V. Benefits and Personnel Policies

Personnel Policies

The University as an Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer

Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. Maintaining, supporting, and expanding the University's commitment to these principles is a top priority at Penn State.

Nondiscrimination Statement

The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated.

Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to Dr. Kenneth Lehrman III, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action, Affirmative Action Office, The Pennsylvania State University, 328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901, Email: kfl2@psu.edu, Tel 814-863-0471.

Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

The University's policies and practices are consistent with all federal and state legislation directed toward taking steps to promote equal opportunity in all aspects of employment. (See HR-1, "Fair Employment Practices.")

The University is committed to the concept of affirmative action to ensure equal opportunity in all aspects of employment for those historically excluded and to foster diversity in the University community. The University has a comprehensive Affirmative Action Plan which sets forth programs and goals for increasing the representation of historically excluded groups in all employment categories, at each campus location and administrative unit at University Park. (See HR-11, "Affirmative Action in Employment at The Pennsylvania State University.")

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment of faculty, staff, or students is prohibited and will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment violates the dignity of individuals and impedes the realization of the University's educational mission. The University is committed to preventing and eliminating sexual harassment of faculty, staff, and students through education and by encouraging faculty, staff, and students to report any concerns or complaints about sexual harassment. Prompt corrective measures will be taken to stop sexual harassment whenever and wherever it occurs.

Consensual Relationships

Romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty and students, staff and students, or supervisors and subordinate employees are strongly discouraged. Such relationships have the potential for adverse consequences, including the filing of charges of sexual harassment. Given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship where one party has the power to give grades, thesis advice, evaluations, recommendations, promotions, salary increases or performance evaluations, the apparent consensual nature of the relationship is inherently suspect.

Even when both parties have consented to the relationship, there may be perceptions of conflict of interest as well as unfair treatment of others. Such perceptions undermine the atmosphere of trust essential to the educational process or the employment relationship. (See AD-85 for policy statement on sexual harassment and consensual relationships.)

Statement on Intolerance

The University is committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others. As an educational institution, the University has a mandate to address problems of a society deeply ingrained with bias and prejudice. Toward that end, the University provides educational programs and activities to create an environment in which diversity and understanding of other cultures are valued.

Acts of intolerance violate the principles upon which American society is built and serve to destroy the fabric of the society we share. Such actions not only do untold and unjust harm to the dignity, safety, and well-being of those who experience this pernicious kind of discrimination but also threaten the reputation of the University and impede the realization of the University's educational mission.

If any violation of University policy, rule or regulation is motivated by discriminatory bias against or hatred toward an individual or group based on characteristics such as age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, genetic information, national origin, political belief, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, or veteran status, the sanction will be increased in severity and may include termination or expulsion from the University. (See AD-29, "Statement on Intolerance.")

The expression of diverse views and opinions is encouraged in the University community. Further, the First Amendment of the United States' Constitution assures the right of free expression. In a community which recognizes the rights of its members to hold divergent views and to express those views, sometimes ideas are expressed which are contrary to University values and objectives. Nevertheless, the University cannot impose disciplinary sanctions upon such expression when it is otherwise in compliance with University regulations.

Inquiries or complaints should be directed to the Affirmative Action Office, 328 Boucke Building, University Park, 814-863-0471 (V/TTY), or the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, and in cases involving students, reports may also be made to the Office of Student Conduct.

The above referenced policies may be found in the University Faculty Senate Policies for Students or on the Penn State GURU system.

Office of Ethics and Compliance

The Office of Ethics and Compliance assists the University and its community in achieving its commitment to the highest standards of ethics, honesty, and integrity. Penn State believes that employees should be able to raise questions or voice concerns about workplace issues, including fraud, theft, conflicts of interest, or other misconduct or violations of University Policy without fear of retaliation.

The Ethics and Compliance Hotline can be accessed either by phone at 1-800-560-1637 or online at www.mycompliancereport.com/brand/psu. All reports to the hotline can be anonymous. An independent third party, Compliance Concepts, Inc., administers the hotline on behalf of Penn State. Operators answering the calls are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All complaints are forwarded to the Office of Ethics and Compliance for investigation.

A Drug-Free Workplace

It is University policy that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance, on property owned, leased, or controlled by the University and used in the performance of University services is prohibited. As a condition of University employment, every employee shall abide by the terms of this policy, and he or she shall notify his or her supervisor of any criminal drug conviction for a violation occurring in the University workplace no later than five days after such conviction. Any employee found in violation of these prohibitions shall be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal, and may be required to participate in a drug abuse assistance or drug rehabilitation program. (See University Policy AD-33, "A Drug-free Workplace.")

