Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual Harassment Policy


Office of Human Resources


Affirmative Action


Collegewide Policies



Effective Date:


Implementation History:

Revised on: 2011; February 1996; September 1989


Sexual Harassment, Affirmative Action, Title IX

Background Information:


SUNY Empire State College is committed to ensuring an environment for all employees and students which is fair, humane and respectful. It is college policy that sexual harassment of either employees or students will not be tolerated.


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of illegal discrimination. It is any unwanted verbal, written, or physical sexual advance, request for sexual favors, sexually explicit statements or sexually discriminating remarks made by someone in the workplace or classroom, which:

  • are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, or
  • cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, or
  • interfere with or result in interference with the recipient’s job or academic performance or
  • creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

"Quid Pro Quo"

Quid Pro Quo is Latin for "this for that" or "something for something." Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment is when a more powerful person (a boss or a professor) tells a less powerful person (an employee or a student), "I'll give you a good grade/a good performance evaluation if you let me kiss you." Or the more powerful person makes a threat, "I'll fail you/fire you unless you go out with me."

Hostile Environment

A hostile environment is when unwelcome and demeaning behavior or conduct that “substantially interferes” with a person’s performance or creates an “intimidating, hostile or offensive” exist. For example, the harasser may continually remark on someone's body or clothing, post sexually explicit photos or make sexually oriented comments. A peer, a superior or a subordinate can create a hostile environment.


An employee or student who complains about discrimination or harassment, exercises a legal right such as obtaining a reasonable accommodation and/or participates in a complaint investigation as a third-party witness has the right to do so without fear of retaliation. Retaliation against an employee or a student, who has filed a discrimination complaint or a person who serves as a witness, may result in appropriate sanctions or other disciplinary action as covered by collective bargaining agreements and/or applicable college policies.


It is the policy of the State University of New York, Empire State College, to provide an environment where faculty, staff and students are free from harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination. Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of the law (§703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as amended, Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, and the New York State Human Rights Law) and will not be tolerated.

Civility, trust, respect and openness are professional behaviors that are expected from all members of the college community. Harassment, including sexual harassment, breaks the bonds of civility, trust, respect and openness. Harassment may create a hostile environment. Harassment can be created by verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct that is severe, persistent and/or pervasive and interferes or limits the ability(ies) of a person or persons to work or learn.

The college will not condone actions, writings, publications or words which a reasonable person would regard as sexually harassing. It is the responsibility of every administrator, supervisor and faculty member to create and maintain an environment that is free of discrimination and allows full access and opportunity for participation to all members of the college community. To this end, no member or group of the college community shall harass another member or group. Should inappropriate behaviors be identified, the manager or supervisor is required to take prompt and corrective action.

Empire State College prohibits sexual harassment. It is official college policy that sexual harassment of employees, students or visitors will not be tolerated. The college accepts the position that sexual harassment, like any civil rights violation, generates a harmful atmosphere. The college will act positively to investigate alleged harassment and to affect remedy when an allegation is substantiated.

Sexual harassment is usually defined as repeated unwelcome and unwanted sexual advances or sexual allusions, unwarranted references to sexuality or sexual activities, requests for sexual favors and other speech or conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur among peers, supervisors and supervisees, faculty/staff and students and can involve visitors or guests of the college.

Sexual harassment may include:

  • seeking sexual favors or relationships in return for the promise of a favorable grade or other academic opportunity
  • conditioning an employment-related action (such as hiring, promotion, salary increase or performance appraisal) on a sexual favor or relationship
  • intentional and undesired physical contact, sexually explicit language or writing, lewd pictures or notes, pressure for a date or a romantic or intimate relationship and other forms of sexually offensive conduct by individuals in positions of authority, co-workers or student peers that unreasonably interferes with the ability of a person to perform his or her employment or academic responsibilities
  • unwelcome touching, kissing, hugging, patting, pinching or massaging
  • leering at a person’s body
  • pressure for or forced sexual activity
  • belittling remarks about a person’s gender or sexual orientation
  • inappropriate sexual innuendos or humor
  • obscene gestures of a sexual or gender-based nature
  • offensive sexual graffiti, pictures or posters
  • sexually explicit profanity
  • use of email, the Internet, or other forms of digital media to facilitate any of the above referenced behaviors.

This policy applies regardless of the complainant’s or respondent’s sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, gender expression, age, race, nationality, class status, ability or religion. Further, the college does not condone retaliation. Retaliation is against the law and will subject the individual(s) to sanctions.

Isolated instances, such as a sexual overture, comment or joke, ordinarily will not constitute sexual harassment unless the circumstances are egregious. Such sexual behavior does not constitute harassment if it is welcomed (i.e., voluntary and consensual). It is important to note that conduct in the workplace or educational setting may fall short of the legal standard for sexual harassment but may still be addressed as unprofessional and/or inappropriate.

Disciplinary Action

If/when disciplinary action is found necessary, the appropriate procedures in current collective bargaining agreements or college conduct system will be followed.

Appeal Pursuit of Complaint with Outside Agencies

Use of the complaint procedures does not deprive any complainant of the right to pursue the complaint with outside enforcement agencies. The filing of an internal complaint or participating in this process does not suspend the time limitation periods to file an unlawful complaint with the courts or agencies.

Deadline for Filing a Complaint

The deadline for filing a complaint is 90 calendar days following the alleged act or from the time the complainant first knew or reasonably should have known of such unlawful discriminatory act. Employees who wish to discuss the complaint procedure in more detail may contact the Affirmative Action Officer, Mary Ellen Keeney, at located at 2 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Students who wish to discuss the complaint procedure in more detail may contact the CDO/Title IX Officer, Elliott Dawes, at, located at 325 Hudson St. New York, NY.

A person who knowingly and/or intentionally files false complaint under this policy may be subject to disciplinary action.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

EEOC Definition of Sexual Harassment

NYS Executive Order No.19: "New York State Policy Statement on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

SUNY Empire State College has a discrimination grievance procedure that is available for use by any employee or student who feels that he or she has been the victim of sexual harassment or other unlawful discrimination.

GOER Handbook for M/C Employees – Sexual Harassment – Labor Relations

Sexual Harassment Prevention Department of Labor resources

GOER - Supervisor's Guide to Counseling (PDF 649kB)

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