Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy

Contact Person for Problems or Questions: Helen Miller, Clark Room 285, 5-8383

Editor’s Note: The following is a revised statement of Washington State University’s Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy, including the Discrimination/Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures. Revisions address recent developments in the federal courts regarding discrimination, including sexual harassment. The policy and complaint procedures have been in effect since May 1987.

All employees (including graduate students) are required to complete Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Prevention training within 6 months of hire.  Please go to to complete the training.


The purpose of this policy is to set forth Washington State University’s commitment to maintaining a university environment free from all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. This commitment applies to all levels and areas of University operations and programs, to students, faculty, staff, and all other personnel. The policy addresses recruitment, admissions, hiring, training, discipline, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation, and any other employment or education conditions. The University is cognizant of both its moral and legal obligations to ensure that all employees and students are provided equitable opportunities to realize their goals and to function effectively within the University environment.

Discrimination Prohibited

The kinds of discrimination prohibited by WSU policy are those which occur on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin; physical, mental or sensory disability; marital status, sexual orientation, and status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran. Decisions affecting an individual cannot be made on the basis of one of these factors. For example, certain actions cannot be taken on account of a person’s sex, or because of a person’s age, or because of a person’s national origin. Decisions should be made on the basis of neutral and objective criteria by which an individual may be evaluated in terms of his or her accomplishments without regard to irrelevant factors such as sex or race.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

WSU’s discrimination policy explicitly incorporates and prohibits sexual harassment as a form of unlawful sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is defined as follows: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. [29 C.F.R.§1604.11a (1988)]

When the University becomes aware of incidents of sexual harassment, it is bound by state and federal law to take corrective steps to terminate the harassment.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment encompasses any sexual attention that is unwanted. It includes both verbal and physical conduct. Examples of Sexual Harassment prohibited by this policy include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical assault;
  • Direct or implied threats that submission to sexual advances will be a condition of employment, work status, promotion, grades, or letters of recommendation;
  • Direct propositions of a sexual nature;
  • Subtle pressure for sexual activity;
  • A pattern of conduct that discomforts or humiliates the person at whom the conduct is directed which includes one or more of the following: (1) comments of a sexual nature; (2) sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes; (3) unnecessary touching, patting, hugging, kissing, or brushing against a person’s body; (4) remarks of a sexual nature about a person’s clothing or body; or (5) remarks about sexual activity or speculations about previous sexual experience;
  • Persistent, unwanted at-tempts to change a professional relationship to an amorous one.

Amorous Relationships Affecting Employees and Students

Amorous relationships that might be appropriate in other circumstances are not appropriate, whether consensual or otherwise, when they occur between a teacher or officer of the University and a student or employee for whom he or she has a professional supervisory responsibility. Even where negative consequences to the participants do not result, such romantic liaisons create an environment charged with potential conflict of interest and possible use of academic or supervisory leverage to maintain or promote the relationship. Amorous relationships that the parties may view as mutual may still raise questions of favoritism as well as of an exploitative abuse of trust and power. This is particularly true when a student is enrolled in a course being taught by the involved faculty member or teaching assistant, or when the faculty member and students are in the same academic unit or in units that are academically allied.

University policy requires that all employees maintain professional relationships with students and supervisees. It is the responsibility of instructors and supervisors to make explicit arrangements for their withdrawal from participation in evaluative decisions that may reward or penalize a student or employee with whom the instructor or supervisor has or has had an amorous relationship.

Enforcement of Prohibitions

The University vigorously enforces its prohibitions against unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment, and encourages those who feel aggrieved to seek assistance to rectify problems. Its internal grievance procedures are utilized to investigate and remedy violations. While observing the principles of due process, determinations of policy violations will lead to the application of disciplinary sanctions, including warning, censure, suspension, dismissal, or, in some situations, summary suspension.

In support of this discrimination policy, the University promotes preventive educational measures to create greater awareness of unlawful discriminatory practices, including sexual harassment, among faculty, staff, and students. Administrative officers, deans, directors, department chairs, and supervisors are responsible for making certain that all employees are informed fully of the types of conduct that may be classified as discriminatory, including sexual harassment, and that such conduct is prohibited. Training is available from the Center for Human Rights office.

Any employee or student of WSU who believes that he or she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment, or who believes he or she has been charged wrongfully with a complaint, may utilize the procedures described in the following sections on Discrimination/Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures.

No one shall be penalized or retaliated against in any way by a member of the University community for initiation or participation in a complaint procedure.


In addition to administrators and supervisors, individuals may discuss any concerns or complaints about discrimination, including sexual harassment, or seek advice on utilizing University complaint procedures by contacting:
Office for Equal Opportunity
French Administration, Room 225
Pullman, WA 99164-1022

WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct – see pages #4&5 for complaint procedures and pages #8-10 for additional resources.