Chapter 2: Nondiscrimination
Vanderbilt University has a strong commitment to assuring that every member of the faculty and staff and every student receive fair treatment. A number of policies support this commitment, with some of these reflecting both institutional policy and legal obligation (Title VII provisions relating to employment discrimination, for example), and others reflecting institutionally developed statements of policy considered important within the institutional community (the statement on sexual orientation, for example).
A: Nondiscrimination Statements
Nondiscrimination Statement for University Publications
The following statement on nondiscrimination must appear in all University publications that relate to admissions, the presentation of academic programs, and employment.
In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Inquiries or complaints should be directed to Director; the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department; Baker Building, PMB 401809, 2301 Vanderbilt Place; Nashville, TN 37240-1809. Telephone 615-322-4705 (V/TDD); FAX 615-343-4969.
B: Laws Imposing Special Obligations
A number of provisions of federal and state law, including those mentioned above, impose special obligations on the University and require particular attention. Among these are:
Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended
Executive Order 11246, as amended
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974
The Age Discrimination Act of 1975
Revenue Procedure 75-50 (1975)
Tennessee Fair Employment Practices Law of 1978
Governor’s Code of Fair Practices of 1979
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
C: Individuals with Disabilities
Vanderbilt is committed to equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities. In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Vanderbilt does not exclude qualified persons with disabilities from participating in employment opportunities and University programs and activities.
Questions about accommodations should be directed to the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department.
It is important that Vanderbilt University faculty, staff, and students enjoy an environment free from implicit and explicit behavior used to control, influence, or affect the well-being of any member of our community. Harassment of any individual based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability is unacceptable and grounds for disciplinary action, and also constitutes a violation of federal law. Equally unacceptable within the University is the harassment of any individual on the basis of sexual orientation.
1. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It is illegal under state and federal law and is a violation of University policy.
Sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission amended its sex discrimination guidelines under Title VII to include sexual harassment, defining the term as follows: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; 3) 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 Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education issued a policy statement on August 31, 1982, defining sexual harassment under Title IX and setting forth procedures for handling sexual harassment complaints. According to this policy statement, sexual harassment “consists of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, imposed on the basis of sex, by an employee or agent of a recipient [of federal funds] that denies, limits, provides different, or conditions the provision of aid, benefits, services, or treatment protected under Title IX.”
2. Racial and Other Harassment in the Work Environment
Harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin is a form of unlawful discrimination and is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains, in its 1980 “Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Sex,” that the principles for defining sexual harassment in the workplace apply as well to harassment based on race, color, religion, and national origin. Thus where harassment based on race, color, religion, or national origin has the “purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment” it rises to the level of unlawful discrimination. In addition, the courts have applied these principles to harassment on the basis of age and disability under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, respectively. Finally, the University, through its “Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Statement,” applies these principles to harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.
3. Complaint Procedure
Any member of the University community who experiences harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation should immediately seek assistance through the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department (EAD), 322-4705. The EAD receives all complaints of unlawful discrimination raised within the University community and, where possible, assists in the resolution of those complaints.
E: Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
The following statements summarize policies on affirmative action and equal employment opportunity.
University officials will base employment decisions on the principles of equal employment opportunity consistent with our intent to achieve the goals outlined in our Affirmative Action Plan and consistent with the University nondiscrimination policy with respect to sexual orientation.
Vanderbilt University, through responsible officials in compliance with its affirmative action obligations, will recruit, hire, train, and promote persons in all job titles, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam Era, except where age and sex are bona fide occupational requirements, or where a specific disability constitutes a bona fide occupational disqualification.
University officials will take affirmative action to ensure that promotion decisions are in accord with principles of equal employment opportunity by imposing only valid requirements for promotional opportunities.
University officials will ensure that all personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, returns from layoff, University sponsored training, education, tuition assistance, and social and recreational programs, will be administered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era.
The Provost and the Vice Chancellors assist the Chancellor in administering the provisions of the Affirmative Action Plan. They are responsible for assuring that the University’s policy on affirmative action and equal opportunity is carried out within their respective administrative areas.
The staff of the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department monitors the University’s compliance with equal opportunity and affirmative action laws and coordinates and implements the provisions of Vanderbilt’s Affirmative Action Plan. The Department also coordinates services for persons with disabilities.
Grievance procedures for faculty members are explained in Part IV, Chapter 2. The Office of the General Counsel is also available to assist with application and interpretation of equal opportunity and affirmative action laws.