State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), the newly named Co-Chair of the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention, hosted the first meeting in Chicago on Dec. 14.
“The task force is the Senate’s initiative to address the definition of sexual harassment and potential criminal nature of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and in public and private places,” said Tracy. “The increasing awareness and publicity around sexual harassment and assault give testament to the need for preventive measures, effective regulation and possible criminal charges for offenders. If someone’s safety is violated, there must be consequences in place for those perpetrators.”
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys started off the discussion by reviewing the current sexual harassment and discrimination law, and then explained at what point a report of sexual harassment becomes criminal, and the criminal prosecution and penalties.
“The State’s Attorneys provided valuable information on how victims report a sexual crime or offense, and why it’s so important,” said Tracy. “Even if you do not wish to pursue charges, always file a police report or talk to authorities. If you decide to testify in the future, or if the attacker repeats the crime with another victim, that report can be used as evidence. Illinois’ legal system protects those individuals who speak out.”
The Illinois Department of Human Rights Acting Director and Deputy Director then discussed the administrative process and investigation of reports filed on sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, housing, public facilities and financial credit institutions.
The conclusion of the meeting, presented by three private attorneys, focused on the civil procedures and solutions for cases of sexual harassment and discrimination that are considered to be non-criminal, but a civil legal violation.
Twenty-four appointed members serve on the bipartisan task force including State Senators, representatives from statewide women’s rights and civil rights associations, and local government officials and attorneys. The task force has a deadline of Dec. 31, 2018, to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in Illinois.