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Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

Library Board approved January 23, 2018.

Introduction

The Oak Park Public Library is committed to a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment. Therefore, the Library expects that all relationships among persons in the workplace will be business-like and free of bias, prejudice and harassment.

It is the responsibility of each and every employee, officer, official, park commissioner, agent, volunteer, and vendor of the Oak Park Public Library as well as anyone using the Oak Park Public Library’s facilities, to refrain from sexual and other harassment. The Oak Park Public Library will not tolerate sexual or any other type of harassment of or by any of its employees and elected officials. Actions, words, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s sex, race, national origin, age, religion, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated.

This policy should not, and may not, be used as a basis for excluding or separating individuals of a particular gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic, from participating in business or work-related social activities or discussions in order to avoid allegations of harassment. The law and policies of the Oak Park Public Library prohibit disparate treatment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic, with regard to terms, conditions, privileges and prerequisites of employment. The prohibition against harassment, discrimination and retaliation are intended to complement and further these policies, not to form the basis of an exception to them.

Definitions of Harassment

  1. Sexual harassment may occur whenever there are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature when:
    1. Submission to the conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a condition of the individual’s employment;
    2. Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision affecting the harassed employee; or
    3. The harassment has the purpose or effect of interfering with the employee’s work performance or creating an environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive to the employee.

    Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. Depending on the circumstances, these behaviors may include, but are not limited to: unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; sexual jokes and innuendo; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering; catcalls or touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; display or circulation in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects or pictures (including through e-mail); and other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature.

  2. Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. Under this policy, harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his/her race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability or any other characteristic protected by law or that of his/her relatives, friends or associates, and that: (i) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; (ii) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or (iii) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.Harassing conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation in the workplace of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group (including through e-mail).Conduct prohibited by these policies is unacceptable in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, such as during business trips, professional conferences, business meetings and business-related social events.

Note
Any employee engaging in practices or conduct constituting sexual harassment, discrimination or harassment of any kind shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.

Retaliation Is Prohibited

The Oak Park Public Library prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination or harassment, participates in an investigation of such reports, or files a charge of discrimination or harassment. Retaliation against an individual for reporting harassment or discrimination, for participating in an investigation of a claim of harassment or discrimination, or for filing a charge of discrimination or harassment is a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary action.

Any act of retaliation by any party directed against a complaining employee, an accused employee, witnesses, or participants in the process will be treated as a separate and distinct complaint and will be similarly investigated. Complaints of retaliation should be addressed to the Executive Director or the President of the Board. Illinois law provides protections to whistleblowers as set forth in the Whistleblower Act, 740 ILCS 174/15 and the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/6-101.

Reporting Procedure

The Oak Park Public Library strongly urges the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Early reporting and intervention have proven to be the most effective method of resolving actual or perceived incidents of harassment or discrimination. Therefore, while no fixed reporting period has been established, the Library strongly urges the prompt reporting of complaints or concerns so that rapid and constructive action can be taken.

The availability of this reporting procedure does not preclude individuals who believe they are being subjected to harassing or discriminatory conduct from promptly advising the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome and requesting that it be discontinued.

If you experience or witness harassment or discrimination of any kind, you should deal with the incident(s) as directly and firmly as possible by clearly communicating your position to the offending person, your immediate supervisor, your department head, and/or the Director. You should also document or record each incident (what was said or done, by whom, the date, time and place, and any witnesses to the incident). Written records such as letters, notes, memos, e-mails, and telephone messages can strengthen documentation. It is not necessary that the harassment be directed at you to make a complaint.

  • Direct Communication with Offender: If there is harassing or discriminatory behavior in the workplace, you should directly and clearly express your objection to the offending person(s) regardless of whether the behavior is directed at you. If you are the harassed employee, you should clearly state that the conduct is unwelcome and the offending behavior must stop.  However, you are not required to directly confront the person who is the source of your report, question, or complaint before notifying any of those individuals listed below. The initial message may be oral or written, but documentation of the notice should be made. If subsequent messages are needed, they should be put in writing.
  • Report to Supervisory and Administrative Personnel: At the same time direct communication is undertaken, or in the event you feel threatened or intimidated by the offending person, you should promptly report the offending behavior to your immediate supervisor, department head or the Library Director. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, or if your immediate supervisor and/or department head is the source of the problem, condones the problem or ignores the problem, report directly to the Director. If the Library Director is the source of the problem, condones the problem, or ignores the problem, you should contact the President of the Library Board.
  • Report to Library Director/President of the Library Board: An employee may also report incidents of harassment or discrimination directly to the Library Director. The Library Director or his designee will promptly investigate the facts and take corrective action when an allegation is determined to be valid. If your complaint alleges harassment by the Library Director, or if the Library Director condones the problem or ignores the problem, you should immediately report the incident or incidents in writing directly to the President of the Library Board. An investigation will be conducted and appropriate action will be taken when an allegation is determined to be valid. At no time will personnel involved in the alleged harassment conduct the investigation.

Harassment Allegations Against Non-Employees/Third Parties

If you make a complaint alleging harassment or discrimination against an agent, vendor, supplier, contractor, volunteer or person using Library programs or facilities, the Library Director will investigate the incident(s) and determine the appropriate action, if any. The Oak Park Public Library will make reasonable effort to protect you from further contact with such persons. Please recognize, however, that the Library has limited control over the actions of non-employees.

Important Notice To All Employees
Employees who have experienced conduct they believe is contrary to this policy have an obligation to take advantage of this reporting procedure. An employee’s failure to fulfill this obligation could affect his or her rights in pursuing legal action.

Responsibility of Supervisors and Witnesses

Any supervisor who becomes aware of any possible sexual or other harassment or discrimination of or by any employee should immediately advise the Library Director who will investigate the conduct and resolve the matter as soon as possible.

All employees are encouraged to report incidents of harassment, regardless of who the offender may be or whether or not you are the intended victim.

The Investigation

Any reported allegations of harassment, discrimination or retaliation will be investigated promptly. The Oak Park Public Library will make every reasonable effort to conduct an investigation in a responsible and confidential manner. However, it is impossible to guarantee absolute confidentiality. The investigation may include individual interviews with the parties involved, and where necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have other relevant knowledge. The Oak Park Public Library reserves the right and hereby provides notice that third parties may be used to investigate claims of harassment. You must cooperate in any investigation of workplace wrongdoing or risk disciplinary action, up to an including termination.

Responsive Action

The Oak Park Public Library will determine what constitutes harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on a review of the facts and circumstances of each situation. Misconduct constituting harassment, discrimination or retaliation will be dealt with appropriately. Responsive action may include, for example, training, referral to counseling and/or disciplinary action such as warning, reprimand, withholding of a promotion or pay increase, reassignment, temporary suspension without pay or termination, as the Library believes appropriate under the circumstances.

False and Frivolous Complaints

Given the possibility of serious consequences for an individual accused of sexual harassment, complaints made in bad faith or otherwise false and frivolous charges are considered severe misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. A false or frivolous complaint is not defined as one that is made in good faith but is not substantiated.

Reporting Outside of the Library

While we hope to be able to resolve any complaints of harassment or retaliation within the Oak Park Public Library, we acknowledge your right to contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph Street, Suite 10-100, Chicago, Illinois 60601, about filing a formal complaint, and, if it determines that there is sufficient evidence of harassment or retaliation to proceed further, it will file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (HRC), located at the same address on the fifth floor. Employees are also entitled to file a claim of harassment or retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission located at 500 West Madison Street Suite 2000. Chicago, Illinois 60661. Employees may also have a civil action for retaliation under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

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