Retaliation

Princeton University strongly encourages members of the University community to report suspected violations of University policy.  However, we understand that some individuals may be reluctant to report their concerns due to fears of retaliation. The following frequently asked questions and answers provide information regarding what constitutes retaliation under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment, as well as 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


The University expressly prohibits any form of retaliatory action against any member of the University community who in good faith: (1) files a report, complaint or grievance under this policy (or with an external entity); (2) opposes in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of this policy; or (3) participates in University investigations, compliance reviews, or discipline proceedings under this policy.


Depending on the circumstances referenced above, retaliatory acts may include (but are not limited to):
•    Adverse employment action;
•    Adverse action relating to participation in an educational or working program;
•    Unreasonably interfering with the academic or professional career of another individual;
•    Engaging in conduct which constitutes stalking, harassment, or assault;
•    Engaging in efforts to have others engage in retaliatory behavior on one’s behalf.
 

What types of conduct might constitute Retaliation under this policy?

Each case is 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 (or with an external entity), opposed in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of this Policy, or participated in University investigations, compliance reviews, or discipline proceedings under this 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 an educational program offered by the University (e.g., adverse change to grades, class schedule, research opportunities, etc.);
  • Unreasonably interfering with, threatening, or damaging the academic or professional career of another individual;
  • Engaging in behavior which constitutes stalking, harassment, or assault.
  • Engaging in efforts to have others 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 under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment if the conduct occurred because the respondent (1) filed a report, complaint or grievance under this policy (or with an external entity), (2) opposed in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of this Policy; or (3) participated in University investigations, compliance reviews, or discipline proceedings under this 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.