Glossary of Terms


Accommodation - A waiver of a requirement, a provision of an aide, or other method for providing assistance to an individual necessary to allow that person regardless of disability or religion, to have equal access to the workplace, facilities and services provided by the university.


Affiliate - An individual who has a formal affiliation with the university under the terms of Policy 1337.

Appropriate Vice President - the university vice president with authority over the respondent.


Behavior Date/Objectionable Behavior - The term “behavior date” refers to the most recent time that the respondent engaged in the objectionable behavior.  Objectionable behavior refers to the discriminatory or harassing behaviors that the complaint describes.


COMPLAINANT – A university community member or visitor who files a complaint under this policy. 


Complaint - The signed, written document detailing the allegations, naming the respondent and providing as much detail as possible regarding the charges.  A formal complaint must be filed no later than 180 days after the last date of discriminatory or harassing behavior.   A formal complaint may not be filed anonymously or on behalf of another person, although an anonymous complaint or third party complaint alleging sexual violence may be investigated by the Title IX Officer if sufficient information is provided.


Complaint Commencement Date – the date on which the complainant provides the Title IX Officer with the written and signed complaint.  For example, within 15 days after the commencement date, the DEO must complete an initial investigation and present preliminary findings to the complainant, respondent, and the university vice president with authority over the respondent.  See flowchart for additional timeline details.


Director of Equal Opportunity (DEO) - The person the president has charged with oversight of this policy and procedure.  The DEO is the Title IX Coordinator for James Madison University.


Discrimination - To take an adverse action or provide unequal treatment based on a person's age, color, disability, national origin, parental status, genetic information, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status when such action deprives a person of a privilege or right (such as a benefit, an equitable evaluation, a grade, a position or a promotion), or otherwise adversely affects the person.  This also includes retaliation for filing a complaint and harassment on the basis of one of the bases listed above.  It also includes denial of a reasonable accommodation for a disability.


Discriminatory practices - Include harassment; retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination or participating in an investigation or opposing discriminatory practices; decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain protected class; and denying opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular protected class.


Equal Employment Opportunity is the right of all persons to be considered fairly based upon their ability to perform the requirements of the job.


Faculty Member - An instructional or Administrative and Professional (AP) faculty member employed by the university.


Formal Complaint Process - This process begins by filing a written complaint alleging discrimination or harassment with the university's Director of Equal Opportunity (DEO). Click here for a flowchart that details the formal complaint process.


Harassment - A form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome offensive physical, verbal or written conduct that shows aversion or hostility toward another person on the basis of age, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status in the following situations:  

  1. When submitting to or rejecting the conduct is made the basis for a personnel action or a recommendation for a personnel action (such as hiring, promoting or salary adjustment); an action or a recommendation for an action affecting a student (such as admission or retention); or an evaluation (such as promotion, tenure, compensation or work condition adjustment of an employee or grading of a student).
  2. When the conduct creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive learning or working environment.
  3. Harassment specifically includes instances of sexual violence of any type perpetrated against a member of the university community or a visitor.

 To view the brochure "Harassment: It's Not Academic", click here.


Informal Resolution – Resolution reached via informal means such as discussion, mediation, etc. without filing a written complaint under this policy.  The university recommends attempting informal resolution; however, it is not required and complainants may proceed directly to the formal complaint process.  This flowchart details the informal resolution process.


Mediation – Mediation is a process designed to encourage open conversation between participants through facilitation.  Mediation may be recommended to the complainant and respondent; however, mediation is entirely voluntary and choosing not to participate will not be considered adversely in future proceedings.   Read more about mediation at JMU here:


Ombudsperson - The Ombudsperson is a resource to all JMU staff.  The Ombudsperson can assist with any workplace issues and disputes and also provides information if a staff person wishes to pursue a complaint through the Virginia state grievance process.  For more information:


Protected Class – Protected classes are groups of people with certain characteristics that are protected from discrimination or harassment by federal and state laws, as well as JMU policies.  JMU recognizes protected classes based on the following characteristics:  age, color, disability, national origin, parental status, genetic information, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status.


RESPONDENT – An employee or affiliate of the university or visitor against whom a complaint under this policy is filed.


Retaliation - Overt or covert acts of discrimination, harassment, interference, intimidation, penalty, reprisal or restraint against a group or individual exercising rights under this policy.  This includes providing evidence or acting as a witness on behalf of a complainant or respondent involved in a complaint.  Retaliation shall be deemed to constitute harassment and, therefore, will be considered a separate violation of this policy.  If retaliation occurs, a separate complaint should be made.


Sanction – a disciplinary action or penalty


Sexual Harassment - Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a manager, supervisor, co-workers or non-employee (third party).  Sexual harassment may occur between members of opposite genders or the same gender.  It may occur on the basis of sexual orientation.  It may occur in any context in which sex is introduced into a business or university relationship.  Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision.

  • Quid pro quo – A form of sexual harassment when a manager/supervisor/professor or other person of authority gives or withholds a work- or school-related benefit in exchange for sexual favors. Typically, the harasser requires sexual favors from the victim, either rewarding or punishing the victim in some way.
  • Hostile environment – A form of sexual harassment where there is sufficiently severe or pervasive unwelcome conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the performance of an employee or student.  In a hostile environment situation, the conduct may create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive education or working environment, and may include such conduct as:
  1. Unwelcome physical contact or behavior, such as touching, or making sexually explicit gestures, or jokes;
  2. Unwelcome displays of posters, pictures, words, or messages;
  3. Unwelcome sexual remarks, such as making suggestive statements about an individual’s body, clothes, or movements;
  4. Introduction of sexually explicit materials into the classroom or workplace without a legitimate educational or work-related purpose.


Staff Member - A full- or part-time classified employee or wage employee.


Timely filed – the proper documents were filed within policy deadlines


Title IX Coordinator - The individual designated by the university to coordinate the institution’s compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.). The Title IX Coordinator for the university is the DEO. The DEO has oversight of this policy, coordinates the actions of the various Title IX officers on campus and is responsible for reporting on the university’s compliance with Title IX.


Title IX Officer - The officials within the university charged with receiving, investigating and processing complaints under this policy. The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by student athletes under this policy is the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance (AAD). The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by all other students under this policy is the Director of the University Health Center (UHC). The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by staff members under this policy is the Director of Human Resources (HR). The Title IX Officer who is assigned to handle complaints by faculty members and visitors under this policy is the DEO.


University Community Member - An individual employed or affiliated with the university in one or more of the following full-or part-time capacities:

  • Administrative and Professional (AP) faculty member
  • Classified employee or other employee (such as wage or part time)
  • Instructional faculty member
  • Affiliate
  • Student (graduate or undergraduate)


Visitor - For the purposes of this policy, a person who is not enrolled at, compensated by or an affiliate of the university but is engaged in a university sponsored or contracted working or learning activity.