Harassment Policy

The Physics Department adheres to the policy on harassment set forth by the Institute as found in the publication, Dealing with Harassment at MIT. The publication is available in the Physics Human Resources Office, 4-311 and online at http://web.mit.edu/communications/hg/. An abbreviated form of the policy is listed below. However, if you are involved with a harassment case in any capacity, please see the full publication for complete information.

MIT's Policy on Harassment

Harassment of any kind is not acceptable behavior at MIT; it is inconsistent with the commitment to excellence that characterizes MIT's activities. MIT is committed to creating an environment in which every individual can work, study, and live without being harassed. Harassment may, therefore, lead to sanctions up to and including termination of employment or student status.

Harassment is any conduct, verbal or physical, on or off campus, that has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual or group's educational or work performance at MIT or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, work, or living environment. Some kinds of harassment are prohibited by civil laws or by MIT policies on conflict of interest and nondiscrimination. Harassment on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or age includes harassment of an individual in terms of a stereotyped group characteristic, or because of that person's identification with a particular group.

Sexual harassment may take many forms. Sexual assault and requests for sexual favors that affect educational or employment decisions constitute sexual harassment. However, sexual harassment may also consist of unwanted physical contact, requests for sexual favors, visual displays of degrading sexual images, sexually suggestive conduct, or remarks of a sexual nature.

The Institute is committed under this policy to stopping harassment and associated retaliatory behavior. All MIT supervisors have a responsibility to act to stop harassment in the areas under their supervision. Any member of the MIT community who feels harassed is encouraged to seek assistance and resolution of the complaint. MIT provides a variety of avenues by which an individual who feels harassed may proceed, so that each person may choose an avenue appropriate to his or her particular situation. Institute procedures are intended to protect the rights of both complainant and respondent, to protect privacy, and to prevent supervisory reprisal. General complaint and grievance procedures are described in Policies and Procedures, which is available from the Information Center in Lobby 7, and is available online at http://web.mit.edu/policies/7.1.html.

Options for Dealing with Harassment

MIT's system for handling complaints is designed to provide choice for the complainants, so that different people may find options for stopping harassment that are appropriate for them. While some people prefer the clarity of a single, formal grievance procedure, many people who have been harassed do not want to lodge a formal complaint. Discussions with colleagues at other universities indicate that as more options for handling complaints become available, more people come forward with their concerns.

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Often a formal complaint procedure is preferred for harassment that is considered egregious, and informal complaint resolution is preferred for more subtle, ambiguous, or idiosyncratic harassment. However, choice of option is affected by many factors, including the complainant's need for privacy and control over the complaint, the complainant's preferred style of complaint resolution, and what kind of evidence exists.

In many cases, a complainant may change from one option to another--for example, from more formal to less formal, or vice versa. In most cases, however, changing options will require the agreement of both parties to the dispute, as well as the complaint handler.

Formal complaints against students should be made to Christy Anthony, Director of the Office of Student Citizenship, x3-0193. Alternatively, it can be sent directly to the Chair of the Committee on Discipline, Munther Dahleh, x3-3892. Formal complaints against staff should be made to the immediate or higher supervisor of the alleged harasser, or to Human Resources Officer Robert Muti, x3-5885.

In addition to the above, if you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth below. Using our complaint process does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies has a short time period for filing a claim.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
One Congress Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 565-3200

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD")
One Ashburton Place
Rm. 601
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 994-6000

General Responsibilities of Complaint Handlers and Supervisors

If harassment is observed by, or reported to, the immediate or higher supervisor of an alleged harasser, the supervisor must either act or be assured that appropriate action has been taken to stop any harassment that is occurring. The supervisor should also take reasonable steps to prevent reprisal. Similarly, an administrator who is not in the line of supervision but who can take administrative action must see that any observed or reported harassment ceases to occur, and must take appropriate steps to prevent reprisal.

A supervisor is not necessarily required to initiate a formal investigation and make a decision as to whether harassment actually occurred, except in serious cases. However, as noted above, a supervisor is responsible for either taking reasonable steps to see that any harassment has stopped and that there is no reprisal, or for knowing that effective action has been taken.

All harassment complaints should be addressed as promptly as possible. MIT does not have statute of limitations for concerns of harassment. If a formal complaint is brought long after the fact, it may be unreasonable or impossible to investigate the complaint, but sometimes informal options can help even in these circumstances. Supervisors should inform themselves of the basic information in this policy, including the definition of harassment, and the general principles and options for complaint resolution. Information that is more specific or advice may be obtained from the publication Dealing with Harassment at MIT.

In all cases, a supervisor must take reasonable steps to deal fairly with both parties and strive to maintain, as much as possible, the privacy of all individuals involved in the complaint.

Role of Complaint Handlers

Below are the MIT guidelines that address the typical action of a compliant handler when dealing with a complaint.

Initial Contact --The complaint handler will listen to the complaint and ask any questions required to fully understand the issue.  After having heard the account, they will confirm and review what s/he needs to know to deal fairly and effectively with the concern.  Remember that you and the complaint handler can seek advice anonymously if you wish.

Discuss the Possible Options -- The complaint handler will review the multiple options for handling complaints including options for the complainant directly, and options for a complaint handler.  The person who complains of harassment usually has choices to make as to which option to pursue, but in certain circumstances, for example, if the complaint is so serious that it must be investigated, the complaint handlers must make decisions about how to proceed.  If the behavior is egregiously offensive, is a matter of reprisal, or is repeated after a warning, a formal process is appropriate.

Determine What Course of Action to Pursue -- If possible, the compliant handler will act in accordance with your wishes.  If the complaint handler thinks it necessary to take action not requested by you, the complaint handler should, if possible, discuss this with you.

Resolving a Complaint -- It is the complaint handler’s responsibility to see that the complaint is seriously and thoroughly addressed.  A complaint can be addressed in a number of different ways--with or without disciplinary action against an offender and with or without a record of the complaint--depending on the course of action pursued and the outcome of the process.  After dealing with the complaint, the complaint handler should follow up to ensure that harassment has not recurred and that there is no reprisal.

Reporting and Records -- The complaint handler should make sure that both parties are informed of the outcome of a formal or informal intervention by him or her.  He or she should also keep a record of the action: a formal record if the complaint was investigated or a statistical record if the complaint was resolved informally.

Complaint Handlers

Physics Department Mediation

  Physics REFS   physrefs@mit.edu
  See webpage for contact information   http://web.mit.edu/physics/refs/
Physics Department Faculty Liaisons
  Peter Fisher 3-8561 fisherp@mit.edu
  Nergis Mavalvala 3-5657 nergis@ligo.mit.edu

Physics Department Resources

  Peter Fisher, Department Head 3-4801 fisherp@mit.edu
  Krishna Rajagopal, Associate Head for Education 3-4285 krishna@mit.edu
  Matthew Cubstead, Administrative Officer 3-4803 cubstead@mit.edu
  Vicky Metternich, Human Resources Officer 3-4804 vickym@mit.edu
  Catherine Modica, Academic Administrator 3-4842 cmodica@mit.edu
School of Science Resources
  Michael Sipser, Interim Dean 3-8900 sipser@MIT.EDU
Institute Resources
  Institute Ombudspeople 3-5921 http://web.mit.edu/ombud
  Steve Filipiak 3-5885 sfilipia@mit.edu
  Campus Police 3-1212 http://web.mit.edu/cp/www
  Violence Prevention and Response (VPR) 3-2300
(24hrs)
http://medweb.mit.edu/wellness/
programs/violence_prevention.html