Amorous Relationships and Sexual Harassment

Basically, you should avoid relationships with other students (if you are serving as a teaching or instructional assistant), faculty, or staff that go beyond a professional one. The University has established policies for dating students or staff, teaching students who are relatives, and creating situations that could be construed as harassment.

Amorous Relationships: In two type of situations, University prohibition and punishment of amorous relationships is deemed necessary:

  1. When the employee is responsible for evaluating or supervising the affected student or staff person.
  2. When the student is a minor, as defined by North Carolina law.

Teaching or Supervising a Relative: It is misconduct, subject to disciplinary action, for a University employee, incident to any instructional, research, administrative or other University employment responsibility or authority, to evaluate or supervise any staff person or student with whom he or she has an amorous relationship or to whom he or she is related by blood, law, or marriage.

Sexual Harassment: The EEOC's Guidelines define "sexual harassment" by describing the kinds of workplace conduct that may be actionable under Title VII, including "[u]nwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature." 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(a) (1985). There are two types that may arise:

  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when consent or acquiescence to sexual advances is essentially a "condition of employment" or the basis for favorable treatment.
  • Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when there is unwelcome "discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult" based on sex. It is not a requirement that the conduct in question be "psychologically injurious."

In plain English, you need to avoid the impression that (a) you require students to do anything that could be construed as sexual, and (b) you treat students of one sex in a manner that could be construed as discriminatory.