Sexual Harassment 3.403
Sexual harassment is illegal based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1991, Section 703 of Title VII, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Illinois Human Rights Act. These Acts prohibit discrimination because of sex in all employment and educational practices. ECC will not tolerate any acts of sexual harassment and will investigate allegations in an expedient manner. All administrators, employees, students, and all others having reason or occasion to use the facilities of ECC will conduct themselves in a manner that promotes an environment free from sexual harassment.
I. Generally Applicable Statements
Sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors and other sexually-oriented conduct*, which is offensive or objectionable to the recipient when:
a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education;
b) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual; or
c) Such conduct has the purpose or the effect of substantially interfering with the individual’s academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning employment or education environment.
*Note: Behaviors which, if unwelcome, may be perceived as sexual harassment can be verbal, non-verbal or physical. Verbal harassment may include, but not be limited to, epithets, derogatory comments or jokes, suggestive and insulting sounds, or whistling. Physical acts may include obscene gestures, touching, leering, pinching, and brushing the body. Non-verbal behavior may include displaying offensive posters, cartoons, pictures or drawings.
Supervisor/Subordinate Relationships - Social dating between supervisors and their subordinates can set the stage for problems even if the participants share true affection for one another. These relationships may cause morale problems among co-workers and lost productivity due to the distraction caused by the relationship. A supervisor can exert power through promises of wage increases, recommendation of promotions, and threats of demotions. Those who abuse, or appear to abuse, their power in such a context violate their authority and duty to this institution and are in violation of this procedure. Even if a relationship appears to be consensual, the potential exists for sexual harassment to occur as defined in these procedures and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Faculty/Student Relationships - The college does not condone a faculty member engaging in consensual relationships with students enrolled in their classes, or subject to their supervision, even when both parties have agreed to the relationship. Faculty members can exert power over students through grading or giving praise or criticism. Those who abuse, or appear to abuse, their power in such a context violate their authority and duty to this institution and are in violation of this procedure. If a faculty member decides to date a student who is no longer in his/her class, the faculty member may face serious conflict of interest questions and should be careful to refrain from any actions or decisions that may reward or penalize the consenting student. This includes writing any reference letters, performing evaluations, or recommending the student for scholarships, internships or future employment.
Student to Student Harassment - The college will take prompt, appropriate action in response to allegations of student-to-student harassment that takes place while the students are involved in school activities or are otherwise under the supervision of school employees.
II. Responsibilities and Appointments
The college will take prompt, appropriate action in response to allegations of student-to-student harassment that takes place while the students are involved in school activities or are otherwise under the supervision of school employees.
- The college president has the overall responsibility for implementation of policies and procedures ensuring compliance with sexual harassment law.
- The college president shall appoint a task force consisting of the associate dean of counseling and career services, the managing director of human resources, the associate director of human resources, and the college paralegal EEO/AA officer for the purpose of fostering an atmosphere free of sexual harassment. This task force will review sexual harassment issues and monitor new legal developments. The chair of the task force shall submit an annual report to the president regarding sexual harassment issues on campus.
- Any administrator or supervisor having knowledge of possible sexual harassment that involves any college administrator, employee, student, or any other person having reason to be present on campus, shall report the conduct or complaint to any member of the president’s task force, identified in #2 above.
- Administrators and supervisors have the duty to disseminate this procedure to employees in their departments or divisions, and to clearly inform them that sexual harassment will not be tolerated at ECC.
III. Preliminary Process
Any college administrator, employee, student, or any other person having reason to use the facilities of ECC, who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment as defined in this procedure, may meet with and express his/her concerns to any member of the president’s task force identified in #2 above.
- At the first meeting, the task force member will inform the individual of his/her rights under this procedure and of the college’s obligation under the law to report and respond to the allegations. The task force member will inform the complainant that it may be possible to resolve the situation without a formal complaint, with his/her assistance, and that utilizing this assistance does not preclude the filing of a formal complaint at some later point.
- The task force member will also provide the complainant with a definition of sexual harassment and a copy of this procedure. The person will be apprised of the illegality of sexual harassment, possible resolutions, protection of complainant’s interests, confidentiality, and protection against retaliatory action.
- There should be the understanding that if the complainant chooses to handle the situation on his/her own, and doesn’t return within an agreed-upon length of time, the matter will be considered resolved. The task force member will inform the complainant by letter that the college considers the matter closed.
