Sexual harassment occurs in a variety of situations which share a common element: the inappropriate introduction of sexual attention or comments into the work or learning situation. Often sexual harassment involves relationships of unequal power and contains elements of coercion, as when compliance with requests for sexual favors becomes a criterion for granting work, study or grading benefits. However, sexual harassment may also involve relationships among equals, as when repeated sexual advances or demeaning verbal behaviors have a harmful effect on a person’s ability to study or work in the academic setting.
Sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination as defined under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Chapters 151B and 151C of the Massachusetts General laws.
Sexual harassment may be described as unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical conduct and expressive behavior of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can involve a female and male or persons of the same gender when: … such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning employment or educational environment.