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.