Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

DOUBEK: All women and men ought to be treated with dignity at work

Monday, December 11, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Madeleine Doubek


DOUBEK: All women and men ought to be treated with dignity at work

Columnists12/11/2017, 04:49pm

People carry signs addressing the issue of sexual harassment at a #MeToo rally outside of Trump International Hotel on December 9 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

As state lawmakers continue task force hearings delving into how state sexual harassment claims are handled, Chicago and Cook County officials also are scrambling to make sure they are up to speed on the #MeToo movement.


A Cook County subcommittee will consider Wednesday morning how to better apply sexual harassment rules to commissioners. That work follows amendments requiring each elected official to adopt a non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, and that whistleblower protections should be applied to anyone who makes allegations of harassment.

It took lawsuits by county public defenders and jail guards alleging detainees are exposing themselves, masturbating and threatening them before a judge ordered that some prisoners must be handcuffed while appearing in courthouses to prevent the abuse.

In November, Chicago Ald. Edward Burke (14th) sponsored an amendment explicitly making sexual harassment a violation of the city’s ethics code.

Beyond the prisoners problem, no other examples of outrageous behavior in Chicago and Cook County have come to light, but if we’ve learned anything from this extraordinary moment in America, it’s that there is plenty of harassment history that has been hidden.

You could be forgiven if, in light of all of this, you were under the impression that elected officials never were subject to sexual harassment laws. They were and are. Federal law, enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, always has applied to elected officials and to the rest of us, but it may be that this moment and movement is needed to shock many of us into understanding that harassment must not be swept aside or tolerated.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature when the conduct, explicitly or implicitly, affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. That definition long has applied to both private and public workplaces.

As newly appointed Legislative Inspector General Julie Porter digs into 27 backlogged cases, which involve more than sexual harassment complaints, state lawmakers might want to consider adopting some processes already in place in Chicago.

Former state inspectors general have complained that officials and others guilty of sexual harassment or other ethical issues know they can resign or count on a wholly partisan ethics board to prevent their cases from going public.

Even if it is a work-around from the traditional EEO reporting structure, in Chicago, if a complaint is made against an alderman or other worker, the process allows for them to represent themselves before the ethics board and seek arbitration if they object to any findings. But if an official decides to retire or move on, the investigative and ethics board work still can continue, and any findings ought to be published and violators held publicly accountable in order to bring closure to the victim and to ensure violators still are held accountable.

One of the many policy victories to come from the #MeToo movement is that all three of

these governments are aboard the training train. State and county lawmakers passed rules requiring legislators and lobbyists to undergo training on sexual harassment. Chicago aldermen are expected to add sexual harassment to their annual ethics training for workers, but not lobbyists, after a quick committee hearing last week.

The mandated annual training, the explicit sexual harassment ordinances and rules, and the House and Senate task forces will put clearer processes in place for reporting, investigating and adjudicating sexual harassment complaints against public workers and elected officials. Those are positive steps.

Still, particularly in a state like Illinois — known for the fix being in for those in positions of power — it can be a difficult thing to find the courage to go public with a complaint. Soon, the laws and policies and processes and trainings will be put to the test.

Let’s hope this watershed moment propels victims to seek justice and find it. At all levels of government, and in private workplaces and elsewhere, women and men ought to be treated with dignity.

Madeleine Doubek is policy & civic engagement director for the Better Government

Recent Headlines

Cook County circuit clerk says city owes $13M in fees
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Chciago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County faces $177 million in deficits over next two budget years
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Cook County facing 'difficult and challenging' $82 million budget shortfall
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle: $82M Budget Hole Means ‘Difficult Choices’ For Cook County
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Editorial: A Chicago revival: The Lazarus of Harrison Street
Friday, June 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Growing food, community
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Help Squad: Consumers can file lawsuits and other legal documents online —some free via an online fee waiver
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Residents speak out as Wilmette Board introduces minimum wage and sick time ordinances
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County's bid to avoid attorney fees for paraplegic detainee backfires
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Forest Preserves Show Off To Visitors At Daley Plaza
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WBBW News Radio

Peek Inside the Old Cook County Hospital, Vacant for 16 Years
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
NBC Chicago

After 16 years, renovation underway at old Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WGN Television

Officials break ground on $1 billion overhaul of long-vacant Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

George Leighton, legendary Chicago judge and courthouse namesake, dies at 105
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

George Leighton, Chicago judge for whom criminal courthouse is named, dies at 105
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County allows video gambling in unincorporated areas
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune lawsuit against Cook County sheriff dismissed
Saturday, June 02, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dorothy Brown’s office to get federal monitor for hiring practices
Friday, June 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Coyote puppies tagged, health work-ups conducted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Special to

EDITORIAL: Justice delayed 16 months — until a reporter starts nosing around
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.