Sexual Harassment is unwelcome, gender-based spoken, written or symbolic action or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with, limiting or denying someone the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational programs. The unwelcome behavior may be based on power differentials, the creation of a hostile environment or retaliation.
Sexual harassment as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and adapted to the academic environment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct or written communication of a sexual nature, regardless of where such conduct might occur, when: … the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.
Sexual harassment is often divided into two categories: (1) quid pro quo harassment and (2) harassment resulting from a hostile or abusive environment.
Hostile or abusive environment exists when the workplace or educational environment is permeated by discriminatory intimidation, insults, and ridicule, such as sexual innuendos, uninvited sexual advances, sexually suggestive or discriminatory remarks, sexually suggestive or offensive signs, graffiti, or pictures, the use of sexually crude and vulgar language, etc. The offensive conduct must be sufficiently severe and pervasive that a reasonable person would find the conditions of the working or learning environment to have been adversely affected. The individual must also subjectively perceive the environment to be hostile or abusive. An environment is hostile or abusive can be determined only by looking at all the circumstances, which may include the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or a student’s learning.