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Work Environment

The overall work environment affects the quality of education and the quality of employee performance. Boston College seeks to promote a healthy work environment by providing clearly stated policies and procedures regarding work performance and compensation (see earlier sections of this handbook). The following sections outline key principles and guidelines for ensuring a positive work environment.

Policy on Discriminatory Harassment

As a University dedicated to fostering the dignity of each person, Boston College strives to provide an environment that is free of harassment. The University's policy against discriminatory harassment applies to all faculty, students, employees, contractors, and vendors. Anyone believing he/she has been the subject of harassment should consult this policy, which is outlined below. It is designed to address, formally or informally, cases of discriminatory harassment in accordance with the wishes of the individual concerned. If a person is uncertain about an experience he/she has had (or is having), or if he/she is reluctant to voice complaint about the behavior of another individual, Boston College provides sources (noted below) of information and help.

The discriminatory harassment policy covers harassment based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, handicap, age, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran. A University Harassment Counselor has been appointed to assist those who believe they have been the subject of discriminatory harassment, or who have become aware of discriminatory harassment. The Discriminatory Harassment Policy is found in Section 1, Policy 1-200-025 of the Boston College Policies and Procedures. A copy of this policy may be obtained from the Department of Human Resources, 129 Lake Street. Please see also additional information.


Discriminatory harassment is any conduct that, by reference to gender, race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, handicap, age, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran, intentionally or recklessly abuses, ridicules, or disparages a person or persons so as to adversely affect their academic or work performance at Boston College. Discriminatory harassment is a violation of University policy and, in many forms, violates state and federal law as well.

Both University policy and the law specifically identify offensive or unwanted sexual behavior as a form of discriminatory harassment when it is forced on an individual in connection with a personnel or academic decision, or when it has the effect of creating a hostile or stressful living, learning, or working environment.

Sources of Assistance

The University's Harassment Counselor is available for consultation to all employees, faculty members, and students. Any individual who wishes to pose questions or to register a complaint about harassment; who has been solicited for information or advice about harassment; who has been accused of harassment; or who, in his/her capacity as a University official, must take action concerning a case of harassment, is encouraged to seek the aid of the Harassment Counselor. Alternatively, an individual may review such concerns with the University's Executive Director of the Office for Institutional Diversity. Names and telephone numbers for the Harassment Counselor or the Executive Director of the Office for Institutional Diversity may be obtained from the Department of Human Resources at (617) 552-3330 or from the Office for Institutional Diversity at (617) 552-2323.


Sexual Assault Network

The Sexual Assault Network is a primary resource for members of the Boston College community who may be victims of sexual assault. The Network is a group of trained professionals and students who, working in pairs, have volunteered to serve as advocates for victims/survivors of sexual assaults. All discussions with members of the network are strictly confidential.

Members of the network are available for crises or emergencies 24 hours a day and may be accessed by calling the Sexual Assault Hotline, (617) 552-2211. A brochure describing the services of the Network is distributed to Boston College faculty, staff, and students each fall, or may be obtained from the Sexual Assault Policy and Resources website through the Office of the Dean of Students.

University Smoking Policy

Smoking is prohibited in all Boston College buildings and vehicles. This prohibition applies to all indoor air space including private faculty and administrative offices, all areas of residence halls, and dining facilities. Smoking is also prohibited outdoors within twenty feet of a residence hall. It is the responsibility of all faculty, staff, and students to observe and enforce the nonsmoking policy. To implement and enforce this policy, common courtesy and consideration toward others should be exercised.

Smoking is permitted only in open areas outside buildings, if the area is not identified as a hazardous area and is not within twenty feet of a residence hall.

The University's Faculty/Staff Assistance Program offers a program called Fresh Start, designed by the American Cancer Society to help smokers become nonsmokers. Employees of the University who wish to quit smoking are encouraged to attend.

The full text of the University Smoking Policy appears in the Boston College Policies and Procedures Manual, Policy 1-300-010.

Alcohol Policy

Boston College policy on the use and service of alcohol is based on the laws of the Commonwealth, which state that it is illegal for anyone under age 21 to purchase, arrange to have purchased, transport, possess, consume, or carry alcoholic beverages. The University complies with this law.

Managers and staff should be cognizant of the evolving case law on issues of liability in connection with selling or serving alcohol to a minor or to anyone who is obviously intoxicated. Managers and staff should also be aware of their host responsibilities in student-attended events where alcohol is served. Boston College has developed extensive guidelines on student use of alcohol; these policies appear in the annually published Boston College Student Guide and in the University's Policies and Procedures, Policy 1-300-050.

Absolutely no alcohol is allowed on the job or at the worksite. Furthermore, Boston College employees are expected to come to work free of impairment resulting from drinking or use of illegal substances elsewhere, whether at night, at lunch, or at any other time.

Drug-Free Workplace

Boston College complies with the requirements of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. As a recipient of federal contracts and grants, the University certifies to all funding agencies that it provides a drug-free workplace by adhering to certain statutory requirements stipulated in the law, including the dissemination of the following policy to all employees:

Boston College prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance in and on University-owned property. A controlled substance is a substance covered by federal law. This includes illegal drugs as well as all drugs and pharmaceuticals for which a license or prescription is required for possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture. "Controlled substances" therefore refers to both illegal drugs and prescription drugs taken in non-therapeutic doses. Any Boston College employee determined to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment and referral for prosecution.

