Interim Sexual Harassment Policy

Title: Interim Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures for All Faculty, Students, Employees, and Third Parties
Effective date: August 14, 2020
Responsible Official: Senior Associate Vice President for Equity
Responsible University Office: Office of Equity
Revision History: 2014, 2016
Related legislation and University policies: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Review Period: 5 Years
Date of Last Review: 2020
Relates to: All Faculty, Students, Employees, and Third Parties

Case Western Reserve University is a community based upon trust and respect for its constituent members. Sexual Harassment is a violation of that trust and respect and will not be tolerated. Members of the Case Western Reserve community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. All members of the community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The purpose of this guide is to define sexual harassment and the procedures the university uses to investigate and take appropriate action on complaints of sexual harassment.

This policy applies to the education program and activities of Case Western Reserve, to conduct that takes place on the campus or on property owned or controlled by Case Western Reserve, at Case Western Reserve-sponsored events, or in buildings owned or controlled by Case Western Reserve's recognized student organizations. The Respondent must be a member of Case Western Reserve community in order for its policies to apply. The work/educational environment program and activities includes, but is not limited to: offices, classrooms and clinical settings; residence halls and Greek Houses; on-campus between university community members, whether personal or virtual; and all university-sponsored activities, programs, or events (including off-campus activities such as international travel programs).

This policy can also be applicable to the effects of off-campus misconduct that effectively deprive someone of access to the university’s educational program. The university may also extend jurisdiction to off-campus and/or to online conduct when the Title IX Coordinator determines that the conduct affects a substantial university interest. A substantial university interest includes: (1) Any action that constitutes a criminal offense as defined by law. This includes, but is not limited to, single or repeat violations of any local, state, or federal law; (2) Any situation in which it is determined that the Respondent poses an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual; (3) Any situation that significantly impinges upon the rights, property, or achievements of oneself or others or significantly breaches the peace and/or causes social disorder; and/or (4) Any situation that is detrimental to the educational interests or mission of the university.

Sexual Harassment may involve the behavior of a person(s) regardless of the person’s gender identity or expression against a person(s) of the opposite or same gender or against a person who is transgender.

The university does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational program and in other activities operated by the university and is required by Title IX, and specifically 34 C.F.R. Part 106, as well as Title VII, not to discriminate in such a manner. This extends to employees of and applicants for employment or admission to the university. Inquiries concerning the application of Title IX may be directed to the Title IX Coordinator for the university or to the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education.

Please read the current Interim Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures for All Faculty, Students, Employees, and Third Parties.

The July 1, 2016-August 13, 2020 version of the Sexual Harassment policy is available Here. The policy definitions of prohibited conduct apply to misconduct that occurred prior to August 14, 2020. The procedures outlined in the previous policy apply to report made to the Office of Equity prior to August 14, 2020.

No Retaliation Policy

Protected activity under this policy includes reporting an incident that may implicate this policy, participating in the grievance process, supporting a Complainant or Respondent, assisting in providing information relevant to an investigation, and/or acting in good faith to oppose conduct that constitutes a violation of this Policy.

Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator and will be promptly investigated. Case Western Reserve will take all appropriate and available steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.

It is prohibited for Case Western Reserve or any member of the community to take or attempt to create adverse action by intimidating, threatening, coercing, harassing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by law or policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy and procedure.

The exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment does not constitute retaliation.

Power Relationships

When one party has any professional responsibility for another’s academic or job performance or professional future, the university considers sexual relationships between the two individuals to be a basic violation of professional ethics and responsibility; this includes but is not limited to sexual relationships between faculty (including teaching assistants and laboratory supervisors) and their students or between supervisors and their employees, even if deemed to be mutually consenting relationships. Because of the asymmetry of these relationships, “consent” may be difficult to assess, may be deemed not possible, and may be construed as coercive.  Such relationships also may have the potential to result in claims of sexual harassment. See the Consensual Relationship Policy.

Although Sexual Harassment often takes place when the alleged harasser is in a position of power or influence (e.g., a faculty advisor to a student, supervisor to supervisee), other types of harassment are also possible e.g., peer to peer.

Academic Freedom

Case Western Reserve University adheres to the principles and traditions of academic freedom. As stated in the Faculty Handbook, academic freedom is a right of all members of the university faculty and applies to university activities including teaching and research (case.edu/facultysenate/handbook-by-laws/faculty-handbook). Each faculty member may consider in his or her classes any topic relevant to the subject matter of the course as defined by the appropriate educational unit. 

Case Western Reserve University also recognizes, however, that these freedoms must be in balance with the rights of others not to be sexually harassed.  It is therefore understood that the principles of academic freedom permit topics of all types, including those with sexual content, to be part of courses, lectures, and other academic pursuits. If there are questions about whether the course material or the manner in which it is presented falls within the definition of sexual harassment, the concerned party(s) should contact a designated reporting office representative (See: Designated Reporting Offices section in this policy).

Laws Governing Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by Section 4112.02 of the Ohio Revised Code. EEOC Guidelines require employers to affirmatively address the issue of sexual harassment and to adopt procedures for the prompt resolution of employee complaints. Similarly, federal regulations implementing Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments require educational institutions that receive federal funds to provide a prompt and equitable procedure for resolving complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment claims. The 2020 regulations are available here.