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Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment Defined

Sexual harassment often occurs within the framework of a power imbalance where the person harassing has a real or perceived power over the person who is being harassed.

See Policy 339

Sexual harassment is behavior that:

  • Is unwanted or unwelcome.
  • Is sexual in nature or gender-based.
  • Is severe, pervasive and/or repeated.

Sexual Harassment That May be Disciplined

Quid Pro Quo 

“This for that” harassment occurs when sexual favors or activities are explicitly or implicitly demanded in exchange for job or educational benefits. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as term or condition of person’s employment or a student’s academic success or as the basis for any employment or academic decisions affecting such individuals.

Hostile Environment

Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct significantly interferes with school or work performance, and creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning or working environment.


Retaliatory harassment occurs when an adverse action is taken against any person because that person has reported or opposed any practices forbidden by USU policy. This includes threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under USU policy, including action against a bystander who intervened to stop discrimination and harassment.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Harassment includes something beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive. The conduct must also be considered sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program or interferes in an employee’s work environment.


Whistling or making cat-calls at someone.

Making sexual comments about a person’s clothing or body.

Telling sexual jokes or stories.

Asking personal questions about an individual’s sex life, fantasies, preferences or history.

Repeatedly asking a person out who has clearly expressed a lack of interest.

Turning work discussions to sexual topics.

Referring to an adult woman or man as a hunk, doll, babe, honey or other demeaning words or phrases.

Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person’s personal sex life.

Direct or indirect threats or bribes for unwanted sexual activity.


Paying unwanted attention to someone (i.e., staring, following, or blocking a person’s path).

Displaying sexually suggestive visuals (includes emails, text messages, social media, blogs, websites or other electronic mediums).

Making facial expressions such as winking, throwing kisses or licking.

Giving letters (emails, text messages, etc.), personal gifts or materials of a sexual nature.

Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movement.

Invading a person’s body space (standing closer than appropriate or necessary for the work being done).

Looking a person up and down (elevator eyes).


Brushing up against a person.

Touching a person’s clothing, hair or body (could include giving a massage around the neck and shoulders.

Hugging, kissing, patting or stroking.

Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around or in view of another person.

Sexual assault/rape.