Defining Sexual Harassment
What is sexual harassment?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) describes sexual harassment as a form of gender discrimination that is a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. There are two main forms of sexual harassment:
- The first is quid pro quo, a Latin term for “This for that.” This form of sexual harassment is evident in the following examples: when a professor promises a certain grade or funding for a project in exchange for sexual favors from a student or when a supervisor promises promotion in exchange for sexual favors.
- The second form of sexual harassment is that of hostile or offensive work environment, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, "Hostile environment harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is so severe, persistent or pervasive 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. A hostile environment can be created by a school employee, another student or even someone visiting the school, such as a student or employee from another school.”
Some examples that could be sexual harassment:
- Pressure for a dating, romantic or intimate relationship, sometimes coupled with threat for refusing.
- Unwelcome touching, kissing, hugging or massaging
- Pressure for or forced sexual activity.
- Unnecessary and unwelcome references to various parts of the body.
- Any remarks about clothing, body, or activities that could be construed as sexual, either in appreciation or as a put-down.
- Belittling remarks about a person’s gender or sexual orientation.
- Inappropriate sexual innuendoes or humor – jokes about sex or gender.
- Obscene gestures.
- Offensive sexual graffiti, pictures, or posters.
- Sexually explicit profanity.
- E-mail, electronic communications and Internet use that violates NU Sexual Harassment Policy.
- Saying or "joking" that, for example, women cannot learn this material or run this instrument as quickly or as well as men, or that women are not good at math.