Hostile environment sexual harassment is defined as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is unwelcome to the person to whom it is directed or to others directly aware of it, and when such conduct is
1. severe or pervasive; and
2. has the purpose or effect of either:
(a) unreasonably interfering with the employee’s work performance or student’s academic performance, or
(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.
The conduct must be both objectively and subjectively perceived as offensive. That is, the reporting party must view the conduct as offensive, and a reasonable person with the same fundamental characteristics as the reporting party (e.g., age, race, gender) must also view the conduct as offensive.
Examples of behaviors that could constitute hostile environment sexual harassment include but are not limited to
- unnecessary and unwanted touching, patting, hugging, or brushing against a person’s clothing or body;
- remarks of a sexual nature about a person’s clothing or body;
- remarks about sexual activity or speculations about previous sexual experience; pressure for sexual activity, an element of which may be nonverbal conduct, such as repeated and unwanted staring or sexually suggestive gestures;
- display or distribution of sexually offensive literature, images, cartoons, or other audio-visual materials;
- or gratuitous introduction into instruction, discussion, or conversation of material of a sexual nature, such as sexually explicit anecdotes, questions, or jokes.