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Human Resources

Freedom From Discrimination and Harassment Policy

Date:  September 2012


Bowdoin College strives to provide a place of study and work that is free from unlawful harassment or discrimination of any kind.  In compliance with the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA),  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal and state laws, Bowdoin College prohibits any member of the faculty, staff, administration, student body, or visitors, whether visiting campus, patrons, independent contractors, or vendors from harassing or discriminating against any other member of the Bowdoin College community because of a person’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, age, marital status, place of birth, veteran status or against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in any phase of its employment process, in any phase of its admission or financial aid programs, or other aspects of its educational programs or activities.  Discrimination or harassment on the basis of any protected characteristic is illegal.  All employees are expected to respect the rights of their coworkers and conduct themselves in a way that supports the inclusion of students and employees of all different backgrounds.  Employees who engage in unlawful harassment, violence or discrimination will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

The Director of Human Resources is the individual designated by the College to coordinate its efforts to comply with the MHRA, Title IX, Title VII, Section 504 and other equal opportunity and affirmative action regulations and laws.  Questions about the College’s Freedom from Discrimination and Harassment Policy should be directed to:

Tamara Spoerri
Director of Human Resources
Human Resources office – McLellan Building First Floor
3500 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011

If an employee experiences any unlawful harassment, violence or discrimination, (s)he should promptly report the concern to any of the following people:

1.       The Director of Human Resources/Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator;
2.       The accused staff or faculty member’s supervisor or department head;
3.       The complaining party’s supervisor or department head;
4.       The Dean or Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; or
5.       The Associate Director of Student Affairs. 

In the case of a student employee who believes he or she has been the subject of sex discrimination or harassment, the student should report the incident or act immediately to his/her workplace supervisor, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Meadow Davis – Associate Director (x5189), or the Director of Human Resources, Tamara Spoerri (x3837).

Complaints by employees, including student employees, can also be made to one of the Workplace Advisors listed below who are trained by the College to provide guidance and support to employees with complaints of harassment or discrimination. 

Workplace Advisors:

Steve Hyde (x3436)
Leanne Pander (x3260)
Roy Partridge (x3656)
Delmar Small (x3747)
Donna Trout (x3339)
Doris White (x3181)

Additionally, the following resources are available to all employees, including student employees:

Employee Assistance Program 1-800-647-9151 or AnthemEAP.com
Call for free, confidential assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

The College will investigate any reported concern about harassment or discrimination pursuant to the process outlined below.  No employee may retaliate against someone who files a complaint o r participates in an investigation of a complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment; such retaliation will subject the offender to additional discipline and sanctions under this policy.  However, if the College determines that an intentionally false complaint has been made under this policy, disciplinary action will be taken against the individual(s) filing the complaint or providing false information regarding the complaint.

All information will be held in confidence to the extent possible, and will be discussed only with those who have a need to know in order to investigate or resolve the complaint. Complaint procedures may differ depending on whether the harasser is a member of the faculty or staff, a student, or someone from outside the Bowdoin community. 


A complaint may be initiated by any member of the College community who feels she or he has experienced discrimination or harassment, or by anyone with knowledge of an incident. When the complainant is not the person who has experienced discrimination or harassment, the College’s ability to investigate and resolve the situation may depend on the alleged victim’s willingness to participate in the investigation.  

Each employee alleging discrimination or harassment will be requested, but not required, to put his or her complaint in writing.  While all complaints of discrimination or harassment filed under this policy will be investigated whether or not they are made by the alleged victim, complaints of discrimination or harassment should include the names of the complainant and the alleged harasser, a description of the objectionable conduct, the location, dates and times of the objectionable conduct, and the identification of witnesses or other persons with knowledge of the allegations. 


The Director of Human Resources shall work with the appropriate Manager or Department Head to conduct an adequate, impartial, and reliable investigation of discrimination or harassment complaints under the College’s  Administrative Complaint Resolution Procedure in all complaints where the individual accused of harassment or discrimination is not a student.  The College will strive to promptly and equitably resolve all complaints of discrimination or harassment within sixty (60 ) days.  The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether or not a violation of this policy has occurred.  The investigation typically will entail interviews of the complainant and the alleged harasser, as well as other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge.  During the course of the investigation, each party will have the right to provide the names of witnesses and/or other evidence which might assist in the investigation. 

