Alissa Brinkmann was at work at a local hotel when a customer
started flirting with her and then took her picture with his camera
Brinkmann, a sophomore biology major, experienced many incidents
of sexual harassment working at the Days Inn before she quit two
weeks ago. The hotel is located close to Interstate 25 and hosts a
lot of male truck drivers at night, said Brinkmann, who worked the
3 to 11 p.m. shift. Many of them flirted with her.
After Brinkmann’s picture was taken, she told the man to delete
it, and he claimed he did. She is concerned he did not delete it,
and she has no way of knowing the truth.
“It definitely made me not feel so safe there, especially since
I was there all alone at night,” Brinkmann said.
Almost half of all working women have experienced sexual
harassment to some degree at work, according to the National
Women’s Law Center’s Web site. The site states that workers are
harassed by supervisors, co-workers and customers. Men and women
can both be victims and can be victimized by someone of the same
sex, according to the Web site.
“Sexual harassment can include staring, joke telling, unwanted
compliments and gender-related put-downs,” said Roselyn Cutler,
associate director of the Office of Equal Opportunity.
Quid pro quo and hostile environment are the two classifications
of sexual harassment.
Harassment that results in employment action is quid pro quo. It
usually involves situations of implicit or explicit bartering and
is usually done in the context of a supervisor relationship, Cutler
said. This type of harassment makes advancement or success on the
job dependent upon submission to requests for sexual favors,
unwelcome sexual advances or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
Cutler said one form of quid pro quo harassment is when someone
feels expected to participate in male- or female-bashing
conversations in the workplace to be successful and accepted among
Hostile-environment harassment is the type of harassment
Brinkmann experienced. She dealt with conduct that was severe
enough to make her work environment offensive, intimidating and
“This one guy kept asking me to go get a beer with him,”
Brinkmann said. “It made me uncomfortable, and it made it hard to
be professional with them.”
People who experience sexual harassment at work should report it
to supervisors with whom they are comfortable or someone in the
human resources department.
The employer is always legally responsible if the harassment
involves the supervisor and is connected to decisions about the
victim’s job and the working conditions. The company may be liable
for the sexual harassment involving a coworker or someone else if
company supervisors knew, or should have known, about the
harassment. The company is not liable if it took immediate and
appropriate actions to correct the problem.
Victims need to report incidents within six months of the last
incident if they are seeking legal action, in accordance with Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is a law against sexual
harassment in the workplace.
CSU provides information about sexual harassment to all new
employees during their orientation. The Office of Equal Opportunity
presents the information as a segment of the orientation, and there
is time for questions after the presentation, Cutler said.
“We do have a policy, we do take it seriously and we do hand out
the information,” Cutler said.
Students who have work-study positions on campus are not
required to attend the orientation. They can get information about
the university’s policy regarding sexual harassment in sources that
are available to all students, such as the general catalog, the
Office of Equal Opportunity’s Web site and the quick facts
Eileen Connell, instructor for some of the Center for Applied
Studies in American Ethnicity courses, shows a film to her
Ethnicity and the Media classes about women in the media. The film
includes information about sexual harassment in the workplace.
Connell believes that whenever the subject of women in the
workforce is addressed, the issue of sexual harassment needs to be
“There are so many young people at the university that need to
know that they have rights regarding sexual harassment,” Connell
said. “These rights are not only within the university, but also in
Cutler said there are two different laws regarding students and
employees. Regardless of whom the harassment is affecting, it is
all examined in accordance with the university’s policy and not
based on the status of student or employee.
If anyone who is part of the CSU community believes he or she is
experiencing sexual harassment, it should be reported to the Office
of Equal Opportunity.
“Touch base with us, so we can review the matter,” Cutler
The report can be anonymous. Once reported research will be
done, information can be organized. The Office of Equal Opportunity
will then be able to set up options of what to do with the
situation, Cutler said.