Code of Ordinances

of Union County, Illinois.

Ordinance Chapter: Article I - Sexual Harassment Policy

False and friv­o­lous charges refer to cas­es where the accuser is using a sex­u­al harass­ment com­plaint to accom­plish some end oth­er than stop­ping sex­u­al harass­ment.  It does not refer to charges made in good faith, which can­not be proven.  Giv­en the seri­ous­ness of the con­se­quences for the accused, a false and friv­o­lous charge is a severe offense that can itself result in dis­ci­pli­nary action.

Admin­is­tra­tive Contacts

Illi­nois Depart­ment of Human Rights
(217) 785–5100Springfield
(217) 785‑5119 TDD Springfield
(312) 814‑6200 Chicago
(312) 263‑1579 TDD Chicago

Illi­nois Human Rights Commission
(217) 785‑4350 Springfield
(217) 785‑5119 TDD Springfield
(312) 814‑6269 Chicago
(312) 263‑1579 TDD Chicago

Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Commission
(312) 353‑2713 Chicago
(800) 669‑3362
(800) 800‑3302 TDD

An employ­ee who either observes or believes herself/himself to be the object of sex­u­al harass­ment should deal with the incident(s) as direct­ly and firm­ly as pos­si­ble by clear­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing her/his posi­tion to his or her super­vi­sor.  It is not nec­es­sary for sex­u­al harass­ment to be direct­ed at the per­son mak­ing a complaint.

The fol­low­ing steps may also be tak­en: doc­u­ment or record each inci­dent (what was said or done, the date, the time, and the place).  Doc­u­men­ta­tion can be strength­ened by writ­ten records such as let­ters, notes, mem­os, and tele­phone messages.

No one mak­ing a com­plaint will be retal­i­at­ed against even if a com­plaint made in good faith is not sub­stan­ti­at­ed.  In addi­tion, any wit­ness will be pro­tect­ed from retaliation.

The process for mak­ing a com­plaint about sex­u­al harass­ment falls into sev­er­al stages.

(A) Direct Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.  If there is sex­u­al­ly harass­ing behav­ior in the work­place, the harassed employ­ee should direct­ly express her/his objec­tion that the con­duct is unwel­come and request that the offend­ing behav­ior stop.  The ini­tial mes­sage may be ver­bal.  If sub­se­quent mes­sages are need­ed, they should be put in writ­ing in a note or memo.

(B) Con­tact with Direc­tor.  At the same time direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion is under­tak­en, or in the event the employ­ee feels threat­ened or intim­i­dat­ed by the sit­u­a­tion, the prob­lem must be prompt­ly report­ed to his or her imme­di­ate super­vi­sor.  If the harass­er is the imme­di­ate super­vi­sor, the prob­lem should be report­ed to the next lev­el above the supervisor.

(C) Res­o­lu­tion Out­side Depart­ment.  It is hoped that most sex­u­al harass­ment com­plaints and inci­dents can be resolved from with­in the depart­ment.  How­ev­er, an employ­ee has the right to con­tact the Illi­nois Depart­ment of Human Rights (IDHR) or the 
Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion (EEOC) about fil­ing a for­mal com­plaint.  An IDHR com­plaint must be filed with­in one hun­dred eighty (180) days of the alleged incident(s) unless it is a con­tin­u­ing offense.  A com­plaint with the EEOC must be filed with­in three hun­dred (300) days.

An employ­ee who is sud­den­ly trans­ferred to a low­er pay­ing job or passed over for pro­mo­tion, after fil­ing a com­plaint with IDHR or EEOC, may file a retal­i­a­tion charge, also due with­in one hun­dred eighty (180) days (IDHR) or three hun­dred (300) days (EEOC) of the alleged retaliation.

An employ­ee who has been phys­i­cal­ly harassed or threat­ened while on the job may also have grounds for crim­i­nal charges of assault and battery.

Each indi­vid­ual employ­ee has the respon­si­bil­i­ty to refrain from sex­u­al harass­ment in the workplace.

An indi­vid­ual employ­ee who sex­u­al­ly harass­es a fel­low work­er is, of course, liable for his or her indi­vid­ual conduct.

The harass­ing employ­ee will be sub­ject to dis­ci­pli­nary action up to and includ­ing dis­charge in accor­dance with depart­men­tal pol­i­cy or a bar­gain­ing agree­ment, as appropriate.

Accord­ing to the Illi­nois Human Rights Act, sex­u­al harass­ment is defined as:

Any unwel­come sex­u­al advances or requests for sex­u­al favors or any con­duct of a sex­u­al nature when:

(A) sub­mis­sion to such con­duct is made either explic­it­ly or implic­it­ly a term or con­di­tion of any individual’s employment.

(B) sub­mis­sion to or rejec­tion of such con­duct by an indi­vid­ual is used as the basis for employ­ment deci­sions affect­ing such indi­vid­ual, or

(C)  such con­duct has the pur­pose or effect of sub­stan­tial­ly inter­fer­ing with an individual’s work per­for­mance or cre­at­ing an intim­i­dat­ing, hos­tile, or offen­sive work­ing environment.

The courts have deter­mined that sex­u­al harass­ment is a form of dis­crim­i­na­tion under Title VII of the U.S. Civ­il Rights Act of 1964, as amend­ed in 1991.

One such exam­ple is a case where a qual­i­fied indi­vid­ual is denied employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties and ben­e­fits that are, instead, award­ed to an indi­vid­ual who sub­mits (vol­un­tar­i­ly or under coer­cion) to sex­u­al advances or sex­u­al favors.  Anoth­er exam­ple is where an indi­vid­ual must sub­mit to unwel­come sex­u­al con­duct in order to receive an employ­ment opportunity.

Oth­er con­duct com­mon­ly con­sid­ered to be sex­u­al harass­ment includes:

  • Ver­bal:  Sex­u­al innu­en­dos, sug­ges­tive com­ments, insults, rumor and jokes about sex, anato­my or gen­der-spe­­­cif­ic traits, sex­u­al propo­si­tions, threats, repeat­ed requests for dates, or state­ments about oth­er employ­ees, even out­side of their pres­ence, of a sex­u­al nature.
  • Non-Ver­bal:  Sug­ges­tive or insult­ing sounds (whistling), leer­ing, obscene ges­tures, sex­u­al­ly bod­i­ly ges­tures, “cat­calls”, “smack­ing” or “kiss­ing” noises.
  • Visu­al:  Posters, signs, pin-up or slo­gans of a sex­u­al nature.
  • Phys­i­cal:  Touch­ing, unwel­come hug­ging or kiss­ing, pinch­ing, brush­ing the body, coerced sex­u­al inter­course, or actu­al assault.

Sex­u­al harass­ment most fre­quent­ly involves a man harass­ing a woman.  How­ev­er, it can also involve a woman harass­ing a man or harass­ment between mem­bers of the same gender.

The most severe and overt forms of sex­u­al harass­ment are eas­i­er to deter­mine.  On the oth­er end of the spec­trum, some sex­u­al harass­ment is more sub­tle and depends to some extent on indi­vid­ual per­cep­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion.  The trend in the Courts is to assess sex­u­al 
harass­ment by a stan­dard of what would offend a “rea­son­able woman” or a “rea­son­able man”, depend­ing on the gen­der of the alleged victim.

An exam­ple of the most sub­tle form of sex­u­al harass­ment is the use of endear­ments.  The use of terms such as “hon­ey”, “dar­ling”, and “sweet­heart”, is objec­tion­able to many women who believe that these terms under­mine their author­i­ty and their abil­i­ty to deal with men on an equal and pro­fes­sion­al level.

Anoth­er exam­ple is the use of a com­pli­ment that could poten­tial­ly be inter­pret­ed as sex­u­al in nature.  Below are three state­ments that might be made about the appear­ance of a woman in the workplace:

That’s an attrac­tive dress you have on.”

That’s an attrac­tive dress, it real­ly looks good on you.”

That’s an attrac­tive dress.  You real­ly fill it out well.”

The first state­ment appears to be sim­ply a com­pli­ment.  The last is the most like­ly to be per­ceived as sex­u­al harass­ment, depend­ing on the indi­vid­ual per­cep­tions and val­ues.  To avoid the pos­si­bil­i­ty of offend­ing an employ­ee, it is best to fol­low a course of con­duct above reproach, or to err on the side of caution.

Dis­crim­i­na­to­ry harass­ment or mis­treat­ment of oth­ers based on race, eth­i­cal­i­ty, region, sex, creed, nation­al ori­gin, ances­try, age, hand­i­cap, dis­abil­i­ty or oth­er improp­er con­sid­er­a­tion is not accept­able and will be sub­ject to dis­ci­pli­nary or oth­er appro­pri­ate action.  With­out lim­it­ing the scope of the pol­i­cy, sex­u­al harass­ment includes any unwant­ed sex­u­al pinch­ing, pat­ting, ver­bal com­ments of a sex­u­al nature, sex­u­al name-cal­l­ing, pres­sure to engage in sex­u­al activ­i­ty, repeat­ed propo­si­tions, and unwant­ed body contact.