During the course of the investigation, the College will undertake an appropriate inquiry and take such prompt and effective action as is reasonably practicable under the circumstances to support and protect the complainant and protect the College community, including taking appropriate interim measures before the final outcome of the investigation.   These measures may include, but are not limited to, ordering no contact between the alleged harasser and the complainant and directing, where necessary, appropriate College officials to alter the complainant’s or the alleged harasser’s academic, College housing and/or College employment arrangements.

The results of the investigation will be reviewed by the Director of Human Resources and the appropriate Senior Staff Officer who is in a supervisory position to the alleged harasser.  The Senior Staff Officer will be responsible for determining whether a violation of the policy occurred and, if so, the appropriate discipline to be imposed.  The standard of review shall be whether, based upon the information obtained during the investigation, it is more likely than not that a violation of the policy has occurred.  Possible outcomes of the investigation include:

(a)    a finding that a violation of the policy has not occurred;
(b)    a finding that a violation of the policy has occurred; or
(c)    in cases here where a violation of the policy cannot be determined, but there are clear differences between the parties that need to be resolved, a negotiated resolution of the complaint will be attempted. 

Within five (5) days of the conclusion of the investigation and the issuance of a decision by the Senior Staff Officer, both parties shall be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation.  In cases where the Senior Staff Officer determines that this policy has been violated, the Senior Staff Officer shall impose appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination from College employment that will (a) bring an end to the violation in question, (b) reasonably prevent a recurrence of a similar violation, and (c) remedy the effects of the violation on the complainant and others.  With respect to a complaint against a faculty, any termination decision shall be subject to the procedural requirements set forth in the Faculty Handbook.


Either the alleged harasser or the complainant may appeal the Senior Staff Officer's determinations, as follows:

1.       If the accused party is a faculty member, then any appeal shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Faculty Handbook.

2.       If the accused party is a staff member, the appeal must be made to the President or a committee established in accordance  with the College's Grievance Procedure, Step III. 

The appeal must be made in writing submitted to Human Resources within ten (10) calendar days of the date of the determination by the Senior Officer, and must specify the grounds for the appeal. The Senior Staff Officer shall review the case with the appropriate Appeals Committee and explain the reasons for his or her findings and decision.  An appeal may, in accordance with the terms of the applicable appeals process, result in an endorsement of the Senior Staff Officer’s decision, disagreement with the original findings and discipline, or a recommendation of different  sanctions.  There shall be no further right of appeal from the final action determined by the applicable appeals process.  Notification of the outcome of the appeal shall be governed by the terms of the applicable appeals process, although in any case the Senior Staff Officer will be notified of the final disposition of the case.

Any employee who the College determines has engaged in discrimination or harassment will be promptly and appropriately disciplined.  Disciplinary measures may consist of actions up to, and including termination of employment.


If the complaint involves harassment or discrimination by a student employee, the investigation, adjudication and resolution of the complaint will be referred to the appropriate student disciplinary processes as described in the Student Handbook.  Note that cases of sexual harassment by a student employee will be referred to the Student Sexual Misconduct Board.  All other cases of discrimination or harassment by a student employee will be referred to the Judicial Board.


A member of the College community may report an incident of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or sexual assault against a College  guest, visitor, or vendor.  

If the complainant is a student employee, the complaint should be directed to his/her workplace supervisor, the Director of Human Resources, Tamara Spoerri (x3838) or to the Associate Director, Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Meadow Davis (x5189).  Complaints by faculty or staff members, should be made to the parties designated within this policy. 

