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Washington State University Office for Equal Opportunity

Sex and Gender Based Harassment and Discrimination

Discrimination, on the basis of sex and/or gender, is prohibited by WSU Executive Policy #15 (EP15). Discrimination in all its forms, including harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct, destroys mutual respect and a trusting environment, can bring substantial personal harm to individuals, and violates individual rights. Such behaviors are prohibited and not tolerated at WSU.

Sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression are protected classes. WSU prohibits discrimination on the basis of a protected class.  Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and is prohibited by EP 15.  Sexual harassment includes improper conduct toward a particular individual, individuals, or groups on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity/expression that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of:

  • Creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; or
  • Unreasonably interfering with work, academic performance, living environment, personal security, or participation in any WSU activity.

Examples include, but are not limited to, sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive:

    • Physical assault
    • Direct or implied threats that submission to sexual advances will be a condition of employment, work status, promotion, grades, work references, or letters of recommendation
    • Sexual behavior that is unwelcome.  Such behavior may include, but is not limited to, the following:
      • Comments of a sexual nature
      • Sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes
      • Unnecessary or undesirable physical contact
      • Unwanted, offensive, and/or uninvited comments about another’s physical appearance
      • Display of pictures with sexual content
      • Persistent, unwanted attempts to change a professional relationship to an amorous relationship
      • Subtle propositions for sexual activity or direct propositions of a sexual nature
      • Uninvited letters, emails, telephone calls, or other correspondence referring to or depicting sexual activities
      • any of the above carried out via the Internet or social media (“cyber harassment”

Other offenses that constitute sexual harassment when based on sex and/or gender include, but are not limited to:

  • Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or other conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person
  • Intimidation, which is defined as implied threats or acts that cause a reasonable fear of harm in another
  • Hazing, as defined in WAC 504-26-206
  • Bullying or workplace violence, as defined in BPPM 50.30
  • Intimate partner violence, which includes violence or abusive behavior within an intimate partner relationship.  Intimate partner violence may also be referred to as domestic violence or dating violence.  It can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, economic, or psychological in nature and can include actions or threats of actions that influence or harm an intimate partner
  • Stalking, as defined in WAC 504-26-223.

Sexual Misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and is prohibited.  Sexual misconduct includes sexual assault and other sexual violence and is defined in WAC 504-26-221.

If you are the victim of discrimination or you become aware of discrimination, OEO may be able to assist you. Learn more about OEO and the university’s policies and procedures regarding sex or gender based discrimination: