1. Policy Statement

The University expressly forbids anyone to take any form of retaliatory action against any member of the Harvard community who in good faith voices concerns, seeks advice, files a complaint or grievance, seeks the aid of Human Resources, testifies or participates in investigations, compliance reviews, proceedings or hearings, or opposes actual or perceived violations of Harvard University’s policy or unlawful acts.

2. Reason For Policy

The University has an interest in encouraging the reporting of wrongdoing, and members of the community must be free from fear of retaliation to support that interest. In addition, the University has a responsibility to protect its employees from unlawful retaliation, and this policy clearly establishes that retaliation will not be tolerated.

3. Entities Affected By This Policy

  • All Units of the University
  • All members of the University community:
    • Faculty
    • Students
    • Employees
    • Contractors
    • Official visitors

4. Who Should Read This Policy

All members of the University community (see 3. above)

5. Related Documents

University Documents Other Documents
None listed None listed

6. Contacts

Subject Matter Office Name Telephone Number
Policy or procedure clarification Office of Labor and Employee Relations 617-495-2786

7. Definitions

Insert Term
(alphabetical order)
Alleged victim Individual who is reported to have been the subject of retaliatory action.
Appropriate office (for reporting violations) Reports of violations of this policy may be made to:
  • Supervisor
  • Manager
  • Department head
  • Local Human Resources Office
  • Office of Employee Relations and Policy
  • Office of Labor Relations
Appropriate University decision maker (see Procedures – Investigation) Typically, head of the relevant unit. Usually, this would be a dean or vice president but could be a director or department head depending upon the specific organization.
Bad faith Knowingly false, or with malicious intent.
Good faith Subjective sincere belief.
Investigator Individual designated to conduct an investigation into a report of retaliatory action. Usually, a human resources officer.
Reporter Individual reporting an instance of retaliatory action. May or may not be the alleged victim.
Retaliatory action For purposes of this policy, any form of intimidation, threat, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.

8. Responsibilities (required)

Party List of Responsibilities
All members of the University Community Understand this policy.

Abide by the policy.

Report violations of the policy to an appropriate office.

Cooperate in any investigation of any complaint.

Appropriate Offices upon receiving complaints

Report complaint to Local Human Resources Office, University Administration Human Resources, or the Office of Labor and Employee Relations for investigation.

Cooperate or participate in investigation as appropriate.

Local Human Resources Office, Office of Employee Relations and Policy, and the Office of Labor and Employee Relations Consult to determine which office will be responsible for the investigation.

Conduct investigation.

Document outcome of investigation.

9. Principles

The University is committed to four core values: respect, integrity, accountability, and excellence. These core values support and further the institution’s missions of education and research, and should be embodied by all members of the Harvard community.

The successful University is based on a culture of openness and a free exchange of ideas. That openness and freedom comes with the responsibility to be the best possible stewards of the resources entrusted to us. Because our reputation and the trust and excellence on which it is built are among our greatest assets, we have a solemn obligation to protect them. This policy ensures that ethical, moral, and legal matters may be raised without fear of repercussion The University expects all members of the community to be responsible for their actions and encourages members to bring forward information of which they may have become aware related to potential or actual violations of University policies or any laws or regulations to which the University is subject. This policy forbids retaliatory action for good faith reports of potential or actual misconduct and supports the reporting of the same.

10. Procedures

Reporting Retaliatory Action Any individual who believes that they or another member of the University community have been or are the subject of retaliatory action should make an oral or written report to:
  • Supervisor
  • Manager
  • Department head
  • Local Human Resources Office
  • Office of Labor and Employee Relations
Responding to initial report

The reporter may choose from the list above and make their report to whichever office suits them best. If the office receiving the original report is not one of the Human Resource Offices listed, the office receiving the report and the reporter may decide together which HR office to contact and who will make that contact.

All reports must be relayed to one of the HR offices listed.

Investigation The responsible HR office as determined above will designate an investigator. Generally, the investigator will work with the alleged victim when determining the initial steps in the investigation.

The investigation will be conducted in a fair and balanced manner with the purpose of objectively ascertaining what transpired. All information from the investigation will be shared on a strictly need-to-know basis in order to preserve confidentiality.

The investigator will document the investigation and the conclusions reached, and also may offer recommendations for personnel actions to the appropriate University decision maker.

Consequences of violating this policy

Anyone found to have retaliated against any member of the Harvard community will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge. If the violator is not subject to the direct control of the University (e.g. contractors, visitors), they may be barred from the campus and from doing business with the University in the future.

This section does not preclude civil or criminal legal action if warranted.

Last updated: 05/21/2008