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Sexual Harassment/Sexual harrassment at a volunteer position

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Question
I volunteer at an animal rescue organization.  A man who is on the board has continually been seen in public, at our events, fondling the women volunteers, many young women of high school age.  Yesterday he came over to where I was standing in a public place at an organization sponsored event and kissed me on the cheek.  I told him off and then reported it to the board via e-mail.   I have spoken to the other women in the organization who say he has be doing this for years and no one has taken any action, meanwhile all the women are uncomfortable but not doing anything other than trying to avoid him.  If this behavior continues what legal recourse do I have, particularly in regard to the minors who are being taken advantage of?  I understand that the laws may be different due to the volunteer status.  I live in Cook County IL.  Thank you.

Answer
Hi Robyn,

I am sorry that you are going through this as the behavior is completely unacceptable.  Since your organization falls under what I would say is a public service with animal rescue, I believe you might be covered under the Illinois Human Rights Commission and I would check them out:
http://www2.illinois.gov/ihrc/Pages/default.aspx

They did not state exactly who is covered unlike the EEOC where you have to have at least 15 employees to be covered.  Volunteer status is evolving into a protected category and it is the organization's responsibility to create an atmosphere that is free from harassment and discrimination.  

Kissing anyone in public and especially minors is assault when it is without their consent.  You would have a right to file a civil suit but if that is the case, I would have one that is joined by the others.  I don't believe it has to go to that length and should be addressed solely through the organization's board but in writing or in person.  There is no reason a board member should act in this manner as it is truly a reflection of the board and the organization.  

I would also check out the Cook County human rights commission:

http://www.cookcountygov.com/portal/server.pt/community/human_rights,_commission

Make the call to both commissions and ascertain if they cover volunteers in a public service entity which I believe they do as they do in many states.  

Let me know what you find out with these two and if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask and I will investigate even further. The behavior is the bottom line and it needs to stop now.  You would have to prove the behavior preferably through witnesses because if only two parties are involved, it is very hard to substantiate without third party verification but that should not prevent you from reporting it.  

John

Sexual Harassment

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John Fuller

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I can answer nearly every question pertaining to prevention of sexual harassment, definitions of sexual harassment, workplace harassment inside and outside of the workplace, quid pro quo harassment, hostile working environment, reporting procedures and responsibilities, how to recognize and respond/report to sexually based inappropriate comments.

Experience

Diversity, EEO Officer and Investigator for Johns Hopkins Hospital EEO Compliance Manager for Fortune 300 Corporation Deputy Director for Equal Opportunity for Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute

Organizations
Board of Directors, National Council for Support of Disability Issues Board of Directors, Institute for MultiTrack Diplomacy

Publications
Guest expert on over 45 radio stations nationwide discussing the subject "Hot Buttons in the Workplace; sexual harassment" Do you know the limitations?

Education/Credentials
Doctor of Education Master of Science in Leadership & Business Ethics Master of Arts in Educaiton Florida and Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator Department of Defense Certified Mediator EEOC Certified Investigator

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