Skip to main content

Your Rights and Responsibilities

telephoto view of goldwin smith pillars and autumn leaves

Information about Cornell policies for employees.

Our commitment to you

The university values its faculty and staff and holds itself to high standards on their behalf. Cornell is committed to:

  • encouraging faculty and staff to be creative, generating fresh ideas and innovative practices
  • developing and maintaining human resource practices that support high-performing faculty and staff
  • supporting staff and faculty as they meet the changing demands of their work and personal responsibilities by encouraging healthy living and promoting personal well-being
  • promoting an environment that embraces and engages racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and other differences in a climate of inclusiveness, respect, and world citizenship
  • fostering a culture that underscores the importance of accountability, trust, and open communication 

Our expectations of you

The university also holds high expectations for all faculty and staff members. As a Cornell employee, you are expected and encouraged to:

  • create a positive and inclusive living, learning, and working environment
  • treat each other with fairness, dignity, and respect
  • act as responsible citizens of the campus community by effectively fulfilling your job responsibilities
  • exercise individual responsibility, ask questions, and learn about issues that will affect you
  • accept new responsibilities and engage in activities aimed at making systems more efficient and processes more effective
  • participate in educational opportunities in order to keep your skills current and in line with university needs
  • work collaboratively and effectively across units, departments, and colleges to support the mission of the university 

University Policies

Cornell has established policies to connect the university’s mission to the everyday actions of its community. These policies clarify the institution’s expectations of its individual members, mitigate institutional risk, enhance efficiency, and support the university’s compliance with laws and regulations.

Ethical Conduct

Executive officers, faculty, staff, student employees, and others acting on behalf of the university are expected to maintain the highest ethical standard, observing applicable policies, practices, regulations, laws, and professional standards. Expectations are outlined in Univeristy Policy 4.6: Standards of Ethical Conduct.

Complaint and Grievance Procedures

We encourage open and candid discussion between staff members and their supervisors when job-related issues arise. If you do not feel comfortable approaching your supervisor, consult with your HR lead, your dean, or vice president. Find your HR representative on our 'About' webpage.

You may also consult with the University Ombuds

Computer Policies

If you use a computer at work, you should be aware of the policies and codes that define responsible use of computers and networks. There are also federal, state, and local laws that govern many of the interactions that occur on the internet. You will need to become familiar with these in order to use e-mail and the internet wisely and to protect yourself and the university from copyright, security, and privacy breaches. We encourage your to familiarize yourself with the IT Computer Policies.

Disability Accommodation Process Policy

Cornell University strives to provide an environment that is free from all discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of disability.

Discrimination and Harassment

Cornell University prohibits discrimination and protected status (including sexual) harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence by faculty, staff, and students. The university has processes, outlined in this policy, to provide redress and remediation to individuals who believe they have been the victims of these acts. Contact the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations at (607) 254-7273 or for assistance.

Drug-Free Workplace

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires Cornell, as a federal contractor and grant recipient, to certify that it will provide a drug- free workplace. Accordingly, it is our policy at Cornell to maintaina drug-free workplace. As a condition of employment on such contracts and grants, employees will abide by the terms of this state- ment and notify Cornell of any criminal drug-statute conviction not later than five days after such conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace. The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, use, or sale in the workplace of a controlled substance, as defined by state or federal law, is prohibited. The university will not condone criminal activity on its property, or on property under its direct control, and will take appropriate personnel action up to and including termination or required participation in a drug-abuse assistance or rehabilitation program.

Health and Safety

Cornell University strives to maintain a safe living, learning, and working environment. University Policy 8.6: Environment, Health, and Safety is intended to help prevent accidents and injuries, increase safety awareness, meet requirements of environmental and occupational health and safety laws and regulations, reduce institutional liability, and establish safety responsibilities for members of the university community and visitors to university- owned or operated property, including state-owned property associated with Cornell University.

Inclement Weather (Ithaca only)

Cornell University may change its operating status during and surrounding periods of inclement weather.  At such times, the university has a prescribed method for evaluation and communication of these changes to university staff, faculty, and students. Academic and administrative units are expected to abide by any decision made by central administration regarding operating status. Review Policy 8.2: Inclement Weather for details.

Reporting Bias

The Department of Inclusion and Belonging administers procedures related to alleged bias activity and reports of such activity should be reported. Contact the Department of Inclusion and Belonging at (607) 255-0041 or, or visit the Reporting Bias website for additional information and resources.

If you are a victim or know of someone that is a victim of sexual violence or assault, contact the Cornell Police at (607) 255-1111 or a Title IX coordinator at  (607) 255-0041. 

Also see: Student Code of Conduct