Diversity and Equal Opportunity: Harassment, sexual harassment and hostile work environment

Category: Harassment Policies School: University of Alaska Fairbanks Statement Rating: Red Last updated: April 3, 2017

Relevant excerpt

What is a hostile environment?

Hostile environment is defined as sexual conduct that interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

What is harassment?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines unlawful harassment as “Verbal or physical conduct that degrades or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of his or her race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability, or that of one’s friends, relatives or associates.” According to the EEOC, the conduct must be “so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment.”

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Unlawful harassment

Unlawful harassment is verbal or physical conduct that degrades or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of his or her race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation or disability, or that of one’s friends, relatives or associates. Conduct that is so objectively offensive that it alters the conditions of the victim’s employment or educational environment is illegal.

Examples of unlawful harassment

  • Written or graphic material that demonstrates hostility placed on walls, bulletin boards or circulated through email, on Facebook, or other social media
  • Name calling and slurs
  • Negative stereotyping
  • Insensitive comments
  • Threatening or intimidating acts
  • Jokes that are hostile or demeaning

When does it cross the line?

  • When it goes beyond simple teasing and offhand comments
  • When it is more than isolated incidents and becomes a pattern of such incidents
  • When it alters the conditions of the victim’s employment or educational opportunities
  • When it culminates in a tangible employment action
  • When it is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment

UAF policy: zero tolerance

The university will not tolerate inappropriate sexual or sexually harassing behavior, and works to prevent such conduct toward its students, employees and applicants for employment. Violation of this policy may lead to discipline of the offending party.

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