Definitions

Bias

Bias is a broad category of behaviors including discrimination, harassment, and other actions which demean or intimidate individuals or groups because of personal characteristics, beliefs or expression.

Examples of personal characteristics or beliefs include, but are not limited to:

  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Race,
  • Ethnicity
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Disability

Acts of bias may include, but are not limited to:

  • Graffiti (e.g., swastikas and other offensive words or pictures)
  • Anonymous email or internet posts containing ethnic or racial slurs
  • Making slurs, jokes or negative comments toward or about another person based on their legally protected characteristic

Discrimination

Discrimination is defined by the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment as adverse treatment of an individual based on a protected characteristic regardless of individual merit.

Examples of conduct that can constitute discrimination, if based on an individual’s protected characteristic include, but are not limited to:

  • Singling out or targeting an individual for different or less favorable treatment (e.g., more severe discipline, lower salary increase) because of their protected characteristic;
  • Failing or refusing to hire or admit an individual because of their protected characteristic;
  • Terminating an individual from employment or an educational program based on their protected characteristic.

Harassment

Harassment is defined by the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment as unwelcome verbal or physical behavior which is directed at a person based on a protected characteristic, when these behaviors are sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's educational experience, working conditions or living conditions by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Examples of conduct that constitute harassment is when the conduct is based on an individual’s protected characteristic and is sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's educational experience, working conditions or living conditions.  

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome jokes or comments about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., racial or ethnic jokes)
  • Disparaging remarks to a person about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., negative or offensive remarks or jokes about a person's religion or religious garments)
  • Displaying negative or offensive posters or pictures about a legally protected characteristic
  • Electronic communications, such as e-mail, text messaging and internet use, that violate this Policy.

Hate Crime

A hate crime is defined by law as any criminal offense in which the victim is intentionally selected because of their:

  • Actual or perceived race
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability

If you have safety concerns or want to report a hate crime or other criminal incident to the police, you are encouraged to contact law enforcement:

Princeton University Department of Public Safety

609-258-3333

Princeton Municipal Police

911 or 609-921-2100

Hostile Environment

A hostile environment, a form of harassment under the law, describes a situation created when unwelcome conduct based on a protected characteristic is sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's educational experience, working conditions or living conditions by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Persons affected by a hostile environment need not be direct recipients or targets of the offending behavior; they can be third parties, and behavior that is comfortable between direct participants may be unwelcome to others who cannot avoid observing it.

Determining hostile environment harassment is a fact-specific exercise, and not all circumstances rise to the level of the legal definition of hostile environment harassment.

For example, isolated incidents or petty slights, while problematic, are generally not sufficient to create a hostile environment. However, it is useful to report seemingly minor conduct because it may signal climate issues that can create the circumstances which allow more problematic, harassing behavior to escalate. It is usually simpler to address minor conduct at an earlier point than to respond to a complaint of harassment through an investigation.

Microaggressions

Microaggressions can be defined as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership” (Derald Wing Sue: Microaggressions in Everyday Life, 2010.) Microaggressions differ from overt, deliberate acts of discrimination because the people perpetrating microaggressions often are unaware they are causing harm. While a single microaggressive act may not violate any University policy, a pattern of microaggressive behavior could constitute prohibited harassment if it is sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's educational experience, working conditions or living conditions.

Protected Characteristics

Protected characteristics are those personal traits, characteristics and/or beliefs that are defined by applicable law as protected from discrimination and/or harassment. They include race, creed, color, sex, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, ancestry, religion, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital or domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation and/or other characteristics protected by applicable law.

Retaliation

Retaliation is any attempt to seek retribution against an individual or group of individuals involved in making a report of bias or complaint of discrimination and/or harassment, filing an external complaint, participating in a disciplinary process, or opposing in a reasonable manner an action believed in good faith to constitute a violation of University policy.

 

Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, abuse or violence, threats, and intimidation. Actions in response to a good-faith report of discrimination or harassment are considered retaliatory if they have a materially adverse effect on the working, academic or University-controlled living environment of an individual, or if they hinder or prevent the individual from effectively carrying out their University responsibilities. Any individual or group of individuals can be found to have engaged in retaliation.

Sex Discrimination

Sex or gender discrimination, including sexual misconduct such as sexual harassment and sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence, is defined by and prohibited under the University’s policy and disciplinary procedures for Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct, which can be found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.