Wisconsin's Public Liberal Arts College

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Human Resources Office

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

This Training will help you identify sexual harassment behaviors and understand the responsibility of each employee and supervisor in maintaining an environment free of harassment. The online training will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. After reviewing the materials, click "Take the Test". Answer each quiz question with the most correct answer. You will need to achieve 100% on the quiz to complete the training, and you can take the quiz more than once. After you achieve 100% on the quiz, an email of "Sexual Harassment Training Completion Certificate" will be sent to you and to the Human Resources Office and placed in your personnel file.

Thank you for taking this required training. Please contact Human Resources if you have any questions (715-394-8220).

Objectives of this training

To enable you to identify sexual harassment behaviors, understand the subtle forms and how it impacts people.

With this knowledge, you will understand the responsibility of each employee and supervisor in maintaining an environment free of harassment and where employees value and respect each other.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Harassment of any kind is bothersome, demeaning, irritating, and annoying behavior. Sexual harassment is specifically harassment of a sexual nature. The involved parties can be men or women, supervisors, subordinates, students or peers. We all suffer when our workplace tolerates abusive and demeaning behavior. To eliminate sexual harassment, we need to understand it.

The Law

Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. If falls under the category of discrimination based on sex.

The law describes two different forms of sexual harassment:

  1. Quid Pro quo
  2. Hostile work environment

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo is Latin for "this for that" or "something for something" and refers to an exchange. In this case, the exchange is between individuals, where one is asked to provide sexual favors in exchange for something else, such as favorable treatment in work assignments, pay or promotion.


  • "Have sex with me and you will get promoted"
  • "Have sex with me or you won't get promoted"

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is one in which unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature creates an uncomfortable work environment for employees and is severe or pervasive enough to affect the persons work environment. Examples of this conduct may include sexually explicit talk or emails, sexually provocative images, comments on physical attributes or inappropriate touching.


Mandy has a habit of leaning in close to Rachel and brushing her hand against her thighs when they are working at a shared workstation. Rachel has brushed her away and asked her to stop several times, but Mandy continues to annoy her.

6 Examples of Prohibited Behavior

  1. Unwelcome verbal expressions of a sexual nature:
    • Graphic sexual commentaries about a person's body, dress, appearance, or sexual activities
    • The unwelcome use of sexually degrading language, jokes or innuendoes
    • Unwelcome suggestive or insulting sounds or whistles, obscene phone calls
  2. Implicit or explicit offers of employment or academic rewards for submission to sexual advances.
  3. Unwelcome and inappropriate touching, patting, or pinching; obscene gestures.
  4. Sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, audio recordings or literature placed in the work or study area that may embarrass or offend reasonable persons applying contemporary community standards. Such material when used in an educational setting should be related to educational purposes.
  5. Consensual sexual relationships where such relationships lead to favoritism of a student or subordinate employee with whom the teacher or supervisor is sexually involved and where such favoritism adversely affects other students and/or employees.
    • Potential pitfalls include: power differential, age issues, conflict of interest, potential for retaliation when the relationship ends, claims of favoritism by third parties.
  6. Threats or insinuations that a person's employment, wages, academic goals, promotional opportunities, classroom or work assignments or other conditions of employment of academic life may be adversely affected by not submitting to sexual advances.

Who can be a Victim or Perpetrator?

Anyone! Sexual harassment does not occur just between a male boss and a female subordinate. Sexual harassment may occur in a variety of circumstances.

  • Faculty, Staff, Student, Contractor, Visitor
  • Male, Female
  • Female, Male
  • Man vs. Man
  • Woman vs. Woman

The gender of the harasser and victim are irrelevant when determining harassment.

Intent vs. Impact

It is important to understand that intent is not relevant in determining whether or not a behavior is sexual harassment. All that matters is the impact of the behavior on the work environment. Regardless of intent, the behavior will be judged on its impact upon the work environment.

  • This fact is critically important. The statement, "I didn't mean anything by it," is not a valid defense of harassing behavior.

Reasonable Person Standard

Conduct will be evaluated from the victim's perspective. Courts have often applied a "reasonable person standard," asking whether a reasonable person would have found the conduct in question so severe and pervasive that it created a hostile environment.

Humor- A Risky Behavior

People often have such different perspectives on behaviors that it is easy to offend someone through ill-considered attempts at humor, teasing or sarcasm. Remember that only the impact, not the intent, matters in determining if a reasonable person would consider the behavior sexual harassment. Before taking any risks, make certain that your behavior, whether in person, by phone or via email, is welcome. A careless mistake may become very costly to the respect others have for you and your financial and job security.

