Discrimination, Harassment, & Sexual Misconduct

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and respectful learning, living, and working environment for its students, faculty, and staff and does not discriminate on the basis of protected status, including sex, in the education programs and activities it operates. Admission and employment are included in the requirement not to discriminate in the education program or activity that WCM operates. Through our policies, the university provides means to address bias, discrimination, harassment, and sexual and related misconduct.

Nothing in these procedures shall be construed to abridge academic freedom and inquiry, principles of free speech and expression, or the university’s educational mission.  Based on the protections afforded by academic freedom, speech and other expression occurring in the context of instruction or research will not be considered prohibited conduct under Cornell University Policy 6.4, unless the speech or expression meets the definition of Prohibited Conduct under these procedures.


Common Terms & Definitions


The adverse treatment of another individual on the basis of a Protected Characteristic; the use of facially-neutral employment policies or practices, which disproportionately disadvantage individuals on the basis of a Protected Characteristic. Discrimination based on sex refers to such treatment of a person because of the person’s sex, sexual orientation, actual or perceived gender, gender identity, or gender expression.


Certain unwelcome conduct on the basis of an individual’s Protected Characteristic, including, but not limited to: subjecting an individual to humiliating, offensive, abusive or threatening conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or abusive work or learning environment; alters the conditions of employment; or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance on the basis of that individual’s Protected Characteristic.  Examples of harassing behavior may include: communicating, sharing or displaying written or visual materials; epithets or slurs; negative stereotyping; denigrating jokes; and display or circulation in the working, learning, or living environment (including electronic transmission) of written or graphic material; making verbal comments; or engaging in physical conduct that is demeaning or derogatory to an individual because of a Protected Characteristic. Whether or not conduct is harassment will depend on the totality of the circumstances, including the frequency and severity of the discriminatory conduct; whether the conduct is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with the alleged victim’s employment environment, if applicable. 


Retaliation, including seeking revenge, reprisal, injury, or engaging in an adverse employment action (including, but not limited to: making any decision regarding job assignment or reassignment, performance evaluation, compensation, promotion or demotion, termination or commencement of employment, or any other decision involving any tangible employment action), against an individual based in whole, or in part, on any individual’s (i) exercise  of his/her rights under WCM Policy 206; (ii) participation in an investigation into allegations of any of the conduct covered in WCM Policy 206; (iii) opposition to any conduct covered in WCM Policy 206; or (iv) encouragement of others to exercise their rights under WCM Policy 206, is absolutely prohibited by WCM and under federal, state, city, and local law.  If an individual believes that he/she has been retaliated against for one of these reasons, that individual should contact the Office of Institutional Equity or Human Resources. Any employee who retaliates against anyone involved in a discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, or retaliation investigation or court proceeding will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment.  

Sexual Assault

Non-consensual intentional physical contact of a sexual nature, such as unwelcome physical contact with a person’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts, or any form of sexual intercourse without Consent. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Sexual assault occurs when the act (non-consensual sexual contact or non-consensual sexual intercourse) is committed by: a) physical force, violence, threat, or intimidation; b) ignoring the objections of, or without the Consent of, another person; c) causing another’s incapacitation through intoxication or impairment through the use of alcohol or other drugs; and/or d) taking advantage of another person’s incapacitation by alcohol or drug use, disability, unconsciousness, or helplessness which renders them unable to give consent. In accordance with New York State law, a person under the age of 17 lacks the capacity to give Consent.  

Sexual Harassment

A form of sex discrimination and unlawful under applicable federal, state and local law. Such conduct may occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, or other protected classes covered by federal or state law. 

  • Under Title IX, sexual harassment includes conduct on the basis of sex or that is sexual that satisfies one or more of the following: (i) a WCM employee conditioning an educational benefit or service upon a person’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (often called “quid pro quo” harassment); (ii) unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to WCM’s education program or activity; or (iii) sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking (as those offenses are defined herein and under law).
  • Other Sex-Based Harassment is a form of employee misconduct and is harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal, nonverbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.  Sexual harassment (other) may include harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity and the status of being transgender (collectively, “Sex”). Sexual harassment may also involve unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when: (i) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment; (ii) such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or (iii) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment.  Unlawful sexual harassment may take many forms, including, but not limited to: offensive and unwelcome sexual invitations, whether or not the individual submits to the invitation, and particularly when a spoken or implied quid pro quo for sexual favors is a benefit of employment or continued employment; sex stereotyping; hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s Sex; unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, questions or propositions; requests or demands for sexual favors; graphic or degrading verbal comments or questions about an individual’s appearance or their sexual conduct or relationships; sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks or jokes, or comments about an individual’s sexuality or sexual experience; unwanted, offensive, or abusive physical contact; words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s Sex, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, and/or which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.  The above list is only illustrative of types of conduct that would violate this Policy and, as such, by no means represents an exclusive list of conduct or types of conduct that would violate WCM Policy 206. 

Weill Cornell Medicine Office of Institutional Equity 575 Lexington Ave, 6th FL New York, NY 10022