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Chapter 10: Equal Employment Opportunity

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Statement of Equal Opportunity

Swarthmore College is committed to the principle of equal opportunity for all qualified persons without discrimination against any person by reason of sex, race, color, ancestry, age, religion, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, medical condition, pregnancy, disability, use of a guide or support animals because of a disability or any other legally protected status. This policy is consistent with relevant governmental statutes and regulations, such as Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act and ADA Amendments Act, The Equal Pay Act, The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the Borough of Swarthmore Ordinance on Non-Discrimination.

In keeping with the long-standing traditions of the College and the spirit and letter of the federal and state equal opportunity laws, it is the standing policy of the College to realize equality of opportunity in education and employment; to guard against discrimination contrary to that aim; and to correct discriminatory behavior if found to exist within the College community. Consistent with maintaining an educational program of the highest quality, our standing policy includes affirmative efforts to achieve the above goals in employment and education.

The Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity policy has been and shall be further implemented by the President and by members of the faculty and administration designated by the President for that purpose. (Adopted by the Board of Managers 1 March 1975, with amendments 24 April 1976, 3 December 1977, 7 December 1985, and 5 March 2007.)


Prohibition of Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct

The College seeks to create an environment in which the maximum academic potential of students and professional potential of employees can be realized. In keeping with its efforts to create such an environment, the College recognizes that all who work and learn at the College are responsible for ensuring that the work and academic environment is free from discriminatory practices, including sexual misconduct. Further, it is the obligation of every employee to report sexual misconduct that is suspected in the college community. Community members are always encouraged to report or seek assistance for any concern related to work conditions or relationships at the college.

Prohibited discrimination relating to a protected status and sexual misconduct are inappropriate conduct and are grounds for discipline, up to dismissal, or other remedial measures depending on the circumstances as well as the severity and pervasiveness of the behavior. The inappropriate conduct does not need to qualify as unlawful for the college to take action. Because some inappropriate conduct within this policy may also be a violation of law, any individual who feels subjected to illegal conduct has the right to initiate legal proceedings in criminal or civil court in addition to or in lieu of a complaint pursuant to this policy.

Specifically, sexual misconduct represents a continuum of behaviors ranging from physical sexual assault and abuse to sexual harassment and intimidation. Anyone can be subject to and can be capable of sexual misconduct. It can occur between two people, whether or not they are in a relationship, in which one has power over the other, or are of different sexual identities. All forms of sexual misconduct are prohibited and are serious violations of the College's policies. Whenever the College learns of allegations of sexual misconduct, it will take appropriate action to investigate the allegations and take prompt remedial action that is aimed at stopping and preventing sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct includes both sexual harassment and sexual assault. Sexual assault is a particularly serious form of sexual misconduct, which could also lead to criminal prosecution. It can range from unwanted, intentional physical contact to rape. For faculty and instructional staff, sexual assault will be considered to be a particularly serious form of unprofessional conduct.

Sexual harassment is another form of sexual misconduct that is a type of discrimination based on sex or gender. Swarthmore College also finds that harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is also a form of sexual harassment for purposes of the College's policies. There are two basic types of sexual harassment:

A. Quid Pro Quo Harassment is any action in which submission to conduct of a sexual nature is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's education or employment, or in which submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual. It is not necessary for this type of harassment to be repeated in order to be deemed sexual harassment.

B. Hostile Environment Harassment is any unwelcome action, verbal expression, usually repeated or persistent, or a series of actions or expressions that have either the intent, or are reasonably perceived as having the effect, of creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning educational, employment, or living environment for a student or College employee, either by being sexual in nature or by focusing on a person's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. An intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment is defined as one that is so severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with a person's ability to work, learn, exist in living conditions, or have access and opportunity to participate in all and any aspect of academic, professional, or residential campus life.

Some specific examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: unwelcome verbal or physical advances, persistent leers, and lewd comments; the persistent use of sex stereotypes or irrelevant references or remarks about a person's gender, sexuality or sexual orientation that insult or degrade; and manipulation of an authority relationship to coerce (not necessarily involving physical force) or influence another person to do something of a sexual nature that they would not otherwise do. Depending on the circumstances, repeated unwelcome remarks, about a person's personality or appearance might be interpreted as sexually suggestive. Such remarks are particularly objectionable when they interfere with the purposes of the relationship and reasonably result in feelings of confusion, uncertainty, or discomfort for the person who is the object of the remarks.

Examples of other forms of sexual misconduct within the college community include: indecent exposure of one’s own private body parts or genitalia, dating or domestic violence, and stalking an individual based on a sexual purpose.


Options for Resolution

If a situation arises in which an individual has been the victim of discrimination or other forms of non-sex/gender based misconduct by a staff member, Swarthmore's internal Procedures for Resolving Non-Sex/Gender-Based Complaints Against Staff Members, described fully in the next chapter, may be invoked to resolve the matter.

