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Equal Employment Opportunities

Section 100

Smith College Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

Smith College affirms that diversity in all aspects of the educational environment is necessary for achieving the highest level of academic excellence. As a central element of this commitment to excellence, the college seeks to provide an environment that fosters the recruitment and success of a diverse student, faculty and staff community. The college aspires to create and maintain an educational, working, and living environment that is respectful of differences and free from harassing behavior.

It is the policy of Smith College to provide equal employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, religious creed, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status, pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. This policy relates to all phases of employment including, but not limited to, recruiting, employment, placement, promotion, demotion or transfer, reduction of workforce and termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation, professional development and training, the use of all facilities, and participation in all college-sponsored employee activities.

Smith College employees carry out this commitment by:

  1. Lawfully administering all employment policies;
  2. Addressing and not tolerating unlawful discrimination, including harassment, in the workplace;*
  3. Addressing and not tolerating unprofessional conduct in the workplace.
  4. Making all employment decisions consistent with the principles underlying equal employment opportunity.
  5. Making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. See Section 102 for disability policy.

*Harassment under this policy occurs when physical or verbal conduct based on an employee's protected status, referenced above, has the effect of creating an intimidating or hostile or offensive work environment, or unreasonably interferes with a person’s work performance.

Consistent with its commitment to access and diversity and as a federal contractor, the college takes affirmative action as called for by applicable laws and executive orders to ensure that minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are introduced into our workforce and considered for promotional opportunities as they arise.

It is the responsibility of each supervisor of the college to ensure implementation of these policies to avoid any discrimination in employment. All employees are expected to be familiar with these policies and cooperate with their implementation. Intentional violation of these policies is a basis for employee disciplinary action. Employees and applicants shall not be subjected to retaliation or intimidation because they have: (1) filed a complaint; (2) assisted or participated in an investigation, compliance review, hearing or any other activity related to the administration of any federal, state, or local law requiring equal employment opportunity; (3) opposed any act or practice made unlawful by any federal, state, or local law requiring equal opportunity; or (4) exercised any other legal right protected by federal, state, or local law requiring equal opportunity.

The Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and  Interim Title IX Coordinator in conjunction with Human Resources have been assigned to direct the establishment of and to monitor the implementation of personnel procedures to guide our affirmative action program throughout the college, and to oversee and coordinate all efforts of the College to achieve its goals in the attainment of campus diversity. This policy and related initiatives are posted on the Office for Equity and Inclusion website.

Commitment to Academic Freedom

As an academic institution, teaching, doing research, and learning are subject to the protections of 'academic freedom' as described in the college's policy on academic freedom. Actions or words used in the context of the academic curriculum and teaching environments that serve legitimate and reasonable educational purposes will not be evaluated as harassment or unlawful discrimination because of the principles underlying academic freedom.

Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Complaint Procedure

The College has created the following guidelines and procedures for the resolution of complaints alleging violation of the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.

I. Pre-Complaint Resolution Strategies

In a diverse community, disagreements and conflicts of various degrees of seriousness are inevitable. Many issues are best resolved informally, by direct communication between the individuals involved, or with the help of mediation by a third party.  However, such a strategy may be inappropriate when the conduct is severe or when the person responsible for the alleged behavior holds a position of authority. Under these circumstances, the complainant is encouraged to use the formal complaint procedure. A complaint may be filed via EthicsPoint found on the Office for Equity and Inclusion website.

The following members of the college community are available to discuss complaints or concerns under this policy: all supervisors or department heads, the vice president for equity and inclusion, the director of equal opportunity and compliance, the associate vice president for human resources, the assistant director of employee relations, and the dean of the School for Social Work (an option for employees within the School for Social Work).

These persons are prepared to assist with the assessment of a concern and to explain the options and resources available for resolving concerns. Questions are encouraged; merely discussing an incident in this way does not commit an individual to making a complaint.

After discussion with one or more of these persons, the complainant may: pursue the matter on their own; ask the director of equal opportunity and compliance to discuss the matter with the person who engaged in the conduct; inquire about the possibility of mediation; or proceed to the formal complaint process described below. The director of equal opportunity and compliance will provide information to the parties on the substantive issues involved and the means for addressing the complaint and its possible resolution. Should one of these persons undertake to mediate, they will inform the director of equal opportunity and compliance.

