Discrimination & Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

August 2013

TO:         Law School Community
FROM:     Aviam Soifer, Dean
SUBJECT: Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

The Law School is deeply committed to providing a learning and working environment free from discrimination and sexual harassment.  As a part of this commitment, the Law School has implemented policies and procedures to be followed in the case of an alleged violation.

The students, faculty, and staff need to know how to recognize discriminatory conduct and how to respond appropriately should a situation arise.  As you probably know, the intentions of the harasser are not determinative in discrimination or sexual harassment cases.  A court looks at how the recipient perceived the conduct or behavior, notwithstanding the possibly “innocent” state of mind of the harasser.  Obvious examples of sexual harassment or discrimination include telling sexual or off-color jokes, unconsented touching, repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested, or making remarks disparaging of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

More subtle examples of unwelcome behavior include use of last names for all the male students and first names for all the female students; use of hypothetical situations in which the parties are stereotyped (e.g., Mary the homemaker enters into a contract with Manuel the yardman); or repeatedly calling on, interrupting, or being “harder” on only one type of student (e.g., based upon gender, race, etc.).  Moreover, while some types of behavior may not be classified as discrimination or harassment, they still may create a “chilling” learning or working environment.  This could include, for example, demeaning a student’s distinct style of learning or performance level.  Actions or communications that demean people in the Law School community are unprofessional and not consistent with the spirit or policies of this Law School.

If you are aware of an incident of discrimination or harassment, please contact any of the Deans as soon as possible.  Incidents will be handled confidentially and promptly.  The Law School will not engage in or tolerate retaliation against complainants and persons who participate in an investigation.

We all benefit from reflecting on how our words and actions may affect others within a close-knit community such as we enjoy at Richardson.  This policy statement is intended to be a reaffirmation of our commitment to a positive working and learning environment for all.  Should you feel someone individually or we as a community are not meeting this commitment, you may discuss your concerns with the Associate Dean for Student Services, the University’s Gender Equity Counselor, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students, or the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office. Relevant University policies and procedures are provided.