University of Southern California

SCampus Student Guidebook

University Governance

E. Integrity of the Academic Community

E.1 Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

I. Policy

The University of Southern California is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. To carry out this university commitment, the university will not tolerate statements or actions that create a discriminatory or harassing work or academic environment.

Attempts or threats to commit acts prohibited by this policy are prohibited equally with the completed actions. Complaints and witness statements that are not in good faith are also prohibited.

Any student who violates this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action under the Student Conduct Code, which may include expulsion. References in SCampus to prohibited discrimination also include harassment and retaliation as defined by this policy.

II. Discrimination

No student may discriminate against anyone in the university community based on any protected characteristic. The protected characteristics under this policy include race, color, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, physical disability, medical condition, mental disability, marital status, pregnancy, veteran status, genetic information, and any other characteristic which may be specified in applicable laws and governmental regulations.

III. Harassment Based on a Protected Characteristic

No student may take actions that are harassing, abusive or intimidating against anyone based on any protected characteristic, or commit actions which adversely affect another because of a protected characteristic.

Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following examples:

  • Ridicule, abuse, insults or derogatory comments that are directly or indirectly based on a protected characteristic;
  • Offensive remarks about an individual’s looks, clothing, body parts, that relate to a protected characteristic;
  • Offensive comments about an individual’s racial, ethnic or religious characteristics;
  • Disparaging or offensive remarks about an individual’s gender whether or not sexual in nature;
  • Disparaging comments about an individual’s religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs;
  • Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an individual’s country of birth, ancestry, citizenship, or race;
  • Negative comments regarding an individual’s age when referring to employees 40 and over;
  • Disparaging, intimidating or offensive references to an individual’s mental or physical impairment or disability;
  • Disparaging racial or ethnic remarks, and racial or ethnic slurs, jokes or epithets;
  • Disparaging comments based on other protected characteristics;
  • Offensive and unwelcome language directed at someone because of her or his gender, or based on gender stereotypes;
  • Any unwelcome verbal or physical behavior based on any protected characteristic when the behavior can reasonably be considered to adversely affect the work or academic environment, or when an academic, admissions, or employment decision or recommendation affecting the individual is based on his or her acceptance or rejection of such behavior.

IV. Retaliation

No student may threaten, attempt, or commit retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, brings a complaint under SCampus policy or applicable law; or participates in investigation of such a complaint; or protests in good faith alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation against another.

Such retaliation may include, but is not limited to, the following examples:

  • Coercion, intimidation, interference, harassment or vexatious behavior;
  • Spreading negative information about the individual;
  • Shunning or ostracizing an individual.

V. Government Resources

In addition to notifying the university about unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation, students also may direct their complaints to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education, which have the authority to conduct investigations of the facts. The deadline for filing complaints with the DFEH is one year from the date of the alleged unlawful conduct. If the DFEH believes that a complaint is valid and settlement efforts fail, the DFEH may seek an administrative hearing before the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) or file a lawsuit in court. Both the FEHC and the courts have the authority to award monetary and non-monetary relief in meritorious cases. Any person who believes that the university as a federal contractor has violated nondiscrimination or affirmative action obligations may contact the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP.) Contact information: DFEH: email or OFCCP: 1(800)397-6251 (TTY: 1(202)693-1337). The Department of Education may be reached at 1(800)USA-LEARN.

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