Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures

Purpose for Policy: This policy and the University of Colorado Boulder complaint process and procedures are intended to comply with the related requirements of the following federal laws, their implementing regulations, and related federal agency guidance:

  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963;
  • Titles IV, VI, and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972;
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Sections 503 and 504)
  • The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (1974);
  • Age Discrimination Act (1975)
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978);
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1976;
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; Amendments Act of 2008;
  • Executive Order 11246;
  • Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act of 1991;
  • Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Act (1994);
  • Violence Against Women Act of 1994; and
  • Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013


The University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) is committed to providing an inclusive environment where all individuals can achieve their academic and professional aspirations free from discrimination, harassment, and /or related retaliation based upon protected classes.

Further, it is critical to this commitment that anyone who may have been the target of or has experienced discrimination or harassment in the context of university educational programs, activities or employment, to feel free to report their concerns for appropriate investigation and response, without fear of retaliation.

To foster a climate that encourages prevention and reporting of discrimination, harassment, or related retaliation, CU-Boulder will provide prevention efforts, educate the community, respond to all reports promptly, provide interim protection measures to address safety, and recognize the inherent dignity of all individuals involved.

Finally, robust discussion and debate remain fundamental to CU-Boulder. Consequently, this Policy shall be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with academic freedom as defined in Regent Law, Article 5D, amended 10/10/02 as well as federal and constitutional law.


A. Discrimination, Harassment and/or Related Retaliation Prohibited

CU-Boulder prohibits discrimination,[1] harassment and/or related retaliation based on protected class in admission and access to, and treatment and employment in, its educational programs and activities.[2] For purposes of this CU-Boulder policy, "protected classes" refers to race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, political affiliation, or political philosophy.

This prohibition applies to all students, faculty, staff, contractors, patients, volunteers, affiliated entities and other third parties. Any violations may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including, expulsion or termination of employment, as applicable. CU-Boulder will consider what appropriate potential actions should be taken, including contract termination and/or property exclusion, regarding third party conduct that is alleged to have violated this policy; however those options may be limited depending on the circumstances of the arrangement.

This prohibition applies to conduct that occurs on campus. It also applies to off-campus conduct, including on-line or electronic conduct, if the conduct (1) occurred in the context of an employment or education program or activity of the University or (2) has continuing adverse effects on campus.

CU-Boulder takes prompt and effective steps reasonably intended to stop any form of discrimination, harassment, and/or related retaliation, eliminate any hostile environment, prevent its recurrence and as appropriate, remedy its effects.

B. Options for Reporting and Assistance Following an Incident of Discrimination, Harassment and/or Related Retaliation Based Upon Protected Class

When a student, faculty or staff member reports that they have experienced discrimination, harassment or retaliation based upon protected class, whether it occurred on or off-campus, the campus shall provide them with notification of the following as applicable:

(1) Reporting rights and options, including to whom and how they should report an alleged offense, including

law enforcement authorities (any on-campus and local police), if applicable, and to be assisted by campus authorities in doing so, but also of their option to decline to notify such authorities;

(2) Responsibilities for orders of protection, no-contact orders, restraining orders or similar lawful orders issued by a criminal, civil or tribal court, or by the campus;

(3) Counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance and other services available for victims within the campus and in the community; and

(4) Options for, and available assistance in, changing transportation and working situations, in addition to any available academic and residential accommodations. This notification shall be made and accommodations afforded if they are reasonably available, regardless of whether the person who experienced discrimination, harassment, or related retaliation chooses to participate in any campus investigation or disciplinary proceeding or report the crime, if any, to law enforcement.

CU-Boulder's Reporting Options and Assistance

C. Responsible Employees Must Report Allegations of Discrimination, Harassment and/or Related Retaliation based on a Protected Class.

Any faculty or staff member who is considered a responsible employee, as defined in Section III, who witnesses or receives information regarding any possible discrimination, harassment or related retaliation based upon protected class is required to promptly report to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) all known details about the alleged discrimination, harassment, or retaliation including:

(1) Name of the alleged victim;

(2) Name of alleged perpetrator;

(3) Name of any alleged witnesses; and

(4) Any other relevant facts, including the date, time and specific location of the alleged incident.

All individuals, even if not considered a responsible employee, are highly encouraged to promptly report such information to a responsible employee or directly to the OIEC.

Reports, complaints and other information must be provided in good faith. It is a violation of this policy when a person knowingly or recklessly alleges a false complaint of discrimination, harassment and/or related retaliation or provides false information during the course of an investigation, and violators may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment, as applicable. This provision does not apply to reports made or information provided in good faith, even if the facts alleged in the report are not later substantiated.

