Human Resources

E.2 Sexual and Other Forms of Harassment

Policy No. E. 2.00

Date of Issue 7/2/2014
Date of Update 11/27/2019
Date of Update 1/1/2020
Date of Update 8/13/2020

The university is committed to ensuring an environment for all students and employees that is fair, humane, and respectful--an environment which supports and rewards employee performance on the basis of relevant considerations such as ability and effort. Behaviors, which inappropriately assert sexuality or protected class characteristics, [1] whether perceived or actual, as relevant to student or employee performance, damage this environment.

Therefore, the university will provide for its students and employees as well as its independent contractors, consultants and interns/volunteers an educational and employment environment free of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment or harassment based on protected class characteristics as defined and otherwise prohibited by state and federal law.

The purpose of this policy is to establish prompt, thorough and effective procedures for responding to every complaint and incident so that problems can be identified and remedied internally. As a reminder, complaints of and the investigation, adjudication and sanctioning of conduct that qualifies as “Title IX Sexual Harassment” are required by law to be handled pursuant to the processes and procedures set forth in E.8.00, Title IX Sexual Harassment Process of this Manual.  Individuals are advised to review this policy, especially its definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment.

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. Both IDHR and EEOC complaints must be filed with the respective agencies within 300 days of the alleged incident(s). In addition, an appeal process is available through the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) after IDHR has completed its investigation of the complaint. Where the employing entity has an effective anti-harassment policy in place and the complaining employee fails to take advantage of that policy and allow the employer an opportunity to address the problem, such an employee may, in certain cases, lose the right to further pursue the claim against the employer. An employee who files such a complaint with IDHR or EEOC will not be subject to retaliation.

Administrative Contacts

Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Chicago: 312.814.6200 or 800.662.3942 Chicago TTY: 866.740.3953 Springfield: 217.78 5. 5100 Springfield TTY: 866. 740 .3953

Marion: 618.993 .7463 Marion TTY: 866.740.3953 Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Chicago: 312.814.6269 Chicago TTY: 312.814.4760 Springfield: 217.785.4350

Springfield TTY: 217.557.1500 United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chicago:800.669.4000 Chicago TTY: 800. 869 .8001

False and Frivolous Complaints

False and frivolous charges refer to cases where the accuser is using a harassment complaint to accomplish some end other than stopping harassment. It does not refer to charges made in good faith which cannot be proven.


[1] Such characteristics include race, color, religion, gender, age, marital status, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, genetic information or any other status protected by applicable federal, state and local law.

2.01

Sexual Harassment and Harassment Defined
a. Sexual Harassment In Employment
The Illinois Human Rights Act, as well as regulations issued by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, define "sexual harassment" as any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or (3) 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.
b. Sexual Harassment In Relation to Students

The Illinois Human Rights Act and federal regulations specifically prohibit in higher education any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors made by a higher education representative to a student. They also prohibit any conduct of a sexual nature exhibited by a higher education representative toward a student, when such conduct has the purpose of substantially interfering with the student's educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.

A higher education representative may not either explicitly or implicitly make the student's submission to such conduct a term or condition of, or use the student's submission to or rejection of such conduct as a basis for determining admission to an institution of higher education, courses, fields of study or programs, including honors and graduate programs; educational performance requirements or expectations; attendance or assignment requirements; placement or course proficiency requirements; quality of instruction; tuition or fee requirements; scholarship opportunities; membership on extracurricular teams or participation in extracurricular competitions; grades in any examination or in any course or program of instruction; progress toward successful completion of or graduation from any course or program of instruction; or what degree, if any, the student will receive.

For purposes of this definition, "higher education representative" means any administrator, a member of the faculty or anyone else providing instruction including graduate assistants.
c. Harassment

Harassment includes unwelcomed conduct on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived protected class characteristics that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

2.02

Recognizing Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unsolicited, offensive behavior that inappropriately asserts sexuality over status as a student or employee. When it occurs in the classroom or in the workplace, sexual harassment can threaten a person's academic status and/or job. Sexual harassment takes many different forms. Some of these are overt and unambiguous, while others may be more subtle and indirect. Direct forms of sexual harassment include sexual assault and sexual advances accompanied by an offer or reward of threats of reprisal. Such behavior constitutes serious misconduct and a single incident establishes grounds for a complaint. Other examples of verbal sexual harassment include sexual innuendo, suggestive comments, insults, humor and jokes about sex or gender-specific traits, and sexual propositions, and threats. Non-verbal harassment includes suggestive or insulting sounds, leering, whistling, and obscene gestures. Sexual harassment also may occur through electronic means such as text messages, emails and intranet/on-line postings. Physical sexual harassment includes touching, pinching, brushing the body, assault, and coerced sexual contact including, but not limited to intercourse.

