The Legal Compliance Series continued on Wednesday, Sept. 17, with a three-hour class on harassment. It had a special emphasis on sexual harassment.
The event was held for IUS staff and faculty members. Five people attended the event along with the speaker, Darlene Young, Affirmative Action trainer and officer.
This is the second Legal Series event Young has hosted. The first was held earlier in the month. The theme of that event was equal employment opportunities and Affirmative Action.
“It’s my passion to teach, share information, and raise awareness in terms of the law, university policy and our core values,” Young said. “We strive to be a campus viewed as a nurturing experience.”
At this event, she taught campus managers and supervisors the definition of sexual harassment, which she said comes in the form of unwelcome sexual advances. It also includes jokes, slurs or obscene gestures aimed at a person.
Young said the faculty and staff should act responsibly if they see or hear someone harassing another person.
“Observe the body language,” Young said. “If one person looks taken aback, go over there and ask if everything’s OK. If they say it’s OK, go on, but tell them where to find you.”
Young then went on to define quid pro quo, which is when an employer makes an academic or employment decision based on sexual behavior. She said a consensual relationship must have healthy boundaries.
Young also said a faculty or staff member in a consensual relationship with someone on campus should know the university’s policies and procedures. She said it was important for the group, as managers and supervisors, to know how and where to report harassment cases.
The event continued with examples of harassment. Young said using profanity aimed at someone isn’t against the law, but she urged the class to remember their own core values.
Some of the attendees started asking questions at this point in the event. Dennis Simon, chief of police and safety, responded when the subjects of giving hugs came up.
“If we have to walk on eggshells, we can’t have the connectedness that is in our core values,” Simon said.
Young responded by saying they had to be fair to everyone. She said there was no harassment in hugs, except for when a person repeatedly says no.
She emphasized how important it is for a person to repeatedly say no. She said a person can ask someone out on a date once without it qualifying as harassment. When it happens multiple times after the person has said no, then the managers should get involved.
After a short bathroom break, the group came back together to discuss workplace retaliation.
Young said in 2007, 23 percent of complaints filed were because of retaliation acts. This would happen when an employer would fire, demote or harass a person for opposing discrimination.
“It’s touchy,” Young said. “You have to get both sides of the story and do everything according to procedure.”
Then Young provided the grievance form to the attendees and explained it. It’s available at www.ius.edu/EqDiv.
Finally, the group was given four scenarios of harassment to discuss. The group discussed what should be done in each of these cases.
Seuth Chaleunphonh, dean of Student Life, said it was good to attend this event and learn. He said having a common language in IU policy is helpful in correcting inappropriate or unacceptable behavior on campus.
“Workers might not always appreciate their appreciation of the policies and procedures, but they do appreciate the university taking care of them,” Chaleunphonh said.
Young said there are four face-to-face classes with online classes to complete as well. Once they have completed the training, they will be awarded certificates.
The series will be complete after the next two classes. The third one took place on Wednesday, September 24. It focused on American disabilities and the Fair Labor Standard Act.
The classes will repeat in October as well. Young said there will be even more in the spring, occurring in February and March.
“I’m trying to enhance campus connectedness so students, faculty, and staff will persist,” Young said. “They will stay longer and have more knowledge. This prepares them for life.”
By JOSEPH DEVER