06-01.05 – Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression

  1. Policy Statement:

    Towson University (“University”) is committed to providing equal educational and employment opportunity in compliance with the University System of Maryland (“USM”) Policy on Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity, VI-1.00, and with applicable Maryland law.

  2. Definitions:

    1. “Gender Identity or Expression” is defined as a person’s actual or perceived gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, regardless of whether their identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s gender at birth.

    2. “Sexual Orientation” is defined as the identification, perception, or status of an individual as to homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.

    3. “University Community” is defined as University students, faculty, and staff.

  3. Responsible Executive and Office:

    Responsible Executive:
    Assistant to the President for Diversity

    Responsible Office:
    Fair Practices

  4. Entities Affected by this Policy:

    University Community.

  5. Procedures:

    1. General

      1. Notification of Policy Requirements:

        This policy is available on the University policy website.

        In the event an employee reports an alleged violation of this policy to a supervisor, department head, dean, chair, or any other administrator in the employee's direct line of supervision, that person shall promptly refer the employee to the Fair Practices Officer, and/or personally notify the Fair Practices Officer. The Fair Practices Officer shall then notify the complaining employee (the "Complainant") of the policy prohibiting discrimination and of the procedures for filing a complaint, or verify that the Complainant already has this information.

      2. Prohibition Against Retaliation:

        Retaliation against a Complainant or a person who provides information in support of a Complainant is prohibited. Any person who retaliates against a Complainant or a person who provides information in support of a Complainant shall be subject to disciplinary action as provided in this policy.

      3. Other Applicable Policies:

        In addition, see Towson University Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, 06-01.00, and Towson University Policy on Sexual Misconduct, 06-01.60.

    2. Scope

      This policy shall apply to the University community.

      This policy prohibits discrimination against students, faculty and staff on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in academic admission, financial aid, educational services, housing, student programs and activities, recruitment, hiring, employment, appointment, promotion, tenure, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination, rates of pay, selection for training and professional development, and employee services.

      The University reserves the right to observe the terms of any bona fide employee benefit plan such as retirement, pension, or insurance plan, and to enforce or comply with any Federal or State law, regulation, or guidelines, including conditions for the receipt of federal funding.

    3. Complaint Procedures

      1. Generally:

        Individuals subjected to an incident of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression should be aware that there are many ways to bring it to the attention of the University and, where proper, obtain redress or protection.

        Classified and associate staff, and academic administrators may complain of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression to their department chair, department director, supervisor, Human Resource's Employee/Employer Relations Manager, or the Fair Practices Officer. If the offending behavior affects a faculty member's rights respecting appointment, salary, promotions, or tenure, or other conditions of employment, then the faculty member has the option of filing a complaint with the appropriate Department Chair/Director or Dean and using the Faculty Grievance Procedure. Prior to taking any action, the office receiving the complaint shall immediately notify the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity that a complaint has been filed. In accordance with state law, and police department policies and procedures, complaints against a sworn police officer will be handled as an internal police investigation. The police department will notify the Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity of any such investigation and its outcome.

        The Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity offers both informal and formal procedures for resolving a complaint of discrimination to employees, students and faculty. A complaint against a student will typically be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education. For purposes of this policy, "students" include full time and part time students and continuing education students who are currently enrolled at the University. Any faculty member who files a complaint of discrimination under the University's Grievance Policies and Procedures must also file a written statement with the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.

        Complaints reported to the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity shall be retained by the Fair Practices Officer in a confidential file, separate from any other personnel or student files. The confidential file should include the name of the Complainant, the name of the person alleged to have violated this policy (the "Respondent"), the nature of the complaint, incident date(s), witnesses and any other information relevant to the incident.

        The University is committed to taking appropriate action against persons who violate this policy, but ultimately, it may not be able to satisfactorily investigate or resolve a particular complaint without the initiative and continuous cooperation of the person who feels injured.

      2. Filing a Complaint:

        Complaints alleging discrimination or retaliation in violation of this policy must be made within one hundred twenty (120) days following an alleged incident of discrimination or retaliation. The Fair Practices Officer may waive the 120 day period upon a showing of good cause. Upon receipt of the complaint, the Fair Practices Officer will arrange to speak with the Complainant to discuss whether to resolve the complaint informally or to proceed with formal complaint procedures.

        1. Informal Resolution.

          The Complainant may elect informally to resolve a complaint. The purpose of an informal resolution is not to determine whether or not discrimination has occurred, but to eliminate the alleged discrimination by conference, conciliation and persuasion. In the event an informal resolution is reached, the Fair Practices Officer may, in his or her discretion, summarize the resolution in writing and file it, after it is signed by the Complainant, Respondent and Fair Practices Officer. In the event either the Complainant or the Respondent requests a copy of any such written summary, a written request shall be made. Either the Complainant or the Fair Practices Officer may elect to proceed with a formal resolution of the complaint at any time before an informal resolution is reached. In the event the Complainant elects formal resolution, the election shall be made in writing, as provided in section b below.

