Fayetteville Policies and Procedures 418.0: Sexual Harassment

Category: Harassment Policies School: University of Arkansas – Fayetteville Statement Rating: Yellow Last updated: August 21, 2017

Relevant excerpt

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.

While the exact definitions and limits of a hostile or abusive environment continue to be delineated by the courts, case law indicates that such an 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 U.S. Supreme Court has held that, to constitute sexual harassment, 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 employee or student must also subjectively perceive the environment to be hostile or abusive.

Sexual harassment can take many forms. Most sexual harassment falls into three categories: verbal, physical, and written or visual.

Verbal sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:

  • sexual innuendoes, comments, and suggestive remarks about clothing, a person’s body, or sexual activities;
  • suggestive or insulting sounds;
  • whistling in a suggestive manner;
  • humor and jokes about sex;
  • sexual propositions, invitations, or other pressure for sex; and
  • implied or overt threats.

In most cases, a single offensive epithet would not constitute sexual harassment.

Written or visual sexual harassment may occur when the following types of materials are directed to a specific individual or when people cannot reasonably avoid seeing them (the list is not inclusive):

  • pictures or drawings of a sexual nature;
  • sexually derogatory pin ups, posters, cartoons, magazines, or calendars;
  • messages, words, comments, rhymes, or other writing of a sexually derogatory or suggestive nature.

Download full policy