Office for Institutional Equity

Sexual Harassment FAQ

Questions And Answers About Sexual Harassment/ Unlawful Harassment

  1. Why are we concerned with sexual harassment?
    Sexual harassment is prohibited by federal and state law and by Cleveland State University (CSU) policy. It creates an unacceptable educational and working environment and hurts individuals emotionally and physically. Sexual harassment is morally and ethically reprehensible and, in most cases, it is a misuse of power.
  2. What type of conduct may be involved in sexual harassment?
    Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature* OR relating to a person’s gender.
  3. When does unwelcome sexual or gender-related conduct become sexual/gender harassment?
    When submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic performance OR when such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s work or academic performance OR creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.
  4. Who is protected from sexual/gender harassment?
    All individuals are protected from sexual/gender harassment. CSU’s non-discrimination policy specifically includes sexual orientation as a protected category. Thus, harassment on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited.
  5. In what type of situations can sexual/gender harassment occur?
    The law recognizes that sexual harassment may occur between individuals of the opposite sex or between individuals of the same sex. Sexual harassment most commonly occurs in situations where there is a power relationship such as supervisor/supervisee and teacher/student. It also occurs in situations involving co-workers or between students.
  6. How does one determine that sexual/gender harassment has occurred?
    In order to determine whether sexual/gender harassment has occurred, it is necessary to look at the totality of circumstances using a reasonable person standard. Facts to take into account include, among others, context, location, frequency of conduct, presence of a pattern, presence of physical threats and degree of interference. The conduct must be both objectively and subjectively offensive.
  7. What should I do in cases of sexual/gender harassment?
    Report it to the Office For Institutional Equity (OIE) as soon as possible (Administration Center, Room 236, 2300 Euclid Ave., or call 216.687.2223). You are not required to complain first to the person who is harassing you, but you are encouraged to do if you feel comfortable. Students may seek advice and support from the Office of Student Life, the dean/chairpersons of their college, CSU’s Police Department, the Counseling Center or the Department of Residence Life. Faculty or staff may complain to their supervisor, the supervisor of the harasser, the Department of Human Resources, or any other faculty staff or management employee. If complaints are not resolved informally, you may file a written complaint with OIE. Under Title IX, a victim of sexual assault cannot and will not be required to pursue informal resolution of this severe form of sexual harassment. Similarly, if you observe what you believe constitutes harassment or discrimination of another member of the university community, you are encouraged to report this to one of the persons described above.
  8. If a person complains about sexual/gender harassment, what protection does the person have against the harassing party?
    Retaliation is prohibited by law. Thus, the University will take appropriate action to prevent retaliation and to insure that the complainant is protected from further harm.
  9. Are complaints and reports of violations confidential?
    It is the intent of CSU to attempt to keep any complaints or reports under this policy as confidential as possible. However, in order to ensure a fair and thorough investigation, complete confidentiality may not be possible. In any event, all persons with whom the allegations are discussed will be reminded of the confidential nature of the process.
  10. What if a false claim is made?
    A complaint or report that the University’s sexual/gender harassment policy has been violated is a serious matter. Dishonest complaints or reports are also against our policy, and CSU will take appropriate action up to and including expulsion or termination if its investigation deliberately dishonest and bad faith accusations have been made. Please note that insufficient proof of discrimination or harassment is not the same as a false allegation.
  11. What happens after a formal complaint is made or a violation is reported?
    OIE will promptly and thoroughly investigate any complaint or report of a violation of this policy and/or
    retaliation. Please understand that a thorough investigation can, in some cases, take several weeks. The OIE’s general investigation procedures will include a review of all applicable documents, an interview of the person making the complaint, an interview of the alleged violator, and interviews of additional witnesses. Other investigatory actions may also be taken.
  12. If a complaint of unlawful harassment is brought against me, what can happen to me?
    A fair and impartial investigation will be conducted by OIE under established University policies. If the
    allegations are substantiated and the conduct amounts to unlawful harassment, appropriate discipline will be imposed pursuant to the university disciplinary procedures. Under certain circumstances, external to the university, you may be liable for monetary damages.
  13. Is sexual/gender harassment the only type of harassment prohibited by law or university policy?
    No. Harassment on the basis of person’s race, color, religion, age, genetic information, disability (physical or mental), military/veteran status, ancestry, or national origin is also prohibited by law, consistent with applicable federal and state laws, including but not limited to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.
  14. Does sexual harassment include sexual assault and misconduct?
    Yes. Sexual assault is a serious and egregious form of sexual harassment and is prohibited by this policy, the Code of Student Conduct and state law.

For more information about OIE, please see website.

• Note that sexual harassment includes both unwelcome physical conduct, such as touching, making sexual
gestures, and making or displaying lewd or sexual drawings or photographs, and unwelcome verbal conduct, such as sexual propositions, slurs, insults, jokes and other sexual comments. Sexual harassment may occur via e-mail communication or even through the use of social media.