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Glossary of Key Terms


Complainant - A university community member or visitor who has been subjected to alleged discrimination or harassment, or who files a formal complaint under Policy 1324.

Director of Equal Opportunity (DEO) - The DEO has been charged by the university with oversight of this policy and procedure.

Discrimination - An adverse action or unequal treatment 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 on the basis of a protected classification. For the purposes of this policy, discrimination also includes retaliation for filing a complaint and harassment on the basis of a protected classification. It also includes denial of a reasonable accommodation for a disability.

Harassment - A form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome or offensive physical, oral or written conduct that shows aversion or hostility toward a person on the basis of age, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, or veteran status. Harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity is considered sexual harassment. Harassment may also include behavior directed toward stereotypical notions of how a person in a protected classification should appear or behave, or a failure to conform to stereotypes. Harassment is prohibited in the following situations:

1. Term or condition of employment or education.  This type of harassment occurs when the terms or conditions of employment, educational benefits, academic grades or opportunities, living environment or participation in a university activity are conditioned upon, either explicitly or implicitly, submission to or rejection of unwelcome conduct, or such submission or rejection is a factor in decisions affecting that individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university program or activity.

2. Hostile environment.  This type of harassment occurs when the actions of another create a hostile environment, as defined herein.

Hostile Environment - A hostile environment is created by oral, written, graphic or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive and objectively offensive that it interferes with, limits or denies the ability of a person to participate in or benefit from the institution's educational programs, services, opportunities, or activities or the individual's employment access, benefits or opportunities.  Mere subjective offensiveness is not enough to create a hostile environment.  In determining whether conduct is severe, persistent or pervasive, and thus creates a hostile environment, the following factors will be considered: (a) the degree to which the conduct affected one or more individuals' education or employment; (b) the nature, scope, frequency, duration, and location of the incident(s); (c) the identity, number, and relationships of persons involved; (d) the perspective of a “reasonable person” in the same situation as the person subjected to the conduct, and (e) the nature of higher education. A hostile environment for a member of the university community can be created by the actions of an employee, a student, an affiliate or a visitor.

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.   For more information about mediation at JMU: http://www.jmu.edu/humanresources/hrc/mediation/

Ombudsperson -  The Ombudsperson is an independent and neutral third party on campus for faculty members with questions, disputes or other concerns. The Ombudsperson serves as a confidential consultant and referral agent, using an informal process to assist faculty members in a variety of work-related concerns. They do not serve as an advocate, but considers all questions and concerns objectively and impartially.  https://www.jmu.edu/academic-affairs/faculty-ombudsperson/index.shtml

Protected Classification - A person's age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. See Policy 1302.

Respondent - An employee or affiliate of the university or visitor who is accused of discrimination or harassment, or against whom a complaint under 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. Retaliation shall be deemed to constitute harassment and, therefore, will be considered a separate violation of this policy.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct - Any form of harassment based on a person’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity is considered sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination consisting of unwelcome or offensive sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature including: verbal (e.g., specific demands for sexual favors, sexual innuendoes, sexually suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or sexual threats); non-verbal (e.g., sexually suggestive emails, other writings, articles or documents, objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures); or physical (e.g., touching, pinching, brushing the body, any unwelcome or coerced sexual activity, including sexual assault). Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, can involve persons of the same or different sexes.  Sexual harassment may also include sex-based harassment directed toward stereotypical notions of what is female/feminine v. male/masculine or a failure to conform to those gender stereotypes.  

Sexual misconduct includes sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, relational violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, and all other forms of misconduct on the basis of or because of a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct are covered under Policy 1340.