Touching- A Risky Behavior

Many people touch others in the normal course of life and work, but unwanted touching can be offensive and uncomfortable to others. This is especially important to know for people who are accustomed to touching others. The best policy is always to avoid touching someone else unless you are sure it is welcome.

Types of Harassment

Peer to Peer Harassment

  • Workplace sexual harassment usually involves persons of unequal authority, but it can occur between employees of equal rank, or peers.
  • The offended party may directly and clearly ask the offender to stop the behavior, if she or he feels comfortable doing so. If the request to the offender doesn't stop the behavior, the next step is to ask a supervisor to intervene.
  • Once asked, the supervisor is obligated as the agent of the employer to take appropriate action.

Subordinate Harassment of a Supervisor

  • It is possible for a subordinate to harass a supervisor. It may occur when the offender is particularly intimidating or if the victim is unable to exert the authority of his or her position.
  • This type of harassment must be taken just as seriously as any other. If the behavior continues after requesting the offender to stop, the target of the harassment must seek help from a higher level of management.

Same Sex Harassment

  • Just as with sexual harassment between persons of the opposite sex, under federal law harassing behavior towards someone of the same sex can be sexual harassment if the behavior is unwelcome, sexual in nature and based on the person's gender.

Third Party Harassment

  • Persons offended by a hostile work environment need not be direct participants or targets of the hostile behavior. They can be third parties. The most critical factor in determining if behavior is sexual harassment is whether it is unwelcome. The workplace is not an entirely free and voluntary environment, and people have to work at designated locations in proximity to each other. In these circumstances, behavior that is comfortable between direct participants may be unwelcome to others close by (third parties) who cannot avoid observing it.
  • Third party harassment could be co-worker witnessing behavior between two other co-workers that they feel uncomfortable with.
  • Third party harassment could be conduct from customers, a delivery person, independent contractors or volunteers.

Supervisors are responsible for protecting employees from anyone the employer exercises some control over.

Filing a complaint

  • If you feel you are being discriminated against, the first step is to ask the offender to stop (if you feel comfortable doing so).
  • If the behavior continues, document the conversation or offending behavior and report this to your immediate supervisor or Affirmative Action officer.
  • The supervisor or Affirmative Action officer shall investigate and attempt to resolve the case.
  • Once sexual harassment has been reported, the employer is obligated to investigate all claims, including accusations that later turn out to be false.


Retaliation against an employee after he or she has complained about harassment or participated in an investigation of harassment (or threatening to retaliate if he or she complains or participates in an investigation) is unlawful and can lead to serious consequences, including liability.

Once the allegation of potential sexual harassment is raised, all persons who have knowledge of the issue are on notice of retaliation, and the employer is responsible for ensuring that a proper investigation is undertaken.


If you report an incident of sexual harassment, or ask for help on a question of sexual harassment, you are entitled to confidentiality within certain limits.

If you request confidentiality, you will be advised that your employer needs to conduct an investigation. Those involved will need to be interviewed. Confidentiality will be protected where possible. Some people may "need to know". In such cases these people will ask to keep matters confidential where possible. If the issue later becomes a lawsuit, any request for confidentiality may not be able to be honored at that future time if personnel files are demanded, or if employees are interviewed by attorneys. Otherwise, access to your files on the issue can and should be limited to a "need to know" basis.

Employee Responsibilities

Employees who object to behavior of others should:

  1. Ask the offender to stop if they are comfortable doing so
  2. If the behavior continues, document the conversation or offending behavior and/or
  3. Report their concerns to a supervisor or other member of management to ensure the problem is properly handled.

For more information please visit: http://www.uwsuper.edu/affirmativeaction

Supervisor's Responsibilities

Supervisors exercise authority on behalf of their employer, which gives them important additional responsibilities regarding sexual harassment.

  • First, all supervisors must exercise their authority to ensure that their workplace is free of harassment. They must take every complaint seriously and respond promptly to employees requesting help.
  • Secondly, supervisors who engage in unwelcome behavior towards others, including subordinates, take a very large personal risk. A court may find you personally liable, in addition to your employer's liability.

It is essential that all supervisors are aware of their responsibilities. Anyone who ignores this responsibility and is found guilty of sexual harassment may be held personally liable and may incur discipline up to and including termination of employment.

If you become aware of sexual harassment situation, it is your obligation to report it to the Affirmative Action officer or Human Resources for further investigation.


The University of Wisconsin-Superior will not tolerate discriminatory conduct or sexual harassment by university employees, including administrators, faculty, staff, or by students.

The University strongly urges the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender's identity or position. Employees should file a complaint through the lines of supervision, beginning with the employees own supervisor. If that is not desirable or appropriate, discuss the complaint with the EEO/AA representative or the Human Resource Director.

Sexual Harassment Resources

Take the Sexual Harassment Test

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