unit's role includes explaining options
available through the criminal process.
Any community member may seek advice from one of the
confidential counselors listed above. To seek redress, however, either
the community member or his or her confidential counselor (with the
individual's consent or upon the individual's request) must report the
incident to a person or office which has the responsibility to take
further action. These persons and offices are listed below.
Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs
Designated School Official or Affirmative Action Officer
Office of Staff and Labor Relations, Division of Human Resources
Office of the Ombudsman
Office of the Vice Provost for University Life
Office of Residential Living
Office of Student Conduct
Deans and University Officers
These reporting offices will keep reports confidential,
but only to the extent consistent with the University's need to
investigate the allegations and to take remedial action, if appropriate.
Not all reporting offices will actually conduct
investigations, nor are all empowered to take remedial action. Once it
is made aware of a complaint, however, it is a reporting office's
responsibility to ensure that appropriate action is taken by the office
best able to handle the particular matter. For example, Department
Chairs, directors, and supervisors should contact their Dean's office
or the Office of Staff and Labor Relations for advice on how to proceed.
After making a report, the community member may pursue
informal or formal resolution, or both. What constitutes informal
resolution and formal resolution is described below.
III. Resolution of Reports
If the community member wants to resolve the matter
informally, the reporting office may arrange for mediation or
negotiation or some other form of voluntary resolution. Certain
reporting offices, to the extent consistent with University policy and
practice, may also issue sanctions or discipline.
Any reporting office identified above may be involved in
informal resolution. Where appropriate, the reporting office may ask
another reporting office to investigate or resolve the matter. In the
usual case, the appropriate Dean or Deans of the school or schools
involved should be advised of the matter.
- B. Formal Mechanisms for Complaint
If a faculty member, student or staff member chooses not
to pursue informal resolution, or if informal resolution fails, then
the community member may pursue formal action. Formal action is
initiated by filing a written complaint with a reporting office. The
community member must sign the complaint and include in it what he or
she believes to be the relevant facts. The University will investigate
the complaint, which may include advising persons named in the
complaint, and will take remedial action, if appropriate.
The University must ensure that investigations conform
to University policy. The process must also be fair to both the person
filing the complaint and any person(s) named in the complaint. The
Office of General Counsel is available for consultation regarding the
law and University policy.
While procedures may vary depending on the particular
case, the usual practice will be as follows:
a. If the formal complaint is against a faculty
member, it should be referred to and handled by the Dean or the
Department Chair, in consultation with the Dean. The Dean or Department
Chair may also involve other offices such as the Ombudsman, the Office
of Affirmative Action, or the Office of Staff and Labor Relations. All
actions taken must be consistent with “The Procedures Governing
Sanctions Against the Members of the Faculty,” which are set forth in
the Faculty Handbook.
b. If the Formal Complaint is against an undergraduate
student, the Office of Student Conduct will handle the Complaint in
accordance with the procedures set forth in the PennBook.
c. If the Formal Complaint is against a graduate
student, the procedures followed by the school of that student will
govern. Those procedures are available from the Office of the Dean or
the school's designated Affirmative Action Officer.
d. If the Formal Complaint is against a staff member,
the Office of Staff and Labor Relations and/or the Office of
Affirmative Action will handle the Complaint, in accordance with the
University's nondiscrimination, affirmative action, and Human
Resources policies and procedures.
The University will not tolerate retaliation against an
individual who in good faith reports, complains about, or participates
in an investigation into an allegation of unlawful discrimination or
harassment or sexual assault. Any member of the community who believes
that he or she has been retaliated against should file a complaint with
a reporting office.
As the division of the University's resources into two
groups – confidential counselors and reporting offices – makes clear,
there are two levels of confidentiality that can apply to a
discrimination, harassment, or sexual assault issue.
Conversations with confidential counselors, identified
above, afford the community member the highest level of confidentiality
under University policy. Members of the community who wish only to talk
about their experience, gather information, learn about their options,
or seek support may use the resources of these confidential counselors.
The University ordinarily will not investigate statements in such
conversations without the community member's consent.
A complaint made to a reporting office, on the other
hand, will be confidential, but only to the extent that such
confidentiality does not affect the University's investigation into
and/or response to the complaint. The reporting offices' responsibility
is to make sure that the University responds promptly and fairly to
complaints and takes appropriate remedial action. These offices can
respond to questions; provide information, support, and guidance;
discuss options; and, when appropriate, refer community members to
The University always reserves the right to take any
appropriate action whenever it believes there to be a substantial risk
to any community member's health or safety, or to disclose information
required by law or legal process.