Defining Harassment

UVSA-Midwest is committed to providing a workplace/UVSA-Midwest community free from harassment and discrimination, including unlawful sexual harassment or harassment based on any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local employment discrimination laws.

UVSA-Midwest has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination and all forms of unlawful harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment. This zero tolerance policy means that no form of unlawful discriminatory or harassing conduct by or towards any staff, member, vendor, or other person in our organization or event will be tolerated. UVSA-Midwest is committed to enforcing its policy at all levels within the organization. Any officer, director, staff, or volunteer who engages in prohibited discrimination or harassment will be subject to discipline, up to and including immediate discharge from volunteering, employment or removal from leadership for a first offense.

Harassment is defined as any unwanted physical or verbal conduct that offends or humiliates the recipient, that interferes with their ability to work and learn or leads to adverse job-related consequences, and that any reasonable person ought to have known would be unwelcome.

Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to, racial or sexual slurs, name calling, racist or sexist jokes, negative stereotyping, physical assault, bullying, threats, demeaning pictures, posters and graffiti.

Harassment includes the following categories of behavior, whether the behavior occurs once or many times:

A) Discriminatory Behavior

Discrimination refers to treating people differently, negatively, or adversely because of one or more of the following prohibited grounds of discrimination: race, color, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, personal appearance, veteran status, pardoned criminal conviction, or any other legally protected characteristic.

B) Personal Harassment

Personal harassment includes ostracizing, shunning, and other forms of uncivil conduct made on either a one-time or continuous basis that demeans, belittles, or causes personal intimidating, humiliating, hostile, or offensive work environment for the recipient. It may or may not be linked to discriminatory behavior.

C) Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment refers to any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature, whether on a one-time basis or a series of incidents, that might reasonably be expected to cause offence or humiliation or that might reasonably be perceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment and volunteering, an opportunity for training or promotion, receipt of services, or a contract.

Examples of behavior that can constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwanted touching, hugging, patting or leering
  • Verbal or written conduct such as derogatory comments, slurs, epithets, notes, messages, invitations, or jokes
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual propositions
  • Inquiries or comments about a person’s sex life  
  • Telephone calls with sexual overtones
  • Gender-based insults or jokes causing embarrassment or humiliation
  • Repeated unwanted social or sexual invitations
  • Inappropriate or unwelcome focus/comments on a person’s physical attributes or appearance
  • Offensive message or comments transmitted by e-mail or another messaging system
  • Offensive or suggestive images or graphics whether physically present in the workplace/event or accessed over the Internet; or the possession of or use of sexually suggestive object
  • Offensive and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including sexually graphic spoken comments

D) Bullying

Bullying consists of behavior to attack and diminish another by subjecting the recipient to unjustified criticism and trivial fault-finding, humiliating the recipient (especially in front of others), and/or ignoring, overruling, isolating and excluding the recipient.

E) Abuse of authority

Abuse of authority refers to an individual improperly using the power and authority inherent in a position to endanger a person’s job, undermine the performance of that job, or in any way interfere with or influence a person’s job. It is the exercise of authority in a manner that serves no legitimate work purpose and ought reasonably to be known to be inappropriate.

Examples of abuse of authority include, but are not limited to, such acts or misuse of power as intimidation, threats, blackmail, or coercion.

F) Poisoned work environment

A poisoned work environment is characterized by an activity or behavior, not necessarily directed at anyone in particular, that creates a hostile or offensive workplace.

Examples of a poisoned work environment include but are not limited to: graffiti, sexual, racial or religious insults or jokes, abusive treatment of an employee, and the display of pornographic or other offensive material.