This policy applies to faculty, staff and applicants for employment, students, and third parties (including visitors, patients and community members).
The Tufts Non-Discrimination Policy establishes uniform guidelines in order to promote a work and educational environment at Tufts University that is free of discrimination and harassment, and to affirm the University’s commitment to equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Tufts prohibits discrimination against and harassment of any student, employee, applicant for employment, third party, patient, visitor or community member because of: race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion, disability, sex or gender (including pregnancy, sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct including acts of sexual violence such as rape, sexual assault, stalking, sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation and coercion, relationship/intimate partner violence and domestic violence), gender identity and/or expression (including a transgender identity), sexual orientation, military or veteran status, genetic information, the intersection of these identities or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state or local law, herein called “protected categories.” The university expects all Tufts employees, students, visitors, patients and community members to join with and uphold this commitment.
Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person is harassed or treated arbitrarily or differently because of the person’s real or implied membership in a "protected category."
In the employment context, discrimination may begin with an adverse employment action, which is something an employer has done that is unfair to an employee (for example: terminating the employee or not selecting him/her/them for hire or a promotion, harassing the employee, denying the employee's request for a reasonable accommodation, etc.). If OEO determines, through fact-finding, that the employee or applicant’s membership in a protected category was the reason for the adverse employment action, this may lead to a policy violation of the non-discrimination policy and/or any other policy herein.
Personality differences or conflicts, general mistreatment not based on the above protected categories, or a response to poor performance are usually employee relations issues, not discrimination matters. Human Resources can help you with these matters and will refer you to the appropriate resources.
Visitors, Patients, Applicants, Third Parties and Community Members
If a visitor, applicant, patient, third party or community member believes they were treated differently in their education program or activity because of their real or implied membership in a protected category as defined above, OEO will conduct a fact-finding investigation to determine whether or not the Complainant’s protected class was the reason for the different treatment and if that treatment violated the non-discrimination policy and/or any other policy herein.
Title VI addresses non-sexual discrimination between students on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, language, disability, and/or retaliation for reporting discrimination on the basis of these protected categories. When the OEO receives such a complaint, the office will contact the student/s who felt harmed to see if they want to resolve the matter formally or informally.
In some cases, the student complainant may want to resolve the complaint informally with OEO's help, "I want this conduct to stop." Or, "I want them to know that hurt me." Students can always try to handle the matter themselves but it is not required according to our policy; OEO can always help. Complainants may want OEO to talk with a respondent and remind them of our relevant policies. This conversation is not recorded on either students' record.
If the complainant requests an informal OEO conversation with the respondent, the OEO will contact the respondent. OEO will share as much or as little about the complainant's identity and complaint as the complainant is comfortable with--OEO can speak to a respondent in a general way without disclosing the identity of the complainant or OEO can speak directly to the conduct the complainant reported.
The OEO then reports back to the complainant about the OEO conversation with the respondent.
Note that the OEO reserves the right to begin an administrative or formal complaint but will never do so without a discussion with the complainant(s).
If a complaint is filed before summer, before finals or before a university break, there may be a delay in the investigative process.
For more information, review the Informal Process Workflow.
If the student/complainant chooses the OEO formal process, the OEO requests a written complaint from the complainant which will then be shared with the respondent.
The OEO assigns an investigator and an investigation begins. Interviews commence with the complainant, respondent and/or any witnesses. Other information such as texts or social media may be gathered, if relevant. Both parties are allowed a support person at every meeting with an OEO investigator and throughout the formal process.
The investigator writes a fact-finding report with preliminary findings that is shared with the parties (and relevant support people) on a secure OneHub portal. The report may be redacted slightly for reasons of confidentiality. Reports are not shared directly with parties but are shared via the OneHub portal to protect the reports from being reproduced publicly or otherwise posted on social media.
Both parties have the opportunity to submit an appeal or a rebuttal subsequent to reading the preliminary report. The OEO reviews any final due process information the parties may submit at this stage. If no further investigation is required, the OEO will make a final decision as to whether there was a policy violation and deliver a written outcome to both parties.
The OEO may share the final report and outcome with the appropriate Dean's Office. If there is a policy violation found, the Dean's Office determines the appropriate disciplinary action, as outlined by the appropriate School's guidelines for Title VI matters.
For more information, review the Formal Process Workflow.
If you have questions after filing a complaint, or if a complaint has been filed against you, please contact the Executive Director of OEO, Jill Zellmer at 617-627-3298 or at Jill.Zellmer@tufts.edu.
Rights and Responsibilities
As a member of the Tufts community you have the right to work, learn, and live in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. You have the right to equal opportunity and equal access to all university programs, employment and activities.
Managers, supervisors, faculty and other “responsible employees” of the university are required by law to promptly report to OEO or other reporting officers (OEO liaisons or Deans) any allegations of discrimination and/or harassment based on protected categories and other forms of sexual misconduct that they observe or learn about in their capacity as employees. The university defines “responsible employees” to include managers, supervisors and officials with significant responsibility for student and campus activities including but not limited to student housing, discipline and campus security. "Responsible employees" also have a responsibility to report their peers, colleagues and supervisors if they see or hear about their involvement in potential discrimination or harassment.
Failure to report a known or suspected incident of discrimination or harassment to OEO may result in disciplinary action. Learn more about reporting.
Faculty, staff, and students must cooperate with university investigations concerning allegations of discrimination or harassment. Refusal to cooperate with an investigation may result in disciplinary action. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about cooperating. Often, OEO can shield the reporter's identity when reviewing a matter or conducting an investigation.
Any member of the university community has the right to raise concerns or make a complaint regarding discrimination or harassment under this policy without fear of retaliation. It is a violation of university policy to retaliate against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of alleged discrimination or harassment. Any person at Tufts University found in violation of this policy is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from Tufts. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Executive Director of OEO, Jill Zellmer at 617-627-3298 or at Jill.Zellmer@tufts.edu.
The university recognizes the importance of confidentiality and understands that some individuals filing complaints of harassment/discrimination or who are otherwise involved in an investigation may want their identity to remain anonymous and/or confidential. In all cases, issues of confidentiality must be balanced against the university’s need to investigate and take appropriate action. OEO will always discuss these issues with a complainant before anything moves forward and OEO also has a similar conversation with respondents and witnesses.
The University will respect the privacy and confidentiality of individuals involved in an investigation to the fullest extent possible. If you have concerns about this please call the Executive Director of OEO, Jill Zellmer at 617-627-3298 or at Jill.Zellmer@tufts.edu.