Before deciding to file a complaint via the staff process, the individual may consult informally with the Director, equal opportunity and engagement for advice or possible informal resolution of the problem, if appropriate. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary for the Director, equal opportunity and engagement to conduct an investigation with or without the staff member’s consent.

Additional assistance and information is available from the offices listed below.

  • Equal Opportunity/Human Resources Office: Director, EO & Engagement, 101 South Chester, ext. 8398
  • Your supervisor, department chair, or other member of management
  • Provost's Office: Provost, Parrish 229, ext. 8319
  • Public Safety: Ben West House, ext. 8281
  • Dean of the College: Parrish 108, ext. 8365

It is important to note that discussing concerns with the Director, equal opportunity and engagement or any other resource person listed above, does not obligate a person to initiate the complaint procedures, nor do such discussions preclude a person from doing so. Regardless of whether or not options for resolution are pursued within the College system, individuals always have the right to pursue legal action, whether criminal, civil, or regulatory, in addition to or in lieu of a complaint pursuant to this policy.


Equal Opportunity Director

The College's Director, equal opportunity and engagement has responsibility for monitoring the equal employment and educational opportunity compliance of the College and assisting with application and interpretation of laws that impose special obligations on the College.

The Director, equal opportunity and engagement is available to consult with employees and students about matters they believe might involve issues of discrimination. The Director, equal opportunity and engagement also oversees investigations regarding complaints that involve questions of prohibited discrimination. The Director, equal opportunity and engagement may enlist the support of the Public Safety investigators or another trained investigator during the investigation process.


Individuals with Disabilities

Swarthmore is committed to equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities. In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the ADA Amendment Act Swarthmore does not exclude otherwise qualified persons with disabilities from participating in employment opportunities and College programs and activities.

Congress passed the ADA in 1990 in an effort to remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from having access to goods, services, and employment opportunities. The ADA Amendment Act, passed in 2009, provided clarification of the regulations and extended protection under the law to potentially more individuals. Complying with the ADA and the ADA Amendment Act helps Swarthmore achieve its goal of offering employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and helps tap an under‑utilized employee population.

The ADA and ADA Amendment Act provides protection for the person with a disability from discrimination in any employment action and requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations to aid the individual to perform the essential duties of the job.

The law defines a person as disabled if they:

  • have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one of life's major activities, such as walking, hearing, etc., or
  • have a record or history of such an impairment, or
  • are regarded as having such impairment

In addition, a person who is associated with someone with a disability is protected from employment discrimination based on unwarranted assumptions (e.g., that the person will have to miss work to care for the disabled individual).

The law defines essential job functions as those fundamental tasks of a job, reasonably defined by the employer; and reasonable accommodations as those changes in facilities or policies that enable an otherwise qualified person to perform the essential job functions. An accommodation is considered reasonable and is required if it effectively allows the person to perform the essential job tasks, while not placing an undue hardship on the employer.

According to the ADA and the ADA Amendment Act, the employer is not required to create a new position as an accommodation or to shift duties from the person with a disability to another staff member resulting in an increased workload for that staff member.


College Practice

The College's position is to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with a disability or serious medical condition as needed to perform the essential duties of their position, provided that the accommodation does not create an undue hardship on the college. The process of determining a reasonable accommodation involves engaging in an interactive dialogue between the employee and the College to consider the appropriateness and viability of various possible accommodations. Together, the employee, the supervisor, and the Director, equal opportunity and engagement come to a decision about the most appropriate and reasonable accommodation.

Should an illness progress to a stage where an individual can no longer perform the essential functions of his/her job with accommodations, the College would work with the individual to apply for other suitable positions, if available and as appropriate.

Supervisors should contact Human Resources for assistance if questions arise about accommodations or performance assessments of essential functions.


Seeking Assistance

Employees are not required to identify themselves as having a disability; self-identification is strictly voluntary. However, if an employee with a disability or serious medical condition needs to request an accommodation, the Director, equal opportunity and engagement should be contacted in Human Resources. If an accommodation is requested, the HR will arrange for an interactive process to assess the request and will also review other policies with the employee that may be pertinent to the situation, i.e., leave benefits, FMLA, confidentiality, Employee Assistance Program.

If a work related situation arises in which a staff member believes they may have been discriminated against in decisions or actions related to his or her disability or serious medical condition, they may seek review through Swarthmore's internal discrimination grievance review process, described earlier in this chapter. The employee can contact the Director, equal opportunity and engagement for assistance.


Service Animal Policy

In compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendment Act, Swarthmore provides access for people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the campus that are open to the public or to students.

A service animal is defined as an animal that is individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. Common tasks performed by a service animal are: guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, fetching items, alerting people with autism to distracting, repetitive movements. Most service animals are dogs, but other animals may also be service animals, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor. An animal does not have to be licensed or certified as a service animal.

Use of a service animal must first be registered with the Director, equal opportunity and engagement in Human Resources. The Director, equal opportunity and engagement will review documentation of the disability and discuss appropriate accommodations including the assistance of the service animal.

