E.1 Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

I. Policy

1. The University of Southern California is firmly committed to complying with all applicable laws and governmental regulations at every level of government that prohibit discrimination against, or which mandate that special consideration be given to, students and applicants for admission, and faculty, staff and applicants for employment, on the basis of any protected characteristic as defined in Section E.1.II below.

  • This commitment applies to all of the university’s educational programs and activities, including admissions, financial aid, education and university programs. To carry out this university commitment, the university will not tolerate statements or actions that create a discriminatory or harassing work or academic environment. The university seeks compliance with all statutes prohibiting discrimination in education, including Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 which respectively prohibit discrimination. This good-faith effort to comply is made even when such laws and regulations conflict with each other. In compliance with Section 504, the university provides reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities, as well as for students.
  • The university’s Interim Section 504 Coordinator is the Office of Equity and Diversity. Applicants for admission and registered students with questions about disabilities may contact the Office of Disability Services and Programs, at sait.usc.edu/academicsupport/centerprograms/dsp/home_index.html. For other information, contact the Interim Section 504 Coordinator at oed@usc.edu. Additional information about the coordinator’s responsibilities can be found at equity.usc.edu.

2. Attempts or threats to commit acts prohibited by this policy, or to omit acts required by this policy, are prohibited equally with the completed actions. Complaints and witness statements that are not in good faith are also prohibited. 3. Any student who violates this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action under the Student Conduct Code, which may include expulsion. See Section 17. 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, 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

1. The University of Southern California is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. 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, when the conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic, work or student living environment. 2. Attempts or threats to commit acts prohibited by this policy, or to omit acts required by this policy, are prohibited. Any student who violates this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for misconduct. 3. For behavior by other members of the university community, see equity.usc.edu/sexual-harassment. 4. Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following examples, if a reasonable person would have perceived them as objectively offensive:

  • Ridicule, abuse, insults or derogatory comments that are directly or indirectly based on a protected characteristic;
  • Offensive remarks about an individual’s looks, clothing, or 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 or offensive 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;
  • 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 or conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic, work or student living environment, if a reasonable person would have perceived the action as objectively offensive.

IV. Retaliation

No student may threaten, attempt, or commit retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, brings a complaint under SCampus policy, university 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 U.S. 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 contact.center@dfeg.ca.gov or www.dfeh.ca.gov. OFCCP: 1(800)397-6251 (TTY: 1(202)693-1337). The Department of Education may be reached at 1(800)USA-LEARN. Revised August 2014