What to do about Sexual Harassment

We encourage early contact: consultation is not escalation. Timely discussion of people’s concerns may allow resolution before alternatives become limited. The university will protect confidentiality to the extent possible under the law.

What to do if you:

  • Feel you’ve been sexually harassed
    • Seek advice. Consult your department chair, another divisional resource person, the Office of Equity/Diversity Services, or another campus resource to discuss options for resolution.
    • You may choose to seek informal resolution or file a sexual harassment complaint.
    • You may find it helpful to seek support from a trusted colleague. Be aware of your interest in keeping the matter as confidential as possible.
    • Keep notes of what happened, when, where, and who was present. Retain copies of any correspondence.
    • Consider informing the individual(s) involved that the conduct is unwelcome and that you expect it to stop.
  • Are a colleague or peer
    • Listen to the report of alleged harassment sympathetically but objectively. Keep the expectations and advice for conversations offered in this site in mind during your conversation(s).
    • Encourage the individual to contact someone who can explain alternatives available to resolve the situation (a sexual harassment contact person, department chair or other divisional resource, the Office of Equity/Diversity Services, or another campus resource.
    • If requested, and if you are comfortable doing so, assist the individual in reporting the behavior. Policies prohibiting retaliation are designed to protect you as well as the person bringing allegations forward.
    • Keep allegations confidential, except as necessary to cooperate with appropriate university officials.
  • Are accused of inappropriate conduct
    • Early consultation may help avoid claims of retaliation and facilitate resolution of the situation.
    • You will be informed of any complaint filed against you and provided with an opportunity to respond to the specific allegations.
    • You should contact the the Office of Equity/Diversity Services, or another campus resource
    • You may choose to seek private legal advice.
    • Be honest when questioned about alleged conduct and explain its context.
  • Are in a position of authority
    (e.g. principal investigator, supervisor, manager, department chair, director, dean)

    You are responsible for:

    • Taking reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in your unit,
    • Taking immediate and appropriate corrective action to stop harassment when you know or have reason to know it may exist,
    • Preventing its recurrence, and
    • Remedying effects that could reasonably have been prevented.

Sexual harassment can arise in a healthy environment but it often develops in negative climates. If you have concerns about the climate in your area, consult with the Office of Equity/Diversity Services (EDS) to learn about proactive measures to improve the climate for all individuals.

Distribute relevant policies to new faculty and staff and to all employees periodically and when there are modifications to the policy.

Schedule sexual harassment informational sessions and promote attendance by all department members.

Encourage employees and students to come forward with questions, concerns, and allegations. Avoid discouraging people from “going outside the department with problems.” (A person may not be comfortable reporting within the department and may not seek help if the department’s culture discourages outside assistance.)

Take every complaint seriously and ensure that others do as well. Ensure that your department adequately addresses all complaints. If you have questions about the scope of your responsibility, contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services or another campus resource. Keep the advice for conversations offered in this site in mind during your conversation(s).

In some instances, employees or students may not be direct victims of alleged discriminatory action or conduct, but may have credible knowledge of such conduct. If such conduct or action is reported to EDS, EDS will evaluate the information to determine whether a full investigation will be undertaken in accordance with this policy.

Keep allegations confidential except on a “need to know” basis.

Ensure that no retaliation occurs against the person making the allegations and that the person charged with harassment is not assumed guilty and/or disciplined on the basis of allegations.

For the protection of both parties, comply with all applicable university procedures and ensure that your department fully cooperates with any investigation.