Possession/Use/Distribution of Alcoholic Beverages

The use, possession, and distribution of alcoholic beverages are prohibited upon University property unless specifically authorized. Where such use, possession, and distribution are authorized, strict compliance with the laws of the Commonwealth, as well as the Liquor Code and regulations promulgated thereunder, is required. The possession and use of alcoholic beverages, subject to the laws of the Commonwealth, is permitted by persons 21 or older in a facility licensed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and in individual housing units (rooms, apartments, and houses) owned by The Pennsylvania State University. This policy applies to all University locations. (See University Policy AD-18, "Possession, Use, and Distribution of Alcoholic Beverages.")

Smoking Policy

Smoking of any material by University members is prohibited in all Penn State facilities at all locations. This ban includes classrooms, laboratories, seminar/meeting rooms, faculty offices, and University-owned and -operated vehicles. Smoking also is prohibited in any outside area adjacent to a facility whose configuration and/or other physical circumstances allow smoke either to enter and affect the internal environment or to unduly affect the environment of those entering or exiting the facility. Each University member is responsible for monitoring compliance with this policy at his/her level of involvement in the University community. Visitors also are expected to comply with this policy. (See University Policy AD-32, "Smoking Policy and Guideline.")

Employment of Relatives

The University does not restrict employment because of family relationship; however, special arrangements must be made in situations in which employees who are related would be in a position where one employee might influence the other's rate of pay or promotion, or where the handling of confidential information could create an awkward work situation. (See University Policy HR-59, "Employment of Relatives.")

Foreign National Employees

The Assistant Manager of International Scholars and Faculty Visa Services, 814-865-0423, in the Office of Human Resources, is responsible for representing the University in signing all immigration and visa forms for foreign nationals employed by the University. Procedures to be followed when negotiating for employment of a foreign national are outlined in University Policy HR-26, "Matters Involving Foreign Nationals Employed by the University."

Answering Inquiries about University Personnel

Nonderogatory, factual information about University personnel that is already published, such as information contained in University telephone directories or catalogs, may be divulged. Information regarding the employee's record with the University concerning quality of work, attendance record, dates of employment, and the like may be given provided that the individual who is reporting can defend the information he or she provides.

Salary information is not released unless the employee or former employee has given written permission for its release. Information regarding an employee's record with some other employer is not given, nor is information released to assist a collection agency. (See University Policy HR-56, "Answering Personnel Inquiries.")

Privacy Policy

The University recognizes its obligation not to infringe upon the rights of its members in their individually assigned offices, laboratories, and personal residences, or in relation to their personal papers, confidential records and effects, and in all communications by mail, telephone, and other electronic means, subject only to the general law and University regulations. (See University Policy AD-53, "Privacy Statement.")

Office of General Counsel

The Office of General Counsel represents the University in all legal matters, working with many parts of the University in order to achieve the best legal outcomes. All legal matters should be referred first to the Office of General Counsel which will determine where the matter is to be sent for resolution. The Office works closely with the Risk Management Department to properly manage legal matters. For information on contacting the Office, see University Policy AD49, "Office of General Counsel."


Approved Travel Agencies: Faculty members are encouraged to use approved travel agencies when booking travel. A list of approved travel agencies, which includes Penn State's Travel Services Office as well as Penn State's online booking system, is available at the Travel Services website. Airline travel booked outside of the approved system requires documentation if it will be charged to federal funding sources, otherwise it must meet a reasonableness test. Please note that tickets purchased outside the University's designated travel sources are not accessible by Travel Services for assistance with changes in scheduling, reissuing, or problem solving. More detail is available in the Transportation section of the University Travel Policy.

Payment for Travel: There are several options to pay for University travel. A purchasing card can be obtained to pay for most travel expenditures, including transportation, lodging and meals. Information on Penn State's purchasing card program is available at www.purchasing.psu.edu/purchasingcard. It is highly recommended that travelers utilize the University's Purchasing Card for business travel expenses, which are then direct billed to the University, and the data from the charges is fed into the ERS Expense Management System. Airfare can be direct billed to the department through a DBAF form. Penn State also offers the Diners Club/MasterCard Corporate Card Program. Contact Travel Services regarding use of the DBAF and corporate card program. Travelers may also use personal funds or credit cards and request reimbursement. In special circumstances, a travel advance may be issued. The Financial Officer for the administrative area should be consulted for more information.

Travel expenses are reported and settled through the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS), and expenses must be settled within 60 days of the end of a trip. More detail on ERS is available at www.ers.psu.edu.

Domestic and International Travel Regulations: Official University regulations affecting transportation and travel within and outside the continental United States may be found in the Travel Policy. Reimbursement rates may be found on the Travel Services website.  

Reimbursement of Travel Expenses for Professional Meetings: The department head or chancellor has the responsibility, within the University guidelines, to control travel funds allotted to him or her in such a manner as to ensure maximum benefit to the University. It is expected that faculty members will be encouraged to attend appropriate professional or industrial meetings, but the amount of the cost that will be reimbursed may vary. Regulations related to professional meetings are covered in the Travel Policy.