While the College will endeavor to promptly investigate and resolve a complaint against an alleged harasser outside the College, its ability to take action against an alleged harasser may be limited, however, where appropriate, the College will take those steps necessary to protect the College community.  The Dean of Student Affairs or the Director of Human Resources will inform the alleged harasser of the complaint and may, after consultation with other relevant College officers, take steps to bar the alleged harasser from the campus if that is deemed to be appropriate. The member(s) of the College who hosted or contracted with the alleged harasser may be informed of the actions taken and the reasons for them.  If the complainant alleges that a criminal sexual violation has occurred, and chooses to inform the police, the College will provide support to the complainant through such volunteers, community resources and employees of the College as appropriate.


Sexual harassment, in particular, warrants special mention within this policy.  Bowdoin College is committed to providing its students, faculty and staff with a community and place of study and work which is free of sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimidation, and exploitation.  The College cannot thrive unless individual rights are respected and each member of the community is treated with civility.  Members of the College should understand that this standard must shape our interactions regardless of whether it is backed up by some threat of legal sanction.  Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, is not simply inappropriate behavior proscribed by College policy; it is also prohibited by law.  Sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, and the Maine Human Rights Act.

The College will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment or violence by faculty, staff, students, or campus visitors, whether they are guests, patrons, independent contractors, vendors, or clients.  College policies provide ways for all members of the Bowdoin Community to file complaints of sexual harassment and for investigation and resolution of such complaints.  Because of the importance of this matter, information is provided to all new employees at orientation, and to all employees on an annual basis, including a description of prohibited conduct, an explanation of options available to employees for resolving complaints of sexual harassment, and a list of resources available to employees who have concerns or questions about sexual harassment.  Additional information for students can be found in the Student Handbook.

It is illegal for any employee to sexually harass another employee and for any supervisory employee to permit any act of sexual harassment in the workplace by anyone, whether or not it is an employee.


Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

* submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
* submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
* such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.


The following type of conduct is considered to be sexual harassment and is not permitted:

*Physical assaults and violence of a physical nature, such as:
Rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults; and intentional physical conduct which is sexual in nature, such as: touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another person’s body, or poking another person’s body.

*Unwanted sexual advances, propositions, or sexual comments, such as:
Sexually oriented gestures, suggestive or lewd noises, remarks, jokes or comments about a person's sexuality or sexual experience. *Preferential treatment or promise of preferential treatment to an employee for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any employee to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward.

*Subjecting, or threats of subjecting, an employee to unwelcome sexual attention or conduct or intentionally making performance of that employee's job more difficult because of that employee's sex.

*Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere on campus or in the workplace  by employees such as: pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional materials, reading materials, or other materials that are sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning, or pornographic, or bringing into the work environment or possessing any such material to read, display, or view at work,

*Reading or otherwise publicizing in the work environment materials that are in any way sexually revealing, sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning or pornographic.  

*Displaying signs or other materials purporting to segregate an employee by sex in any area of the workplace (other than restrooms and similar semi-private locker/changing rooms).

*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.

Abuse of Power and Professional Authority

The teacher-student relationship is at the core of Bowdoin College’s educational mission where all can achieve to their highest potential. The integrity of this relationship commands our highest attention and, as teachers, we are accountable as mentors, educators, and evaluators. The unequal institutional roles between teachers and students must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning and personal development.  For this reason, the College prohibits faculty members to engage in any sexual relationships with students even if they believe the relationship to be consensual.  (Exception: Spouses/Domestic Partners of faculty/staff who take courses through the Educational Assistance Policy).  In these relationships there exists the potential for sexual harassment, conflict of interests, and the abuse of authority, with adverse effects on employees, students and the overall College community. This policy applies even if the student is not enrolled in the faculty member’s class.  Also prohibited are sexual relationships between staff and students*.  For purposes of this policy faculty is defined as all those in any type of teaching/mentoring positions that might include tenured and tenure track faculty, coaches, teaching assistants, post-docs, lecturers, lab instructors, etc.

Faculty and staff must be able to mentor, educate, advise, and evaluate students without potential for coercion.  All employees should be aware that consensual relationships between those with unequal institutional power and those with institutionally conferred differences in status may create perceptions of favoritism or unfair treatment and may expose the College and the employee (faculty or staff member) to claims of sexual harassment and sex discrimination.  Those who violate this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.  With respect to a complaint against a faculty, any termination decision shall be subject to the procedural requirements set forth in the Faculty Handbook.

