Approved by: The President
History: Issued               --
Revised            -- September 8, 2023
Last Reviewed -- September 8, 2023
Related Policies:

Accommodations at University Events Policy; Admissions Policy (Undergraduate); Admissions Policy (Graduate); Equity in Athletics (Title IX) Policy; Interpreter/Transcriber Request Policy; Non-Retaliation Policy; Reasonable Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities Policy; Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Policy; Recording Classroom Lectures Policy; Service Animals Policy; Sexual Offenses Policy (employees and third parties); Sexual Offenses Policy (students); Support Animals Policy. Title IX Policy

Additional References:

Human Resources; Complaint Reporting

Policy Owners:

Contact Persons:


Office of the President, tel. (202) 319-5100
Vice President for Finance and Administration, tel. (202) 319-5606

Associate Vice President and Chief HR Officer, tel. (202) 319-5050
Director of Compliance, tel. (202) 319-6170

I. Policy Statement


Our community is born of a shared commitment to core values. The Catholic University of America, guided by reason and the light of Catholic faith, is a community dedicated to the cultivation of knowledge, skills, wisdom, and virtue. Catholic teaching requires respect for the dignity of others. Membership in the University community brings with it the obligation to conduct oneself in ways that promote these goals, build up the community, and refrain from activity inconsistent with our shared goals and commitments. Consequently, Catholic University expects a higher standard of behavior than the law requires.

No person will be denied employment, admission, or educational opportunity, or otherwise be discriminated against or harassed in the University’s programs or activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, personal appearance, family responsibilities, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, status as a veteran, or any other basis protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws or University policy.  Nothing in this policy shall require The Catholic University of America to act in a manner contrary to the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church and the University's mission as the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States or to diminish its rights as a religious organization.

II. Scope


This policy applies when any student, employee, or a third party (such as a vendor, independent contractor, visitor, or guest) is accused of committing prohibited harassment or discrimination.  In cases involving sexual offenses, the University’s Title IX Policy, Sexual Offenses Policy (Employees and Third Parties) or Sexual Offenses Policy (Students) will apply.  

This policy applies to on-campus and off-campus conduct that is work-related or may adversely affect campus life, educational experience, or a University activity or program. 

III. Prohibited Discrimination


Examples of discrimination that violate this policy include treating an applicant, employee, student, or other member of the University community differently in the terms and conditions of his or her employment or education or making decisions about that person's employment, compensation, or education based upon a person's membership in a category protected by University policy or applicable federal, state, or local laws.  

IV.  Prohibited Harassment


Harassment based on a protected category, as outlined above, is a form of discrimination. Such harassment is prohibited when 

  • Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a term or condition of a person’s academic, working, or living environment, or
  • Inappropriate or unwelcome conduct based on protected status is so severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or participation in a program or activity, thereby creating an environment that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would find hostile.  

A single or isolated incident of harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe.   

Because the University expects a higher standard of behavior than the law requires, inappropriate conduct that may not be unlawful may still violate this policy.

 Harassment may include the following types of misconduct, when the misconduct involves one or more of the protected characteristics outlined in this policy:

  • Verbal abuse, slurs, derogatory comments, or insults about, directed at, or made in the presence of an individual or group;
  • Display or circulation of written materials or pictures that are offensive or degrading;
  • Physical contact, or threatening language or behavior; or
  • Other conduct that interferes with an individual’s performance; limits participation in University activities; or otherwise creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive University environment.

V. Required Reporting


Individuals subjected to any conduct that violates this policy, or who become aware of such conduct, may report violations at any time but are encouraged to report promptly in order to maximize the University’s ability to obtain evidence, identify potential witnesses, and conduct a thorough, prompt, and impartial investigation. Reports should be directed to 

  • A direct supervisor or community director or, if that person is unavailable or the conduct involves the direct supervisor or community director, then to any other supervisor, manager, or community director; or
  • The Equal Opportunity Officer, tel. (202) 319-4177, HR-EEO@CUA.EDU; or  
  • The Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, tel. (202) 319-6170, CUA-COMPLIANCE@CUA.EDU

Reports should be as detailed as possible, including the names and contact information of all individuals involved and any witnesses, along with any evidence such as photos, texts, or emails. 

All University personnel who receive a report of an alleged violation of this policy must promptly advise the Equal Opportunity Officer and provide all information and evidence provided with the report.

