Definitions of Prohibited Conduct

The Office for Title IX and Equal Opportunity is tasked with enforcing potential violations of the CSU Nondiscrimination Policy. The CSU Nondiscrimination Policy prohibits the following conduct: 

  1. Discrimination based on any Protected Status 
  2. Harassment based on any Protected Status
  3. Sexual Harassment 
  4. Sexual Misconduct 
  5. Sexual Exploitation
  6. Dating and Domestic Violence
  7. Stalking based on Sex
  8. Prohibited Consensual Relationships
  9. Related Retaliation

Because the definitions can be lengthy and may feel overly complicated, we have simplified them below for ease of reference. Please note, however, that these simplified definitions are not the governing definitions. For the complete definitions, refer to the CSU Nondiscrimination Policy. 

Protected statuses include age, disability, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran or military status.


1. Protected Status Discrimination

occurs when a person experiences an Adverse Action because of their Protected Status. An Adverse Action is an act that has a substantial negative impact on the impacted person’s ability to participate in a university program, activity, or employment. 

Discrimination may occur when someone treats a person/group with a protected status differently than another person/group (e.g., paying men more than women for performing the same job). Discrimination may also occur when someone’s decision(s) impacts one person/group differently than another person/group (e.g., hiring more men than women for a certain type of job). 


2. Protected Status Harassment

is any unwelcome conduct that is: 

  1. severe or pervasive; and 
  2. engaged in because of another’s Protected Status; and
  3. substantially limits or interferes with the impacted person’s ability to work, learn, or participate in university activities or programs.

Protected Status Harassment may also occur when it is severe or pervasive and:

  1. submitting to, or rejecting the unwelcome conduct is a basis for decisions that affect someone’s employment or academic status/progress, or 
  2. submitting to the unwelcome conduct is being presented as a term or condition of employment (e.g., “you better tolerate this behavior if you want to work here”). 


3. Sexual Harassment

is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (e.g., verbal or nonverbal sexual advances or requests for sexual favors) where:

  1. submission to the unwelcome sexual conduct is conditioned on academic status/progress, employment, pay benefits, title or other opportunities; or
  2. the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that its effect limits the ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s services, activities or opportunities; or
  3. The conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that its effect creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.


4. Sexual Misconduct

is any sexual act against a person without their Consent. 

Each person involved in the sexual activity must ensure they first obtain Consent from the other participant(s). 

A few rules on Consent: 

  1. Consent must be given without coercion, force, threats or intimidation.
  2. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent.
  3. Silence does not mean consent.
  4. Consent can be withdrawn or revoked at any time.
  5. Consent to one form of sexual activity does not mean consent to other forms of sexual activity.
  6. Prior sexual activity is not consent for future activity.
  7. Consent cannot be given if the person is unconscious, unresponsive, asleep, or incapacitated by alcohol and/or drugs; a minor; or unable to communicate due to their mental or physical condition.


5. Sexual Exploitation

covers a list of prohibited behaviors that all involve taking sexual advantage of someone for another person’s benefit without consent (e.g., prostituting another person or sex trafficking). 

Other forms of Sexual Exploitation include: 

  1. The recording (pictures, audio or video) of another person's sexual activity or intimate parts without consent.
  2. The distribution of any image or video/audio recording of another person's sexual activity or intimate parts, if the distributor of the images or audio knows/should have known that the distribution occurred without consent.
  3. The viewing of another person's sexual activity or intimate parts without consent in a place where there is an expectation of privacy.


6. Dating & Domestic Violence

Dating Violence means physical/ threat of physical violence against a person who was/is in a romantic or “dating” relationship with the offender. Factors used to determine whether there was/is a “dating” relationship include: 1) the length and type of the relationship; and 2) how often they interacted. 

Domestic Violence means physical/threat of physical violence against a current or former spouse of the offender; a co-parent with the offender; or any other domestic relationship recognized under CA state law.   

For more information and resources on Domestic Violence, please visit the National Resource Center for Domestic Violence webpage.


7. Stalking

is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause them to fear for their safety (or the safety of others) or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking may occur in person, online, or by phone/text. 

For more information and resources on stalking, please visit the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center webpage.


8. A Prohibited Consensual Relationship

is a sexual or romantic relationship between an employee and student, or between two employees when one has authority over the other.    


9. Retaliation

is any negative action taken against an individual because they:

  1. made a report to the Office for Title IX and Equal Opportunity; or
    participated as a Party or witness in an investigation by the Office for
  2. Title IX and Equal Opportunity; or 
  3. opposed conduct they reasonably believed was in violation of the Nondiscrimination Policy.