Retaliation

The following frequently asked questions and answers provide general information on the reporting, handling and adjudication of complaints of retaliation. Please review both the full policy on discrimination and/or harassment and the provided definitions for complete information. Additional FAQs may be added from time to time as questions arise.

What is considered Retaliation under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment?

Under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment, Retaliation is defined as: “any attempt to seek retribution against an individual or group of individuals involved in filing a complaint or report under this policy, filing an external complaint, participating in a disciplinary process, or opposing in a reasonable manner an action believed to constitute a violation of this policy. Retaliation can take many forms, including abuse or violence, threats, and intimidation. Actions in response to a good faith report or response under this policy 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 engage in retaliation and will be held accountable under this policy.”

What types of conduct might constitute Retaliation under this policy?

Each case in unique and is considered in its own context.  However, the following are examples that may constitute Retaliation, if it was determined that the conduct occurred because the party filed a complaint or report under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment, filed an external complaint, participated in a disciplinary process, or opposed in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of the Policy:

  • Adverse employment action (e.g., termination, demotion, reduction in pay, adverse change in schedule, adverse change in work location, etc.);
  • Adverse action related to participation in any educational program offered by the University (e.g., adverse change to grades, class schedule, research opportunities, etc.);
  • Maliciously or purposefully interfering with, threatening, or damaging the academic or professional career of another individual;
  • Stalking, harassment, intimidation, threats, or engaging in physical violence;
  • Adverse social actions such as exclusion or removal from a University living group, University student organization (i.e., student organizations recognized by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Office of Religious Life, Pace Center for Civic Engagement, Campus Recreation, or Graduate Student Organizations) or University committee;
  • Encouraging or asking others to engage in retaliatory behavior on one’s behalf.
Is it Retaliation for a complainant to publicly state that a respondent engaged in discriminatory or harassing conduct?

While individuals involved in investigations are encouraged to exercise discretion in sharing information, they are not barred from sharing information related to cases in which they are involved. Such conduct would not generally be considered Retaliation.  Such conduct could only constitute Retaliation if the conduct occurred because the respondent filed a complaint or report under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment, filed an external complaint, participated in a disciplinary process, or opposed in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of the Policy.

Is it Retaliation for complainant/respondent or their friends to say negative things about the other party?

Such conduct generally would not be considered Retaliation, unless the conduct involves maliciously or purposefully making demonstrably false and defamatory factual statements (as opposed to stating negative opinions about the party).

Is it Retaliation for complainant/respondent or their friends to alter their social interactions with the other party?

In an academic or employment context, social behavior that has a material adverse effect on the ability of a party to effectively carry out their University responsibilities (such as refusing to speak to a professional colleague or academic advisee in an academic or employment setting) could potentially constitute Retaliation.

In purely social contexts, alterations in personal relationships (such as ending a friendship, declining to invite an individual to a private party, declining to invite a colleague to a social lunch) would not generally be considered Retaliation.

Is it Retaliation for a respondent to file a counterclaim against a complainant?

Filing a counterclaim generally would not be considered Retaliation, as members of the University community have the right to ask the University to review allegations that another party violated University policy.

Does the policy against Retaliation apply to witnesses?

Yes.  Witnesses are both protected from being retaliated against for their participation in a disciplinary process and prohibited from engaging in Retaliation against others.

I am interested in filing a report of bias, discrimination, or harassment, but am concerned about potential Retaliation. What should I do?

We encourage you to contact the Director for Institutional Equity and EEO, Cheri Burgess (clawson@princeton.edu), to discuss how your concerns could best be addressed. 

What should I do if I believe I am being retaliated against?

We encourage you to contact the Director for Institutional Equity and EEO, Cheri Burgess (clawson@princeton.edu), to discuss how your concerns could best be addressed.