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What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by federal and state laws and university policy. Sexual harassment is defined as: unwelcome words, conduct or actions of a sexual or gender-based nature, and (1) submission to such behavior is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or education at Johnson & Wales University, (2) submission to or rejection of such behavior is used as the basis for employment, academic, or other decisions, or (3) it is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with work or academic performance, denying or limiting the ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services or opportunities in the university’s programs, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.

While sexual harassment may take the form of physical conduct, it may also appear in verbal or written derogatory or discriminatory statements that may affect recommendations, status, promotions, raises, or favorable work assignments for employees, or campus life, class assignments, grades, or recommendations for students.

While sexual harassment often takes place in relationships with a power differential between the persons involved, the university also recognizes that sexual harassment may occur between persons in the absence of such a relationship.

Sexual harassment does not include words, conduct or actions of a reasonably socially acceptable nature. However, some behavior which is appropriate in a social setting may not be appropriate in the workplace or academic environment. Additionally, sexual harassment does not include words, conduct or actions with reasonable educational or professional justification.  

It is not always easy to define precisely what behavior constitutes sexual harassment; however, examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to

  • sexual teasing, joking, suggestive looks, gestures or staring
  • peer harassment that creates a hostile environment, such as spreading rumors about sexual behavior, sexually charged name calling, or inappropriate sexual text messages, emails, social media posts and/or inappropriate communications in any other manner or media
  • direct or implied threats that submission to sexual advances will be a condition of employment, promotion, grades, status in a course or program, letters of recommendation, or participation in an activity
  • unwelcome touching of any nature, including patting, embracing, caressing, or pinching
  • improper brushing against another individual's body, or “friendly” arms around the shoulders
  • offers of money or other consideration, including an employment-related or education-related reward, for sexual activity
  • repeated requests for dates despite being asked to stop
  • suggestive sexual remarks or innuendos
  • improper or unwelcome inquiries about someone’s sexual or personal life, or sharing information about one's own sexual or personal life
  • overt or subtle pressure for sexual activity or direct or implied propositions of a sexual nature
  • sexual assault or other unlawful sexual acitivity or relationship violence prohibited by the Sexual Violence & Relationship Violence Policy and the Student Code of Conduct.
  • the use or display of pornographic or sexual materials without reasonable educational justification. In the educational setting, judgment must be used in determining the appropriate content when the presentation of academic material is required.
  • epithets, slurs, quips or negative stereotyping that relate to sex and gender
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