Prohibited Conduct is a phrase used to describe illegal discrimination or harassment based on another person’s protected characteristics or statuses. Retaliating against someone who reports discrimination or harassment, or participates in an investigation of prohibited conduct, is also included in the definition.
Some forms of gender or sex-based misconduct are considered Prohibited Conduct if such behavior is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably affects an individual’s employment, work or educational performance, or creates an intimidating or hostile work, educational, or campus living environment. Please see Texas A&M University Rule 08.01.01.M1 for more information about Prohibited Conduct.
Although every case is individually evaluated based on the facts and circumstances specific to that case, examples of behaviors that would likely constitute Prohibited Conduct could include:
- Firing an employee because he is a new father who plans to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave to bond with his newborn child.
- Repeatedly pressuring another person for a date or for specific sexual acts (i.e. not taking “No” for an answer).
- Making serious threats of violence towards a person that you are dating or living with.
- Penetrating another person without consent.
- Posting an intimate picture of your ex-girlfriend on social media without consent.
- Asking a student enrolled in your class if they would trade sex for an “A” in the class.
- Failing to hire an applicant because she is a transgender woman.
- Having sex with someone without disclosing an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and giving them the opportunity to decline to have sex with you.
- Denying an employee a promotion because he is gay or straight.
- Paying an employee a lower salary because he is disabled.
The difference between Prohibited Conduct and Inappropriate Conduct Related to Sex or Gender
Inappropriate Conduct Related to Sex or Gender is unwelcome, unprofessional or inappropriate sexual or gender-based conduct that is not severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to meet the definition of “prohibited conduct.” Even though such behavior is not a violation of Texas A&M System Regulation 08.01.01, it may be addressed under other University Rules. CREI handles the investigation and resolution of complaints of “prohibited conduct” while “inappropriate conduct related to sex or gender” is usually addressed by other University administrators.
Examples of conduct which would likely be classified as Inappropriate Conduct Related to Sex or Gender:
- A professor tells a single joke in class that is mildly offensive to a particular gender identity. While this conduct is unprofessional, it is not severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to interfere with the learning environment. CREI would likely refer this complaint to the Head of the Department for resolution.
- Your lab partner “accidentally” brushes your hand or thigh as they walk past you, but you believe that the touching was intentional. Even though this conduct is inappropriate, it is not severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to interfere with a student’s ability to conduct an experiment. CREI would likely refer this complaint to the Dean of Student Life for resolution under the Student Conduct Rules.
- You have told a co-worker that you are not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. One day, the co-worker finds you alone in the break room, eating your lunch. The co-worker leans over and brushes the top of your head with his lips. While this behavior is unprofessional and unwelcome, it is not likely to be severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to interfere with your work performance. CREI would likely refer this complaint to Human Resources for resolution.