Location: Houghton, Michigan
Federal Circuit: 6th Circuit
Michigan Technological University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more here.
In educational and in workplace environments, it can result from inappropriate humor, comments based on someone’s gender, comments based on someone’s sexual orientation, or sharing sexually offensive materials. If any of these situations make a person uncomfortable, it can interfere with their ability and right to work in that environment.
Hostile Environment occurs when unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive employment, service, or educational environment or is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it affects a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity.
Conditions could include:
- Offensive language
- Sexually offensive signs, cartoons, calendars
- Displaying sexually explicit pictures on computer screen
- Repeated requests for dates
- Requests for sexual favors
- Using terms like “babe,” “hottie,” “doll,” or “gay”
- Unwanted email or letters that are sexual in nature
- Unwelcome touching, hugging, or massages
- Bashing due to sexual orientation – either verbal confrontation, physical violence
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcomed sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual or gender-related nature that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or objectively and subjectively offensive as to substantially or effectively disrupt or undermine a person’s ability to participate in or to receive the benefits, services or opportunities of the University when: … Such conduct substantially or effectively interferes with an individual’s employment, educational performance or receipt of services or education, by creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive employment, service, or educational environment.
Engaging in severe, pervasive and objectively offensive conduct that is unwelcome, discriminatory (on the basis of race, religion or cultural identity, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or ethnicity/national origin), and directed at an individual or a group of individuals so that it undermines the ability of the targeted individual(s) to access education equally. Discriminatory/Sexual Harassment includes the creation of a hostile environment as well as attempts to create quid pro quo situations.
Intentionally or recklessly endangering, threatening or causing physical harm to any person (including self); or intentionally or recklessly causing reasonable apprehension of such harm; or communicating to any person (including communicating by any communication device, anonymously or otherwise), with intent to cause alarm or threaten another person for no legitimate purpose.
November 2, 2011
Back in December of last year, FIRE sent a national certified mass mailing to the presidents and general counsels at nearly 300 public colleges and universities. In our letter, we warned university leadership that in light of important legal developments during 2010, the case law regarding university speech codes was even clearer than before, and that institutional leaders and officials risked incurring personal liability for monetary damages if they continued to enact and maintain unconstitutional policies in violation of this body of law. In response to our mailing, we have received and continued to receive inquiries from a number of […]» Read More