NIH expects recipient institutions to have policies and practices in place that foster a harassment-free environment. Learn more here.NIH requires that every organization receiving NIH funds:
- has systems, policies, and procedures in place to manage research activities in accordance with our standards and requirements
- complies with federal laws, regulations, and policies protecting the rights and safety of individuals working on NIH-funded projects
- develop and implement policies and practices that foster a harassment-free environment;
- maintain clear, unambiguous professional codes of conduct;
- ensure employees are fully aware and regularly reminded of applicable laws, regulations, policies, and codes of conduct;
- provide an accessible, effective, and easy process to report sexual harassment, and provide protection from retaliation;
- respond promptly to allegations to ensure the immediate safety for all involved, investigate the allegations, and take appropriate sanctions; and
include with the following types of requests for prior approval mention of whether the changes are related to concerns about safety and/or work environments (e.g. due to concerns about harassment, bullying, retaliation, or hostile working conditions):
- Senior/Key Personnel named in the NoA
- change from a multiple PD/PI model to a single PD/PI model
- change in recipient institution
- disclose whether a change of recipient organization is occurring within the context of an ongoing or recent investigation of misconduct of any kind, including but not limited to professional misconduct or research misconduct.
NIH uses the compliance and oversight tools in its authority to support a safe, harassment-free work environment, while respecting the multitude of Federal, State, and local laws and policies that govern how sexual harassment allegations are adjudicated.
Policies and Requirements
Outlined below are NIH policies and requirements that support these efforts.
Recipients of NIH funds must assure their compliance with civil rights protections.
- As described in NIH Grants Policy Statement 4.1, as a condition of the award, the recipient must have certified that it has on file with the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) an Assurance of Compliance with the statutes described in the “Civil Rights Protections” provision. OCR, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws (among other laws), provides resources to agencies and to recipients, to address concerns regarding potential violations.
- NIH has, and continues to, remind the research community of this requirement through its policy notices.
- NOT-OD-15-152: Civil Rights Protections in NIH-Supported Research, Programs, Conferences, and Other Activities, published in September 2015, reminds grantees of civil rights protections from discrimination and harassment in NIH-supported activities and of our expectations for eliminating barriers and providing equal access to the opportunity to participate in NIH supported research, programs, conferences, and other activities.
Recipients of NIH funds must proactively notify NIH of changes in a principal investigator or other senior key person's status, for example modified employment or leave status during an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct.
- The organization receiving NIH funding must notify NIH if it takes an administrative or disciplinary action against its employee(s)-for example, limiting access to the institution’s facilities or resources or modifying employment or leave status during an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct - that affects the ability of the employee(s) to continue as PI or other senior key personnel on an NIH award.
- The organization is required to notify NIH and seek NIH's prior approval for replacement(s) of the individual(s).
- In May 2018, NIH reminded the community of this requirement in NIH Guide Notice: NOT-OD-18-172: Clarification of NIH's Policy Regarding a Change in Program Director's/Principal Investigator's Status
- NOT-OD-20-124. The request for prior approval should include mention as to whether change(s) in PD/PI or Senior/Key Personnel is related to concerns about safety and/or work environments (e.g. due to concerns about harassment, bullying, retaliation, or hostile working conditions). NIH will in turn be better positioned to enable informed grant-stewardship decisions regarding matters including, but not limited to, substitute personnel and institutional management and oversight.
- Prior approval is required for the transfer of the legal and administrative responsibility for a grant-supported project or activity from one legal entity to another before the completion date of the approved project period (competitive segment). As outlined in NOT-OD-20-124, NIH expects both the relinquishing and applicant organizations to disclose whether a Change of Recipient Organization is occurring within the context of an ongoing or recent investigation of misconduct of any kind, including but not limited to professional misconduct or research misconduct.
NIH recipients of conference grant ("R13") funding must take steps to maintain a safe and respectful environment for all attendees by demonstrating an institutional commitment to ensuring that proper policies, procedures, and oversight are in place to prevent discriminatory harassment and other discriminatory practices.
- This is described in the NIH funding announcement for conferences and scientific meetings (Parent R13).