Consensual Relationship Policy

POLICY NAME

Consensual Relationship Policy
Responsible
Vice President:
Barbara Fabe Adopted: September 1, 2019
Responsible Office or Department: Human Resources Reviewed: N/A
Contact: Vicki Cowan
Assistant Vice President
vicki.cowan@manhattan.edu
718-862-7398
Revised: N/A

Policy Statement

Manhattan College is a Lasallian Catholic educational institution, deeply committed to fostering a quality and safe educational environment, free of sexual misconduct, for its students and Employees (as defined below). Further, in the Lasallian tradition, the educator-student relationship is a sacred one; it lies at the heart of the College’s educational mission and its integrity must be maintained.  This Consensual Relationship Policy (the “Policy”) continues in that tradition and serves to ensure that all individuals working and learning at Manhattan College (the “College”) are treated equitably and with dignity. 

This policy sets forth how the College defines and addresses consensual relationships between Employees and students; as well as between Employees and their supervisors. Specifically, this Policy highlights the risks in an intimate, dating or sexual relationships in the workplace or academic setting between individuals in inherently unequal positions (including the abuse of power dynamic and the potential risk for claims of sexual harassment); prohibits certain relationships between Employees and students; and requires notification of certain relationships;  and provides for recusal from direct supervision and evaluation with respect to certain other relationships.

Who Should Read the Policy
  • All members of the Manhattan College community  

Links and Resources

Employee Handbook

https://inside.manhattan.edu/offices/human-resources/employee-handbook.php

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy

https://inside.manhattan.edu/student-life/dean-of-students/code-conduct.php#misconduct

Community Standards and Student Code of Conduct

https://inside.manhattan.edu/student-life/dean-of-students/code-conduct

Terms and Definitions

“Consensual Relationship” means a mutually acceptable interaction between two individuals that is romantic, intimate or sexual in nature. This includes a single incident or occurrence in the form of visual, physical or verbal conduct.

“Employee(s)” for purposes of this Policy means all individuals employed by the College, including but not limited to, faculty (full-time and adjuncts) and staff (full and part-time).  

“Position of Authority” for purposes of this Policy occurs when one party has institutional responsibility or authority, whether direct or indirect, to confer or withhold educational or employment benefits over another party.

“Undergraduate Student” is any undergraduate student (matriculated, non-matriculated) enrolled in any course of study at the College.

“Graduate Student” is any student enrolled in a graduate studies program or the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

“Supervisor” for purposes of this Policy is any individual to whom an Employee directly reports and/or someone who has direct managerial oversight over an Employee.

The Policy

I. Introduction

The purpose of this Policy is to outline the College’s position on Consensual Relationships and further outline the procedures and prohibitions pursuant to the implementation of the Policy.  All Employees are required to maintain the highest level of professionalism at all times in a manner that is consistent with the Lasallian Catholic values, mission and tradition of the College.

Consensual Relationships that may be appropriate in other circumstances raise ethical and potentially legal concerns when they occur between individuals that have a Position of Authority. Decisions that take place when there is a Position of Authority come under question when made by a person who has a Consensual Relationship with a person who may benefit from or be harmed by the decisions.  Such relationships have the potential to undermine the College’s mission and may disrupt the academic or work environment. Because of this, the College has adopted a policy to address Consensual Relationships in the workplace and to place all employees “on notice” that the College views Consensual Relationships as high risk.

II. Policy Requirements and Standards

            A. Prohibited Conduct and Procedures

1. Consensual Relationship Involving Undergraduate Students

When an Employee interacts with Undergraduate Students, who because of their age and relative lack of maturity are particularly vulnerable, the Employee is in a position of trust and power, therefore, the College prohibits Consensual Relationships between Employees and Undergraduate Students at all times. Efforts by an Employee to initiate and/or participate in a Consensual Relationship with an Undergraduate Student are also prohibited. For purposes of this Policy, it is irrelevant whether the Employee holds a position of academic or professional authority with respect to the Undergraduate Student, and/or has supervisory responsibilities over the Undergraduate Student. Any violation of the Policy will trigger appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.  

If an Employee discovers that there is a Consensual Relationship between an Undergraduate Student and an Employee, he/she must report it immediately to the Supervisor of that Employee and to Human Resources.

A student may lodge a formal or informal complaint regarding an alleged violation of this Policy with Human Resources (718-862-7392; humanresources@manhattan.edu) or with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Title IX ( (718-862-7512; TitleIX@manhattan.edu)

2. Consensual Relationship Involving Graduate Students

No Employee shall initiate, pursue, participate in, or maintain a Consensual Relationship with any Graduate Student for whom the Employee is responsible for teaching, grading, advising, evaluating, or otherwise supervising. In the event such a relationship exists, the Employee shall immediately report the relationship to their Supervisor and Human Resources. Prospective Employees will be required to disclose any Consensual Relationships with any Graduate Student prior to accepting an offer of employment from the College.  Any violation of the Policy will trigger appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Upon notification, the Supervisor and Human Resources, in consultation with the Provost, will be responsible for taking action consistent with this Policy, including the removal of any reporting, grading, teaching, advising, or similar relationship between the Employee and the Graduate Student. The Supervisor and Human Resources, in consultation with the Provost, will work with the Employee to eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest and to mitigate adverse effects. The Employee must cooperate in these efforts.

