Sexual Harassment & the Law

There are a couple of legal categories for harassment.

The first kind of harassment is called quid pro quo.

It means "something for something."

  • "I'll give you an A if you'll go out with me."
  • "I'll leave your sister alone if you'll let me take dirty pictures of you."
  • "I could get you on the team if you'd put out for me."

The harasser in this kind of situation usually has some sort of authority or power over the person who is being harassed.

The second kind of harassment is called hostile environment harassment.

When unwelcome sexual or other gender-based behavior causes problems in school performance, that's hostile environment harassment. The unwanted behavior creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment. Usually, this type of harassment happens over and over. But sometimes, even one incident is enough to create a hostile environment.

Examples of hostile environment harassment include unwelcome:

  • Deliberate touching, pinching, brushing against, or patting.
  • Pressuring for dates or for sex.
  • Describing or asking about personal sexual experiences.
  • Displaying offensive sexual illustrations.

When either of these kinds of sexual harassment happens and someone not directly involved is also affected, that is called third-party harassment. Sexual harassment often has more victims than just the person who is the intended target.

A good working definition of sexual harassment:

  • Any unwanted sexual advance
  • A request for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, which:
    • Alarms or annoys you
    • Interferes with your privacy
    • Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment

Sometimes, unacceptable words and phrases can intimidate, annoy, or alarm you—words like:

  • Sweetie, chick, baby
  • Stud
  • Sexual name-calling

Even nonverbal communication can be sexually harassing:

  • Tone of voice
  • Facial gestures
  • Body language
  • Hand/Arm gestures
  • Some kinds of graffiti

Any word, phrase, look, gesture, or touch that makes your identity as a sexual being more important than your identity as a person, student, or friend is inappropriate and should be considered sexual harassment.

For assistance, contact:

Compliance and Investigations
Jefferson County Public Schools
C. B. Young Jr. Service Center
3001 Crittenden Drive
Louisville, KY 40209
(502) 485-3341