What is Sexual Harassment?
Defined, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination that violates Title VII.
Some Circumstances in which Sexual Harassment Can Occur:
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
- The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
Conduct that May be Considered Sexual Harassment Includes:
- Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks or questions
- Unwanted pressure for dates
- Deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering or pinching
- Sexual looks or gestures
- Pressure for sexual favors
- Unwelcomed letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature
- Displaying sexually suggestive pictures or objects, offensive graffiti
- Whistling or catcalling
- Graphic or degrading comments about another's appearance, dress, anatomy
Sexual Harassment is not:
A relationship of mutual consent // A hug between friends // Mutual Flirtation
How to Handle Sexual Harassment:
Tell the harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and it should stop, keep notes as to date, time, conversation. If a simple no doesn't stop the offensive behavior or if you can't say no for fear of the consequences (because of grades, reference or job), it is time to seek help. Contact the harasser's supervisor or the EO/AA Office for advice, counseling and information. Keep a written record of what the harasser says and does, who saw what, how you responded, and to whom you reported it. Discuss the situation with co-workers or others who have had similar experiences. Speaking up can be helpful in finding support and in protecting future victims. Know that the harassment is not your fault. Do not blame yourself.