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Sexual Harassment Policy


To establish and define the university policy against sexual harassment of its employees.


Policy No: HR0280
Effective Date: February 01, 1994

  1. The University of Tennessee unequivocally opposes the sexual harassment of its employees. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated and will be grounds for disciplinary action. In accordance with federal regulations, sexual harassment is defined as follows:
    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
    a. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
    b. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual; or
    c. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
  2. The university prohibits any retaliatory action against an employee for opposing an action that he or she believes to be sexual harassment, including the filing of an internal complaint or grievance or a charge with a state or federal civil rights enforcement agency.
  3. Each unit will provide training for its employees on what constitutes sexual harassment and will provide a procedure to handle complaints of sexual harassment and other complaints of discrimination.


Personnel Procedure No: 280

Effective Date: July 01, 1996

In accordance with University Personnel Policy 280 Sexual Harassment and federal statutes the Health Science Center has established and publishes Sexual Harassment Guidelines annually in the Affirmative Action Plan. A copy of the Affirmative Action Plan is available in the Health Science Center Library and in the Office of Access and Compliance.

The discrimination complaint procedure is maintained by the Office of Diversity and Equity.  A copy of the procedure may be obtained by contacting this office or at this link University of Tennessee Discrimination Complaint Procedure.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, school districts, colleges, and universities (hereinafter receiving any Federal funds must comply with Title IX. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment of a student can deny or limit, on the basis of sex, the student’s ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the school’s program. Sexual harassment of students is, therefore, a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Behavior that is unwelcomed and is of a sexual nature may be considered harassment. Prohibited acts that constitute sexual harassment may take a variety of forms. Examples of the kinds of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Offering or implying an employment-related reward (such as a promotion, raise, or different work assignment) or an education-related reward (such as a better grade, a letter of recommendation, favorable treatment in the classroom, assistance in obtaining employment, grants or fellowships, or admission to any educational program or activity) in exchange for sexual favors or submission to sexual conduct;
  • Making threats or insinuations that a person's employment, wages, grade, promotional opportunities, classroom or work assignments or other conditions of employment or educational life may be adversely affected by not submitting to sexual advances;
  • Engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations, solicitations, and flirtation;
  • Leering, staring at someone, or looking at someone with ?elevator eyes (i.e. looking someone up and down);
  • Using unwelcome sexually degrading language, sexual jokes, innuendos, or gestures;
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, graffiti and/or visuals that are not germane to any business or academic purpose;
  • Displaying or transmitting sexually suggestive electronic content, including inappropriate e-mails;
  • Making unnecessary and unwanted physical contact, such as hugging, rubbing, touching, patting, pinching, or massages;
  • Engaging in sexual assault or pressure for sexual activity, including requesting sexual favors;
  • Making unwelcome suggestive or insulting sounds, such as whistling and cat calls;
  • Giving unwelcome personal gifts, such as flowers;
  • Asking about a person‘s sexual fantasies, sexual preferences, or sexual activities;
  • Commenting on a person‘s body, dress, appearance, gender, sexual relationships, activities, or experience;
  • Repeatedly asking someone for a date after the person has expressed disinterest.
Jan 11, 2024