2.03

Dealing with Sexual Harassment

Awareness of rights and responsibilities is the basis for establishing standards. Therefore, this policy is also published in the faculty, and student handbooks. A summary will be included in faculty, staff, and student orientation materials. Also, a copy of the policy will be available at the university website and at the Office of Human Resources and the Deans of Student Offices on the main campus and Chicago-Kent College of Law. Consistent with applicable laws, Human Resources will develop and conduct annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees and may make available other workshops throughout the year on this subject matter for staff persons.

2.04

Possible Individual Actions Other than Complaint

In circumstances where it would not jeopardize personal safety or job status or academic status, a person subjected to unwelcome attention or harassment should communicate clearly to the offender that the behavior is not welcome and should cease immediately.

Advice on how to deal with the situation should be sought from the Human Resources Department as soon as possible.

2.05

Making a Complaint

A complaint alleging violation of the policy prohibiting harassment may be filed by any person who has been the subject of such harassment or who has witnessed such harassment with Human Resources. The privacy of complainants and those accused of violating this policy shall be protected throughout proceedings to the extent possible. All reasonable measures will be taken to assure that no one involved in any complaint, investigation, or remedy shall suffer retaliation as a result of the proceedings.

The university will seek consent from the complainant to initiate action, but may determine it necessary to move forward with an investigation and take subsequent action without the complainant’s consent.

2.06

Consultation and Resolution

Staff members of the university community who believe they have been subjected to harassment as defined in this policy are strongly encouraged to seek counsel directly from Human Resources. If such staff member first seeks counsel from another employee of the university such as a faculty member, department chair, dean, supervisor, or department head, that employee must notify Human Resources of the situation.

Human Resources will proceed to investigate the matter, including, but not limited to, interviewing any witnesses and the person alleged to have violated the policy, and determine if it can be resolved on an informal basis or whether disciplinary action will result. The person alleged to have violated the policy against harassment will be informed of the investigation and have opportunity to respond.

Human Resources, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel, will prepare a report of its investigation including any recommended corrective action. This report will be reviewed by the relevant administrator/supervisor and appropriate action will be taken.

A staff person who is subject to disciplinary action due to a determination that he/she violated the policy against harassment may pursue a grievance of such action directly to the Vice President of Finance and Administration pursuant to the Employment Practices, Staff Grievance Procedure section of this Handbook (Step Four).

Complaints can be made to the employee’s supervisor, department head, vice president, dean, Human Resources or the Office of General Counsel. Any complaint made must be promptly referred to Human Resources for investigation in accordance with the above.

2.07

Resolution Outside Company
The purpose of this policy is to establish prompt, thorough and effective procedures for responding to every complaint and incident so that problems can be identified and remedied internally. 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. Both IDHR and EEOC complaints must be filed with the respective agencies within 300 days of the alleged incident(s). In addition, an appeal process is available through the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) after IDHR has completed its investigation of the complaint. Where the employing entity has an effective anti-harassment policy in place and the complaining employee fails to take advantage of that policy and allow the employer an opportunity to address the problem, such an employee may, in certain cases, lose the right to further pursue the claim against the employer. An employee who files such a complaint with IDHR or EEOC will not be subject to retaliation.

Administrative Contacts

  • Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR)
    Chicago: 312.814.6200 or 800.662.3942
    Chicago TTY: 866.740.3953
    Springfield: 217.785.5100
    Springfield TTY: 866.740.3953
    Marion: 618.993.7463
    Marion TTY: 866.740.3953

  • Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
    Chicago: 312.814.6269
    Chicago TTY: 312.814.4760
    Springfield: 217.785.4350
    Springfield TTY: 217.557.1500

  • Unites States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    Chicago: 800.669.4000
    Chicago TTY: 800.869.8001

False and Frivolous Complaints

False and frivolous charges refer to cases where the accuser is using a 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.