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Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action

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Policy Information
  • Issue Date: July 1, 2007
  • Revision Date: February 1, 2021
  • Primary Contact: Chief Human Resources and EEO Officer
  • Senior Administration: Chief Human Resources and EEO Officer
  • Responsible Office: Human Resources
Policy Statement

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (“WHOI”, or the “Institution”) is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. WHOI is also committed to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws that prohibit workplace discrimination and unlawful retaliation. 

The Institution strictly prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, religion, color, ancestry, creed, sex, gender identity or expression, age, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, marital status, sexual orientation, disability (including mental illness), or status as a disabled veteran or other protected veteran, genetic information, and any other status, classification, or characteristic in all phases of the employment and education process and in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This prohibition on discrimination applies in the administration of WHOI’s educational policies, admissions policies, employment policies, scholarship and loan programs, and other Institution-administered programs and activities. The policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment and to all types of personnel actions—including recruiting, hiring, evaluation, placement, promotion, work assignments, accommodation requests, termination, layoff, recall, demotion, transfer, requests for medical or other forms of leave, rate of pay, compensation, selection for training, including apprenticeship, recruitment or recruitment advertising, benefits, and any other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment—and to actions affecting students, such as admission to the Institution and progression or graduation from any academic program.

WHOI will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by WHOI, or (c) consistent with WHOI’s legal duty to furnish information.

It is the policy of the Institution that in the process of recruitment for an appointment to the academic program or workforce, qualified and/or qualifiable minority and female candidates, as well as veterans and individuals with disabilities, will be encouraged to apply and full and thorough consideration will be given to each of their candidacies. Careful attention shall be paid in order that any discriminatory practices based upon tradition or custom are avoided and that bona fide occupational requirements are the only basis upon which personnel actions are taken. WHOI favors U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents for admission to academic programs or for employment only when and to the extent that it is required to do so by law.

Employees of and applicants to WHOI will not be subjected to any form of harassment or discrimination for exercising rights protected by, or because of their participation in an investigation or compliance review related to, the Americans With Disabilities Act, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, or any other federal or state non-discrimination law, rule, or regulation. Such rights include protection against discrimination on the basis of a person’s relationship or association with a protected veteran.

Any employee whose religious beliefs or practices conflict with his or her job schedule, with the Institution’s policy or practice on dress or appearance, or with any other aspect of employment, and who seeks a religious accommodation must notify the Human Resources Department of the conflict and of the employee’s proposed accommodation. The Institution respects the religious beliefs and practices of all of its employees and the Institution will attempt to provide reasonable accommodations of such beliefs and practices. In addition, the Institution will not require any employee to remain at work during any day that the employee observes as a religious holiday, provided (i) that the employee gives notice (in writing to his or her supervisor and to the Human Resources Department) ten days in advance of the religious holiday, and (ii) that the absence will not cause undue hardship for the Institution. Employees will not be subject to discrimination, retaliation, or harassment because they have requested an accommodation due to a religious belief or practice.

Employees who violate this Policy, or who retaliate against other employees for having reported or complained of a violation of this Policy, shall be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment.

As part of our EEO and affirmative action efforts, we will use to the maximum extent feasible, the goods and services of qualified minority owned businesses, and will require our vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors to certify their compliance with applicable federal, state and local EEO and affirmative action laws.

If you believe that you have been subjected to, witnessed, or otherwise learned of conduct prohibited by this Policy by anyone, including supervisors, co-workers, suppliers, vendors, contingent workers, or customers, you should immediately report the incident. Reports may be made to your direct supervisor, manager, Department Chair or Director, Ship Master, Chief Scientist, academic advisor, Vice President, any other member of management, or WHOI’s EEO Officer or Title IX Coordinator. You are not required to report to your supervisor, manager, or any other person if that supervisor, manager, or other person is the subject of the report. You may also make a report using the WHOI Ethics Hotline, via the EthicsPoint website ( or by phone at 1-866-868-0920. Supervisors or managers who receive reports or observe such conduct must immediately report the report or conduct to the EEO Officer.

Complaints and inquiries concerning the Institution’s policies or its compliance with applicable laws, statutes, and regulations may be directed to Kathi Benjamin, Chief Human Resources Officer and EEO Officer, at or at 508-289-2705. WHOI students and postdocs may also contact the Institution’s Title IX Coordinator, Christine Charette, with any and all such complaints and inquiries, at 508-289-2848 (or by e-mail at

WHOI also maintains affirmative action programs to implement our equal employment opportunity policy for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans. Employees or applicants who wish to review the narrative portion of WHOI’s affirmative action program for individuals with disabilities or protected veterans may schedule an appointment to do so by contacting the Human Resources office during normal business hours.

This policy has the full support of the Institution’s President and Director.

Policy Information
Policy Statement


If you have questions about specific issues or need assistance with the interpretation of this policy, contact:

Chief Human Resources and EEO Officer, ext. 2705 and; or

Title IX Coordinator, ext. 2848

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Last updated: January 9, 2020

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