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DeKalb government bodies update sexual harassment policies

DeKalb HR director: 'The city does not tolerate that behavior, and it's very important to us'

Sam Buckner for Shaw Media
Human Resources Director Cris Randall gives her report at the City Council meeting on Monday January 8, 2018.
Sam Buckner for Shaw Media Human Resources Director Cris Randall gives her report at the City Council meeting on Monday January 8, 2018.

DeKALB – With the rise of the national #MeToo movement, the city of DeKalb continues to stress the importance of sexual harassment prevention and education.

DeKalb recently made minor changes to its sexual harassment policy to coincide with a new state law.

The new state legislation requires that all government bodies, ranging from the library to the local forest preserve and everything in between, update their policies regarding sexual harassment to contain the following four elements:

• A prohibition on sexual harassment.

• Details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including options for making a confidential report to a supervisor, ethics officer, inspector general or the Department of Human Rights.

• A prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, including availability of whistleblower protections under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, the Whistleblower Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

• The consequences of a violation of the prohibition on sexual harassment and the consequences for knowingly making a false report

DeKalb Human Resources Director Cris Randall said the city’s policy already was largely compliant with the law.

The #MeToo movement rose to prominence in October as a hashtag on social media in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. After actress Alyssa Milano promoted #MeToo, millions of people used the hashtag to share their stories about the extensive damage caused by sexual harassment. Time Magazine honored the participants by naming “The Silence Breakers” as Person of the Year for 2017.

Randall said it’s always important for DeKalb employees to be aware of the city’s sexual harassment policies, no matter the time. She stresses DeKalb has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harassment in the workplace.

“For us, it’s not only now – it has always been one of our main priorities to maintain a work environment free from all forms of harassment,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s on the news.”

If a city employee suffers any type of harassment, he or she is encouraged to immediately report it. Randall said all cases are investigated and appropriate discipline will be issued if any form of harassment is found. There have been no issues regarding sexual harassment among DeKalb city employees in recent history, Randall said.

“The city does not tolerate that behavior, and it’s very important to us,” she said. “Our employees are trained every year, and all new hires are provided our expectations on harassment. It’s an issue that needs to be taken seriously.”

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