4.2.5 Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment

The purpose of the policy set forth below is to promote an academic and work environment that is free from all forms of unlawful harassment and discrimination whether that discrimination or harassment is because of race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. It is designed to ensure a safe and nondiscriminatory environment that protects both the constitutional and civil rights of students, faculty and staff. 

The University of Delaware is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of all employees and students, and seeks to maintain an environment that is free from all forms of unlawful harassment and discrimination. The University will not tolerate any form of unlawful harassment and discrimination. Under law, unlawful harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination. Unlawful harassment and discrimination are a violation of federal and state law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Delaware Fair Employment Practices Act. Nothing in this policy is meant to infringe upon First Amendment or academic freedom protections set forth in the Handbook for Faculty and in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Delaware and the American Association of University Professors.

Unlawful harassment goes beyond the mere expression of views or thoughts (spoken or written) that an individual may find offensive. The conduct must be sufficiently serious to unlawfully limit an employee's or student's ability to participate in or benefit from the activities of the University. Further, prohibited conduct must be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the alleged victim's position, taking into account all of the circumstances involved in a particular matter.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic advancement, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions or academic decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unlawfully interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or unlawfully creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.

The following types of actions may constitute sexual harassment, whether the harasser is a co-worker, supervisor, student or faculty member:  

  • demand for sexual favors accompanied by implied threats about the person's employment status, or implied promises of preferential treatment
  • persistent, unwelcome flirtation, requests for dates, advances or propositions of a sexual nature
  • unwanted touching such as patting, pinching, hugging or repeated brushing against an individual's body
  • repeated degrading or insulting comments that demean an individual's sexuality or sex
  • unwarranted displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures
  • sexual assault

Other Unlawful Harassment

Other unlawful harassment includes any verbal or physical conduct toward another that is based on the other's race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law, and that (1) unlawfully creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning and/or working environment or (2) unlawfully interferes with an individual's work or academic performance.

Threatening, intimidating or engaging in hostile acts that create an unlawful, hostile environment based on an individual's race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law may constitute unlawful harassment, whether the harasser is a co-worker, supervisor, student or faculty member.

Corrective Action

Supervisory personnel are responsible for maintaining an academic and work environment that is free of unlawful harassment and discrimination. Immediate and appropriate corrective action will be taken when instances of unlawful harassment and discrimination occur. Supervisors should consult with the Office of Labor Relations in such cases.

Non-Retaliation

It is a violation of University policy to retaliate in any way against students or employees because they have raised allegations of sexual or other unlawful harassment. Because a charge of unlawful harassment may have serious consequences, complainant(s) must bring the charge in good faith and in accordance with University policy. Person(s) against whom the complaint is lodged also bear a responsibility to abstain from retaliatory behavior toward the complainant(s) outside the established channels of redress. A complainant whose allegations are found to be false or to have been brought with malicious intent will be subject to disciplinary action.

Lodging a Complaint: Employees/students who believe that they are being subjected to unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment, should discuss the matter with their supervisor/advisor, if appropriate, or directly contact the Office of Women's Affairs (OWA) the Office of Affirmative Action (OAA) or the Office of Labor Relations (OLR) for confidential support, information and possible informal resolution. Faculty members who believe they are being subjected to unlawful harassment, or are being accused of unlawful harassment, should contact the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer. Complaints of unlawful harassment will be referred to the Vice President for Administration for further investigation and corrective action. Employees/students may contact the Vice President for Administration directly if they feel they have been subjected to unlawful harassment. Complaints will be investigated by the Vice President for Administration. (Rev. Office of Administration 8/25/98; Handbook updated 4/9/01)

Procedures: Upon receipt of an allegation of sexual or other unlawful harassment against a full-time faculty member, the Vice President for Administration will meet with the individual against whom the complaint has been made, his/her department chairperson or immediate supervisor, college dean or unit head and the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer. (Rev. Fac. Sen. 2/10/97)

The AAUP will be notified if the complaint involves a faculty member(s) in any way. If the accused is a faculty member, the AAUP will be notified in time to allow consultation with the accused prior to the meeting. The Vice President for Administration will advise the accused that it is in his/her best interest to seek out the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer for consultation prior to any meetings. (Rev. Fac. Sen. 2/10/97)

The Vice President for Administration will interview other individuals when needed in conjunction with the AAUP Maintenance Officer, to ascertain the validity of the complaint. The investigation will proceed in a timely manner and every effort will be made to conclude the investigation within thirty working days of its inception. All reports of unlawful harassment are considered to be confidential. All individuals involved in reviewing an allegation of sexual or other unlawful harassment maintain confidentiality to the fullest extent possible within the requirements of conducting a complete investigation. (Rev. Fac. Sen. 2/10/97)

If the Vice President for Administration, after deliberating with the parties named in paragraph one above, finds that there has been a violation of this policy, corrective action will be promptly taken. This may include one or more of the following actions depending on the severity of the offense:

  • A verbal warning that a repetition of the reported impropriety will result in written action.
  • Placement of a letter in the individual's personnel file indicating the nature of the improper behavior. The letter may include a notation about required counseling and any action that will be taken in the future should there be a repetition of the offensive behavior(s).
  • Immediate removal of the individual from the classroom/work site and placement on leave of absence so that the individual can receive appropriate counseling. Return to teaching and/or professional duties will be guided by the individual's progress.
  • Initiation of written action by the dean or appropriate vice president to dismiss the individual from the University's employ. For faculty, dismissal will follow the procedures set forth by the Faculty Senate Committee on Welfare and Privileges.

The Vice President for Administration will, as soon as practicable, notify the complainant(s) when the investigation has been concluded and indicate the nature of any corrective action taken.

Formal Redress: A more formal means of redress from sexual or other unlawful harassment may also be sought through grievance procedures, as described below.

For faculty, a complaint may be brought before the Faculty Senate Committee on Welfare and Privileges. A faculty member may also appeal the results of the previous procedures to the same committee. Upon review of a written appeal, the Committee may elect to pursue the matter and make additional recommendations to the University Provost. A grievance may be commenced under the AAUP collective bargaining agreement if the previous procedures set forth above have not been properly followed.

For hourly employees and police officers, the grievance procedures are found in their collective bargaining agreements.

For professional and salaried staff, the grievance procedures are found in the  Personnel Policy & Procedures Manual for Professional & Salaried Staff.

For students, the grievance procedures are found in the Student Guide to University Policies. (Rev. 6/5/89; updated 11/15/93; revised Office of Employee Relations, 2/96; Rev. Fac. Sen. 2/10/97; corrected 6/97) (Last editorial update 4/10/01)

Faculty Senate revision 5/05;3/06