Harassment and Discrimination

Dear NIH Family:

In 2018, NIH issued strengthened policies on Preventing and Addressing Harassment and Inappropriate Conduct and centralizing the reporting and inquiry process through the NIH Office of Human Resources (OHR) Civil Program. While the policy has always applied to all protected classes, it was recommended by the UNITE Initiative and agreed to by NIH leadership that language be added to the policy to clearly define the groups protected from employment discrimination and provide examples. Protected classes include race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 years or older), disability, or genetic information. The policy has now been updated, and I strongly encourage all of you to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the policy.

Additionally, the update to the policy includes detailed information on the roles and responsibilities for contractors, Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs), and Project Officers and expanded information on the difference between the OHR Civil Program process and the EEO complaint process through the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). A complete list of updates can be found on the OHR Civil Program website. NIH managers and supervisors should review the updated policy closely to understand fully their obligation to report allegations of harassment to Civil as soon as possible and to cooperate fully in a review of the concerns. Managers and supervisors are also responsible for ensuring their staff are aware of this policy and know where they can learn more about the Civil Program’s process. Importantly, managers and supervisors must not discourage from or reprimand staff for reporting allegations.

This update, along with other NIH efforts to end structural racism, will be discussed during the 2nd Virtual Town Hall on Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity at NIH taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET.

Please visit NIH Anti-Harassment Policy and Guidance website to review the updated Manual Chapter 1311: Preventing and Addressing Harassment and Inappropriate Conduct, role-based toolkits, frequently asked questions, and a history of all communication around these efforts from NIH leadership. Our continued growth toward this evergreen goal is grounded in the expectation that all employees respect one another in their workplace interactions. Daily practice of our values in NIH labs, clinics, and offices is critical to maintaining employee engagement and accomplishing the agency’s mission.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
NIH Director