Sexual Misconduct

Category: Harassment Policies School: California Institute of Technology Statement Rating: Yellow Last updated: January 24, 2018

Relevant excerpt

Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment by peers, coworkers, managers or third parties such as visitors, vendors, or contractors is a form of prohibited sex discrimination where the objectionable conduct creates a hostile educational or work environment. The determination of whether an environment is hostile is based on the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to: (1) the frequency of the conduct; (2) the nature and severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct was physically threatening; (4) the effect of the conduct on the complainant’s mental or emotional state, with consideration of whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the complainant’s educational or work performance or educational programs or activities; (5) whether the conduct was directed at more than one person; (6) whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct; and (7) whether the conduct implicates concerns related to academic freedom or protected speech.


Behavior of a harassing nature that does not rise to the level of unlawful harassment but is nevertheless determined to be inappropriate may subject the offender to disciplinary action.


Gender-Based Harassment is harassment based on an individual’s actual or perceived sex, including harassing or bullying conduct based on the individual’s gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, gender transition, or nonconformity with sex stereotypes.

Sexual Harassment is pervasive and/or severe unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other conduct of a sexual nature when: … Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

The following are examples of conduct that, depending on the nature, frequency and severity, may constitute sexual or gender-based harassment:

  • Sending unwanted sexually-oriented jokes to a student or work group email list.
  • Displaying explicit sexual pictures in common areas of Institute housing or on a work computer station where others can view it.
  • Unauthorized sharing or posting sexually explicit photos of another, including a current or former partner.
  • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes of a gender-based or sexual nature.
  • Surreptitiously taking pictures or videos of individuals, especially of private or intimate areas of their body.
  • Observing, recording, viewing, distributing or allowing another to observe, record, view or distribute, intimate or sexual images of another individual without that individual’s consent.
  • Ostracizing individuals from group activities because of their sex, gender or gender identity, gender expression, or because they objected to harassing behavior.
  • Making unwelcome graphic comments about an individual’s body, using sexually degrading words to describe an individual.
  • Engaging in unwanted suggestive or obscene communications. ….

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