With regard to students, sexual harassment is defined by the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) as unwelcome sexually harassing conduct that is sufficiently serious that it affects a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment (hostile environment harassment).
“harassment” is unwelcome conduct based upon race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, military veteran status, disability or political affiliation.
“unlawful harassment” harassment becomes unlawful where – (1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or (2) is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.
“hostile environment” is one that a reasonable person (objective standard) would find hostile or abusive and one that a complainant under this policy perceives to be hostile or abusive (subjective standard). Hostile environment is determined by looking at all of the circumstances, including the frequency of the allegedly harassing conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, the extent to which the conduct was intended to harm, harass or exploit the complainant, and whether the conduct actually and substantially interferes with an employee’s work performance or a student’s ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the University’s education programs and activities.