The employment of those engaged in the performance of work under a federal contract or grant is conditional on their willingness to abide by the terms of this policy. These employees are also required to notify the Department of Human Resources, in writing, of any drug-related criminal conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace no later than five days following conviction.

Use of Alcohol at Boston College. The University's Faculty/Staff Assistance Program offers a drug awareness program, as well as information and counseling on drug use/abuse-related problems. Employees who have specific concerns about substance abuse or dependency are encouraged to utilize the resources of the Faculty/Staff Assistance Program. This service is confidential.

The Drug-free Campus and Workplace Program, a circular detailing the University's drug-abuse policy, is presented to all new employees during the Benefits Orientation meeting in the Department of Human Resources, and is also distributed annually to each faculty and staff member, and to students. In addition, the following policies may be referenced in the Boston College Policies and Procedures Manual, Policy 1-300-020, Drug Free Workplace; Policy 1-300-025, Drug-free Schools and Campuses; and Policy 1-300-050, The Use of Alcohol at Boston College.


Grievance Procedures

The University encourages employees and managers to resolve any employment-related grievances on an informal basis. Whenever a grievance cannot be resolved informally, the University will arrange for a formal review and will seek a fair and timely resolution of the problem as outlined below. No employee will be discriminated against because he/she has sought resolution of a problem through the grievance procedures.

Issues Subject to Grievance

  • Alleged discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or disability
  • Disciplinary actions, including warnings placed in an individual's personnel file, and termination for cause
  • An alleged violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of a personnel policy or procedure affecting an individual

Issues Not Subject to Grievance

  • Terminations related to reductions in force (unless the terminations are alleged to be discriminatory in intent or effect) or to expiration of temporary or externally funded grants or contracts
  • The content of published personnel policies and procedures (unless the policies or procedures are alleged to affect an identifiable class of employees in a discriminatory manner)

Formal Review Procedure

First level:

If an employee is not able to satisfactorily resolve a dispute informally with his/her supervisor, or if the supervisor fails to resolve the issue within 10 days after being informed of the complaint, the employee may request a review by sumbitting to the supervisor a signed grievance statement.  This must be done within 30 days following the event on which the grievance is based.

The grievance statement must decsribe the nature of the grievance; the legislation, rule, regulation, or policy of the University that the indivudual claims has been violated; and the remedy or relief requested.  Copies of the statement, related correspondence, and documentation should be forwarded by the complainant to the supervisor, the Vice President for Human Resources, and, in cases of alleged discrimination, the Executive Director of Office for Institutional Diversity.

The supervisor is responsible for giving fair consideration to all the facts and for providing the employee with a written response within seven working days of receipt of the grievance statement. Copies of the response should be sent by the supervisor to all persons who received copies of the grievance statement.

Second level:

If not satisfied with the supervisor's response, the complainant may, within 10 working days following receipt of that response, file a written request for review of the grievance with the division's vice president.  The complainant must provide copies of the request for review, the original grievance statement, and the supervisor's response.  The vice president reviewing the grievance will provide the compainant with a written response, with copies to all concerned parties, within 30 days of receipt of the request for review.

Third level:

If not satisfied with the second-level decision, within 10 working days following receipt fo that decision the complainant may submit a written request for further review, with copies to all concerned parties, to the Vice President for Human Resources.  The request must include copies of all related correspondence.

The Vice President for Human Resources will appoint a three-member Hearing Committee, designating one individual as chairperson.  Members of the Hearing Committee will be employees of the University.  An individual will not participate if he/she has been involved in the events upon which the grievance is based.

The Commiittee will schedule a hearing as soon as possible and will give written notice of the time and place of the hearing to the complainant and the respondent supervisor or manager.  The Hearing Committee may continue the hearing from time to time if it determines such continuances to be advisable.  The hearing will generally conform to the following format:

1. Opening statements by the compainant and by the supervisor or department head summarizing the problem, outlining how he/she intends to present the case, and stating the relief or remedy being sought.

2. Presentation of the case by the complainant and by the supervisor or department head, with questioning by the Hearing Committee.

3. Summations by the complainant and by the supervisor or department head.

4. If required, requests for further information by the Hearing Committee.

5. Within 15 working days after completion of the hearing, the Hearing Committee will submit its recommendations to the Vice President for Human Resources and other concerned parties.  The Vice President will provide a written decision to all concerned parties within 15 working days, and that decision shall be final.

General Policies Concerning Grievances        

  • Any decision made as a result of a formal grievance hearing will apply only to the individual who submitted the request for review and will not serve as a precedent for establishing or changing any University policy or procedure.
  • Employees are expected to exhaust the remedies available to them through the University grievance procedures prior to instituting any proceedings regarding the subject matter of the grievance in any state or federal court or agency. If, prior to or subsequent to commencing a complaint under the Boston College grievance procedure, a complainant files a related claim with a state or federal court or agency, the University reserves the right to discontinue the grievance proceedings if, in its judgment, it determines that continuation either will not conclude the case or will be unnecessarily duplicative.
  • A complainant may be accompanied by a representative of his/her choice at any stage of the grievance procedure. If a complainant intends to have an attorney act as his/her advisor, he/she shall so advise the Department of Human Resources at least 24 hours prior to the attorney's first appearance at the University.
  • Employees are expected to comply with, and will be bound by, the time limits specified for each level of the grievance proceedings. Failure to comply with applicable time limits may result in a refusal to consider the grievance. If an employee has failed to seek a review within an applicable time limit, the Vice President for Human Resources may at his/her discretion extend that time limit. Extensions may be granted when justified by the complexity of the case or by the unavailability of individuals involved.