Documentation required for the service animal includes:

  • the service animal must be registered in compliance with state and/or local laws, and
  • immunization records must be current and include rabies; the service animal must wear vaccination tags at all times.

Health, Control of and Hygiene/Cleanliness

The health, control of and hygiene of the service animal are the responsibility of their partner/handler. The service animal must be in good health. The service animal's partner/handler will be asked to leave the campus if the service animal is found to be ill.

The service animal must be on a leash or in a harness and under the control of their partner/handler at all times. The service animal must not engage in unacceptable behavior. If an animal does so, the partner/handler is expected to use proper training techniques to correct the behavior. Repeated occurrences may result in the service animal being temporarily barred from the building(s) until significant steps (such as additional training) are taken to mitigate the behavior.

The partner/handler is responsible for keeping the service animal clean and well-groomed to keep animal odor to a minimum. Adequate flea preventions and control must be maintained. If the service animal's odor is offensive to other individuals the partner/handler will be directed to bathe the service animal prior to returning to the building(s). Repeated occurrences may result in the service animal being temporarily banned from the building(s) until steps are taken to comply with the hygiene requirements.

The partner/handler must clean up after the animal, unless they are unable to do so because of a disability. If a disability prevents the partner/handler from cleaning up after the service animal, this information must be provided to the Director, equal opportunity and engagement when registering the service animal.

Guidelines for Faculty and Staff

It is common that some community members may want to interact with the service animal. However, this may have the effect of distracting the service animal. You are asked to follow the simple guidelines below for the safety and well-being of the service animal and the partner/handler.

  • Remember that the service animal is a working animal.
  • Allow the service animal to accompany the partner/handler at all times.
  • Do not pet the service animal. This will distract it from its work.
  • Do not feed the service animal.
  • Do not deliberately startle the service animal.
  • Do not call the service animal or try to get the service animal's attention.
  • Do not attempt to separate a service animal from its handler.


Physical Access

Swarthmore College seeks to provide an accessible and hospitable learning and working environment for all, while ensuring full compliance with federal and state regulations. Our community welcomes and encourages persons with disabilities to participate in our programs and activities as faculty, staff, students, and as visitors to the College.

The College is developing its Physical Access Plan to address accessibility issues campus-wide. The Plan lists items to be addressed with an approximate timeline. To receive further details on any aspect of the Plan, please contact Susan Smythe, ADA Program Manager at , ext. 2063 or visit the Accessibility web page.

Emergency Evacuation Procedure for Faculty, Staff and Students with Disabilities

Swarthmore College is committed to providing equal access to safe egress for any visitor or member of the community including additional assistance if required, to effectively alert, evacuate, and/or shelter them during an emergency. 

To be successful in providing this assistance, the Emergency Evacuation Procedures (EEP) require the cooperation of every member of the College community. Emergency protocols are explained on the Public Safety Web site. Some members of the community are specially trained to identify and assist persons who may need aid in an emergency.

This emergency evacuation plan has been reviewed by and is on file with the Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety and the Borough of Swarthmore Police Department.

Personal Emergency Plans (PEPs) for Persons with Disabilities

Although the process of developing a Personal Emergency Plan is optional for students and staff, the College encourages proactive planning on the part of the entire college community for emergency conditions. Individuals with disabilities may require additional assistance with alerting, evacuating, and sheltering in the event of an emergency.

The College offers the opportunity, through a confidential process, to develop a PEP that could include such strategies as storing extra equipment or medications, providing Public Safety with your class and personal schedule, specific evacuation procedures, sheltering procedures, volunteer rescue assistants, using an optional Personal GPS Locator, and designating means of communication in the event of an emergency. The process begins by completing an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form.

Self-Identification with the College

As part of the new-hire orientation process, all new faculty and staff are asked if they might need assistance in an emergency evacuation. If they answer yes, they are given an Emergency Evacuation Referral Form. Once a year, an inquiry is made of all faculty and staff regarding the need for emergency evacuation assistance. Supervisors may also ask an employee who has self-identified as disabled or has a known or obvious disability if they will require assistance in the event of an emergency.

All employees, including faculty, other academic personnel and staff must return the Emergency Evacuation Referral Form in confidence to:

Director, equal opportunity and engagement
Human Resources Office, 101 South Chester


Qualified Applicants with Disabilities

Applicants are not required to identify themselves as having a disability; self-identification is strictly voluntary. The job related skills and experience of all applicants should be evaluated without regard to disability or any accommodations that may be necessary. The ADA and the ADA Amendment Act define a person with a disability as "qualified" for a position if they are able to perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations.

Decisions about accommodations or undue hardship must be made on a case by case basis. Supervisors should contact Human Resources for assistance if questions arise about an applicant with a disability.


Accommodating Religious Practices

Swarthmore reasonably accommodates the religious practices of employees or prospective employees unless doing so would create undue hardship or safety hazards, and as long as such practices do not unreasonably disrupt the College's operations or interfere with coworkers or others with whom the individual comes in contact. If questions arise about the accommodation of religious practices or religious dress, supervisors should contact Human Resources before taking action.