Office of General Counsel


Clemson University has instituted a zero tolerance policy with regard to harassment of any kind against employees, students and non-employees. The University is committed to providing a harassment-free environment and prohibits retaliation against any individual who files a complaint or assists or participates in the investigation and resolution of a complaint. Read the complete text of the Clemson University harassment policy and complaint resolution policy. Set forth below are excerpts from the policy.

Harassment is defined as follows:

“In general, harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, age, disability, status as a military veteran or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in the statutory complaint process) that unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment. Examples may include, but are not limited to, epithets, slurs, jokes or other verbal, graphic or physical conduct.”

Sexual harassment is defined as follows:

“Sexual harassment is one of the oldest forms of sex discrimination. It is defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status;
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or academic environment.”

The Office of Access and Equity is the entity at Clemson University responsible for responding to and investigating claims of harassment. As counsel for Clemson University, the Office of the General Counsel provides advice to the Office of Access and Equity as needed before, during and after a harassment investigation. Therefore, we cannot advise or represent individuals making claims of harassment on any issue other than to advise them on the procedure for making a harassment claim.

Frequently Asked Questions About Harassment

Q: How are harassment complaints handled?
A: To report incidents of harassment or retaliation, faculty members, staff members and students should contact the Office of Access and Equity. An employee may also report the incident to his/her immediate supervisor or to the next level supervisor or University official. Students may also report an incident of harassment to the Office of the Dean of Students, 202 Hendrix Student Center, at 864-656-0471.

The Office of Access and Equity is primarily responsible for investigating allegations of harassment and for initiating and coordinating corrective action when necessary. There is an informal complaint process that is more thoroughly explained in the harassment policy. If the results of the informal complaint process are unsatisfactory to the complainant, one of the University’s grievance procedures can be initiated. These procedures are also outlined in further detail in the policy.

Q: Who may make a complaint of harassment?
A: Any Clemson University student, faculty, staff or employee and any visitor to Clemson University may report complaints of harassment. Harassment can occur in all types of circumstances and relationships including those between or among individuals of the same sex and in relationships of equal power (for example, between fellow employees or fellow students).

Q: Must harassment complaints be made in writing?
A: No. Harassment complaints may be made by speaking to any of the individuals named in the first question. They may, however, request that you prepare a written statement setting forth the particulars of the complaint.

Q: Are harassment complaints kept confidential?
A: It is not possible to guarantee absolute confidentiality or anonymity. The privacy of persons who make complaints of harassment will be respected. To the extent permitted by law, the confidentiality of each party involved in a harassment investigation, complaint or charge will be observed, provided it does not interfere with Clemson University’s ability to investigate the allegations or take corrective action. Clemson has an obligation to provide an environment free of harassment. This obligation supersedes an individual's expectations of privacy when making an allegation of harassment.

Q: Are there time limits for reporting harassment to a Clemson University official?
A: There are no time limits for reporting harassment to a Clemson University official. However, allegations of harassment should be reported as promptly as possible. Delay in making a complaint may make it difficult, or even impossible, for Clemson University to investigate allegations.

Q: What should be done upon learning of an incident of harassment involving another person?
A: Each dean, director, department chair or other person with supervisory responsibility is required to report any complaint of harassment to the Office of Access and Equity. Other members of the Clemson University community who become aware of allegations of harassment should encourage the aggrieved individual to report the alleged harassment to a Clemson University official as indicated in A1.  All members of the Clemson University community are required to cooperate in any investigation of a harassment complaint.