Sexual Harassment

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center prohibits any form of sex discrimination or sexual harassment by any member of the university community against another member of the university community. Members of the community include administrators, faculty, staff, students, residents and fellows, and other trainees.

Sexual harassment has profound and detrimental effects on individuals' work or academic performance as well as to their self-esteem. Additionally, sexual harassment often contributes to an offensive work or academic environment within the school/department that ultimately impedes MD Anderson's mission to be a progressive, humanistic institution of higher education in the health sciences.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Beyond its illegality, sexual harassment is a behavior that is contradictory to the mission and goals of MD Anderson, and will not be tolerated. Policies addressing sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and establishing procedures for resolving concerns or complaints about sexual harassment or sexual misconduct are MD Anderson's Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy (Institutional Policy #ADM0285 pdf) and the Non-Retaliation Policy (Institutional Policy #ADM0254 pdf).

Definition of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs in a variety of situations that share common elements:

  • The inappropriate introduction of sexual activities or comments into the work or learning environment,
  • Unwelcome sexual advances,
  • Requests for sexual favors, and
  • Verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature

Three criteria will determine whether or not an action constitutes sexual harassment:

  1. If submission to the conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment or student admission.
  2. If submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for an employment decision or student evaluation that affects the person who rejects or submits to the conduct.
  3. If the conduct substantially interferes with an affected person's work or academic performance or creates an objectively hostile work or academic environment.

Sexual harassment may include men harassing women, women harassing men, men harassing men and women harassing women.

Consensual Relationships

Consenting romantic and sexual relationships between a faculty member and student are considered inappropriate and unwise.

Faculty members exercise power over students, as do supervisors over employees, whether in evaluating them, making recommendations for their promotion or future employment or conferring on them any other benefits. Others may be adversely affected by the relationship in that it places, or appears to place, the faculty member or supervisor in a position to favor or advance one student's interest at the expense of others.

Consenting romantic and sexual relationships are in conflict with the relationship of authority that exists between a faculty member and his or her student and between a supervisor and his or her employee, and thus are viewed as damaging to the university environment.

Under conditions in which a relationship of authority exists between married individuals, a similar case for preferential treatment could be made. For these individuals, the nepotism rules are in force, as described in the Regents' Rules and Regulations, Rule 3, Section 30106.

Complaints lodged about consensual relationships by nonparticipating individuals will be treated as third-party sexual harassment complaints.

Procedure for Filing a Sexual Harassment Complaint

Students or other persons who believe they have been subjected to Sexual Harassment or Sexual Misconduct, including sexual assault, should report the incident with reasonable promptness to their choice of at least one of the following:

  • Their Academic Program Director and/or the Dean of the School of Health Professions,
  • MD Anderson Human Resources office of Equal Opportunity ("HR EO"), or
  • Sheri Wakefield, MD Anderson Title IX Coordinator in the office of the Associate Vice President for Academic and Visa Administration (AVA)

Immediate safety concerns or issues should be reported by calling 911 or 2-STOP (713-792-7868).

Someone from the HR-EO office or AVA office will contact the person making the complaint as soon as reasonably possible to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and schedule an intake meeting. The Dean, Human Resources EO office, and the AVP of AVA office will work together to arrange any interim safety measures as appropriate pending the outcome of the complaint. Further details about how a complaint is investigated and resolved can be found in MD Anderson's Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy (Institutional Policy #ADM0285 pdf).

To the extent permitted by law, complaints and information received during an investigation, including the results of the investigation, will remain confidential. The investigator will balance the need for confidentiality with the responsibility of the institution to provide an environment free from sexual harassment. Relevant information will be provided only to those persons who need to know in order to achieve a timely resolution of the complaint.

All trainees (including students), faculty, and employees are expected to cooperate in investigations of alleged sexual harassment. Any person who knowingly makes a false statement, or inappropriately discloses confidential information during an investigation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the School of Health Professions.

Any person who retaliates in any way against an individual for filing a complaint in good faith, or for participating in an investigation, will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the applicable disciplinary policy and procedure, up to and including dismissal from an educational program.