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Policy 5231

Sexual Harassment

I. Purpose

The intention of this policy is to provide employees with information and intervention strategies designed to make employees aware of conduct which could constitute sexual harassment and how to avoid it or eliminate it from the working environment. Sexual harassment is a complex and controversial problem on American campuses of higher learning today. The campus is somewhat unique in that it constitutes both a working and a learning environment. Consequently, campus relationships come under the purview of both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; federal laws designed among other things, to create legal claim rights for victims of sexual harassment. Title VII serves as a grounding for claims which are based on conduct occurring between employees, and Title IX is the applicable claim source when the harassment is directed toward a student. Sexual harassment laws also cover sexual harassment by persons of the same sex.

II. Definition

  1. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual attention or the seeking or offering of advancement, gain, or consideration in return for sexual favors. Verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes harassment when:
    1. submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a condition of any individual's employment or educational status; or
    2. submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for an employment or educational decision affecting an individual; or
    3. such conduct is unwelcome and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or educational performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work or learning.
  2. Examples of behavior that may constitute sexual harassment are:
    1. subtle or overt pressure intended to induce sexual favors;
    2. unwanted physical contact such as patting, pinching, brushing or otherwise touching in a sexually suggestive manner;
    3. disparaging sexual remarks about one's gender;
    4. lewd remarks, whistles, or sexual innuendoes; or
    5. offensive sexual graffiti.

III. Policy

Employees or students who engage in sexual harassment shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Any employee or student accused of sexual harassment under this policy who retaliates against his or her accuser, or any employee or student making an intentionally false accusation of harassment, shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

  1. Practical First Steps If You Believe You Have Been Sexually Harassed: Do not ignore the problem. Sexual Harassment usually does not go away on its own.
    1. If practical, confront the other person with your concern and explain why the action or comment is offensive to you. Be direct and assertive.
    2. Document the conduct which is offensive to you. Keep a record or journal of times, places, dates, witnesses, and the nature of the incidents.
    3. If the conduct which is offensive to you does not stop after taking these steps, a complaint should be initiated.
  2. Initiating a Complaint:
    1. If You are a Student: Student sexual harassment complaints must be filed with the Director, Office of Student Conduct and Integrity. Student sexual harassment complaints will be jointly investigated by the Director, Office of Student Conduct and Integrity and the Affirmative Action Officer (AAO). The Provost will be informed by the AAO.
    2. If You are an Employee: Employee sexual harassment complaints must be filed with the AAO. The AAO is charged with investigating sexual harassment complaints made by employees. If you are a faculty member, the AAO will notify the Provost.
    3. Timeliness, Objectivity and Thoroughness: In accordance with federal guidelines, every investigation will objectively consider the complaint in relation to the total circumstances, including the nature of the conduct and the context within which the alleged incident occurred.
      1. Filing Deadline:Complaints must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the last occurrence. Complaints need not be in writing.
      2. Investigations: Persons investigated for alleged sexual harassment will be informed of the complaint within five (5) working days of a determination by the AAO that the complaint has sufficient merit to proceed with an investigation. The AAO will also notify the employee at this time. Every reasonable effort will be made to conclude a sexual harassment investigation in fifteen (15) working days.
    4. Investigation Findings:
      1. Finding of No Sexual Harassment: If a sexual harassment investigation results in a finding of no sexual harassment, the findings will be reported to the person filing the complaint as well as the person who has been investigated.
  3. Finding of Misconduct Not Reaching Sexual Harassment:
    • Employee Misconduct: If misconduct failing to reach the level of sexual harassment is found, the evidence of misconduct will be referred to the employee's department for disciplinary action.
    • Student Misconduct: If misconduct failing to reach the level of sexual harassment is found, the evidence of misconduct will be referred to the Student Judicial Board.
  4. Finding of Sexual Harassment: If sexual harassment is found to have occurred, the duty of an employer under Title VII or a school under Title IX is to effectively eliminate the sexual harassment. Consequently, whatever disciplinary remedy is chosen, it must have the effect of eliminating the harassment. Students and employees who engage in sexual harassment may also be subject to criminal or civil action by victims of sexual harassment.
  5. Due Process:As a public institution of higher learning, Longwood is a "State Actor." Due process is built into discipline systems for students and employees of the University and should be observed.
  6. Records: The AAO will maintain records of all sexual harassment investigations for three (3) years from the date of final adjudication.

IV. Dissemination

  1. Access:The Sexual Harassment policy is available on-line, in the Human Resources Office, and in the Office of the Director of Honors and Judicial Programs in the Faculty Handbook.
  2. Awareness Training: A sexual harassment awareness briefing shall be conducted for all new employees during their New Employee Orientation.

Revised and approved by the Board of Visitors, September 7, 2002.
Revised and approved by the Board of Visitors, December 7, 2012.