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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 and/or Title IX Civil Rights Legislation.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • 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 professor, 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 the victim.
  • The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

Several types of sexual conduct directed at another person may be considered sexual harassment, including but not limited to the following:

  • "Trading" grades for sex
  • 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
  • Unwelcome letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature
  • Displaying sexually suggestive pictures, objects, or graffiti
  • Whistling or catcalling
  • Making graphic or degrading comments about another’s appearance, dress, or anatomy
  • Leering
  • Wolf whistles
  • Discussion of one's partner's sexual inadequacies
  • Sexual innuendos
  • Comments about women's bodies
  • "Accidentally" brushing sexual parts of the body
  • Tales of sexual exploitation
  • Descriptions of pornography
  • Sexually explicit gestures
  • Unwelcome touching and hugging
  • Sexist jokes and cartoons
  • Obscene phone calls
  • Displaying pornography in the workplace
  • Insisting that workers wear revealing clothes
  • Inappropriate gifts (ex. lingerie)
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • Indecent exposure

Sexual harassment is not a relationship of mutual consent, a hug between friends, or mutual flirtation.

Adapted from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission web site (www.eeoc.gov).
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