(*In rare situations there may be a preexisting relationship at the time of employment.  These may be permitted but must be immediately disclosed to one’s supervisor for review by the Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Human Resources to understand and minimize potential areas of conflict.  For example, a recent Bowdoin grad is hired in residential life and is in a relationship with a rising senior.  Measures will be taken to be sure there is no supervisory aspect or preferential treatment.)


Because complaints of sexual harassment implicate Title IX, as well as other applicable non-discrimination and harassment laws, the College has designated certain individuals to coordinate its efforts to comply with equal opportunity and affirmative action laws.  Questions or concerns about Title IX, Section 504 or other aspects of the College’s equal opportunity or affirmative action or harassment policy should be directed to:

Tamara Spoerri
Director of Human Resources
Human Resources office – McLellan Building First Floor
3500 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011

In addition, for alleged sex discriminations complaints against students and student employees, the Title IX Deputy Coordinator is as follows:

Meadow Davis
Associate Director of Student Affairs
Moulton Union, 2nd Floor
Brunswick, ME 04011

For athletic inquires regarding Title IX, the Title IX Deputy Coordinator is as follows:

Nicki Pearson
Associate Director of Athletics & Senior Women’s Administrator
Head Coach Women’s Field Hockey
Buck Center
Brunswick, ME 04011

Complaints of sexual harassment must be brought to any of the individuals listed in this policy, and if against  a non-student, will be handled pursuant to the Administrative Complaint Resolution Procedure outlined above.  Complaints of sexual harassment by a student will be handled pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy in the Student Handbook found at: http://www.bowdoin.edu/studentaffairs/student-handbook/index.shtml

Further information about Title IX and sex discrimination in education is available from the Office for Civil Rights, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-1100 (by Customer Service Hotline: (800) 421-3481; fax: (202) 453-6012; TDD: (877) 521-2171; email:  OCR@ed.gov; or on the web at http://www.ed.gov/ocr).


Under law, you may not be punished or penalized in any way for reporting, complaining about, participating in an investigation of or filing a claim concerning discrimination or harassment, or for testifying in any proceeding brought by anyone else.

Legal Recourse through the Maine Human Rights Commission

Any employee who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination or harassment may call or write the Maine Human Rights Commission to register a complaint. The Commission may be contacted as follows:

Maine Human Rights Commission
51 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Telephone: (207) 624-6290

Any complaint must be filed with the Commission within 300 days of the act of discrimination or harassment. Once the Commission has received a signed charge form, an investigation will be conducted and a determination will be made by the Commission of whether or not there are reasonable grounds to believe discrimination or harassment occurred.

If the Commission determines that discrimination or harassment did occur, it will attempt to resolve the situation between you and your employer through informal means. If informal means of resolution are unsuccessful, the Commission counsel may file a civil action on your behalf in the Superior Court, seeking appropriate relief.

Members of the Bowdoin community may wish to use the following services for consultation and/or support:
On-Campus Resources
* Bowdoin College Security (Ext. 3314 or for emergencies Ext. 3500)
* Counseling Center (Ext. 3145)
* Peter Buck Health Center (Ext. 3236)
* Employee Assistance Program 1-800-647-9151 or AnthemEAP.com
* Human Resources (Ext. 3837)
* Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs (Ext. 3578)
* Office of the Dean of Student Affairs (Ext. 3228)
* Safe Space (contact Residential Life Staff or Dean's Office for names of student members)
* Women's Resource Center (Ext. 3620)
* Workplace Advisors (listed above)

Community Resources:

* Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast ME
   (207)725-2181, 1-800-822-5999
    124 Maine Street, Brunswick, ME
* Brunswick Police Department (911 or 725-5521)
* Midcoast Medical Center (725-0181)
* Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine (1-800-871-7741)
* Parkview Adventist Medical Center (729-1641)