(600B) Kansas Athletics Staff: Harassment Discrimination

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Updated 1/13


Commitment to Discrimination and Harassment-Free Programs
Kansas Athletics is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination and harassment that is unlawful under federal, state or local law.  In addition, Kansas Athletics is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination and harassment that is prohibited by University or Kansas Athletics policy, whether or not such conduct is prohibited by law.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities.

Kansas Athletics’ policy also prohibits the creation of a hostile work environment or harassment directed toward any person or group within the community, even when such hostile work environment or harassment is not motivated by race, sex, disability or other protected classification and, thus, may not be a violation of law.  It also extends to any retaliatory actions by an individual and his/her associates that may arise as a result of a discrimination complaint.

A. Harassment:
Unlawful harassment is unwelcome conduct of a severe or pervasive nature that is based on a “protected characteristic” and is either made a condition of employment or creates a hostile work environment.  “Protected characteristics” include sex (including sexual, gender, and pregnancy), sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, and any other characteristic protected under federal, state, or local discrimination and harassment laws.  Many factors are taken into account in determining if conduct rises to the level of being “unlawful” harassment.  In severe cases, one incident alone may be enough.  In other cases, the conduct must be pervasive or permeate the workplace in order for it to be unlawful.

Prohibited harassment under this policy also includes actions that create fear, intimidate, ostracize, humiliate, psychologically or physically threaten, embarrass, ridicule, or demean a person or groups or that may undermine their sense of security or self-esteem, whether or not such conduct is based upon a protected characteristic or is otherwise unlawful.

Prohibited harassment may encompass a wide range of verbal, physical, and visual behaviors and may be sexual or non-sexual in nature.  While it is not possible to define every word or action that could be interpreted as prohibited harassment, the following behaviors are examples of the types of conduct that might be unlawful or otherwise prohibited, depending on the circumstances, and are to be avoided:

B. Sexual Harassment:
“Sexual Harassment” is defined by KU as behavior, including physical contact, advances, and comments in person, through an intermediary, and/or via phone, text message, email, social media, or other electronic medium, that is unwelcome; based on sex or gender stereotypes; and is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s academic performance, employment or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities or by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment. Sexual Harassment may include but is not limited to:

  1. unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship;
  2. unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities;
  3. threatening to engage in the commission of an unwelcome sexual act with another person;
  4. stalking or cyberstalking;
  5. engaging in indecent exposure; voyeurism, or other invasion of personal privacy;
  6. unwelcome physical touching or closeness;
  7. unwelcome jokes or teasing of a sexual nature or based upon gender or sex stereotypes; and
  8. sexual violence, as defined below.

Title IX and University Policy prohibit gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

C. Sexual Violence:
“Sexual violence” means any physical act which is sexual in nature that is committed by force or without the full and informed consent of all persons involved. Sexual violence may include, but is not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual exploitation.  Sexual violence can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual violence can be committed by men or by women, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.

D. Other Unlawful and/or Otherwise Prohibited Harassment:
Non-sexual conduct that is offensive or shows hostility toward a protected characteristic or toward an employee because of his/her sex/gender, race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or other characteristic protected by law or by the University, or otherwise including slurs, epithets, negative labeling or stereotyping, and jokes, whether oral or written.

E. Unlawful and/or Otherwise Prohibited Hostile Work Environment:
A hostile work environment may include one that permits:

  1. conduct that has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment or unreasonably precludes an employee from performing his or her work;
  2. any verbal abuse or epithets, degrading comments, the display of pictures, words or objects that another person may find offensive;
  3. lying, gossiping, degradation, and disrespect towards others.

F. Duty to Take Reasonable Steps to Avoid Harassment, if Possible:
Every employee or student-athlete has an obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid being harassed.  These steps may include any one or more of the following:

  1. reporting harassment without delay;
  2. nicely confronting the harasser and asking that the offensive conduct stop;
  3. not laughing/smiling at offensive jokes or comments;
  4. avoiding the harasser if reasonably possible;
  5. taking other reasonable steps.

G. Reporting Procedures:
Any Kansas Athletics employee or student-athlete may initiate a complaint of discrimination or harassment that occurs on the university premises or at a university-sponsored activity or results from an association within the university community.  Persons who experience or witness such discrimination or harassment should carefully document all incidents, noting dates, specific behaviors, and their effect.  State employees who are assigned to Kansas Athletics for work duties will follow University reporting procedures.

Kansas Athletics and KU take all complaints seriously.  To make a complaint about discrimination or harassment, contact the immediate supervisor of the individual whose behavior is perceived as harassing or discriminatory, or contact the Athletics Director, the Senior Associate Athletics Directors, or the Director of Human Resources.  Advise him or her of the conduct that is perceived to be discriminatory or harassing and ask him or her to intervene to resolve the problem. You may also contact the University’s Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785) 864-6414.  An investigation will be conducted to the extent necessary.  KU’s Discrimination Complaint Resolution Process is available online. Filing a knowingly false or baseless complaint of discrimination or harassment is considered serious misconduct and is subject to sanctions.  Complainants should file their complaints promptly, so that timely and appropriate corrective action can be taken when warranted.

Those serving in leadership roles at Kansas Athletics are responsible for nondiscrimination in their employment and student support environments.  All supervisors are required to contact the Director of Human Resources should they receive a complaint of harassing or discriminatory behavior.  The Director of Human Resources is responsible for contacting and notifying the University’s Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access for further investigation if necessary.

H. Retaliation Prohibited:
Retaliation against persons who file discrimination or harassment complaints or persons who participate in an investigation of a complaint, whether filed by an individual directly involved or by his/her associates, is a violation of law and University and Kansas Athletics policy. Complainants who seek assistance as a result of this policy should not be subjected to retaliation of any kind.  Retaliation may result in disciplinary action.