The Catholic University of America
Of Counsel - A Bulletin on Legal Issues at CUA - August 1999

Cyberspace

Sexual Harassment

CUA policy defines sexual harassment as:

  • any unsolicited, offensive behavior that inappropriately asserts sexuality over status as a student or an employee;
  • unwelcome sexual advances;
  • requests for sexual favors; or
  • other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (but not limited to) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.

A hostile environment exists where discriminatory intimidation, ridicule or insults are so severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of the victim's work or education and creates an abusive environment. In the computer use context, the display of pornographic images on the terminals in the computer lab or other common area would likely constitute hostile environment sexual harassment. Similarly, unwelcome or inappropriate e-mail messages of a sexual nature might also be considered sexual harassment.



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