New Policies on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct and on Consensual Relationships

 May 15, 2019

TO:  Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:  Benjamin Reese, Vice President for Institutional Equity & Chief Diversity Officer
RE:  New Policies on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct and on Consensual Relationships

Duke University and Duke University Health System have updated and consolidated their policies on discrimination and harassment to ensure consistency with other Duke policies and procedures and ensure compliance with changes in federal requirements and guidance. The policy on consensual relationships has also been updated.

A committee was established in 2016 to review and update the discrimination and harassment policies and procedures. The changes resulting from the committee’s work include a consistent policy and procedures for the handling of all discrimination and harassment complaints, including the following:

  • scope of coverage
  • time frame for filing a complaint
  • investigation steps and timeframes
  • representation during investigation
  • appeals process, and
  • addition of support resources

The policy, which can be found on the Office for Institutional Equity website, covers all students, faculty, staff, applicants for admission and employment, program participants and other third parties.

At the same time, the consensual relationship policy for the University and Health System has been revised. Consistent with revisions to the Faculty Handbook last summer on faculty-student relationships, the new policy prohibits relationships between employees and students and other employees whenever there is a supervisory or other authority relationship between the individuals. The policy can be found on the Office for Institutional Equity website.   

Schools, entities, and departments that reference previous versions of the policies should be updated to reflect the latest changes in language and link to the official policies on the OIE website.

The new policies do not affect the content of the required “Discrimination and Harassment Compliance Training” currently underway. If you or your staff have not already completed the training, please access the Learning Management System to do so by July 21, 2019.

Additional information about the changes to the policies and procedures, including a detailed questions-and-answers document, can be found on the OIE website. If you have any questions, please contact OIE at 919-684-8222 or

As part of Duke’s commitment to nondiscrimination, diversity, and inclusion, OIE offers services and training for supervisors, managers, and staff:

  • Diversity, Belonging, and Inclusion Engagement – services to address questions that managers and staff may have on such issues as working successfully with people from a variety of backgrounds, age groups, work experiences, and beliefs and the qualities of an inviting work culture and climate where diversity not only survives but thrives and flourishes.
  • Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, or Egregious?  Who Do I Call? -- daily workplace interactions and practices can lead to situations involving tension, a sense of inequities, or non-compliance with our policies and behavioral expectations. While these situations occur naturally, they can sometimes present challenges for administrators, supervisors and managers. Facilitated group discussion with Office for Institutional Equity content experts will examine potential issues of inclusion, belonging, equity, and egregious behaviors, including best practices for responding.
  • Identifying and Responding to Sexual Harassment for Supervisors and Managers – using case scenarios, the facilitators will cover the core components of Duke’s harassment policy, how to identify sexual harassment, best practices for responding to harassment concerns, reporting requirements, and resources to support you and your department in harassment prevention and compliance. 
  • Retaliation for Supervisors and Managers -- employees are encouraged and have the right to seek support, use available resources, and report concerns about discrimination and harassment. Duke’s policies prohibit retaliation against employees for doing so. This session uses examples and scenarios to help supervisors and managers identify retaliation and understand their responsibilities to avoid and respond to it. 

Thank you.