If a response to the report is not received within five days after reporting, please immediately contact the Chief Human Resources Officer, tel. (202) 319-5050, CHRO@CUA.EDU or the Chief of Staff and Counselor to the President, tel. (202) 319-5102.

All complaints will be investigated as promptly, thoroughly, and objectively as possible in accordance with the University’s accompanying Harassment and Discrimination Grievance Procedures. 

VI. Corrective and Preventive Action


The University will take prompt and appropriate corrective and preventive action, including interim relief, to stop any inappropriate behavior and to provide other support as needed to the individuals involved. 

VII. Retaliation Prohibited


Retaliation against complainants, alleged victims, witnesses, or anyone else participating in this process is prohibited by the University's Reporting Ethical Misconduct and Non-Retaliation Policy. Acts of retaliation will result in disciplinary action regardless of the outcome of the underlying complaint.

VIII. Responsible Officials


The Equal Opportunity Officer, tel. (202) 319-4177, HR-EEO@CUA.EDU has been designated to handle matters under this policy. 

If the Equal Opportunity Officer is unavailable or a complaint alleges discrimination or harassment by that individual, the University’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer CUA-COMPLIANCE@CUA.EDU, tel. (202)-319-6170, or the President’s Chief of Staff tel. (202) 319-5102, will assume primary responsibility.  

Discrimination and Harassment Procedure


I. Introduction


The University will conduct prompt, thorough, and objective investigations into all reported instances of discrimination or harassment prohibited by its Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy. Individuals who report or experience prohibited discrimination or harassment shall be informed of and encouraged to use all appropriate University, law enforcement, and community resources. Individuals accused of discrimination or harassment shall be informed of and encouraged to use all appropriate University and community resources and shall receive due process in accordance with the law and University policies and procedures.  

The University’s Non-Retaliation Policy prohibits actual or threatened retaliation or any act of intimidation to prevent or obstruct the reporting of discrimination or harassment or participation in proceedings related to discrimination or harassment. Reports of retaliation will be promptly investigated and may result in disciplinary action regardless of the outcome of the underlying complaint of discrimination or harassment.

II. Scope


These procedures apply when any faculty or staff employee or a third party (such as a vendor, independent contractor, visitor, or guest) is a respondent. They only apply to students when students are acting as University employees.  In all other student cases, the grievance procedures outlined in the  Code of Student Conduct will applyIn cases involving sexual offenses, the University’s Title IX Grievance Procedures or Sexual Offenses Grievance Procedures (Employees and Third Parties) will apply. In cases where it is unclear which procedure should apply, the Equal Opportunity Officer (EEO) will decide.

III. Privacy


The University is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in reported harassment or discrimination. Information related to a reported offense will only be shared with individuals on a need to know basis absent a mandatory disclosure obligation, such as a statutory requirement, a valid subpoena or a court /government agency order.

If reported discrimination or harassment discloses an immediate threat to the campus community, the University shall issue a timely notice of the incident in the interests of the health and safety of the campus community.

IV. Informal resolution


In cases of discrimination or harassment, the EEO may suggest informal resolution with the concurrence of the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) or Provost.  Participation in informal resolution is voluntary, and either party may withdraw at any time. The informal resolution options available under this policy are intended to recognize the following:

  • Harassment and discrimination affect complainants, respondents, reporters, community members, family members, and others (collectively “affected parties”);
  • Affected parties often benefit when resolution processes and outcomes are tailored to meet their unique needs and interests;
  • Complainants and other affected parties may find it useful to meet with a respondent who acknowledges the substance of the underlying events and who acknowledges that the complainant experienced harm, and
  • Participants in informal resolution processes will be protected from secondary victimization and other potential harms.

Informal resolution may be used during any phase of the process with the consent of both parties. Any agreements reached in an informal process must be approved by the CHRO for the staff or the Provost in consultation with the CHRO for faculty.

V. Interim Measures


While a complaint is pending, the University may take interim measures, including but not limited to no contact orders, reassignment, change in work duties, suspension with pay, or suspension without pay. 

VI. Investigation Process


The EEO or a designee will investigate cases of alleged discrimination or harassment.  Either party may raise conflict of interest concerns. If a conflict of interest exists, or the EEO is unavailable, the CHRO will designate an alternate investigator.

