University of Wisconsin–Madison

Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Retaliation

Discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and retaliation are defined by the University of Wisconsin System Regent Policy Document 14-6, as amended 10/11/2013.

  • Discrimination

    Discrimination is conduct that adversely affects any aspect of an individual’s employment, education, or participation in an institution’s activities or programs, or has the effect of denying equal privileges or treatment to an individual on the basis of one more characteristics of that individual’s protected status or category as defined herein.

  • Discriminatory Harassment

    Discriminatory harassment is a form of discrimination consisting of unwelcome verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct that:

    1. Is directed at an individual or group of individuals on the basis of the individual or group of individuals’ actual or perceived protected status, or affiliation or association with person(s) within a protected status (as defined herein); and
    2. Is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to interfere with an individual’s employment, education or academic environment or participation in institution programs or activities and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, offensive or hostile.

    To constitute prohibited harassment, the conduct must be both objectively and subjectively harassing in nature. Harassment may include, but is not limited to, verbal or physical attacks, threats, slurs or derogatory or offensive comments that meet the definition set forth herein. Harassment does not have to be targeted at a particular individual in order to create a harassing environment, nor must the conduct result in a tangible injury to be considered a violation of this policy. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs and the status of the individuals involved.

    To be considered discriminatory harassment, the complainant must allege that the harassment is based on one or more of the categories listed in these procedures depending on whether the complainant is a student or applying for admission to the University; an employee, or applying for employment at the University; or a visitor to campus.

    For more information regarding discriminatory harassment, see:

    UW-Madison Office for Equity and Diversity: Sexual Harassment

    State of Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development: Harassment in the Workplace

    UW Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Harassment and Sexual Harassment: Types of Harassment and Facts about Sexual Harassment

    U.S. Department of Education: Sexual Harassment Resources, Dear Colleague Letter (2010), and Racial Incidents and Harassment Against Students

  • Retaliation

    Retaliation is defined as adverse action taken against an individual in response to, motivated by or in connection with an individual’s complaint of discrimination or discriminatory harassment, participation in an investigation of such complaint and/or opposition of discrimination or discriminatory harassment in the educational or workplace setting. Individuals making a complaint of discrimination or taking part in an investigation relating to discrimination or opposing discrimination are protected against retaliation. For more information about protection from discrimination, see:

    U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Facts About Retaliation

    Office of Civil Rights: Dear Colleague letter (2013)

    State of Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development: Retaliation Protection under The Fair Employment Law

Questions? Contact:

Letissa C. Reid, JD
Equal Opportunity Investigation Program Coordinator
Email: or
Voice: (608) 262-3254; Relay calls accepted
Office of Compliance
361 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Dr.
Madison, WI 53706