The Provost, Human Resources, or a designee from either office will notify the Graduate Student that a management plan is in place or that no policy violation occurred.

3. Consensual Relationships Between Employees

Consensual Relationships between Employees are not in general prohibited by this Policy. However, Consensual Relationships between Employees in which one is in a Position of Authority are always potentially problematic. This includes, but is not limited to relationships between: supervisors and their staff, faculty of different ranks, and academic/non-academic staff. This concern exists even where the employees are in a pre-existing relationship.

Accordingly, no Supervisor shall initiate, pursue, or maintain a Consensual Relationship with an Employee who reports to the Supervisor, or over whom the Supervisor has the authority and/or the responsibility to hire, promote, discipline, evaluate, assign, or direct.  If such a relationship exists, both the Supervisor and the Employee shall immediately report the relationship to Human Resources. Human Resources shall then consult with the appropriate department/division and shall have the authority to determine appropriate action consistent with this Policy, including transferring either or both Employee and Supervisor.  If no suitable realignment of the supervisory relationship can be agreed upon, then the Supervisor involved in the Consensual Relationship will be held accountable for violating this Policy.

Additionally, there may be some limited instances where two faculty members in a department are married or in a domestic partnership. Neither spouse or partner in the Consensual Relationship may participate in departmental decisions affecting the other and/or try and influence departmental or College decisions affecting the other. A memo noting the disclosure of the conflict of interest and procedures for compliance shall be prepared, shared with the faculty members, and maintained where practical.

The Provost, Human Resources, or a designee from either office will notify the Employee involved that a management plan is in place or that no policy violation occurred.  

Any violation of this Policy will trigger appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

            B. Non-Compliance

Failure to immediately disclose a Consensual Relationship or give proper notice to the appropriate Supervisor and/or Human Resources will be considered a violation of the Policy. Failure to comply with any efforts to mitigate actual or potential adverse effects of a Consensual Relationship will also be considered a violation of the Policy. Any violation of the Policy will trigger appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination, pursuant to College policy and procedures. 

If an Employee complains of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct related to an undisclosed relationship, there will be no presumption by the College that the relationship was consensual.  Under these circumstances, complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct will be investigated in accordance with applicable College policies. Further, any of the violations referenced in this Policy may result in the denial of legal representation and indemnification in the event that a lawsuit based on either an undisclosed relationship or Consensual Relationship is filed.

III.   Additional Requirements and Procedures

                 A. Questions and Procedures

Questions may be addressed to Human Resources (718-862-7392; humanresources@manhattan.edu), located on the 3rd floor of Memorial Hall. The procedures for investigating alleged violations of this Policy and the related sanctions for violating the Policy follow the same process outlined in the Employee Handbook for violation of other nondiscrimination College policies.

                  B. Prohibition of Retaliation 

No person who makes a good faith report of suspected non-compliance with this Policy will be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of their educational program or employment.

Examples of Prohibitions Under Consensual Relationship Policy

1. A Professor teaches an undergraduate student in a class. Professor thinks the student is attractive and proceeds to ask the student out for drinks. 

The Consensual Relationship Policy prohibits a sexual or romantic relationship between these two parties. When the class is final and all grades are submitted, the Consensual Relationship Policy still prohibits this relationship as the professor is in a position of trust and power over the student.

2. Employee works in Department XYZ as an administrative assistant. The administrative assistant doesn’t give graduate assistants assignments, but is responsible for dealing with timesheets and paperwork dealing with compensation. On several occasions, the administrative assistant and a graduate assistant (3 years older than the administrative assistant) who also works in Department XYZ have gone out together with others to bars, lounges, and clubs. They have also exchanged friendly texts and Snap Chat messages over the last six months. Eventually, in their last two outings which were initiated by the graduate assistant, they ended up alone and exchanged several intimate kisses. The Consensual Relationship Policy may prohibit this relationship.

No Employee shall initiate, pursue, participate in, or maintain a Consensual Relationship with any Graduate Student for whom the Employee is responsible for teaching, grading, advising, or otherwise supervising. In the event such relationship exists, the Employee shall immediately report their relationship to the Supervisor and Human Resources.

3. An athletic trainer for team XYZ in a premier sport is helping a player on team XYZ rehab from a season ending injury. Eventually, the trainer and the player grow close due to the two having similar “coming out” experiences. The trainer then makes it known that she is interested in furthering their relationship and asks the player out on a date.  Not knowing what to do, the player tells her best friend, who’s also a student at Manhattan College about this incident. Her best friend doesn’t want to get involved but knows she should probably do something.

A student may lodge a formal or informal complaint regarding an alleged violation of this Policy with Human Resources (718-862-7392; humanresources@manhattan.edu) or with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Title IX (718-862-7512; TitleIX@manhattan.edu).

4. Professor A and Professor B are married and are members of the same department. Professor A is currently up for tenure. At Manhattan College, in order to obtain a tenured position one is subject to an evaluation of their performance by their peers. Here, Professor B would like to participate in the process of evaluating Professor A for his pending tenure with the colleagues of the department. 

There may be some limited instances where two faculty members in a department are married or in a domestic partnership. Neither spouse or partner in the Consensual Relationship may participate in departmental decisions affecting the other and/or try and influence departmental or College decisions affecting the other.

 

As policies may be amended periodically, please refer to the Manhattan College Policy Library website [manhattan.edu/policies] for the most recent version of this policy.