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tennessee technological university

Diversity and Legal Affairs

Discrimination may occur by:

  1. Treating individuals less favorably because of their race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation/gender identity/expression, disability, age as applicable, status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law; or,
  1. Having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on protected class members.

B. Harassment

  1. Harassment Based on a Protected Class

Harassment is conduct that is based on a person’s race, color, religion, creed, ethic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression, disability, age, as applicable, status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law, that:

  • Adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, participation in an institution’s activities or living environment;
  • Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive environment of the individual; or
  • Is used as a basis for or a factor in decisions that tangibly affect that individual’s employment, education, participation in an institution’s activities or living environment.

Examples of such conduct include, but are not limited to, verbal or physical conduct relating to an employee’s national origin, race, surname, skin color or accent, offensive or derogatory jokes based on a protected category, racial or ethnic slurs, pressure for dates or sexual favors, unwelcome comments about a person’s religion or religious garments, offensive graffiti, cartoons or pictures, or offensive remarks about a person’s age.

Not every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group will be considered harassment. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment depends upon the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the conduct in the context within which the alleged incident occurs. Harassment does not include verbal expressions or written material that is relevant and appropriately related to course subject matter or curriculum.

  1. Examples of Sexual Harassment

Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Refusing to hire, promote, grant or deny certain privileges because of acceptance or rejection of sexual advances;
  • Promising a work-related benefit or a grade in return for sexual favors;
  • Suggestive or inappropriate communications, email, notes, letters, or other written materials displaying objects or pictures which are sexual in nature that would create hostile or offensive work or living environments;
  • Sexual innuendoes, comments, or remarks about a person’s clothing, body or activities;
  • Suggestive or insulting sounds;
  • Whistling in a suggestive manner;
  • Humor and jokes about sex that denigrate men or women;
  • Sexual propositions, invitations, or pressure for sexual activity;
  • Use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories, remarks or images in no way or only marginally relevant to the subject matter of the class;
  • Implied or overt sexual threats;
  • Suggestive or obscene gestures;
  • Patting, pinching, and other inappropriate touching;
  • Unnecessary touching or brushing against the body;
  • Attempted or actual kissing or fondling;
  • Suggestive or inappropriate acts, such as comments, innuendoes, or physical contact based on one’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression;
  • Sexual violence; including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.

The examples listed above are not exclusive, but simply represent types of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment.

Please note that incidents of sexual violence may constitute criminal acts and as such, investigation and processing by the criminal justice system, local police, campus security and crisis intervention centers may occur in addition to the process developed under this Procedure. Complainant must be notified of his/her right to file a criminal complaint.

III. Consensual Relationships

Intimate relationships between supervisors and their subordinates and between faculty members and students are strongly discouraged due to the inherent inequality of power in such situations. These relationships could lead to undue favoritism or the perception of undue favoritism, abuse of power, compromised judgment or impaired objectivity.

Engaging in a consensual relationship with a student over whom the faculty member has either grading, supervisory, or other evaluative authority (i.e., member of dissertation committee, thesis director, etc.) constitutes a conflict of interest. The faculty member must take steps to remove the conflict by assigning a different supervisor to the student; resigning from the student’s academic committees; or by terminating the relationship at least while the student is in his/her class.

Likewise, it is a conflict of interest for a supervisor to engage in a consensual relationship with a subordinate over whom he or she has evaluative or supervisory authority. The supervisor must take action to resolve the conflict of interest by, for example, assigning another individual to supervise and/or evaluate the subordinate.

Taking Action Against Sexual and Racial Harassment

Consider firmly, clearly, and directly telling the harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and to stop. However, if for any reason you do not feel comfortable confronting your harasser directly, it is not required that you do so. You should then follow TTU's procedures for reporting complaints.

All faculty members, students, and staff are responsible for taking reasonable and necessary action to prevent and discourage all types of harassment or discrimination, this is particularly important with regard to sexual harassment. Conduct which might constitute sexual harassment must be promptly reported whether information concerning a complaint is received formally or informally. Absent extraordinary circumstances, complaints must be brought within 365 days of the last incident of discrimination or harassment.

To the extent possible, the investigation will be conducted in such a manner to protect the confidentiality of both parties. However, TTU has an obligation to address harassment and in order to conduct an effective investigation, complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

All faculty members, students, and staff are subject to TTU's Discrimination and Harassment Policy. Any faculty member, student, or staff member found to have violated the policy by engaging in behavior constituting discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action which may include dismissal, expulsion or termination, or other appropriate sanction.

Any current or former student, applicant for employment, or current or former employee who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment at TTU or who believes that he/she has observed harassment taking place should report the complaint to the Interim Director of Human Resources, Ms. Elizabeth Gays, Derryberry Hall, Rm 146, 372-3034. Allegations of harassment by one student against another student must be referred to the Dean of Students, Ed Boucher, Roaden University Center, Rm 339, 372-3237.

The Tennessee Board of Regents Discrimination and Harassment - Complaint and Investigation Procedure Guideline P-080 may be found at: