What constitutes harassment in an academic environment? What can I do about this?

I have had some issues with communication with my research advisor. He is foreign so there are many cultural differences and he doesn’t realize how many things he says/does are sexist or against social norms. He makes the work environment very uncomfortable and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to go to work/lab. The most recent example: I went to his office to discuss something important and his response was how I was incredibly disrespectful to him for not returning his “Good Morning” all week and he was unhappy with me for ignoring him, despite my response that I was focused on my work.

Asked on July 23, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

"Harassment" under the laws of all states in this country can encompass many types of conduct that have no social redeeming benefit to our society. Such can consist of sexist remarks as to one's physical appearance, derogatory comments as to one's appearance, and simply rude and nasty comments towards a person.

From what you have written, the conduct of your advisor is improper and you should seek a meeting with the dean of students about the situation at your school to try and resolve the dispute.

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