January 17, 2019

NSF, NIH strengthen harassment-reporting requirements

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Sexual harrassmentTwo federal granting agencies have strengthened guidelines for reporting sexual misconduct and harassment by investigators and key personnel named in a notice of award.

The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health already require funded institutions to implement policies and practices that foster a harassment-free environment, promote those policies to its research community, provide a simple reporting system and respond promptly to any allegations. A new award term and condition requires institutions to inform the agencies of any administrative or disciplinary actions against senior/ key personnel on an award for reasons related to harassment, sexual or otherwise, or sexual misconduct.

“Any finding/determination, placement on administrative leave or the imposition of any administrative action by the institution made on or after the start date of an award or funding amendment subject to the new term will invoke the new notification requirements,” according to NSF notice published in the Federal Register Sept. 21.

The NSF requires notice within 10 days of any administrative or disciplinary action, and the NIH requires notice be given in advance “anytime there is a change in status of the PD/PI or other senior/key personnel where that change will impact his/her ability to carry out the approved research at the location of, and on behalf of, the recipient institution.”

The federal agencies reserve the right to remove or substitute a primary or co-investigator, reduce the award amount or suspend or terminate the award if a report is received.

“This new requirement is consistent with UAB’s commitment to provide an environment in which faculty, staff and students can live, work, teach and learn with the respect that every member of our community deserves,” said Vice President for Research Chris Brown. “UAB will respond promptly and effectively to reports of inappropriate behavior and fulfill our obligations under federal law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this new requirement and our shared values as an institution.”

Training required

Resources and references

As part of UAB’s reaffirmation of its commitment to equal opportunity and an environment free from discrimination and harassment, all employees are required to complete an online harassment-prevention education program. Some 85 percent of all faculty and staff and 92 percent of all leaders have completed the requirement to date. The completion rate at this point is very good; however, it is important that each member of the UAB community complete the training.

Follow these instructions for accessing the course in the UAB Learning System:

  1. Navigate to the the UAB Learning System at edu/learningsystem/.

  2. Log in using your BlazerID and password.

  3. Select Student/Campus.

  4. Click on To Do at the top left.

  5. Select the course titled, Prevent Discrimination and Harassment – Faculty & Staff.

A list of related policies, procedures and resources is included in UAB’s Title IX Sexual Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Equal Opportunity and Discriminatory Harassment Policy.

Questions should be referred to the Office of Compliance & Risk Assurance, 996-6540, or Human Resources, 934-4458.