- The task force member should carefully document all meetings regarding sexual harassment allegations and then keep the notes for a minimum of two years. A complainant has 300 days to file charges with the EEOC, and two (2) years to file a suit in civil court. A summary report of the alleged incident should be forwarded to the paralegal EEO/AA officer.
- The managing director of human resources or the paralegal EEO/AA officer shall treat unresolved allegations of sexual harassment as priority matters. If contacted directly, or upon receipt of a summary report, the paralegal EEO/AA officer or managing director of human resources shall immediately meet with any individual(s) regarding sexual harassment. If an immediate meeting is not possible, they shall meet as soon as possible.
- Once all of the above information has been discussed with the complainant, he/she may then determine whether to file a complaint with the college. If the person desires to fill out a complaint form, copies are available from task force members.
- Anonymous reports accusing college administrators, faculty, employees, or others having reason to use the facilities of ECC, of violating this procedure will be investigated. Anonymous reports should be forwarded to the paralegal EEO/AA officer. The accused will be made aware of the allegation, informed of ECC's sexual harassment procedure, and the record of this meeting will be documented and filed by the paralegal EEO/AA officer. If the allegations cannot be substantiated, no entries will be made to the accused’s personnel or student academic file.
IV. Complaint Process
- Any individual seeking to file a formal complaint alleging sexual harassment must complete the complaint form which will be forwarded to the paralegal EEO/AA officer.
- All reasonable action will be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses will not suffer retaliation as the result of their participation in regard to this process. Information concerning a complaint of sexual harassment will be kept confidential, to the extent possible. It will not be released to third parties such as the press, the affected employee's or student's family, or prospective employers seeking a reference or other educational institutions requesting academic information. This provision is intended to protect the privacy of a complainant, to encourage the reporting of sexual harassment, and to protect the reputation of anyone wrongfully accused of sexual harassment. The investigation will afford the accused a full opportunity to respond to any allegations.
V. The Investigation
The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that the alleged sexual harassment has occurred. In conducting this investigation, the appropriate administrators may interview the complainant, the accused, and other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge. To the extent possible, the administrators conducting the investigation will take steps calculated to protect the confidentiality interests of both parties.
- Investigations will take place upon the receipt of a signed complaint form or whenever the college has reason to believe that sexual harassment has occurred. The complainant and the accused will be informed of the status of the investigation.
- The paralegal EEO/AA officer will notify the alleged harasser of the complaint and of the investigation. The alleged harasser may be advised not to contact prospective witnesses or the complainant about the complaint until the investigation has been concluded.
- The president shall designate the investigators who will review the complaint and meet with the complainant as soon as possible. Every effort will be made to have one female and one male investigator per team for investigative purposes only. Persons trained in the laws, rules, regulations and ECC’s procedure may be asked to serve as investigators, unless these persons are the accused.
- The investigators shall interview individuals filing a complaint, the alleged harasser(s), and those identified as having any information regarding the allegations. All interviews shall be completed within ten (10) working days from the time the signed complaint form is received. The time for completion of the interviews may be extended at the discretion of the investigators.
- The paralegal EEO/AA officer shall prepare a file and keep all documents, reports or other related material regarding each complaint of sexual harassment permanently.
- Based on the findings of the investigation, the paralegal EEO/AA officer or the director of human resources will report one of the following conclusions to the president:
i) allegations were unproven;
ii) a negotiated settlement was reached;
iii) charges of sexual harassment were substantiated;
iv) allegations were false.
- The president shall determine corrective action tailored to the offense.
- At the end of the investigation, the parties will be informed in writing of the findings and conclusions of the investigation.
- According to the collective bargaining agreement, members of the Support Staff of Elgin Community College, "if dissatisfied with the response of the managing director of human resources, he/she may appeal the matter in writing directly to the president or to the board of trustees."
- All members of the Elgin Community College Faculty Association, if dissatisfied with the corrective action determined by the president, can request the decision be appealed through the grievance process.
- If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the actions taken by the college, he/she is invited to contact either the Illinois Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
State of Illinois Building, Suite 10-100
Chicago, IL 60601
500 W. Madison, 28th Floor
Chicago, IL 60661
VII. False Accusations
If the complainant is found to have been intentionally dishonest in making a capricious and/or malicious allegation, he/she will be subject to ECC’s disciplinary processes.