What is Sexual Misconduct?
"Sexual misconduct" is the term given to three, unwanted workplace-related behaviors that involve sex or gender, specifically:
- Physical assault of a "sexual nature",
- Non-physical harassment of a "sexual nature," and
- Gender discrimination, including remarks of a derogatory or demeaning nature.
Sexual harassment and misconduct can consist of a single egregious experience or many experiences that in combination create a hostile work environment. Some sexual misconduct, such as rape, violates criminal laws; some violates civil laws, such as the right to a nondiscriminatory work environment. Criminal and civil violations such as these may be tried in court.
However, many organizations and professional associations also have standards of conduct, such as treating colleagues with respect or restricting dating between colleagues. Sexual harassment/misconduct may violate such policies even if it does not technically rise to the government's definition of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. Such actions may be fireable offenses.
Sexual misconduct can occur in any situation where it is reasonable to expect professional behavior and a perpetrator is associated with an organization or profession, including in interviews, at parties and conferences, and in locker rooms or doctors' offices.