The University's policy against sexual harassment of its employees is as follows
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 when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual
- 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.
The University prohibits any retaliatory action against an employee for opposing an action which 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.
Students may refer to the Student Handbook for UTM's policy opposing sexual harassment and for the procedures to follow when filing a sexual harassment complaint.
Who can be sexually harassed?
Both males and females can be victims of sexual harassment. Both males and females can be perpetrators of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur between:
- Supervisor and employee
- Co-worker and co-worker
- Campus visitor and university employee
- Professor and student
- Student and student
What can you do if you are sexually harassed?
Know your rights: Sexual harassment is illegal, and the University unequivocally opposes the sexual harassment of its employees and students.
Speak up at the time: Say "NO" clearly, and without smiling. This is not the time to be polite or vague. By being quiet, you enable the harassment to continue. Speaking up can protect others from being victimized and may decrease your feelings of helplessness.
Don't blame yourself: Sexual harassment is unwanted action that the harasser decides to take. It is not your fault.
Don't delay: If you delay action, the harassment is likely to continue. An employee or student may first pursue informal channels for resolving the situation. For instance, employees may initially want to discuss the situation with a department head, dean or personnel officer. Students may want to contact the appropriate dean, department head or the dean of students. Since the University is liable for the harassing conduct of their employees, supervisors must take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Employees and students have the option of contacting the Office of Equity and Diversity. If an official complaint is to be filed, it must be filed with UT within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. However, complaints brought to the attention of the Office of Equity and Diversity Officer after 180 days will still be investigated. In all situations, the employee and student should be prepared to report the exact behavior and, if possible, the date(s) on which it occurred.
If you are an observer of what you perceive to be sexual harassment, you can also take steps to stop this form of discrimination. You can:
Speak up: Inform the harasser that his/her actions may be perceived as sexual harassment.
Support the victim: Provide comfort and assurances to the victim.
Report the incident: Talk to appropriate persons within the department, or to the Office of Equity and Diversity Personnel.
It is important for persons (victims and observers) to seek advice in determining if what they are experiencing is sexual harassment. Seeking advice can also provide information on how to keep what are initial overtures from developing into harassment. Oftentimes, persons may feel they can handle the situation when in fact they cannot. It is helpful to the University to know if such activities are occurring. Reporting the incident, whether one decides to file an official complaint or not, benefits the victim, the University, and future students or employees.
Sexual harassment is a particularly sensitive issue which can affect any member of the university community. Prompt action will be taken on every complaint. Each reported incident will be handled on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the alleged violation occurred and if appropriate disciplinary action is warranted
Sexual harassment will not be tolerated and will be grounds for disciplinary action. The University prohibits any retaliatory action against an employee for opposing an action which he or she believes to be sexual harassment, including the filing of an internal complaint of grievance or a charge with a state or federal civil right enforcement agency. Student offenders may be disciplined under the University Policies and Procedures in the University of Tennessee at Martin Student/Faculty/Staff Directory and Student Handbook 2013-14. Confidentiality of all parties involved will be respected to the extent allowed by law.