Affirmative Action Frequently Asked Questions
1. At the state college level, what is the purpose of the AA/EEO Department?
The AA/EEO Director at Massachusetts Maritime Academy serves as the Title II, Section 504, and Title IX Compliance Coordinator and is the campus ombudsman for all complaints of discrimination, including discriminatory harassment and retaliation. The Director monitors recruitment of employees and all aspects of the hiring and promotion processes to provide equal access to employment positions for all including members of protected groups. Additionally, the AA/EEO Director provides campus-wide education on multicultural topics to cultivate a welcoming and tolerant campus environment and presents sensitivity training to all divisions of the college community.
2. I have a work-related complaint involving a colleague. How do I proceed to resolve it?
Differences of opinion and personality clashes are present in every workplace environment. Direct communication with the offender resolves the majority of conflicts. If resolution fails, the issue should be brought to the immediate supervisor or to the department chair/head. If differences cannot be resolved, the proper venue for final resolution is the Human Resources office located in Harrington or your union grievance officer. If the nature of the disagreement involves discriminatory harassment, the proper venue for investigation and resolution is the AA/EEO office presently located in the Executive suite in Harrington.
3. Who at Mass. Maritime can I go to for help with a discriminatory harassment issue?
Both employees and students should contact one of the following: Mrs. Elizabeth Benway, AA/EEO Director – Harrington
4. Can I talk to someone else other than the Affirmative Action Director about my situation?
Yes. You should feel free to discuss your situation to a favorite professor or to a close colleague or manager. However, no investigation, informal or formal, may be commenced unless consultation is made with the Affirmative Action Director who will initiate and oversee an investigation.
5. If I discuss my situation with a colleague or manager and do not want to involve the AA/EEO office, will my conversation remain confidential?
Because discriminatory conduct can expose the college to liability, every employee of MMA has the responsibility to report actual or potential discriminatory conduct to the AA/EEO Director. It is the duty of the college to investigate, in as discreet a manner as possible, every allegation of discrimination whether the complainant wants to or not. This duty exists whether the complaint was verbal or written and whether the complaint appears trivial or false.
6. How will my situation be resolved?
The new state colleges’ Affirmative Action Plan describes the processes a complainant can elect for resolution. They are:
- Informal investigation
- Mediation, and
- Formal investigation.
These options are detailed on page 27 of the Plan. Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s AA/EEO Director is a qualified mediator and has undergone training by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination for resolution of all campus complaints.
7. Will the information I reveal remain confidential?
Yes, to the greatest extent possible. While it is more difficult to initiate an investigation without names, if a complainant wishes to remain anonymous, (s)he may do so.
8. Who is a member of a protected group?
Women, people of color, persons with disabilities, people over 40 years of age, veterans, people of a different ethnic origin, people of varying sexual identities, persons who have filed a claim of discrimination or who are involved in an investigation of discrimination, and people with religiously held beliefs are all considered protected groups against whom discrimination or discriminatory harassment is illegal.
9. If I am a witness to discriminatory conduct, what should I do?
The most effective means to stop the discrimination is to encourage the victim – accompany them, if necessary – to tell the discriminator to stop! Many discriminators and harassers do not think their behavior is discriminatory. They think their words and their conduct is a joke and is funny. Most discrimination stops when it is brought to their attention. A face-to-face encounter can often be difficult. In the event that a victim is reluctant, suggest that (s)he write a note or send an email telling the discriminator to stop the behavior. If the conduct continues, encourage the victim to report it to the Affirmative Action office or report the incident yourself.
10. What if a victim fears retaliation from the perpetrator’s friends if (s)he comes forward with an accusation?
If the victim wishes, (s)he may remain anonymous and the matter can still be dealt without revealing his/her identity. Retaliation against a complainant, or to a witness in an investigation, or to anyone involved in the investigation of a complaint is in itself a form of discrimination and is legally actionable regardless of the merit of the underlying complaint. Retaliation will not be tolerated at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
11. What if I am a victim of discrimination, and I do not want to involve MMA officials at all or follow their complaint procedures. Where would I go to pursue my complaint?
Any complainant has the right to file charges of unlawful discrimination with or without first pursuing resolution through Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s complaint procedures. The following state and federal agencies will help resolve discrimination complaints:
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
One Ashburton Place
Room 601 Boston, MA 02108
(617) 727-3990 (x588 for TTY)
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
JFK Building Room
475 Government Center
Boston, MA 02203-0506
TTY: 6(17) 565-3204
12. I am a minority student and while I have not been discriminated against because of my race/ethnicity, I still feel isolated and different from everyone else. What can the AA/EEO office do for me?
The AA/EEO office can help welcome you into the Massachusetts Maritime Academy community by connecting you with the student-run multicultural club whose members enjoy a variety of social and cultural events. Additionally, contact information with local groups and nearby colleges’ multicultural centers can be shared. Joining any Massachusetts Maritime Academy sport or club of your choice or perhaps starting one of your own can bring students of different backgrounds together who share a common interest.
13. What is the availability of the AA/EEO Office?
During the regular academic calendar, the AA/EEO office hours are usually Monday through Friday 0800 – 1500 hours and otherwise by appointment. Voicemail and email messages are checked several times daily and on weekends. The summer schedule varies but is usually posted on the office door for your convenience.