Sex Discrimination/Harassment & Violence
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Sex Discrimination/Harassment & Violence

Sex Discrimination/Harassment & Violence

State and federal laws prohibit sex discrimination. Sex discrimination is defined as conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her gender or that of his/her spouse and that subjects the individual to different treatment so as to interfere with or limit the ability of the individual to participate in, or benefit from, the services, activities, or privileges provided by the College, or otherwise adversely affects the individual's employment or education.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by state and federal law. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical conduct, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education, evaluation of a student's academic performance, or term or condition of participation in student activities or in other events or activities sanctioned by the College; or
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions or other decisions about participation in student activities or other events or activities sanctioned by the College; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of threatening an individual's employment; interfering with an individual's work or academic performance; or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

Sexual harassment may occur in a variety of relationships, including faculty and student, supervisor and employee, student to student, employee to employee, and other persons having business with or visiting the College. Sexual harassment may occur when it is directed at members of the opposite gender or when it is directed at members of the same gender. It includes, but is not limited to:

  • Unwelcome pressure for sexual activity;
  • Unwelcome, sexually motivated or inappropriate patting, pinching, or physical contact; physical contact may be appropriate, if necessary to restrain individuals to avoid physical harm to persons or property;
  • Demands for sexual favors or promises of preferential treatment with regard to an individual's employment or educational status accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning an individual's employment or educational status; or
  • Unwelcome behavior or words of a sexual nature directed at an individual because of gender.

Acts of sexual violence are criminal behaviors and create an environment contrary to the goals and missions of the College. Acts of sexual violence include:

  1. Forcible acts, which include non-consensual sexual contact, and/or sexual contact in which the victim is incapable of giving consent (such as when the complainant is under the influence of alcohol or drugs);
  2. Non-forcible sex acts such as incest and statutory rape; and
  3. The threat of an act of sexual violence.

Sexual violence may include, but is not limited to:

  • Touching, patting, grabbing, or pinching another person's intimate parts, whether that person is of the same sex or the opposite sex;
  • Coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force the touching of anyone's intimate parts;
  • Coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force sexual intercourse or a sexual act on another; or
  • Threatening to force or coerce sexual acts, including the touching of intimate parts or intercourse, on another.

Under certain circumstances, sexual harassment or violence may constitute sexual abuse according to Minnesota law. In such situations, the College shall comply with the reporting requirements in M.S. Section 626.556 (reporting of maltreatment of minors) and M.S. Section 626.557 (Vulnerable Adult Protection Act). Nothing in this policy will prohibit the College from taking immediate action to protect victims of alleged sexual abuse.

Substantial risks are involved even in seemingly consensual romantic or sexual relationships where a power differential exists between the involved parties. The respect and trust accorded a faculty member or other employee by a student, as well as the power exercised by faculty in giving grades, advice, praise, recommendations, and opportunities for further study or other forms of advancement may greatly diminish the student's actual freedom of choice concerning the relationship. Similarly, the authority of the supervisor to hire, fire, evaluate performance, reward, make recommendations, assign and oversee the work activities of employees may interfere with the employee's ability to choose freely in the relationship. Further, it is inherently risky where age, background, status, credentials or other characteristics contribute to the perception that a power differential exists between the involved parties, which limits the student’s or employee's ability to make informed choices about the relationship.

Claims of a consensual romantic/sexual relationship will not protect individuals from sexual harassment charges nor guarantee a successful defense if charges are made. It is the faculty member, supervisor or staff that will bear the burden of accountability because of his/her special power and responsibility, and it may be exceedingly difficult to use mutual consent as a defense. Therefore, all employees should be aware of the risks involved in entering into a romantic or sexual relationship where there is a superior-subordinate relationship.

Procedure to Investigate Complaints

Sexual Orientation Discrimination/Harassment

State law prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. Sexual orientation discrimination is defined as conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her sexual orientation and that subjects the individual to different treatment by agents or employees so as to interfere with or limit the ability of the individual to participate in, or benefit from, the services, activities, or privileges provided by the College, or otherwise adversely affects the individual's employment or education. Sexual orientation harassment is a form of sexual orientation discrimination, which is prohibited by state law. Sexual orientation harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual because of his/her sexual orientation and that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile work or educational environment. Sexual orientation harassment may occur in a variety of relationships, including faculty and student, supervisor and employee, student and student, staff and student, employee and employee, and other relationships with other persons having business at or visiting the College.

Procedure to Investigate Complaints