Staff HR Policy D-704.00
Institutional Effectiveness Criterion: Culture

Sexual Harassment - Employees Policy

Northwestern Michigan College prohibits sexual harassment of its employees, students, customers, or vendors in any form.  NMC's intent is to create and maintain a work and educational environment that promotes respect and dignity for all individuals and is free of sexual harassment and unduly offensive behavior.  Sexual harassment is in conflict with a harmonious and productive work and educational environment. Sexual Harassment will not be tolerated.  Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action.

  1. Sexual Harassment
    Sexual harassment is defined by law to include any unwelcome sexual advance or touching, request for sexual favors, or other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:
    1. submission to such conduct or communication is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of, or application for employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, or
    2. submission to or rejection of such conduct or communication by an individual is used explicitly or implicitly as a factor in decisions affecting the individual's employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, or
    3. such conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, public accommodations, public services, educational, or housing environment.
    Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to such conduct as offensive sexual flirtations, suggestive comments, sexual innuendo, unwanted physical contact, repeated requests or pressure for "dates", advances, propositions, insults or verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual's body, use of sexually degrading words or vulgar words of a sexual nature, humor or jokes about sex or gender-specific traits, or the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures.  Prohibited conduct also includes non-verbal, suggestive, or sexually insulting actions such as leering, whistling, suggestive sounds, and obscene gestures.  Prohibited touching would include any unwelcome touching of a sexual nature, pinching, intentional brushing of the body, sexual assault, and coerced sexual acts.

    Sexual harassment does not refer to behavior or occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature.  It refers to behavior which is unwelcome, which is unreasonably offensive, which fails to respect the rights of others, or which otherwise creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, public accommodations, public services, housing or educational environment.

    Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature may constitute sexual harassment when the allegedly harassed employee has indicated, by his or her conduct, that it is unwelcome. Any person protected by this policy who has initially welcomed such conduct by active participation must give specific notice to the alleged harasser that such conduct is no longer welcome in order for any such subsequent conduct to be deemed unwelcome.
  2. Sexual Harassment Away from Work
    Although NMC does not wish to interfere with employees' personal lives, conduct outside the workplace can affect the work environment.  Accordingly, the type of conduct and communication prohibited in the above definitions apply to unwanted, offensive contacts outside the workplace, even during non-working hours, when such is committed by an employee, customer, vendor, supplier, or other contact from work (whether it is conducted directly or indirectly, via telephone, or other electronic communication, through the mails or delivery service, or in person).  Such harassment is prohibited if it unreasonably interferes with an individual's employment or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
  3. Duty to Report Sexual Harassment
    Employees who experience sexual harassment, as defined in this policy, shall immediately report such harassment to their supervisor or the Director of Human Resources, or any executive staff member.

    All employees who witness violations or suspected violations of this policy shall report such to their supervisor or the Director of Human Resources, or any executive staff member.

    Although employees are obligated to report violations of this policy to NMC, employees are not prevented or discouraged from reporting sexual harassment or alleged sexual harassment to law enforcement agencies where criminal conduct appears to be involved.
  4. Investigation of Sexual Harassment Complaints
    Upon receipt of any report or complaint of alleged sexual harassment, NMC will promptly investigate using NMC’s Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure D-702.01.  NMC will take reasonable measures to treat complaints discreetly and respect the personal privacy rights of the person making the complaint and any accused party.  However, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.  For example, it may be necessary to notify the alleged perpetrator and potential witnesses of the facts relative to the alleged harassment and to also disclose the facts to comply with state and federal law and any relevant collective bargaining agreements or individual contracts of employment.  Upon conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be taken.
  5. Retaliation Protection
    No retaliation or reprisals shall be taken against any individual because he or she has filed a harassment complaint or report, participated in a harassment investigation, or otherwise opposed unlawful harassment.  No employee shall be disciplined because he or she reports in good faith or complains about harassment act(s) that are not substantiated.
  6. Sanctions and Penalties
    Discipline shall be administered consistent with NMC guidelines and procedures on discipline. A person suspected of serious offenses of this policy may be subject to an investigatory suspension, pending the outcome of the investigation.  Any employee who is found to have violated this policy may be subject to discipline as appropriate.

    1. Discipline imposed upon an employee for violation of this policy may include warning, written reprimand, transfer, suspension or dismissal, depending upon the nature and severity of the offense.  Where an employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, discipline shall be assessed according to the procedures and standards contained therein. 

    2. Volunteers and contractors violating this policy shall be subject to exclusion from facilities, programs and activities.  The College reserves the right to discontinue any contracted services or commercial relationship with any contractor, vendor or other service provided found to have violated this policy.

    3. When appropriate, referral for criminal investigation and prosecution will be made.

    Any employee who deliberately makes a false allegation or who fraudulently submits false evidence concerning harassment may be subject to severe disciplinary penalties, including immediate discharge.

    Where sexual harassment complaints are substantiated, the victim will be informed that remedial measures will be taken to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.  The victim may not be apprised of the specific counseling or discipline imposed upon individuals found responsible for the sexual harassment due to various privacy and legal concerns.

Legal Intent

This policy is intended to provide a framework supportive of and consistent with applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.  It is not intended nor does it result in any special rights or contractual rights beyond those established by applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.  Anyone who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment should make this known to the appropriate college officials so that the behavior can be evaluated and, if the allegation is substantiated, appropriate action can be taken.  College officials who do not respond to such complaints brought to their attention will be in violation of this policy.

The Director of Human Resources is responsible for developing procedures to handle complaints of sexual harassment from employees.  See Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure D-702.01.

If any provision(s) of this policy or set of bylaws conflicts with laws applicable to Northwestern Michigan College, including the Community College Act of 1966, the Freedom of Information Act, or the Open Meetings Act, as each may be amended from time to time, such laws shall control and supersede such provision(s).

Initially adopted as D-1109.01 December 9, 1996 as Sexual Harassment only
Revised August 5, 1998. Sexual Harassment Policy, renamed Harassment, expanded to include all forms of harassment with Statement of Means and Statement of Principle
Revised March 17, 2000
Revised May 14, 2004. Harassment Policy separated into Harassment and Sexual Harassment, with one Statement of Means developed specifically for Employees and one for Students for each Statement of Principle
Revised and renumbered D-503.03 December 20, 2006
Renumbered D-701.03 from D-503.03 (Operations) July 27, 2010
Renumbered D-704.00 November 3, 2010