Definitions of Unacceptable Behavior

Certain behaviors are inherently destructive to the relationships that are required in a community organized to provide medical and graduate education. Behaviors such as violence, sexual and other harassment, abuses of power and discrimination (based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status, age, disability, citizenship, marital status, genetic predisposition or any other characteristic protected by law) will not be tolerated.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic success.

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such an individual.

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or academic environment. Sexual harassment is a violation of institutional policy and of city, state and federal laws. Sexual harassment need not be intentional to violate this policy.

  • Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

    • Sexual assault

    • Inappropriate sexual advances, propositions or demands unwelcome physical contact

    • Inappropriate persistent public statements or displays of sexually explicit or offensive material which is not legitimately related to employment duties, course content or research

    • Threats or insinuations, which lead the victim to believe that acceptance or refusal of sexual favors, will affect his/her/their reputation, education, employment or advancement

    • Derogatory comments relating to gender or sexual orientation

In general, though not always, sexual harassment occurs in circumstances where the harasser has some form of power or authority over the life of the harassed. As such, sexual harassment does not fall within the range of personal private relationships. Although a variety of consensual sexual relationships are possible between medical supervisors and trainees, such relationships raise ethical concerns because of inherent inequalities in the status and power that supervisors wield in relation to trainees. Despite the consensual nature of the relationship, the potential for sexual exploitation exists. Even if no professional relationship currently exists between a supervisor and a trainee, entering into such a relationship could become problematic in light of the future possibility that the supervisor may unexpectedly assume a position of responsibility for the trainee.


Discrimination is defined as actions on the part of an individual, group or institution that treat another individual or group differently because of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, age, disability, citizenship, marital status, genetic predisposition or any other characteristic protected by law. Discrimination or harassment on the basis of these characteristics violates federal, state, and city laws and is prohibited and covered by this policy.


Abuse is defined, for purposes of this policy, as behavior that is viewed by society and by the academic community as exploitative or punishing without appropriate cause. It is particularly objectionable when it involves the abuse of authority. Examples of behavior, which may be abusive, include, but are not limited to:

  • Habitual conduct or speech that creates an intimidating, demeaning, degrading, hostile, or otherwise seriously offensive working or educational environment

  • Physical punishment

  • Repeated episodes of verbal punishment (e.g. public humiliation, threats and intimidation) removal of privileges without appropriate cause

  • Grading or evaluations used to punish rather than to evaluate objective performance assigning tasks solely for punishment rather than educational purposes

  • Repeated demands to perform personal services outside job description intentional neglect or intentional lack of communication

  • Requirements of individuals to perform unpleasant tasks that are entirely irrelevant to their education and employment that others are not also asked to perform

Constructive criticism, as part of the learning process, does not constitute harassment. To be most effective, negative feedback should be delivered in a private setting that fosters free discussion and behavioral change.

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