Office of Diversity, Equity, and AccessUniversity of Illinois
header image one header image two header image three header image four header image five header image six

Harassment

Harassment is a form of discrimination. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on a person or group’s protected class status. There are two types of unlawful harassment.

  • Quid pro quo occurs when enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or participation
  • Hostile environment occurs when the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a working or learning environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment and/or educational opportunities, unreasonably interferes with an individual's performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.

Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work or learning environment (hostile environment), or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as the victim being fired or demoted (quid pro quo)

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • ┬áThe harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, an instructor, a peer, a classmate, a non-employee/non-student.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge/dismissal of the victim.

The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome. It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop; however, the victim may use any complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, the campus looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.