Lawmaker suggests harassment hotline

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Sexual harassment remains an issue front-and-center in Springfield. Now, one lawmaker is addressing the problem beyond the Capitol.

A new proposal would create a statewide sexual harassment hotline for public and private employees seeking help.

From Hollywood to Springfield, allegations of sexual harassment are making headlines.

"I think it's despicable. A lot of abuse of power. As a father, as a brother, as a son, I definitely think something needs to be done about it so everyone feels comfortable and protected."

But now, help could be one call away. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin wants to create a statewide sexual harassment hotline to encourage victims in any workplace to report misconduct.

"I'm 74 now and 50-years ago, I would have loved it." 

Janet Hatmaker says she witnessed these types of issues for decades while working in the medical field.

"They kind of suffer in silence and, in some ways, you kind of expected that male behavior would be, 'Oh, boys will be boys,' or just kind of dismissive, but I am glad that accountability is coming."

The hotline would allow victims to remain anonymous; something she says could make a huge difference.

"I think it's a great idea."

In 2009, she filed a gender discrimination suit after being fired for speaking against male authorities.

"It was a hard situation to go through. I grieved for a long time."

She says, for those fearing retaliation, this could give them the courage to speak out.

"I hope it continues to prevail. We need to have a shift in the culture. We have to go to a new chapter."

If approved, the 24-hour hotline number would be online. The Department of Human Rights will  have six months to get it up and running.

Durkin's spokesperson added, if you see something inappropriate happening to someone in your workplace, you are also encouraged to call the hotline.

It would provide victims with resources and counseling services to help them file a complaint.

For state employees, the complaint would be filed with the Ethics Commission. The newly appointed inspector general will investigate claims.

Tuesday, the House may vote on a bill requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for all lawmakers, as well as developing a task force.


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