The matter will be considered resolved when there is an agreed resolution acceptable to the parties. A written record of the resolution and any other relevant documents will be maintained by the Office for Equity and Inclusion and will not become part of a personnel file. Failure to  respond to a complaint, or refusal to participate in informal mediation, shall not be introduced as a consideration during any formal proceedings that may arise.

Informal resolution may not be appropriate when the behavior complained of is so egregious as to constitute a violation of policy that could result in disciplinary action.  After learning about a situation that could potentially fall under this policy, any of the above listed persons will consult with the vice president for equity and inclusion and/or the director of equal opportunity and compliance regarding a course of action.

II. Formal Complaint Procedures

When the college receives a formal complaint under this policy it will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. Every effort will be made to proceed while maintaining confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. If it is determined that this policy has been violated, the college will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct, and where appropriate will impose disciplinary action.


If a complainant believes the Equal Opportunity Policy has been violated and informal resolution is not appropriate, or has not been successful, they should report the incident promptly to their supervisor or department head, vice president for equity and inclusion, the director of equal opportunity and compliance, the associate vice president of human resources, the assistant director of human resources, or the dean of the School for Social Work (an option for employees in the School for Social Work). In order to aid in the fairness of this process, formal written complaints are “strongly encouraged" to be filed within 7 (seven) calendar days of the offending or questionable action or behavior.

This procedure does NOT cover allegations of gender-based and sexual misconduct that is covered by the college’s Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy, Section 105, in this handbook. 

The following is an outline of the procedure generally followed once a complaint has been brought to the attention of the college:

  • A prompt and impartial investigation of the complaint is conducted by the director of equal opportunity and compliance or their designee. The investigation will consist of gathering relevant information, including via interviews of the individual who made the complaint,  the person or persons against whom the complaint was made and other individuals who may have witnessed the reported incident or incidents as well as reviewing relevant documentation.
  • Upon completion of the investigation, the director of equal opportunity and compliance or their designee or the vice president for equity and inclusion will meet individually with the person who made the complaint and the individual(s) against whom the complaint was made, to prepare the results of the investigation and, where a remedy is determined to be appropriate, to inform the parties of the steps that will be taken to remedy the situation.
Disciplinary Action

In the event the investigation results in a finding that this policy has been violated, further action will be taken in consultation with the associate vice president of human resources and/or the provost and dean of the faculty, or, the dean of the School for Social Work (if the employee works in the School for Social Work) including disciplinary action such as but not limited to reprimand, change in work assignment, mandatory training or suspension and/or immediate termination.


All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much privacy, discretion, and confidentiality as possible, without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation. All persons involved should treat the situation with respect. To conduct a thorough investigation, the investigator(s) may discuss the complaint with witnesses and those persons involved in or affected by the complaint, and those persons necessary to assist in the investigation or to implement appropriate disciplinary actions.

No Retaliation for Filing a Complaint

Retaliation against an individual for making a complaint or for assisting in the investigation of such a complaint will not be tolerated. Any acts of retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action. If an individual involved in an investigation believes they have been retaliated against, they should contact one of the on-campus resources listed.

III. State and Federal Agency Complaints

In addition to the above, an individual who believes they have been subjected to illegal discrimination may file a formal complaint with the government agencies listed below. Using the college's complaint process does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint with either of these agencies. Claims filed with Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) or Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) must be filed within 300 days from the date of the alleged violation.

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)

Boston Office:
One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 994-6000

Springfield Office:
436 Dwight Street, Rm 220
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 739-2145

U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

John F. Kennedy Federal Building
475 Government Center
Boston, MA 02203
Telephone: (617) 565-3200

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on genetic information in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral and other aspects of employment. GINA also restricts employer acquisition of genetic information and strictly limits disclosure of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about genetic tests of applicants, employees, or their family members; the manifestation of disease or disorders in family members (family medical history); and requests for or receipt of genetic services by applicants, employees, or their family members.