Respectful Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy

It is the policy and culture of the Higher Education User Group (HEUG) to promote a respectful workplace that is free from all forms of discriminatory harassment, including, without limitation, sexual harassment. This policy against harassment covers all HEUG volunteers and third parties with whom we work, including board members, institutional, system, and subscriber members, sponsors, and outsourced administrative and event support staff. Collectively referenced as “HEUG Representatives” throughout this document.

To reinforce this commitment, HEUG has developed;

  • a respectful and inclusive workplace,
  • policies against harassment and discrimination
  • a reporting procedure for HEUG representatives who have been subjected to or witnessed harassment.

This policy applies to all HEUG-related settings and activities, whether inside or outside the workplace, and includes business trips and business-related social events. HEUG property (e.g., computers and computer applications such as e-mail and internet access) may not be used to engage in conduct which violates this policy.

This policy also encompasses harassing electronic communications and online activities directed at a HEUG representatives because of the representatives membership in a protected group regardless of whether the conduct occurs during HEUG work-time or on HEUG-approved electronic devices (e.g., derogatory statements or postings about a representative in any social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. or harassing text messages).

In addition to HEUG Representatives, any individual who engages in business dealings with HEUG representatives or associated with the HEUG and who believes that they have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or other discriminatory harassment in connection with those business dealings is encouraged to make a report under this policy.

Any retaliation against an individual who has complained about harassment, or against individuals cooperating with an investigation of a harassment complaint, is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated.

Prohibition of Sexual Harassment

HEUG’s policy against sexual harassment prohibits sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:

  • submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, as a term or condition of recognition or advancement, or a basis for any decision; or
  • such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive environment.

These definitions include any direct or implied request by anyone for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised benefits, such as favorable reviews, increased benefits, or continued engagement with the HEUG and any sexually oriented conduct by any person, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating to representatives of either sex.

While it is not possible to list all of the circumstances that could constitute sexual harassment, examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include the following:

  • Either explicitly or implicitly conditioning any term of engagement (e.g., continued role within HEUG, benefits, evaluation, advancement, assigned duties) on the provision of sexual favors;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances – whether they involve physical touching or not;
  • Touching a sexual part of an HEUG Representative’s body or touching any part of a HEUG Representative’s body after that person has indicated, or it is known, that such physical conduct is unwelcome;
  • Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life, comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess;
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, posters, or cartoons;
  • Sexting or sending sexually inappropriate or suggestive photos, voicemails, emails, or text messages;
  • Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments;
  • Inquiries into an individual’s sexual experience;
  • Discussion of one’s own sexual activities;
  • Derogatory or provoking remarks about or relating to an HEUG Representative’s gender, sexual activity or sexual orientation; and
  • Coerced sexual acts.

Moreover, while such behavior, depending on the circumstances, may not be severe or pervasive enough to create a sexually hostile environment, it can nonetheless make representatives uncomfortable. Accordingly, HEUG considers such behavior to be inappropriate and in violation of this policy. Such behavior may therefore result in disciplinary action regardless of whether it is unlawful.

Prohibition of Other Types of Discriminatory Harassment

There are other forms of harassment that, while not of a sexual nature, are equally serious and prohibited at the HEUG and prohibited by law. Representatives are also protected from harassment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, age (40 and over), physical or mental disability (including mental illness), familial status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity, gender nonconformity and status as a transgender or transsexual individual), sex (including childbirth, pregnancy and related medical conditions), political or union affiliation, domestic violence victim status, citizenship, past, current or prospective military service, and any other status protected by law (or that of the individual’s relatives, friends, or associates) that: (1) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive environment; (2) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance; or (3) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s opportunities.

Depending on the circumstances, the following conduct may constitute discriminatory harassment: (1) epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, derogatory comments, demeaning gestures, jokes, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts connected to one’s membership in a protected group; and (2) written or graphic material (including pictures and cartoons) or displaying an object that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual or group connected to one’s membership in a protected group that is circulated in the workplace (including in hard copy or on HEUG computer systems). For illustration purposes, the following types of behavior would violate this policy.

  • demeaning another person’s religion or beliefs;
  • making fun of another person’s language or accent;
  • calling someone by an unwanted nickname because the person’s real name is difficult to spell or understand; and
  • using offensive and demeaning slang words referring to a person’s race, color, or ethnic ancestry.

Moreover, while such behavior, depending on the circumstances, may not be severe or pervasive enough to create an unlawfully hostile environment, it can nonetheless make representatives feel marginalized and uncomfortable. Accordingly, the HEUG considers such behavior to be inappropriate and in violation of this policy. Such behavior may therefore result in disciplinary action regardless of whether it is unlawful.

Complaint and Investigation Procedure

If any person covered by this policy believes that they have experienced or witnessed discrimination or harassment by an HEUG Representative or business associate, the person should report the incident immediately to the HEUG through our whistle blower mechanism directly. Although reports may be made verbally, representatives are strongly encouraged to make any reports in writing. Doing so can assist in the investigation process.

HEUG Representatives are strongly urged to report incidents of discrimination or harassment regardless of whether the perpetrator is an HEUG Representative or someone with whom the HEUG has a business relationship (including members, contractors and sponsors), so that appropriate action can be taken as soon as possible. Please do not be a passive bystander—if any representative sees behavior that they think is damaging to a member’s safety, comfort, or success that may be violating this policy, the representative should bring it to the HEUGs attention right away. HEUG Representatives should not allow an inappropriate situation to continue by not reporting it, regardless of who is creating the situation. All HEUG representatives share responsibility for avoiding, discouraging, and reporting any form of discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

The HEUG will promptly, thoroughly, and impartially investigate all reports of discrimination and harassment. The investigation may include an interview with the representative making the complaint, witnesses, and the person or persons accused. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances, recognizing HEUG’s need to conduct a thorough inquiry.

If the investigation reveals that this policy has been violated, the HEUG will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct, and, where the HEUG determines it to be appropriate, impose disciplinary action. Such action may range from counseling to termination of position within the HEUG, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as HEUG deems appropriate under the circumstances.

Please note that while this policy sets forth HEUG’s goal of promoting a workplace that is free of discrimination and harassment, the policy is not designed or intended to limit HEUG’s authority to discipline or take remedial action for conduct it deems unacceptable, regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the definition of illegal harassment or discrimination. The HEUG may impose disciplinary or corrective action for any behavior that violates this policy or which, if left unchecked, could lead to the same.

Anti-Retaliation Policy

The HEUG is deeply committed to encouraging volunteers, members and other HEUG representatives to come forward with any complaints of discrimination or harassment and to cooperate in any related investigation. Accordingly, the HEUG prohibits retaliation (including any form of reprisal, or intimidation) against any representative for filing in good faith a complaint of discrimination or harassment or for cooperating in the investigation of such a complaint. Any violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action, which may include termination of their position or membership with the HEUG.