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.