        2. Formal Resolution.

          The Complainant should set forth in writing the facts or omissions giving rise to the alleged discrimination or retaliation including the date(s) the alleged conduct occurred, the name(s) of the person(s) alleged to have violated this policy, the name(s) of person(s) having knowledge of the alleged violation(s), and any supporting documentation. The Fair Practices Officer shall investigate the complaint; however, if the Fair Practices Officer is the subject of the complaint, then the University's attorney and/or the Office of the Attorney General (“Counsel”) or the Assistant to the President for Diversity shall investigate the complaint. The investigation may include discussions with the Respondent. During the investigation, the Fair Practices Officer shall be given access to any information that relates or pertains to the complaint. The Respondent shall cooperate during the investigation by being available during reasonable business hours to discuss the complaint and to make available the information requested by the Fair Practices Officer. No information shall be denied the Fair Practices Officer absent good cause. In the event the Fair Practices Officer is denied information or the Respondent refuses to cooperate during the investigation, the Fair Practices Officer shall seek the advice of Counsel regarding the denial or the refusal to cooperate. Counsel shall then review the matter and advise whether the information should be disclosed or whether the Respondent must cooperate. Refusal to provide the Fair Practices Officer the requested information or to cooperate following Counsel's opinion that the information should be disclosed or that Respondent's cooperation is necessary may constitute a violation of this policy.

          The Fair Practices Officer shall, within 90 days following the date the Complainant elects to proceed formally, submit to the President proposed findings of fact and the conclusions addressing whether this policy has been violated. The Fair Practices Officer may submit the results of the investigation to Counsel for legal review before submitting his/her proposed findings and conclusions to the President. The President may accept, reject or modify the findings and conclusions of the Fair Practices Officer. The Complainant and the Respondent will be sent a formal letter of finding informing them of the findings and conclusions of the investigation.

        3. Appeal of Formal Resolution.

          Following the formal letter of finding, as described in the paragraph above, either the Complainant or the Respondent may appeal the President's conclusion within ten working days. The appeal must be made to the president, it must be in writing, and it must be within ten working days from the date of the letter of finding. The President may hear the appeal directly in an informal meeting, or may request an independent hearing officer to hear the appeal and make a recommendation(s) to the President. The President shall consider the direct appeal or the hearing officer's recommendation and make a decision, which is final and binding.

      3. Confidentiality:

        The Complainant, the Respondent, witness or any other person involved in the investigation or resolution of a complaint may disclose information only to those persons necessary to the filing, investigation and disposition of the complaint under this policy. Failure to exercise care in the disclosure of information is a violation of this policy and may result in disciplinary action as more particularly provided in this policy.

      4. Good Faith Requirement:

        Allegations of discrimination are serious, with potential for great harm if made without justification. Accordingly, it is a violation of this policy for an individual to file a complaint without justification or in bad faith. An individual found to have filed a complaint without justification or in bad faith has violated this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action.

      5. Other Violations of the Policy:

        The President may determine that an employee has violated this policy though no complaint has been filed. The President shall notify the employee of any such violation(s) in writing and the discipline, if any, to be imposed.

        The Fair Practices Officer may, on his or her own motion, identify policies, practices or patterns of behavior which may reflect discrimination prohibited by this policy, and call these to the attention of the appropriate officials of the unit involved and recommend appropriate action. The Fair Practices Officer shall endeavor by negotiation to eliminate the alleged discrimination. Where such efforts fail, the Fair Practices Officer may on his or her own motion report the matter to the President.

      6. Forum:

        Complainants under this policy shall be required, as a condition precedent, to waive any alternative campus administrative procedure that may be available. A complaint which has been heard under some alternative campus procedure cannot subsequently be heard under the procedure of this policy. In the case of a complaint heard under the non-exempt employee grievance procedure, this restriction shall apply only when the complaint has entered Step II of that procedure.

    4. Discipline

      Discipline, including termination, may be imposed for violating this policy. If the employee found to be in violation of this policy ("Violator") is a classified employee, whether exempt or non-exempt, any discipline shall be imposed in accordance with USM policies relating to the discipline of classified employees. If the Violator is an exempt regular employee any discipline shall be imposed in accordance with USM and University policies relating to regular exempt employees. If the Violator is a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, or a person with seven or more years of continuous service as a full time instructor or lecturer, any discipline shall be imposed pursuant to USM and University policies on Appointment, Rank and Tenure (USM II-1.00 and TU 02-01.00). If Violator is a student any discipline shall be imposed pursuant to the Code of Student Conduct.

      Unless another relevant policy (as described above) specifies a different procedure, the University President shall impose the discipline, if any, by informing the Violator in writing of the discipline and the reasons supporting it.

Related Policies:

USM Policy II-1.00, Policy on Appointment, Rank, and Tenure of Faculty

USM Policy VI-1.00, Policy on Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity

TU Policy 02-01.00, TU Policy on Appoint, Rank and Tenure of Faculty

TU Policy 06-01.00, Policy Prohibiting Discrimination

TU Policy 06-01.20, Policies and Procedures for the Reporting of Hate Crimes and Bias Incidents

TU Code of Student Conduct

Approval Date: 12/11/2011

Effective Date: 12/11/2001

Amended Date: 03/08/2010
08/03/2012
08/22/2012

Approved By: President’s Council 12/11/2001

Signed By: President’s Council

How to Request the Policy PDF

This online version of the policy may include updated links and names of departments. To request a PDF of the original, signed version of this policy, email the Office of the General Counsel, .