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Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy

MSRI is committed to providing a welcoming environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, family care status, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, identification or expression. Likewise, the Institute will not tolerate harassment based on these characteristics, or any form of sexual harassment.

Understanding Harassment

Harassment includes verbal, physical, and visual conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment or that interferes with performance.Such conduct constitutes harassment when (1) submission to the conduct is made either an explicit or implicit condition of program participation; (2) submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an academic decision; or (3) the harassment interferes with a members performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. In cases of sexual harassment, it is important to be aware that an individual may experience sexual harassment from a person of the same or opposite sex.

Prohibited harassment can include, but is not limited to, the following behaviors:

  • Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments, slurs or unwanted sexual advances, invitations or comments;
  • Visual displays such as derogatory and/or sexually-oriented postings, photography, cartoons, drawings or gestures;
  • Physical conduct including assault, unwanted touching, intentionally blocking normal movement or interfering with work;
  • Threats and demands to submit to sexual requests as a condition of continued program standing, or to avoid some other adverse action, and offers of other benefits in return for sexual favors;
  • Retaliation for reporting or threatening to report harassment;
  • Communication via electronic or social media of any type that features any of the examples of harassment above, or any other actions that violate state or federal anti-harassment laws, e.g. offensive email jokes, graphics, messages, etc.

Harassment - Complaint Procedure

MSRI has adopted a firm policy against harassment and will take every step to prevent harassment from occurring. If a member believes that he or she has been harassed, they should report the incident immediately so that their complaint can be resolved quickly and fairly. MSRI has established the following procedure for lodging a complaint of harassment. MSRI will treat all aspects of the procedure confidentially to the extent reasonably possible.

  • If the member is comfortable doing so, the first step would be to ask the harasser to stop the offensive behavior and,
  • The member should provide an oral or written complaint to the Operations Manager or the Directorate (Deputy Director or Director), or whomever they feel the most comfortable with, as soon as possible after the incident. The complaint can be informal, but should include as many details of the incident(s) as possible, as well as the names of any individuals involved and/or witnesses.
  • Organizers will refer all harassment complaints to the Operations Manager or the Directorate of MSRI. MSRI will immediately undertake an effective, thorough, and objective investigation of the harassment allegations.
  • Upon receiving a complaint or being advised that violation of this policy may be occurring, the Operations Manager will notify the Directorate and review the complaint with the MSRI’s legal counsel.
  • Within five working days of receiving the complaint, the Operations Manager will notify the person(s) charged [hereafter referred to as “respondent(s)”] of a complaint and initiate the investigation to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy occurred.
  • During the investigation, the Operations Manager, MSRI legal counsel, an independent investigator, or another MSRI management employee, will interview the complainant, the respondent and any witnesses to determine whether the alleged conduct occurred.
  • Within 15 business days of the complaint being filed (or the matter being referred to the Operations Manager), the Operations Manager or other person conducting the investigation will conclude the investigation and submit a written report of findings to the Directorate.
  • If it is determined that harassment or discrimination in violation of this policy has occurred, the Operations Manager will recommend appropriate disciplinary action up to and including termination (employee) or expulsion (member). The appropriate action will depend on the following factors: a) the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the conduct; b) prior complaints made by the complainant; c) prior complaints made against the respondent; and d) the quality of the evidence (e.g., first-hand knowledge, credible corroboration).
  • If the investigation is inconclusive or if it is determined that there has been no violation of policy but potentially problematic conduct may have occurred, the Operations Manager may recommend appropriate preventive action.
  • Within five days after the investigation is concluded, the Operations Manager will meet with the complainant and the respondent separately, notify them of the findings of the investigation, and to the extent permissible, inform them of the action being recommended.
  • MSRI will not tolerate or permit retaliation of any kind against anyone filing a complaint of harassment.

Confidential Support Services

If a member would like to confidentially speak about their situation with an advocate, the campus Path to Care Center is available to all members. An advocate will meet with the member to listen to the experiences of the person seeking support in a safe, nonjudgmental environment and suggest the various options that are available to them for moving forward.To make an appointment with the advocate, call (510) 642-1988. The advocate can usually meet within the same business day, or at the earliest convenience of the person seeking support.