Professor Sexual Harassment

A student’s learning environment should not pose any threats to his or her health or safety. A school or college should provide a safe, productive space for students to learn and grow. Sadly, many professionals in the educational field breach their duties of care to students by committing sexual harassment or other sex crimes.

A professor, teacher, administrator or another educator could be guilty of sexually harassing, discriminating against, assaulting or abusing a vulnerable student. If you or someone you love has experienced professor sexual harassment, contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi for a confidential legal consultation. Our sexual harassment attorneys in California have years of experience assisting survivors with civil claims.

Sexual Harassment in Education

Multiple laws on a state and federal level prohibit the sexual harassment of students by professionals in the education industry. The main federal law is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity that relies on federal funding, with a few exceptions. Sexual harassment in education can occur in the private or public sector. It can refer to any discriminatory or unsafe environment for students that is not conducive to learning.

What Is Professor Sexual Harassment?

It is not unusual for sexual predators to pursue careers that will put them in positions of power and trust over potential victims, such as teaching or professorship. For this reason, faculty sexual harassment is relatively common in educational institutions. It can be difficult, however, for students and parents to recognize professor sexual harassment, especially in its early stages. The student may simply feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in a classroom at first, not directly in danger. It is important for all students to learn how to recognize the signs of sexual harassment in education to avoid harm, as well as to hold perpetrators on campus accountable.

Examples of Sexual Harassment by a Professor or Teacher

Sexual harassment in education can refer to any unwelcome sexually motivated conduct that prevents a student from participating in school activities. The perpetrator could be a teacher, substitute, professor, coach, school nurse, janitor, administrator or someone else on the school’s staff. It could also be a non-staff member, such as a volunteer, chaperone or parent. It is important to recognize the signs of sexual harassment as early as possible.

  • Inappropriate touching or intimacy
  • Excessive gift-giving
  • Requests of a sexual nature
  • Pressuring a student to comply with sexual favors
  • Spreading sexual rumors about a student
  • Distributing sexually explicit materials
  • Sexual jokes or remarks
  • Sexualization of a student
  • Exposure of sexual organs
  • Discriminating against a student based on sex
  • Quid pro quo teacher sexual harassment
  • Hostile learning environment
  • Sexual abuse, assault, violence or rape

Both male and female students can fall prey to professor sexual harassment, by both male and female perpetrators. School sexual harassment can occur in a classroom, on a field trip, on a school bus or in the gym. While not all touching between a professor and student qualifies as sexual harassment, if the incident does meet the threshold, the student will have legal options.

Legal Standards for Sexual Harassment by Teachers or Professors

For a professor’s actions to meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, they must create a hostile learning environment for the student. Smaller aggressions, however, could also constitute sexual harassment from the student’s perspective. For this reason, it is important for sexual harassment training programs at schools to focus on all types of harassment – not just those severe enough to create liability for the school. Any actions or behaviors by a professor (or someone else in a position of power at the school) against a student that is unwelcome and sexual in nature is sexual harassment. Due to the teacher-student relationship, sexual behaviors the student welcomes still meet the criminal definition of sexual harassment.

How Can an Attorney Help With a Professor Sexual Harassment Claim?

Seek a lawyer’s advice if you experience any sexual harassment or unwelcome sexual advances from a teacher or someone else at a school. Going to an attorney with your sexual harassment complaint against a professor could provide information about your legal rights from a trusted source. A lawyer will act within your best interests as your legal advocate. A lawyer can define professor sexual harassment, investigate the issue, collect evidence, protect your rights and file a claim against the perpetrator on your behalf. Your lawyer can then negotiate the elements of a claim while you focus on healing. A successful claim could hold the harasser accountable by forcing him or her to pay for your damages.

How Are Teacher or Professor Sexual Harassment Claims Handled?

When a student or parent reports professional sexual harassment, authorities should take immediate action to protect the student and hold the perpetrator accountable. The school should take responsibility by offering the victim options for internal or external actions against the professor. Internal, or informal, actions could include investigations and repercussions for the professor, such as job suspension or termination. Universities each have their own disciplinary actions for professor sexual harassment.

External (formal) actions can mean going to authorities such as the police to report the teacher for committing sex crimes. This could lead to official criminal charges against the professor, with repercussions such as jail time. It is a school’s responsibility to notify a victim or his or her parents of the outcome of an internal investigation. If the school does not adequately handle a sexual harassment claim, the survivor should go to the police.

Compensation for Victims of Professor Sexual Harassment

Although coming forward with a professor sexual harassment claim is not only about the money, a successful civil claim could help a survivor by offering financial compensation for related economic and noneconomic losses. An award could help a victim move forward with better peace of mind. The sexual harasser or abuser may receive a court order forcing him or her to pay the survivor restitution. A claim could end in payment for the plaintiff’s related emotional distress, psychological trauma, anguish, humiliation, lost quality of life, medical and therapy expenses, legal fees, and more. A survivor could also collect punitive damages depending on his or her amount of suffering.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Professor sexual harassment could make it impossible for you to complete your education or enjoy a safe, productive learning experience. It could lead to physical and/or emotional injuries that stay with you for a long time. It is important to speak to a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible if you have experienced this type of crime at school. The lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi offer free initial consultations that are 100% confidential. Contact us today through our private online form or our direct line at (855) 944-0661.