Guideline P-080: Discrimination and Harassment - Complaint and Investigation Procedure

Tennessee State University

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Sexual Harassment and Other Discriminatory Harassment

  1. General
    1. Not every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group will be considered harassment. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual or discriminatory harassment depends upon the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the conduct in the context within which the alleged incident occurs. Harassment does not include verbal expressions or written material that is relevant and appropriately related to course subject matter or curriculum. Depending on the severity of the conduct, a single incident may be considered sexual or other discriminatory harassment.
    2. Not every action or utterance that may be perceived as offensive will constitute Prohibited Conduct.  In addition, institutions may take corrective or educational action, even if an investigation does not support an allegation of Prohibited Conduct, or in the event that conduct violates another policy, appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with that policy. 


  1. Examples of sexual harassment – Sexual harassment is not limited to personal interactions, but can occur via telephone, texting, social media, the internet, and other methods of communication. Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following;
    1. Refusing to hire, promote, or grant or deny certain privileges because of acceptance or rejection of sexual advances;
    2. Promising a work-related benefit or a grade in return for sexual favors;
    3. Suggestive or inappropriate communications, email, texts, notes, letters, or other written or electronic materials displaying objects or pictures which are sexual in nature that would create hostile or offensive work or living environments;
    4. Sexual innuendoes, comments, and remarks about a person’s clothing, body or activities;
    5. Suggestive or insulting sounds;
    6. Whistling in a suggestive manner;
    7. Humor and jokes about sex that denigrate men or women;
    8. Sexual propositions, invitations, or pressure for sexual activity;
    9. Use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories, remarks or images in no way or only marginally relevant to the subject matter of the class;
    10. Implied or overt sexual threats;
    11. Suggestive or obscene gestures;
    12. Patting, pinching, hugging, and other inappropriate touching;
    13. Unnecessary touching or brushing against the body;
    14.  Attempted or actual kissing or fondling;
    15. Repeated requests for dates after refusal;
    16. Sexual violence; including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual coercion; 
    17. Suggestive or inappropriate acts, such as comments, innuendoes, or physical contact based on one’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity/expression; and
    18. Institutional policies may delineate additional examples.