COM Guide


A GUIDE FOR THE COLLEGE OF MEDICINE COMMUNITY

Q: 
What is Sexual Harassment?
A:  A form of sex discrimination that is illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has developed guidelines that define and describe sexual harassment. ETSU uses these guidelines as part of its Policy on Sexual Harassment to provide guidance to students, faculty, and other members of the university community about their legal rights. It is important for everyone in the James H. Quillen College of Medicine community to understand this definition.

The guidelines state that "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

1)  Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic standing; or

2)  Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting an individual; or

3)  Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment."

Who may be a harasser?
Either men or women.

Does harassment only occur between individuals of opposite sexes?
No, those involved may be the same sex.

What conditions create harassment?
- The behavior is unwelcome to the recipient.
- The behavior would not have occurred but for the gender of the individual harassed.
- Unequal power of the individuals involved is often present.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Physical:
"Unnecessary" touching of someone's body; blocking their path

Verbal:  Repeated sexist jokes or slurs; suggestions for sexual favors; personal questions

Nonverbal Behaviors:  Prolonged staring, leering; sexual visual material (posters, calendars); unwanted notes or letters

What if the situation makes you uncomfortable but doesn't fit the guidelines?
If words or actions seem inappropriate, but you are not sure if they would be considered sexual harassment, contact one of the individuals identified for the College of Medicine or ETSU to find out.

If you think you are being sexually harassed:
Sexual harassment is always inappropriate regardless of whether it comes from a person in authority, a colleague, or a peer. If a gesture or remark of a sexual nature or based on gender makes you feel uncomfortable, threatened, intimidated, or pressured, this may be a sign that you are experiencing sexual harassment.

- Trust you instincts.
- Do not remain silent.
- Do not blame yourself.
- Act quickly, without delay.

How to get help
East Tennessee State University and the James H. Quillen College of Medicine are committed to the prevention and elimination of sexual harassment. If you want a safe, private place to discuss your situation and explore the options open to you in order to get unwelcome behavior to stop, you may contact any of the individuals listed in the Contacts tab under Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination on this website.

How to handle Sexual Harassment; i.e. How to stop unwanted behavior

- Assess the situation. Is it safe to respond directly? If so, say "NO." Tell the person that his or her behavior is making you uncomfortable.

- Tell someone:  A friend, a colleague, or your supervisor.

- Request an intervention from a third party.

- Speak to one of the sexual harassment contact individuals, or to the Affirmative Action Officer.

- Write the harasser a letter. One of the contact individuals can assist in creating an effective format.

- Keep a record of the facts, with dates and witnesses.

- Document your work and evaluations so that you can attest to the quality of your performance if the accused harasser questions your abilities.

- Another option is to file a formal complaint with the Affirmative Action Officer.

Most people just want the offensive behavior to stop! If it is unwanted sexual behavior, it may be illegal NOT to stop!

If you are a supervisor
Someone may come to you with a complaint about another person. As a supervisor, you can be held legally responsible for sexual harassment incidents involving those who report to you if you knew or should have known about the conduct. The law requires that you must take immediate and appropriate corrective action. You should consult with the Assistant Dean of Women in Medicine or the Affirmative Action Officer in deciding how to respond.

- Promptly call someone from the sources listed on this website for advice on how to proceed.

- Do not blame the victim.

- Get the facts. Do not act or judge hastily.

- Document the facts of the complaint and forward to the Assistant Dean of Women in Medicine or the Affirmative Action Officer.

- Consult with the complainant before taking any actions or speaking with other parties involved in the dispute.

- Take the initiative if you suspect someone is being sexually harassed. Do not ignore the issue.

- Be a role model so others will know what behavior is acceptable.

Be aware of your own behavior

"No" means "No". Do not repeat behavior you have been told is not welcome.

Do not interpret someone's silence as consent.

Retaliating when someone complains of harassment is unlawful, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.

Even in a consensual relationship, a person of higher status can be held accountable if the relationship later results in a sexual harassment complaint. The institution may treat a complaint about a consensual relationship as an abuse of authority rather than as sexual harassment.

If you treat every person with respect and dignity, you are less likely to have something you say or do misunderstood.