The investigator will conduct an intake meeting with the complainant and interview the respondent and relevant witnesses. The complainant and respondent will receive opportunities to meet with the investigator, identify witnesses, and provide evidence. The investigator will determine whether the alleged discrimination or harassment occurred using the preponderance of the evidence standard and whether that conduct violated the policy. The investigator will preserve all evidence and write an investigative report to the CHRO if the respondent is a staff member or third party, or to the CHRO and Provost if the respondent is a faculty member.  If the respondent serves in multiple roles, the investigator will provide the report to both the CHRO and Provost.

The University will coordinate its investigation when an active law enforcement investigation is ongoing, and it will not ordinarily conduct independent interviews or gather evidence while law enforcement is actively interviewing witnesses or gathering evidence.

VII. Disciplinary Action


The CHRO or Provost in consultation with the CHRO will decide on disciplinary action for violations of the Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy and may consult with other University officials as long as those officials do not have a conflict of interest.

Disciplinary actions may include but are not limited to the following:

Reprimand or Censure – A written statement that the respondent has engaged inappropriate behavior or a violation of this policy.

Probation – A designated period of time in which the respondent’s actions will be monitored or expected to improve.

Removal of privileges or responsibilities - A decrease in respondent’s responsibilities because of a violation of the policy.

Demotion – Movement of respondent to a lower position, often with a decrease in pay or title. 

Reduction in compensation - A temporary or permanent decrease in pay or benefits.

Class monitoring – Monitoring of classroom teaching either by recording or the presence of a third party.

Counseling – Required meeting with a designated individual or participation in a designated program to assist in prevention of the concerning behavior.

Suspension – Removal of the employee from the workplace for a designated time period. 

Dismissal – Ending the employment relationship with the University.

Dismissal with Revocation of Tenure – Removal of a faculty member and tenured status in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

VIII. Estimated Timelines


All parties have an interest in the speedy resolution of an allegation of discrimination or harassment, and the following timelines are designed to accomplish that. The University cannot control all factors that might contribute to delays such as local law enforcement activity, the completion of criminal forensic testing, University holidays, or the availability of witnesses. The University will strive to complete the investigative process within 60 business days and the entire process, including a determination, within 90 business days of the complaint. The 90-day time-frame does not include appeals. The decision of when to conclude an investigation will be case-specific; for example, it is not necessary to wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation, but University officials must decide when there is sufficient information and evidence available that moving forward would be in the interests of justice.

IX. Notification


The parties will be notified in writing by either the CHRO or the Provost in consultation with the CHRO of the outcome of the investigation and any disciplinary action. Alternatively, the investigator may verbally notify the parties of the outcome of the investigation with prior consent of the CHRO or the Provost in consultation with the CHRO. If the dismissal of a faculty member for cause is justified, the procedures outlined in Part II-G-7 of the Faculty Handbook will be followed in lieu of the appeals process below.

X. Right of Appeal


Each party may appeal the finding by submitting a letter of appeal within seven calendar days of notification of the outcome. A staff member or student may appeal to the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, unless there is a conflict of interest, such as the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer was the investigator, in which event the appeal will be to the Chief of Staff. A faculty member may appeal to the University’s President or Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, unless there is a conflict of interest, such as the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer was the investigator, in which event the appeal will be to the Chief of Staff.  Any appeal officer may designate an alternate person to decide the appeal.

The appeal must specify grounds that would justify re-consideration. General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the proceeding or an appeal for mercy are not appropriate grounds for appeal. The written appeal must specifically address either significant procedural error that changes the findings of fact of the proceeding or new evidence that significantly alters the findings of fact.

The appeal decision-maker may consult other University officials as appropriate before making their decision but shall not gather additional evidence. If the appeal decision-maker believes that the Provost or CHRO should consider additional information, the appeal decision-maker may return the case to the investigator to gather more evidence. However, an appeal may not be returned solely for the purpose of reconsidering the original decision.

One appeal is permitted. The decision on the appeal is final and shall be conveyed in writing to both parties.  The University will strive to decide appeals within 10 business days of receipt.

The imposition of sanctions may be deferred while the appeal process is pending unless, at the discretion of the CHRO or Provost in consultation with the CHRO, the continued presence of the respondent on the campus poses a serious threat to self or others, or to the stability and continuity of normal University functions.