Contact OIEC

D. Confidential Resources and Privacy

CU-Boulder supports the use of confidential resources so that victims of discrimination, harassment, and/or related retaliation can provide information about such misconduct confidentially and receive support and accommodations as necessary through the OIEC Executive Director or designee. Communications with these confidential resources are confidential to the extent permitted by statutory law and thus are not considered “notice” to the university. Confidential resources are not considered responsible employees pursuant to Section III.F.

CU-Boulder's Confidential Resources

If an individual discloses an incident to a responsible employee but wishes to maintain privacy or requests that no investigation be conducted or disciplinary action taken, the responsible employee remains required to report all relevant information to the OIEC Executive Director or designee who will explain that CU-Boulder prohibits retaliation and that CU-Boulder will not only take steps to prevent retaliation but also to take responsive action if it occurs. If the individual would still like to maintain privacy or requests that no investigation be conducted or disciplinary action taken, the OIEC Executive Director or designee will weigh that request against CU-Boulder's obligation to provide a safe, non- discriminatory environment for all students, faculty and staff. In making that determination, the OIEC Executive Director or designee will consider a range of factors, including the following if applicable:

  • The increased risk that the alleged perpetrator will commit additional acts of violence;
  • The seriousness of the alleged conduct;
  • Whether the alleged conduct was perpetrated with a weapon;
  • Whether the alleged victim is a minor;
  • Whether CU-Boulder possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence of the alleged conduct (e.g., security cameras, personnel, physical evidence); and
  • Whether the alleged conduct reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group.

The OIEC Executive Director's or designee's decision will be conducted on a case by case basis after an individualized review. If CU-Boulder honors the individual's request for privacy or requests that no investigation be conducted or disciplinary action taken, CU-Boulder's ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action, if appropriate, may be limited, but nonetheless may proceed.

E. Designation and Responsibilities of the OIEC Executive Director

The OIEC Executive Director (or authorized designee) is responsible for overseeing complaints of discrimination and harassment pursuant to this policy and identifying and addressing any patterns or systemic problems that arise during review of those complaints. The OIEC Executive Director is also the designated Title VI Coordinator for the CU-Boulder campus.

CU-Boulder's OIEC Executive Director

For all matters within the scope of this policy, at a minimum, the OIEC Executive Director or designee shall be specifically responsible and have delegated authority from the Chancellor for the following:

(1) Ensuring that complaints and any subsequent disciplinary actions are being handled appropriately and in a timely manner;

(2) Overseeing adequate, reliable and impartial investigations of complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation;

(3) Evaluating any complainant request for privacy pursuant to Section II(D);

(4) Referring matters for further action or discipline for inappropriate or unprofessional conduct under other applicable policies or procedures even if a discrimination, harassment, or retaliation policy violation is not found. No provision of this policy shall be construed as a limitation on the authority of the disciplinary authority under applicable policies and procedures to initiate disciplinary action[3];

(5) Facilitating reasonable interim protective remedies and accommodations as applicable;

(6) Ensuring broad publication of the campus complaint process and procedures, required pursuant to Section II(F) below, including posting the procedure on an appropriate campus website and maintaining a current procedure;

(7) Providing an annual report to the Chancellor documenting: (1) the number of reports or complaints received pursuant to this policy; (2) the categories of those involved in the allegations; (3) the number of policy violations found; and (4) examples of sanctions imposed for policy violations.

(8) Overseeing and monitoring campus compliance with this policy;

(9) Ensuring there is ongoing training and education regarding reporting and preventing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for all students, faculty and staff;

(10) Maintaining records and related documentation of compliance with this policy, including, but not limited to retaining copies of any training documentation, tracking student and employee training participation, documenting each step of the campus complaint process and procedures from interim measures, accommodations for persons experiencing discrimination and harassment, investigation, disciplinary proceeding, sanctions and any retaliation; and

(11) Ensuring broad dissemination of the statement that CU-Boulder shall not discriminate on the basis of any protected class in employment or in its education programs and activities.

F. Investigation/Adjudication Process and Procedures

CU-Boulder shall maintain a written complaint process and procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of any discrimination, harassment or retaliation complaints within 60 days, except for good cause with written notice to the complainant and respondent of the delay and reason for the delay. Any applicable disciplinary procedure must provide a prompt, fair, transparent and impartial process from the investigation to the final results, including a procedure that:

(1) Includes timely notice of meetings;

(2) Provides timely and equal access to the complainant, respondent and appropriate university officials to any relevant information, including witness identities and relevant information provided by witnesses;

(3) Is conducted by staff who do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or respondent;

(4) Allows the complainant and respondent to each have an advisor, including an attorney, who is not a potential witness in the investigation or could otherwise compromise the investigation;

(5) Applies the preponderance of the evidence standard in findings regarding the complaint; and

(6) Allows matters to be referred for further action or discipline for inappropriate or unprofessional conduct under other applicable policies or procedures even if a discrimination, harassment, or retaliation policy violation is not found. No provision of this policy shall be construed as a limitation on the authority of the disciplinary authority under applicable policies and procedures to initiate disciplinary action.

