FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT

What is sexual harassment?

The UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence contains a definition of sexual harassment. Faculty, staff and students are urged to review the Policy itself to understand the different types of sexual harassment. Generally, sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behavior, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects a person's employment or education; or which unreasonably interferes with an individual's work or educational performance, or creates an intimidating hostile or offensive working or learning environment. Examples of sexual harassment include:


  • Sexual propositions
  • Sexual innuendoes or other seductive behavior, such as repeated, unwanted requests for meals, dates, etc.
  • Threats that submission to sexual advances is necessary for a person to retain job status/benefits or educational status/benefits
  • Sexual comments or jokes; questions or discussions about an individual's sex life; comments about a person's body or appearance
  • Unwanted touching or leering
  • Brushing up against a person's body
  • Blocking a person's path
  • Graffiti about a person's sexuality
  • Staring at a person's body parts
  • Name calling such as "bitch", "slut", or "whore"
  • Sending someone unwanted sexual materials
  • A consensual or nonconsensual relationship creates a sexually charged, hostile or intimidating environment

 



Where do I go if I feel that I have been sexually harassed?

The Office of Equal Opportunity, through the direction of the Sexual Harassment Officer, is responsible for responding to reports of sexual harassment and can be reached at 824-5594. The Sexual Harassment Officer can provide information to individuals concerning their rights and can assist in resolving complaints informally or formally. Issues regarding sexual harassment also can be raised to Sexual Harassment Advisors, Vice Chancellors, Deans, Directors, Department Chairs, and Administrative Department heads. Individuals concerned about confidentiality or anonymity may wish to leave a message on the Sexual Harassment Call Line at 824-7037, the e-mail hotline at oeod@uci.edu, or to contact, in confidence, the Counseling Center, the Faculty and Staff Counseling Center, or the Ombudsman's Office

 



What rights do I have if I am accused of sexual harassment?

Individuals accused of sexual harassment have privacy rights that prohibit other persons from disseminating information concerning the complaint, except as part of the complaint resolution process. In addition, individuals accused of sexual harassment have due process rights that prohibit such individuals from being disciplined without adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard. These rights are explained in detail in the UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and the  UCI Guidelines for Sexual Harassment Complaint Resolution.

 



What if there are no witnesses to the unwelcome conduct? Will anyone believe me?

Victims of sexual harassment are often hesitant to come forward because they do not think they will be believed. This concern should not stop victims from making this complaint known to the sexual harassment officer or to their supervisor. Victims' allegations can often be substantiated even though there are no witnesses to the conduct. Investigations may take into consideration the credibility of each individual involved, admissions and previous complaints.

 



Everyone around me tells dirty jokes. I am the only one who is offended. Am I being too sensitive?

Everyone has a different tolerance for sexual banter. No one should tolerate behavior that makes him or her uncomfortable. The person who is uncomfortable should inform someone that the behavior is unwelcome. The best place to start is usually with the individuals involved.

 



The person who is harassing me is my boss. I am afraid if I complain about my boss, I will lose my job. What should I do?

Victims of sexual harassment often feel that tolerating the behavior is the only way to ensure they will keep their job. This is not true. Individuals who complain of sexual harassment are protected from retaliation by federal and state law and by UCI policy.


I am a supervisor and I am interested in dating one of my subordinates. Am I permitted to do so?

UCI policy states that supervisors who become involved in a sexual relationship with a subordinate must disclose the fact of the relationship to their supervisor. The policy states that it is not appropriate for a manager or supervisor to evaluate or otherwise supervise an employee with whom he or she is involved. The reporting relationship must be changed to eliminate conflict of interest and to allow for a romantic and/or sexual relationship.


 In 2004, the section of the Faculty Code of Conduct regarding Consensual Relations with Students was revised.  Two new sections were added to the Academic Personnel Manual (APM 015).  Part II, Section A now sets forth ethical principles and unacceptable conduct with regard to faculty and their students.   The revised policy prohibits a faculty member from entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with any student for whom that faculty currently has or prospectively might have academic responsibility (as defined in the policy).  The policy also prohibits a faculty member from exercising academic responsibility for any student with whom that faculty member has a romantic or sexual relationship. The Faculty Code of Conduct may be found online at: www.ucop.edu/academic-personnel-programs/_files/apm/apm-015.pdf.


My friend confided in me that she is being sexually harassed on campus. What will happen if I report the behavior ?

If you believe a friend is being sexually harassed, you should encourage him or her to call the Sexual Harassment Officer for advice at 949-824-5594. The individual will not be required to provide his or her name or other identifying information, but will be provided with information concerning sexual harassment and possible ways to resolve the situation. The individual also may choose to leave a message on the Sexual Harassment Call Line (949-824-7037) or an e-mail message at oeod@uci.edu. If you report the behavior, the Sexual Harassment Officer will contact the friend to ask if this person feels s/he is being harassed.

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