Retaliation

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Retaliation

Last updated November 2020

Princeton University strongly encourages members of the University community to report suspected violations of University policy.[1]  However, we understand that some individuals may be reluctant to report their concerns due to fear of retaliation.  These FAQs seek to provide information regarding what constitutes Retaliation under various University policies,[2]  as well as provide information for those who feel that they have experienced Retaliation.

The Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are the best sources of information regarding Retaliation under these policies; see section III of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section III of the University Sexual Misconduct policy for specific information related to Retaliation under these policies. 


[1] Additionally, employees have certain required reporting responsibilities with respect to sexual misconduct.  Additional information regarding these responsibilities are available at Faculty & Staff Reporting Obligations.

1. I believe that I have experienced Retaliation related to my involvement in a sexual misconduct matter. Given that there are now two University policies related to sexual misconduct, how do I determine which definition of Retaliation applies?

Due to federal requirements, Princeton must use slightly different definitions of Retaliation under different policies.  It is not necessary for you to know which policy potentially applies to your situation, and the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration can assist you in identifying potential options and next steps.  Anyone who believes that they have experienced retaliatory conduct related to sexual misconduct is encouraged to consult with the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration (ptitleix@princeton.edu).  

2. What is considered Retaliation under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy?

Under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy:

No individual may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by this policy or because an individual has made a report or formal complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy.

3. Under what circumstances does the policy against Retaliation under the Title IX Sexual Harassment apply?

This policy applies to retaliatory conduct (as defined in the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy) that occurs in response to Prohibited Conduct under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy (e.g., Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Title IX Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic or Dating Violence, or Stalking that meets the jurisdictional requirements of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy).

4. What is considered Retaliation under the University Sexual Misconduct policy?

Under the University Sexual Misconduct policy:

The University expressly prohibits any form of retaliatory action against any member of the University community who in good faith: (1) files a report, complaint or grievance under this policy (or with an external entity); (2) opposes in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of this policy; or (3) participates in University investigations, compliance reviews, or discipline proceedings under this policy.

Depending on the circumstances referenced above, retaliatory acts may include (but are not limited to):

  • Adverse employment action;
  • Adverse action relating to participation in an educational or working program;
  • Unreasonably interfering with the academic or professional career of another individual;
  • Engaging in conduct which constitutes stalking, harassment, or assault;
  • Engaging in efforts to have others engage in retaliatory behavior on one’s behalf.
5. Under what circumstances does the policy against Retaliation under the University Sexual Misconduct policy apply?

This policy applies to retaliatory conduct (as defined by the University Sexual Misconduct policy) that occurs in response to Prohibited Conduct under the University Sexual Misconduct policy (e.g., Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic or Dating Violence, or Stalking that meets the jurisdictional requirements of the University Sexual Misconduct policy, or University Sexual Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, or Improper Conduct related to Sex).

6. Is it Retaliation (under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and/or the University Sexual Misconduct policy) for a complainant or respondent to speak publicly about an allegation?

While individuals involved in investigations are encouraged to exercise discretion in sharing information, they are not barred from sharing information related to cases in which they are involved. Such conduct would not generally be considered Retaliation.  

Such conduct could only constitute Retaliation under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy if the retaliatory conduct occurs for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or because an individual made a report or formal complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the Title IX Sexual Harassment.

Such conduct could only constitute Retaliation under the University Sexual Misconduct policy if the retaliatory conduct occurs because the individual (1) files a report, complaint or grievance under the University Sexual Misconduct policy (or with an external entity); (2) opposes in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of the University Sexual Misconduct policy; or (3) participates in University investigations, compliance reviews, or discipline proceedings under the University Sexual Misconduct policy.

7. Is it Retaliation (under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and/or the University Sexual Misconduct policy) for a party (or their friends) to say negative things about the other party or to act differently towards one other?

While it would depend on the particular circumstances, such conduct generally would not be considered Retaliation, as members of our community are free to determine with whom they like to socialize and how they express themselves.  There are exceptions, however, such as conduct which serves to deny a member of our community the opportunity to participate in a University sponsored program or activity. 

8. Is it Retaliation (under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and/or the University Sexual Misconduct policy) for one party to file a claim or counterclaim against another party?

Filing a claim or counterclaim in good faith would not be considered Retaliation, as members of the University community have the right to ask the University to review allegations that another party violated University policy.  

9. Does the policy against Retaliation (under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and/or the University Sexual Misconduct policy) apply to witnesses?

Yes.  Witnesses are both protected from being retaliated against for their participation in a disciplinary process and prohibited from engaging in Retaliation against others.

10. I am interested in filing a report of Title IX Sexual Harassment or University Sexual Misconduct but am concerned about potential Retaliation. What should I do?

We encourage you to contact the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration (ptitleix@princeton.edu) to discuss how your concerns could best be addressed.  

11. What should I do if I believe I am being retaliated against?

We encourage you to contact the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration (ptitleix@princeton.edu) if you believe that you are experiencing Retaliation.