CU-Boulder's Complaint Procedures

G. Complaints Involving Two or More Campuses

When an alleged violation of this policy involves more than one university campus, the campus with primary disciplinary authority over the respondent shall investigate the complaint pursuant to its applicable complaint process and procedures. The campus responsible for the investigation may request the involvement or cooperation of any other affected campus and should advise appropriate officials of the affected campus of the progress and results of the investigation.

H. CU-Boulder's Primary and Ongoing Prevention and Awareness Programs

CU-Boulder shall create, provide and publish comprehensive, intentional and integrated programming, initiatives, strategies and campaigns intended to end discrimination and harassment that are culturally relevant, inclusive of diverse communities and identities, sustainable, responsive to campus community needs and informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness or outcome. These programs must also consider environmental risk and protective factors as they occur on the individual, relationship, institutional, community and societal levels.

The programs must include both primary prevention and awareness programs offered to incoming students and new employees and ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns directed at current students, faculty and staff.

CU-Boulder shall develop its prevention programs taking into account the particular needs of its students, faculty and staff and shall include:

(1) A statement that CU-Boulder prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation and provides notice of this policy, the campus complaint process and procedures and where complaints may be filed;

(2) The definitions of discrimination, harassment, protected class, and retaliation;

(3) Safe and positive options for bystander intervention that may be carried out by an individual to prevent harm or intervene when discrimination, harassment, and/or related retaliation occurs against a person other than the individual; and

(4) Information about the procedures that alleged victims can access, and that the campus will follow, after an incident(s) of discrimination, harassment, and/or related retaliation has occurred.


A. Complainant: Within the context of this policy, means a person who is subject to alleged protected class discrimination, harassment, and/or related retaliation.

B. Discrimination: Occurs when an individual suffers an adverse consequence on the basis of a protected class. Examples include failure to be hired or promoted or denial of admission to an academic program on the basis of their protected class.

C. Harassment: Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct related to one's protected class that unreasonably interferes with an individual's work or academic performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment (See Hostile Environment as defined below).

D. Hostile Environment: Whether a hostile environment exists is determined from both a subjective and an objective perspective. The subjective perspective evaluates whether or not the complainant experienced harassment based on protected class. The objective perspective evaluates whether or not the unwelcome conduct by an individual(s) against another individual based upon their protected class is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive. The determination of whether an environment is "hostile" must be based on all of the circumstances. These circumstances could include the frequency of the conduct, its severity, and whether it is threatening or humiliating. Simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to hostile environment harassment.

E. Respondent: Within the context of this policy, means a person who is accused of alleged protected class discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.

F. Responsible Employee: Means any employee who: (1) has the authority to hire, promote, discipline, evaluate, grade, formally advise or direct faculty, staff or students; (2) has the authority to take action to redress discrimination or harassment; and/or (3) has been given the duty of reporting incidents of discrimination or harassment to the OIEC. This definition does not include any medical, mental health, counseling or Ombuds Office personnel, in addition to any other offices covered by a statutory privilege or designated in campus procedures as not subject to mandatory reporting to the university.

G. Retaliation: Means any adverse action threatened or taken against a person because an individual has filed, supported, or provided information in connection with a complaint of discrimination or harassment, including but not limited to, direct and indirect intimidation, threats and harassment. An “adverse action” is one that would dissuade a reasonable from reporting an allegation of discrimination or harassment or participating in an investigation of discrimination or harassment.


A. APS 5014 Sexual Misconduct Policy

B. APS 5015 Conflict of Interest in Amorous Relationships


Supersedes CU-Boulder's Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures, January 1, 2014

Approved and Reviewed By: Philip P. DiStefano, Chancellor and Chancellor's Executive Committee

Effective Date: July 1, 2016

Author: Executive Director of OIEC

[1] Terms in bold italics are defined at the end of the policy.

[2] See also Regent Law, Article 10, amended 9/17/13 and Regent Policy 10.

[3] For example, please see Academic Affairs Policy on Professional Rights and Duties of Faculty Members and Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs (https://facultyaffairs.colorado.edu/a-z-information-guide-docs/Professio...).

[4] Depending on the circumstances, these definitions may encompass broader conduct than the applicable legal standards under governing case or statutory law.

Effective Date

Friday, July 1, 2016

Approved By

Philip P. DiStefano, Chancellor


Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equity
Vice Chancellor for Administration